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Memorial Gates Commemoration Ceremony - Monday 9 March 2015:

Speech by Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie

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Text of speech in full as follows:

Just four days after the British government declared war on Germany in August 1914, two infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade of the Indian Army were ordered to mobilise and prepare for overseas service.

Units of the Indian Expeditionary Force began arriving in France in September and by late October they were involved in heavy fighting on the Messines Ridge in Belgium.

(It was at Messines on 31 October 1914 that Khudadad Khan performed the act of gallantry for which he was later awarded the Victoria Cross, becoming the first Indian born soldier to be so honoured).

Today we particularly remember the commitment and bravery of some of those for whom this memorial was inaugurated.

During the first World War, a century ago, this very week, from 10 to13 March 1915 at Neuve Chapelle, a Belgian village some 20 miles south of Ypres, Indian soldiers made up half of the attacking force.

Despite suffering very heavy casualties they succeeded in capturing important sections of the German line.

With the employment of carefully co-ordinated attacks of often hand-to-hand fighting by British and Indian infantry, initial progress was rapid, quickly breaking through a section of the German line. It took just four hours to secure the village.

Allied casualties during the battle were 11,200 (7,000 British, 4,200 Indian).

The officers and men of the Indian Corps further distinguished themselves at St. Julien in the Ypres Salient in April, at Aubers Ridge and Festubert in May, and at Loos in September before being redeployed to the Middle East at the end of 1915.

Over the course of the war, India sent over 140,000 men to the Western Front – 90,000 serving in the infantry and cavalry and some 50,000 non-combatant labourers.

They hailed from the length and breadth of British India and represented an extremely diverse range of religious, linguistic, and ethnic cultures.

Of the combatants, over 8,550 were killed and as many as 50,000 more were wounded. Almost 5,000 of the dead have no known grave and are commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres and at Neuve Chapelle memorial.

Later this year, on 15 August, we shall commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

The Japanese surrender was celebrated but V-J Day, as it has become known, is a day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace.

To all those who took part in these conflicts we owe a great debt. We honour their service and sacrifice.

News release

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Text of news release in full as follows:

'... for your tomorrow we gave our today.'

At the top of Constitution Hill, next to Buckingham Palace in central London, this memorial is dedicated to the people of the Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Caribbean and Nepal who served in the Armed Forces during the two World Wars.

On 6 November 2002 Her Majesty The Queen officially inaugurated the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill in London, UK. These Gates have been erected as a lasting memorial to honour the five million men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Caribbean and Nepal who volunteered to serve the Empire with the Armed Forces during the First and Second World Wars. They also celebrate the contribution that these men and women and their descendants, members of the Commonwealth family, continue to make to the rich diversity of British society.


Baroness Flather, Chairman of the Memorial Gates Council said, "The Ceremony taking place today is to mark the Service and Sacrifice made in both World Wars by nearly five million Volunteers from the Indian sub-continent, Africa, the Caribbean and Nepal. As we move through the anniversaries of the First World War and the significant dates and events we remember that the first Standing Army to join the European conflict in 1914 was from India. M K Ghandi was keen to support the war effort because of his expectation of achieving Dominion status for India. For me this is an opportunity for us all to remember the contribution of Indians, Africans and West Indians."

The Baroness will be available for interviews before and after the event. Please apply to the event co-ordinator, Lieutenant Colonel Coles 020 7414 3321 or 07817 141033.

Eric Pickles MP Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will make a speech. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

"In both world wars millions of soldiers from across the Commonwealth fought side-by-side, defending the values of freedom and liberty, and defeating the dark forces of tyranny and oppression.

"Every Commonwealth country shares this proud history, but we also share enduring values, which provide enormous opportunities for future cooperation."

Field Marshall The Lord Guthrie will speak about the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, a century ago this week and focus on the huge contribution from the Indian Army. In this 70th Anniversary of V-J Day we also remember those who fought in the Far East. He said:

"These Memorial Gates recognise how much the United Kingdom and Dominions owe to those loyal members of the Empire who gave their support during these conflicts. We honour their Service and their Sacrifice. "

Representing His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Field Marshal Sir John Chapple will lay a wreath. He will be followed by representative from the Embassies, High Commissions, the UK military and associations and organisations representing the diverse communities from which those who helped to defend our freedom have come.

Serving soldier and Victoria Cross bearer Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC will attend Monday's ceremony.

Music will be provided by the Coldstream Guards Band by kind permission of Major General E A Smyth-Osbourne CBE , Commander of the Household Division

Order of Proceedings:

1015 Arrival of Guests and VIPs

1040 Her Majesty's Life Guard rides past. Ceremony begins. Speeches from:

Rt. Hon. Baroness Flather JP DL Patron of the Memorial Gates Council,

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank GCB LVO OBE DL

The Rt Revd and The Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres KCVO FSA, Bishop of London

1100 Gurkha Bugler — The Last Post, 1 minute silence, Gurkha Piper — The Lament

Gurkha Bugler — The Reveille

Laying of wreaths

1120 End of Ceremony and withdraw for refreshments, interviews and photographs.

1200 Event finishes

Notes for Editors:

The Memorial Gate Council is made up of the following:

Chairman: Baroness Flather JP DL FRSA

Patrons: Field Marshal The Lord Inge KG GCB PC DL, Field Marshal Sir John Chapple GCB CBE DL, Field Marshall The Lord Guthrie GCB LVO OBE DL, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO OBE DL

Council: Lord Karan Bilimoria, Ms Sophie Densham, Ms Nina Maan, Mr Lakshman Menon, Mr Alpesh Patel, Mr Laurent Phillpotts BHM RAF, Dr Rami Ranger MBE FRSA, Colonel Patrick Shervington MBE, Mr Allan C Wilmot,

For more information contact Tim Coles on 020 7414 3321 and check

HM The Queen at the inaugurationCommonwealth Day Commemoration at the Memorial Gates

More photographs from the day will soon be available to view in the Gallery section of the website.