(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Umar Sofi)
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General MM Naravane embarks on a four-day visit to the United Kingdom and Italy starting Monday, July 5. The visit will also see the army chief inaugurating an Indian Army Memorial in the Cassino town of Italy. In the first leg of the visit on July 5 and 6, the COAS will hold talks with the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of General Staff and other dignitaries, the army said.
“The COAS will also inaugurate the Indian Army Memorial in the famous town of Cassino and will be briefed at the Italian Army’s Counter IED Centre of Excellence at Cecchingola, Rome,” it said. The memorial was built to pay homage to over 5,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting German and Japanese forces during the World War II. Between 1943 and 1945, nearly 50,000 Indian soldiers were deployed to fight for Italy’s liberation.
“The fourth, eighth, and tenth Indian Infantry Divisions were employed in the battle for the capture of Monte Cassino and in the bitter campaign that followed for the breaching of the Gothic Line,” former Italian army chief General Fabrizio Castagnetti had said while speaking at a ceremony at Cassino earlier in which tributes were paid to these slain Indian soldiers.
Besides Casino, Italy has many cemeteries where Indian soldiers are buried. Perugia, Luca, Florence, San Marino, Cesena, Forli, Ferrara, and Bologna are a few of the Italian cities that Indian soldiers helped to liberate during World War II. Six Indian soldiers who were part of allied contingents fighting for the liberation of Italy also received the prestigious Victoria Cross.