War Memorials for the Australians of Indian Heritage

The unveiling of the War Memorial for the Australians of Indian Heritage was performed at Sunnybank RSL, Brisbane on 18 November 2017. It was a historic event and first of its kind in Australia.

Subsequently, a similar War Memorial was unveiled at Hornsby RSL Sub-branch, Cherrybrook Community   and Cultural Centre, Sydney on 10 November 2018.

Very little is known in Australia about millions of service men and women of Indian Heritage, of pre-independence and undivided India, who fought on the British side in World War-I and II. In WW-I, 1.3 million Indian soldiers fought and 74,000 lost their lives.  At Gallipoli, 15,000 fought and 1,500 lost their lives. In WW-II 2.5 million Indian servicemen and women fought and 87,000 lost their lives.  Indian soldiers were the largest single contingent of all Britain’s colonies and dominions. Several soldiers of Indian Heritage represented Australia in the two Wars, whose contribution also went unrecognised.

In Brisbane, the initiative was taken by Mr. Surendra Prasad OAM, Advisor to the Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland Inc and a Director of the Hindu Council of Australia, who formed a committee named: the Australians of Indian Heritage War Memorial Committee (AIHWMC). After lobbing with the government and through the help of Mr Nick Monsour financial help was obtained from the Federal government. An Education Bursary of $1000 was also setup in the memories of the fallen Australian-Indian soldiers.

In Sydney, the initiative was taken by the Hindu Council of Australia with the Hornsby RSL Sub-Branch lobbying with the support of Mr. Julian Leeser MP, Federal Member for Berowra. A grant was received from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to establish the memorial at the Cherrybrook Community and Cultural Centre.

Vijai Singhal

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