IMPHAL, June 27: Governor VK Duggal today led a host of other imminent officials including Commonwealth War Grave Commission Barry Murphy, First Secretary (Defences), Australian High Commissioner to India Jane Spicer, Military Attache Embassy of United States Colonel Larry J Redmon and British Deputy High Commissioner to India Scott Furssedonn Wood in offering floral tribute to the heroes who sacrificed their lives during the 1944 World War II Battle of Inphal, today.
Floral tributes were paid at both the Imphal Indian War Cemetry, Hatta and Imphal War Cemetry, Dewlahland in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal.
The dignitaries were also accompanied by State deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam and major general BM Bali, GOC, 57th Mountain Division.
Hugo Slim, grandson of field marshal William Slim, commander of the British 14th Army during the war was also present during the ceremony.
Soldiers of the Bihar Regiment gave salute during the ceremony.
Speaking at the function during the two memorial service, director, Commonwealth War Grave Commission Barry Murphy said that there are around 153 cemeteries maintained around the world, however, the two in Manipur are quiet unique.
He said the graveyards are to educate the future generations about the WWII.
The names of the heroes who lost their lives in the battle of Imphal are important and not mere memorial stones, he said while thanking the government for maintaining the cemetery with excellence.
Organising Committee member Yumnam Rajeshwor said that with the support of Manipur Government, 2nd World War Imphal Campaign Foundation and Manipur Tourism Forum the 70th Anniversary Battle of Imphal was kicked off on March 23 of this year.
Throughout India, 62666 commonwealth soldiers and non commonwealth soldiers are remembered at various cemeteries and memorial sites, he said.
In the two cemeteries in Imphal, 3299 soldiers are commemorated, however the maximum number of soldiers who died in Imphal are commemorated at the Rangoon memorial, he said.
In both cemeteries of Imphal 3299 soldiers are commemorates but much more soldiers who died in Imphal are commemorated at the Rangoon Memorial. Unfortunately not many of these soldiers have the known graves, he said.
Jane Spicer, the First Secretary (Defence), Australian High Commission to India also shared the memories of Australian solders’ contribution in the World War II.
Military Attache, Embassy of United States Col. Larry J Redmon said that the epic battle and those who contributed their soul for their services are not to be forgotten.
Scott Furssedonn Wood the British Deputy High Commissioner to India said that in the months of March to July of 1944 World War II lots of soldiers died and 17 and half thousands became causalities.
He also said that the British government awarded gallantry awards and five Victoria Crosses to soldiers who sacrificed in the battle.
The importance of the observation is to remember them in front of their graveyard and today is the finenest day because it is the 70th year of the battle, he added.
Deputy CM of Manipur Gaikhangam said that his state likes to pay respect to the all the soldiers of different nationalities who were buried in these cemeteries.
They had come from different parts of the world during the Second World War and fell down fighting in Manipur, he said.
He also said that his government is highly pleased to work with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Governor of Manipur VK Duggal said, “We have gathered here today to remember and pay our homage to those who died in the Manipur theatre of the Second World War.”
“Both sides lost heavily and thousands were killed during those few months in what is recorded as the biggest land battle of the Second World War in Imphal.”
He said while a numbers of the soldiers were interred and their names etched in the cemetery, a large number were neither remembered nor properly buried or cremated.
We are praying today for those who laid down their life far away from their homes in these places, which most of them never knew exist before they were sent here for the battle he said.
He further said that several countries made the supreme sacrifice here and he compliment the distinguished representatives from various countries whose citizen had died here for the trouble they have taken to take part in the memorial service and 70th years back the country people have not forgotten them.
There is no victory at war in the true sense, as both sides suffer tremendous losses and the loss is not only in the terms of human life but also in terms of damages to environment and disruption of political, social, culture and economics systems he added.