New Delhi: A moving ceremony to remember some 900 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in liberating the Israeli port city Haifa during World War I was held for the first time at the Haifa Cemetery on September 22. (Read: Battle of Haifa - 23 Sep 1918)
This is the first time such a ceremony was held to commemorate the memory of fallen Indian soldiers.
The event was marked by a wreath laying ceremony by Ambassador of India to Israel, H E Navtej Sarna and other dignitaries. Speaking at the ceremony, Sarna underlined the important role played by the Indian soldiers during World War I and the valour shown by them in this theatre of operations.
A large number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives in this region during the war and nearly 900 are cremated or buried in cemeteries across Israel.
Every year on September 23, the Indian Army commemorates "Haifa Day" on which two brave Indian cavalry regiments helped liberate the city in 1918 following dashing cavalry action by the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade.
In the autumn of 1918, the Brigade was a part of the Allied Forces sweeping northwards through Palestine in the last great cavalry campaign in history.
During the battle for Haifa in September 1918, the Indian troops exhibited exemplary cavalry skills and bravery in a successful cavalry charge which finally culminated in the liberation of Haifa.
Captain Bahadur Aman Singh Jodha and Dafadar Jor Singh were awarded the Indian Order of Merit (IOM) and Captain Anop Singh and 2 Lt Sagat Singh were awarded the Military Cross (MC) as recognition for their bravery in this battle.
Major Thakur Dalpat Singh MC is known in the annals of history as the Hero of Haifa for his critical role in the battle for Haifa.
The action of the Indian troops has been vividly recorded in the Official History of the War- Military operation Egypt and Palestine (volume 2): "No more remarkable cavalry action of its scale was fought in the whole course of the campaign. Machine gun bullets over and over again failed to stop the galloping horses even though many of them succumbed afterwards to their injuries". This remains the only known incident in military history when a fortified town was captured by cavalry on the gallop.
A two-member Indian Army delegation led by Col. M.S. Jodha, grandson of Captain Aman Singh Bahadur, had especially come here to attend the ceremony.