A little bit of history
When war broke out, Viceroy and Governer-General of India Charles Hardinge decided that India would join the war effort. By request from London, Indian troops were mobilised on 8th August 1914. Leaving from the port of Bombay, they then had to cross the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, arriving in Marseilles on 26th September 1914. Approximately 140,000 Indians served in France and a total of 74,000 Indians were killed or reported missing during the whole war. 320 of them are buried at La Chapelette British and Indian Cemetery in Péronne.
On the battlefront
From 1914, Indian troops took part in fighting in the North of France where they suffered heavy losses. The also suffered from the intense cold of the winter of 1914-1915. This is why a large part of the Indian Expeditionary Corps was withdrawn from the French front in the autumn of 1915 and transferred to Africa and the Middle East. Only the cavalry units remained in France until the spring of 1918 and took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, followed by battles in Flanders, Artois and Cambrai along the Hindenburg Line in 1917. From the summer of 1917, Indian soldiers were replaced on the Western Front by non-combatant units of the Indian Labour Corps and remained in France until 1919.
La Chapelette British and Indian Cemetery (CWGC)
The 34th, 55th, and 48th casualty clearing stations were established in La Chapelette from April 1917 to March 1918. In close proximity to the battlefields, casualty clearing stations were the first port of call for wounded soldiers, who were patched up, triaged and sent back to field hospitals. Many wounded soldiers never made it that far and died of their wounds here, leading to the creation of a military cemetery at La Chapelette. With 577 graves, the military cemetery of La Chapelette is divided into two parts. The Indian section has 320 graves, grouping both combatant and non-combatant Indian servicemen. These 320 men who volunteered to fight on the other side of the globe, issuing from a great ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity, will be honoured during the Franco-Indian Ceremony that will take place here on 10th September 2017.
The Franco-Indian Ceremony
All are welcome to attend this service. Guests are requested to arrive at 9.30am due to security checks.
From 9.30am to 10.30am performances will be made by the Municipal Band and by traditional Sikh performers.
Access to the ceremony
Guests will only be able to access the site of the ceremony from the north of Péronne, along Route de Paris heading towards La Chapelette and the roundabout at the exit of the town. Cars can park along Rue Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, which will be made into a one-way street for the occasion.
It is not recommended to drive along the RD1017 between Villers-Carbonnel and Péronne on Sunday 10th September, from 7am to 3pm. This road will be closed to the north of Eterpigny. To gain access to Péronne from the south, please follow the diversion through Brie, Mesnil-Bruntel and Doingt-Flamicourt.
More information is available here