Home > Calcutta (Kolkata), Calcutta Heritage, General > World War I (WWI) Memorials, Calcutta (Kolkata)

World War I (WWI) Memorials, Calcutta (Kolkata)

World War I Memorials, Calcutta (Kolkata)

A Compilation of WWI Memorials in Calcutta (Kolkata)

From fallen soldiers to innocent victims of mass genocide, Calcutta (Kolkata) houses several memorials in memory of the martyrs of the Great War of 1914 – 18 (World War I). From well known towering memorials of British soldiers to hidden memorials dedicated to unknown regiments. Calcutta (Kolkata) WWI Memorials not only covers a wide range of history but also a diversified architectural style.

Glorious Dead Cenotaph

Calcutta (Kolkata) Maidan

Also see: My blog entry on Glorious Dead Cenotaph, Calcutta

Glorious Dead Cenotaph, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Glorious Dead Cenotaph, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Located on the Northern end of the Calcutta (Kolkata) Maidan the Glorious Dead Cenotaph is the most well known of the WWI Memorials of Calcutta (Kolkata). Designed by architect Herbert William Palliser, the sandstone built memorial loosely resembles the Cenotaph of Whitehall. London.

The Eastern side of the cenotaph bears the inscription “Glorious Dead” on the lower portion. The top portion of the Southern and Northern side contains the inscription MCMXIV and MCMXVIII respectively. The inscription in Roman numerals read 1914 and 1918, the beginning and end of the Great War.

The cenotaph commemorates those Calcutta British who gave their lives for King and Country during the First World War. The original brass plaque containing the names of the fallen has been removed to the St. John’s Church, Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1959.

All the names noted in the brass plaque were British name indicating that the “Glorious Dead” cenotaph was a WWI dedicated only to British and Anglo – Indian soldiers.

The Glorious Dead Cenotaph is enclosed by a low railing with the  entrance marked by twin bronze statues of British soldiers. The statues adopt the standard British army funeral vigil stance of heads bowed with bayonetted rifle turned upside-down.

A detailed article on the “Glorious Dead” Cenotaph is coming up in my blog soon.

Bengali War Memorial

College Square

Also see: My blog entry on Bengali War Memorial

Bengali War Memorial, College Square, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Bengali War Memorial, College Square, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Bengalis have never been a warrior race, and a Bengali fighting a war would be one of the last thing one can imagine. Bengalis are rather dubbed as book worms showing their excellence in academic fields. But in the very heart of Kolkata’s acadamic hub stands a memorial dedicated to the Bengali warriors killed during World War I.

Located just at the entrance of East gate of College Square this monument is rarely visible as its is likely to be surrounded by posters or wet clothings left to dry. Top of the pillar, like memorial, is marked with the inscription “49 Bengalis.” 49 stood for the 49th Bengali Regiment.

The base contains the following inscriptions “In memory of members of The 49th Bengalee Regiment who died in the Great War, 1914-1918, To the Glory of God, King and Country.”

The other three sides of the memorial base contains the names of the 49 Bengalis killed in the Great War of 1914 – 1918. It also contains the following information of Reg. No., Rank, Date of Death, District from which come.

The districts are Midnapore, Mymensinh, Murshidabad, Nadia, Calcutta, Jessore, Burdwan, Pabna, Chittagong, Khulna, Barisal, Faridpore, Pabna, 24-Parganas and Tripura (Tipperah).

Lascar Memorial

Napier Road, Hastings

Also see: My blog post on Lascar Memorial

Lascar Memorial, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Lascar Memorial, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Sandwiched between the two buildings of the Navy House in Napier Road in Hasting region of Calcutta (Kolkata) stands a towering structure built in the honor of 896 Lascars, who died fighting for the British Navy during the Great War of 1914 – 18 (First World War).

The 100 ft memorial built in the Indo-Mughal style has prows of an ancient galley projecting from each side and is capped by four mini minarets and a large dome. Along the facade are undulating lines symbolizing waves.

Lascar Memorial was designed by William Ingram Keir, who earned an award of Rs 500 for its design in an international contest in 1920.

