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WWI memorial honours India's dead

image captionThe new war memorial has been built a few metres away from the Chattri

A new war memorial has been unveiled in Sussex to pay tribute to 53 Indian soldiers who died during World War I.

The memorial, built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), stands a few metres from the existing Patcham Down Indian Forces Cremation Memorial.

The new memorial is part of a CWGC project to examine the often overlooked contribution of servicemen and women from India during the two world wars.

The original memorial, known as the Brighton Chattri, was unveiled in 1921.

It was built on a site on the Sussex Downs where Hindu and Sikh soldiers, who died following hospitalisation in Brighton, were cremated.

Funeral rites

In 1914, the mayor and Corporation of Brighton offered the use of Brighton Pavilion to the War Office and 345 injured soldiers were moved to the city by train.

Most recovered, but 21 Muslim men who died were taken to a mosque in Woking, Surrey, and the bodies of 53 Hindus and Sikhs were cremated on the Downs and the ashes scattered in the English Channel in line with the soldiers' religious customs.

A memorial service is held at the Chattri every year.

Sunday's unveiling ceremony was being attended by the director general of the CWGC Richard Kellaway, His Excellency The High Commissioner of India to the UK Nalin Surie, representatives of the British Indian community, veterans from the Undivided Indian Ex-services Association, and the Royal British Legion.

The ceremony was being filmed for an education pack about the wartime contribution of India's servicemen and women, which will be released next month.

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