[Italy], May 31 (ANI): A solemn ceremony was organised in Prato, near Florence in Italy to commemorate the sacrifice made by two Indian soldiers – Hari Singh and Palu Ram of the Indian Army during World War II.
The ceremony for the presentation of urns was organised on Wednesday at Public Assistance, Prato (Florence).
In addition to a sizeable presence from the community of Prato and the Italian Armed Forces, the ceremony was attended by the Mayor, President of Public Assistance and Prefect of Prato.
Representatives of Common Wealth War Graves Commission, Red Cross Society and host of other dignitaries of Prato also attended the ceremony.
The Indian side was represented by Reenat Sandhu, the Indian Ambassador to Italy and Colonel Rohit Teotia, the Defence Attache to Italy.
As many as 16 senior officers attending the National Defence College Course in India and on a study tour to Italy also represented India and attended the ceremony.
The function was conducted as per appropriate military honours after which urns containing the ashes of the individuals were handed over by the Italian authorities to the Indian side, who further handed over the same to the custody of the Common Wealth War Graves Commission.
Ashes of these two soldiers will be scattered on July 16, in the Forli war cemetery where the other comrades from that battlefield have also been commemorated.
The contribution of Indian soldiers in the liberation of Italy during the Second World War is well known. Almost 50,000 Indian troops, mostly between the ages of 19 to 22, fought for the ‘Liberation of Italy’.
The first Indian troops were landed at Taranto in the south of Naples on September 19, 1943. From then until April 29, 1945, they were engaged in a heroic mission.
At least 5,782 troops made the supreme sacrifice during the Italian campaign. It is creditable that out of 20 Victoria Crosses awarded during this campaign, Indians received six Victoria Crosses.
In the present case, human bones were found near Florence in 1996 from Indian area of the battlefield at Poggio Alto near Montale (Florence). The remains were exhumed and investigated by a team of doctors.
Based on the date of death, location of the remains, anthropometric and morphological examination, findings on boots worn and ammunition used, the researchers matched the Commonwealth records of missing soldiers to ascribe the remains to those of Hari Singh and Palu Ram.
Service documents of both the individuals were found in the Army Records held with the National Archives of India.
Based on details of heights provided, the correct identification of the two corpses could be carried out successfully and now the remains of the soldiers have been duly cremated. (ANI)