The Lascar War Memorial was unveiled to public by the then governor of Bengal, Lord Lytton, on February 6, 1924. A plaque inside the Lascar War Memorial stands as a witness to the historic event. The other plaque is in the memory of the 896 Lascars, although the term “Lascar” is not used. They have been mentioned as “Seaman of Bengal, Asam and Upper India.” The third smaller plaques tells about the renovation and lighting of the Lascar War Memorial. The Memorial was renovated in 1994, under the initiative of  commodore B K Mohanti.

Armenian Genocide Memorial

Armenian Church

Also see: My blog post on Armenian Genocide Day

Armenian Genocide Memorial, Armenian Church, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Armenian Genocide Memorial, Armenian Church, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Not a memorial for fallen WWI soldiers, the Armenian Genocide Memorial stands at the compound of the Armenian Church (officially known as the Church of the Holy Nazareth), Calcutta’s (Kolkata’s) oldest Christian Church. Although not exactly a war memorial but commemorates the killing of about 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during the Great War of 1914 – 18 (WWI).

The starting date of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day when Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals. 24 April is considered as the Armenian Genocide day and its is remembered by Armenians through out the world.

The small memorial located on the Armenian Church Complex was erected my the small minority of Calcutta (Kolkata) Armenians on 24 April 1965 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Every year the small group of Calcutta (Kolkata) Armenian gather at the memorial on 24 April to pay tribute to over one million Armenians who lost there lives under the most tragic conditions during the great world war of 1914 – 18.

Plaque of Jatindra Nath Mukherjee, BAC Vuolenteer

Oriental Seminary School, Chitpur Road

Memorial Plaque of Jatindra Nath Mukherjee

Memorial Plaque of Jatindra Nath Mukherjee

Located on the walls of the Oriental Seminary School on Chitpur Road (Rabindra Sarani) is a plaque dedicated to, the ex student of the school, Jatindra Nath Mukherjee.

Jatindra Nath Mukherjee joined the Bengal Ambulance Corps (BAC) in 1914 and died in the battle of Ctesiphon in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). He died for his King and Country in a foreign land

The plaque was raised in his memory by the boys and staffs of the Oriental Seminary. Sadly there is no record of the date of installation of the plaque.

The plaque is perhaps the only World War I (WWI) plaque in Calcutta (Kolkata) which is dedicated to a single individual.

Sadly the existence of the memorial plaque of Jitendra Nath Mukherjee is largely unknown and nothing is known about the brave student of Oriental Seminary.

Plaques of Edward Upton Body and Andrein Franklin Leslie & Alexander Addis Leslie

St. John’s Church, Kolkata (Calcutta)

World War I (WWI) Plaques, St. John's Church, Kolkata (Calcutta)

World War I (WWI) Plaques, St. John’s Church, Kolkata (Calcutta)

In the previous post I have written that the plaque of Jatindra Nath Mukherjee is perhaps the only World War I (WWI) plaque in Calcutta (Kolkata) which is dedicated to a single individual. But within a couple of months I was proved wrong. The walls of St. John’s Church contains another memorial plaque of a fallen soldier of World War I (WWI). It is a brass plaque (photo left) dedicated to Edward Upton Body, who was an warden of St. John Church.

The other plaque of St. John’s Church is more interesting, its a World War I (WWI) plaque but not a memorial plaque. Sounds strange!!!! This brass plaque (photo right) was presented to the Church by Franklin Morston Leslie and his wife Emma Helen as a token of gratitude to God for preserving the lives of their soldier sons Andrein Franklin Leslie and Alexander Addis Leslie during the Great War.

This is perhaps (I am using the word perhaps again) the only plaque of World War I (WWI) dedicated to people, who have come back alive from the Great War.

Strangeness of the World War (WWI) plaques don’t end here, both the plaques claim that these are “mosaic panels at the apse of the church.” Strangely both are brass panels and are located at entrance of the church, next to the entrance of the Church Office.

So was the interiors of the Church modified or something else, may be the minute books of St. John’s Church may hold the answer!!!!

Note:

  • This is a compilation article and not exhaustive. It would be updated from time to time
  • It is a compilation of WWI Memorials no graves are included

A tweet from Amitav Ghosh

  1. April 17, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    just superb! only a handful of people might know the history of the memorials. and, except the War Memorial (in Maidan), most of us did not know existence of the others!

