‘The ANZAC India Story’ at the Australia India Institute

MELBOURNE, 22 April 2024: About 16,000 soldiers from the British India Army were part of the allied forces campaign at Gallipoli from 19 February 1915 to 9 January 1916, during the first world war. The aim being to weaken the  Ottoman Empire and make the Suez Canal safe.  Every year 25th April is the commemoration day of the Gallipoli campaign.

The Australia India Institute (AII) today celebrated the untold history of the ANZAC-India relationship formed at Gallipoli in 1915. Lisa Singh, CEO, AII made the initial remarks about the current relations between Australia and India and how the participation of Indian soldiers of the British India Army in the Gallipoli campaign laid the foundation of the ANZAC India story:

Prof. Peter Stanley (military historian) who has done extensive research on Indian soldiers in Gallipoli and written the book ‘Die in Battle, Do not Despair: The Indians on Gallipoli 1915 (2021)’, gave the keynote address with a photogenic power-point presentation on the historical ANZAC-India contacts, as Australia grappled with the ‘White Australia’ policy. The Gallipoli campaign created communication channels between Australians and Indian soldiers, said Prof. Stanley.

Addressing the gathering Australia’s Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts MP, said the Australians and Indian soldiers bonded in battle and had a deep respect for each other. The Minister commended the role of the Indians in the Gallipoli campaign. This year, he said, Australians, New Zealanders and Indians will come together to commemorate the sacrifices at Gallipoli and this shared relationship has laid the foundation of the ties between Australia and India. These relations have been consolidated by the Ministerial visits and the signing of the free trade agreement between the two countries, he said.

Mark Trayling,  grandson of Indian Navy Commander JB “Dick” Simmons and commissioner of ‘Bahadur’ painting in his remarks said the relations between Australians and Indians went back to 4,000 years, where indigenous Australians related their origin to India. He officially unveiled and presented the special ‘Bahadur’ painting to the Institute. It was painted by mouth by Leading Air Craftsman Mridul Ghosh, a resident of the Paraplegic Centre for Armed Forces in Pune, India. The painting features a portrait of Australian Private John Kilpatrick Simpson, whose courageous efforts to rescue wounded soldiers for medical attention earned him the nickname ‘Bahadur – bravest of the brave’ from Indian troops.

Among those present at the function were Dr. Sushil Kumar – Consul General of India, The Honourable Ted Baillieu AO, Steve McGhie MP – Member of the Legislative Assembly, Parliament of Victoria, Dean Lee – CEO, Shrine of Remembrance, Colonel Rajesh Kaswan, Colonel Paramjit Singh Brar, Colonel Ashok Abhilashi and other prominent Indians, media and community leaders.

By Neeraj Nanda

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