C is for Chattri.

C is for Chattri.

 

The First World War was a truly global event. The Chattri marks the place, on the Downs above Brighton, where Hindu and Sikh soldiers, who succumbed to their wounds, were cremated.

Indian troops formed a significant percentage of commonwealth support, more numerous that Australian, or Canadian for example. Their stories are mostly lost. Partially for political reasons, India was seeking independence, and that was a painful and bloody process. This unfortunately sidelines their contribution in Western accounts, either consciously or not. Another major factor was that a lot of the Indian troops were illiterate. A huge amount of Western collective knowledge about the first world war is from the writings of individual soldiers, war poetry, letters, accounts. There is not the scale of surviving material from Indian troops.

One of the places wounded Indian soldiers were treated, was the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. This 19th Century building was built in a classic indian style, so this appears to be a deliberate choice, or perhaps it was just a coincidence.

 

Officially opened in 1921 by The Prince of Wales, and maintained ever since, it is a lonely and moving place. Access is by foot, following a long path through grazed farmland. The world takes a back seat.

Advertisements