Haifa: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu laid wreaths at the Indian War Cemetery in Haifa today, where 44 Indian soldiers died during the liberation of the city in World War I.
The two Prime Ministers also unveiled a plaque on the memory of Major Dalpat Singh, who led the successful cavalry charge that resulted in the liberation of Haifa.
"I am deeply honoured to stand here today to salute the valiant soldiers, who laid down their lives for the liberation of Haifa during the first World War," the Prime Minister wrote in the visitors book.
He also wrote that next year, the centenary of the Battle of Haifa would present another opportunity to mark the enduring bond between India and Israel.
An Indian officer who laid down his life in the same battle, was Captain Aman Bahadur, whose grandson later served as a Brigadier in the Indian Army.
In a statement, the government of India gave the background to this historic battle. The three bronze statues at Teen Murthi represent the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers who were part of the 15 Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade. The brigade carried out the victorious assault on the fortified city of Haifa on 23rd September 1918, during World War I. There are various accounts of this battle - all narrate the brave valour with which the lancers undertook the assault on the garrisoned town protected by a joint force of Ottomans, Germany and Austria Hungary. The capture of Haifa cleared a route for the Allies to supplies to the city through the sea.
Till date, the 61 Cavalry celebrates September 23 as its Raising Day or "Haifa Day."