    • April 19, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      Thanks Supratim for the words of appreciation, its really a pity that the cultural active Calcuttans are not much aware of their structural heritage.

  2. April 17, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Laudable effort to put on record the WW I memorials in Kolkata whose existence would be unnoticed by the Kokattans. I would certainly include them in my next visit.

    • April 19, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      Dear Mr Mitra, thanks for your encouraging comment. Do visit them during your next trip to Calcutta.

      If you need any help do let me know.

  3. April 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    GOOD COLLECTION – I have never seen before such well organised documentation on such an unique subject.

    • April 19, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      Thanks Somen. I am planning some more documentations like this.

  4. Santanu Das
    April 18, 2013 at 2:53 AM

    This is absolutely wonderful and extremely valuable – and opens up so many questions about the culture of commemoration surrounding India and WW1 and post-Independence amnesia (or not quite). While the architectural style of the three WW1 memorials is impressively varied, I found particularly poignant the memorial to the Armenian genocide. And there’s this moving WW1 account of an Indian sweeper – Jammu – finding an Armenian child seated next to a well (where his murdered parents have been thrown) and crying inconsolably. Jammu adopted him and gave him the name ‘Babulal’. Mr Dutta’s documentation is richly illuminating – this is powerful historical recovery.

  5. April 18, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    thanks for the informative post …. I am born and brought up in Kolkata and I never knew all this … been to college square , hastings everywhere n number of times .. yet !! first timer on your blog… loved it very much as well

    • April 19, 2013 at 7:53 PM

      Hi, thanks for the comment and welcome to my blog. Calcutta has many such hidden gems, a little homework and they can be spotted easily.

      Happy exploring and blogging.

      • April 19, 2013 at 10:55 PM

        indeed !! in fact Kolkata itself is a gem .. a city rightfully called ‘ of joy ‘ …🙂

  6. April 24, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Etar jonno dhonnobad

    • April 24, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Apnar comment er jono dhonnobad (Thanks for your comment)

  7. April 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Really amazing facts to know, great work! It is so true that, the war memorial at college square often overlooked because of the posters and litter surrounding it. cheers!

    • April 24, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      Thanks Sabyasachi for the comment, really Calcutta is full of hidden gems.

  8. NIRMALYA
    July 24, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    The untiring explorer within you can teach us so many things which are very nearby yet we continue to ignore their heritage and glory in our very own city. thanks a lot….

    • July 24, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Thanks Nirmalya, we all have a explorer within us, all you have to do is to keep you eyes and ears open.

      Thanks once for the inspiring comment.

  9. radhika singha
    March 5, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    Please could you let me know more about who inspired the proposal to put up a memorial to the 49th bengali Bn…were funds raised by public subscription – who inaugurated it..there seems to be no mention of official ceremonial…thanks radhika

  10. Soham Roy Majumder
    March 9, 2015 at 3:38 AM

    Are there any world war 2 memorials in kolkata or any parts in our country???

    • April 11, 2015 at 11:54 AM

      Dear Soham, thanks for your equerry. India was at the doorsteps of freedom during the World war II (WWII) and the Indian National Army (INA) fought against the British. The INA has a memorial at the Kolkata Maidan.

      I am not sure whether there is any memorial dedicated to soldiers (British, Anglo Indian or Indian) who died fighting for the British in WWII.

      Thanks once again and do keep in touch.

  11. Mary
    April 28, 2016 at 9:31 PM

    Rangan,
    Hope all is well. I’d be forever grateful if I could
    have a better legible photo of the 49th Bengalee Reg Memorial! I want the detail info
    those soldiers, please🙏🏼
    Appreciate this very very much!

  12. Nihar Roy
    June 25, 2016 at 12:40 AM

    Respected Mr. Dutta,
    Kazi Nazul Islam was attached to 49th Bengali Regiment. Is it a fact?

    • June 25, 2016 at 8:00 AM

      Dear Mr Nihar Roy, yes Kazi Nazrul Islam was attached with 49th Bengali Regiment. This is just a compilation of WWI memorials in Kolkata, please read my separate article on 49th Bengali War Memorial

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