Italy honours fallen Indian solders of World War II


New Delhi : Sixty-two years ago, nearly 6,000 Indian soldiers lost their lives far away from home in the hills of Italy fighting the Axis powers. Today, for the first time, their role was commemorated in a ceremony in a World War II battleground in southern Italy.

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The remembrance function took place in Cassino, southern Italy, where one of the fiercest battles of the Italian campaign took place to breach the German army’s Gothic line of defence. The fourth, eighth and 10th Indian infantry divisions took part in the four assaults by Allied troops between January to May, 1944.

The function was attended by the Italian deputy defence minister, Emidio Casula, Indian ambassador to Italy, Rajiv Dogra, Mayor of Cassini and senior Indian and Italian army generals. The Italian army gave a special Guard of Honour.

The Italian minister recalled the “immense sacrifice” of the Indian soldiers that led to the defeat of fascism, adding, they were “still remembered for their discipline, valour and friendship”.

“Almost 50,000 troops, between the ages of 16 and 22, fought for the sake of freedom in Italy. Close to 50 percent of them were injured in the process. Of these, a total of 5,782 Indian soldiers died in Italy,” said Dogra, adding that the “story of their bravery and their sacrifice is still talked about in Italian cities and villages that they helped to liberate”.

According to a press release of the Indian embassy in Rome, Indian soldiers are buried in Arezzo, Sangro, Cassino, Forli Indian army war cemetery and Rimini Gurkha War cemetery. Indian soldiers were part of Allied forces which liberated the Italian cities of Perugia, Luca, Florence, San Marino, Cesena, Forli, Ferrara and Bologna.