Commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice
H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India was in Puducherry to commemorate the Centenary of the end of WWI and honour Indian and French soldiers at the French War Memorial in the presence of Hon’ble Lt. Governor, Dr. K. Bedi, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri V. Narayanasamy, Major General, Shri K Umamaheswar V.S.M, Hon’ble Chief Secretary, Shri. A. Kumar, Hon’ble Director General of Police, Shrimati S. Sundari Nanda and Consul General of France in Puducherry Ms Catherine Suard.
Puducherry, 10-11 November 2018
The Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler, was in Puducherry on 10th -11th November to honour Indian and French soldiers who fought during World War I. The Republic of France decided to celebrate the centenary of the end of the WWI all over the world. In India, it was found befitting to commemorate in Puducherry where the sole French WWI Memorial is located and the city which has sent its sons to the war front a century ago.
On the eve of World War I Armistice Day, Ambassador Ziegler joined in the Evening Vigil on Saturday 10th November, at 8.30 pm, at the French War Memorial, Beach Road. The occasion was marked by a roll call of the 75 names of Puducherry’s heroes who died during WWI and students from the French International School reading poems.
In the presence of the Hon’ble Lt. Governor, Dr. K. Bedi, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri V. Narayanasamy, Major General, Shri K Umamaheswar V.S.M, Hon’ble Chief Secretary, Shri. A. Kumar, Hon’ble Director General of Police, Shrimati S. Sundari Nanda, Consul General of France in Puducherry Ms Catherine Suard, French Defence Attaché Colonel Mr L. Dumont, and high-level Indian and French Armed Forces officials, on the Centenary Day of the Armistice, Sunday 11th November at 11.00 am, Ambassador Ziegler commemorated the valour and sacrifice of war heroes with a Centenary homage at the French War Memorial, by addressing the gathering and laying a wreath at the monument. War veterans’ associations also attended the event.
On this occasion, Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler remarked: “France will always remember the remarkable contribution of the Indian soldiers alongside the Allied Forces in the Great War. Almost 1 500 000 (15 lakh) Indian soldiers fought on all fronts, 74,000 of them perishing in the War. Among these men-at-arms from India were numerous French servicemen hailing from trading posts of the period. While the mobilization and loss in the French trading posts in India were thankfully lower than that of the rest of the Empire, Pondicherry mobilized 800 men, 500 of whom were sent to the warfront, 75 meeting their death.”
The ceremony came one day after the inauguration by Hon’ble Vice President of India, H.E Mr Venkaiah Naidu of the First Memorial for Indian soldiers in France, at Villiers-Guislain, which pays tribute to the 2000 Indian cavaliers who valiantly stopped the German army in November 1917.
In the margins of the Centenary commemorations, from 11th to 13th November, the French President Emmanuel Macron is taking a great leap to assemble in Paris over 80 Heads of States and Governments under the banner of the First Paris Peace Forum. The Forum is set to become the annual rendezvous for ideas and initiatives which effectively contribute to better international cooperation on the key global issues, fairer and more equitable globalization and a more effective multilateral system. Along with Heads of State and Government, representatives from the major international organizations and stakeholders from civil society are expected to be among the several thousands of participants. The Paris Peace Forum will be centred on five themes: peace and security, the environment, development, digital and new technologies and the inclusive economy.
In Puducherry, the commemorations go on for over a week starting from the 9th of November and extending till the 17th.
Several films on the War and allied subjects will be screened at the Alliance Française from the 9th onwards. A couple of exhibitions will be held at the Consulate and at the Foyer du Soldat. A live exhibition will take place as well as a book release and a group of students from the French International School will sing the national anthems at the War Memorial.
A wreath laying ceremony is also going to be held in Karaikal on the 16th.
The First War spanned from 1914 to 1918, making among all the defence services 18.6 million of dead, invalid, mutilated people among which 8 million were civilians.