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
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
Also see: My blog entry on Bengali War Memorial
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).
Napier Road, Hastings
Also see: My blog post on Lascar Memorial
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
Also see: My blog post on Armenian Genocide Day
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
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)
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!!!!
- 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