ANZAC JAWAN Cenotaph Memorial dedicated to Indian Soldiers


By : Julian Leeser, Federal MP For Berowra.

Saturday 10th November 2018, Greenway Park, Cherrybrook, NSW, Australia.

As the Federal Member for Berowra, and as the Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of India it is an honour and a privilege to unveil the ANZAC Jawan Memorial on the eve of the centenary of Armistice. We dedicate today, a memorial to the Indian soldiers who fought for Australia in the First AIF in World War One.

Cadets showing their respect to fallen soldiers

Some years ago I heard the story of the Indians who fought in the AIF in World War One.  

Source : SBS –

In the lead up to the Centenary of Armistice I encouraged leaders of the Indian community, resident in the Berowra electorate, in particular Parveen Gupta and Ashwani Jain to make an application for a grant  for a the establishment of a memorial to the Indians who fought with the AIF .  They approached the local RSL President Terry James who was an enthusiastic supporter as was Hornsby Council and its Mayor Philip Ruddock.

Julian Leeser MP, Terry James AICM JP, Jay Raman OAM

The idea for this memorial was considered by the local federal armistice grants committee chaired by the historian and former MP AndrewTink AM. Serving onthat committee were Brigadier Charles New OAM, Mr Jim Mein AM, Mrs Jilly Warren and Mrs Jenni Bohman. 

The federal grant and funds raised by the Hindu Council allowed for the construction of this monument which we will unveil today.

I particularly want to acknowledge Parveen Gupta, the Hindu Council under Prakash Mehta and the RSL’s Terry James who have been the driving forces behind the monument and the ceremony today.

Memorial a first

This memorial is the first of its kind in NSW.

Australian Cadets guarding the memorial

It will help do three things.

First, it will remind Australians that the Indian community is not a new community but one that has been in Australia for a long time and always makes a contribution to our country in times of war and times of peace.

Second, it will be a permanent reminder of the way in which the Indian community has embraced the ANZAC Spirit – that that spirit lives on even for those who have no direct family connection to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

And third it will be a reminder that Australia and India have marched together in the past to defend freedoms in time of war and we will always march together in the future to defend our freedoms.

Indians in Australia

The first Indians came to Australia as convicts in 1800 and the first free Indians came in 1816 as labourers.  By federation there were roughly 3000 Indians in Australia and nearly 4000 by the time of the outbreak of World War One . Larger numbers of Indians came to Australia after World War Two.

Julian Leeser unveiling speech

In the 20 years from the 1960s to the 1980s the Indian population grew by 22,000due to migration. Inthenext 20 years it grew by 54,000 due to migration but from the year 2000 an additional 400,000 Indians have migrated to Australia.

Today there are 700,000 Indian Australians working in every field of endeavour helpingtobuild a prosperous Australia..

The Indians who fought with the AIF

But today we are here to honour a special group of Indians

The Indian Soldiers whowe honour today who fought in the First AIF.

They were like so many other Australians who fought in the First AIF.

Out of a population of fewer than 5 million people 410,000 Australians enlisted in the First AIF. 60,000 made the supreme sacrifice while 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.

Just like the other soldiers fighting in the AIF the Indian soldiers were a diverse lot.

They lived almost every state in Australia. They lived in cities and towns.

They were farmers, labourers, shopkeepers merchants, travellers, contractors and hawkers.

Some enlisted early at the beginning of 1915 while other enlisted in the final months of 1917.

They ranged in age from 28- 49.  We often hear stories of younger soldiers lying about their age to enlist. What is remarkable is the higher proportion of Indian soldiers who were volunteering to fight after the age of 40 which was often considered too old to serve.

They fought in the 3rd Light Horse, and the 10th, 13th, 33rd, 44th and 50thBattalionsseeing action in the Sinai Palestine campaign and on the Western Front.

ANZAC Jawan Cenotaph team – Rajeev Maini (Architect), Ashwani Sharma, Bhagwat Chauhan, Ashwani Jain, Sanjeev Bhakri, Parveen Gupta and Engineer Bhadhwar (not in picture)

The soldiers also had to overcome prejudice. The Defence Act 1909 barred soldiers “who are not substantially of European origin or descent” from enlisting. The fact that these men chose to serve regardless of this barrier shows how keen they were to fight for Australia

Of the soldiers honoured today two of them Nain Singh Sailani and Saran Singh made the Supreme sacrifice.

Indians and Australians fighting along-side eachother

Beyond the dozen soldiers we honour today we also remember that the Indian Army fought along side the ANZACs in World War One and World War Two.

In the First World War the Indian Army deployed 1.5 Million troops. 50,000 of whom made the supreme sacrifice, 65,000 were wounded and 10,000 were assumed missing

In the First World War India and Australia were there together at the cliffs of Gallipoli(where the Indian contingent was 15,000 strong), in the desert of the Sinai Palestine campaign and the mud of the Western Front. The Indian army fought the same campaigns as my great grandfather a replica of whose medals I wear today.

In the Second World War Indians and Australians against fought successfully against the Germans in Tobruk and El AlaemainFrance, Greece and Italy and unsuccessfully against the Japanese in Singapore like my grandfather whose medals I also wear.They also fought against the Japanese successfully in Malaya, Boreneo and Burma.

That defence cooperation continues today. 

India is a vital security partner for Australia both in the Indian Ocean and the broader Indo-Pacific region. Both Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper and the 2016 Defence White Paper, emphasised the importance of deepening Australia’s engagement with India on our shared interests in maritime security, regional stability, and countering violent extremism.

Our defence relationship has significantly expanded in recent years through the Annual 2+2 Foreign and Defence Secretaries’ Dialogue, which was last held on the 10 October. The success of this dialogue symbolises the progress which the relationship has made in recent years, and presents important opportunities for further development.

For the first time, in 2018 Australia also welcomed India’s participation in RAAF and RAN biennial multilateral engagement exercises. Another bilateral maritime exercise has already been scheduled for 2019, demonstrating that our relationship is already stretching into the future.

Julian Leeser after unveiling the names of 12 ANZAC Jawans


I hope that this monument is a source of pride to the Indian community of Australia. The history of World War One is so fundamental to the Australian national character and story. This monument signifies that Indian Australians share that character and are part of that story.  It is due recognition of the contribution of Indians to the defence of Australia and its values.

I hope this monument is also a source of pride to all other Australians that a community whose numbers have grown recently have been so willing to embrace Australia and its traditions

Finally I hope that this reminds all who take time to look at the monument and reflect on it that Australia and India have a shared military past but more importantly we have a shared future in time of war and in time of peace.

It is now my pleasure and privilege to unveil the Anzac Jawan Cenotaph memorial.

@julianleeser #julianleeser


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