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Bastille Day: 269 Indian soldiers reach France to be part of parade

Bastille Day: The connection between Indian and French forces traces its roots back to World War I. During the war, over 1.3 million Indian soldiers took part, with approximately 74,000 bravely fighting in the treacherous trenches and making the ultimate sacrifice. Tragically, another 67,000 soldiers were wounded in action

Bastille Day: 269-member Indian contigent in France to be part of July 14 national Day parade
First Published Jul 6, 2023, 3:39 PM IST

A 269-member tri-services contingent of the Indian Armed Forces has left for France to participate in the country's National Day, also known as the Bastille Day. The contingent will be marching alongside their French counterparts. It must be noted that this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending as the Guest of Honour at the Bastille Day Parade. Every year, 14 July is celebrated as the Fête Nationale Française or the National Day in France. It is also known as Bastille Day as this day symbolises the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in 1789 during the French Revolution.  

Indian and French Army relations 

It is pertinent to mention here that the association between the two forces dates back to World War I. More than 13 lakh Indian soldiers participated in the war and around 74,000 of them fought in the muddy trenches to never return again, while another 67,000 were wounded. 

“Indian troops had valiantly fought on French soil,” an official said, adding, "Their courage, valour and supreme sacrifice not only thwarted the enemy but also significantly contributed towards winning the war." 

In World War II as well, over 25 lakh Indian soldiers made significant contributions in various theatres of the war from Asia to Africa and Europe. “This also included the battlefields of France.”

“The Indian troops established their valour in these wars which was well recognised in the form of several gallantry awards being bestowed on the Indian soldiers,” the official said. 

25 years of India-France strategic partnership 
It should also be noted that the two countries are celebrating 25 years of their strategic partnership. The armies of both countries have been participating in joint exercises and sharing their experiences. Over the years, India and France have become reliable defence partners.

The Indian Army contingent, comprising 77 marching personnel and 38 band members, is being led by Captain Aman Jagtap. The Indian Navy contingent is being led by Commander Vrat Baghel and the Indian Air Force contingent by Wing Commander Sudha Reddy. 

Bastille Day: 269-member Indian contigent in France to be part of July 14 national Day parade

The Rafale fighter jets of the Indian Air Force will also form part of the flypast during the parade. 

The Army contingent is represented by the Punjab Regiment, which is one of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army. The troops of the regiment have participated in both the World Wars as well as the post-independence operations. In World War-I, they were awarded 18 Battle and Theatre Honours. The gallant soldiers fought in Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, Palestine, Egypt, China, Hongkong, Damascus and France. 

In France, they took part in an offensive near Neuve Chapelle in September 1915 earning the Battle Honours 'Loos' and ‘France and Flanders’. In World War II, they earned 16 Battle Honours and 14 Theatre Honours. 

The Rajputana Rifles Regiment Band is accompanying the contingent. The band of the regiment was raised in 1920 at Nasirabad (Rajasthan). The regiment is the senior-most rifle regiment of the Indian Army. Most of its battalions have a long and glorious history and they have taken part in some of the bloodiest battles in many theatres of the world.

"They have demonstrated exemplary contribution in both World Wars. During World War II, the battalions of the Regiment fought in every theatre where the Indian Army was involved. They are the recipient of six Victoria Cross prior to independence," the official said.

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