New community and school resource pack launched with funding scheme – The Unremembered: The Indian Story
This free new resource pack is dedicated to the sacrifice of the Indian Labour Corps and the many thousands of workers in India’s Army and Merchant Navy who were crucial to the war effort. They served on the Western Front, at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia, in East Africa and Salonika, the Middle East and the North West Frontier.
More than 1.5 million volunteered to join the Indian army during World War One – the largest volunteer army in the world. One hundred years later, their important role is being acknowledged in ground-breaking research and public projects in the UK and India. More than half a million of these volunteers served in the Indian Labour Corps. Today, they are all but forgotten. They served and suffered. Many died. They are The Unremembered.
Community groups and schools across England can use the pack to discover and meaningfully engage with the story of the Indian Labour Corps. The project encourages groups to ‘Remember Together’, enabling remembrance for our shared diverse heritage, and bringing new community groups together.
It tells the global contribution of the Indian Labour Corps, while highlighting key moments such as the Mesopotamia campaign, and key memorials to the Indian Labour Corps in Iraq, UK, India and France. For the first time, the story of all the workers in the Indian army and the Indian Merchant Seamen will brought together with the story of the Indian Labour Corps.
Thirty Indian workers names have been added to the Unremembered database of Labour Corps graves in the UK, and the pack includes a case study of a Sweeper – a contribution rarely recognised.
The pack also includes a newly-discovered song that was sung by the Indian Labour Corps men leaving Mizo in Northeast India. The lyrics have been translated for the first time in the pack by Mizo scholar Pratap Chhetri.
Launch of the resource pack
The resource pack was launched on Wednesday 14 June with a special event with the High Commission of India. His Excellency Mr. Y.K. Sinha is calling on people in the UK to discover these graves and hold their own remembrance event or activity.
The launch follows a unique community remembrance event in Leicester and New Delhi held with the High Commission of India, Leicester City Council, the British High Commission in India and United Service Institution of India, that brought the two cities with the unknown story of their connected war memorials for the first time. Identical marigold wreaths were laid in Leicester by High Commissioner of India Mr. Y.K. Sinha and in New Delhi by British High Commissioner Sir Dominic Asquith. They shared a moment of silence. This is the first time these representatives for India and Britain have shared an event of its kind.
Everyone attending the launch event was given a copy of the resource pack and a newly-commissioned marigold pin – the remembrance flower for India.
The pack is produced with the High Commission of India, Big Ideas Community Interest Company and the Department for Communities and Local Government in partnership with United Service Institution of India and the Ministry of Culture of India. It is part of a wider project called The Unremembered: World War One’s Army of Workers which engages community groups in the UK with the story of the Labour Corps from across the world.
How to receive a pack and join the project
Local community groups and schools across the UK are encouraged to join the project. They can receive the free resource pack, Unremembered database and additional resources by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Small-scale funding is available to Unremembered activites. More information on applying is available at www.bigideascompany.org/funding-opportunities.
The Unremembered: The Indian Story takes place during India@UK 2017: Year of Culture.