Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Indian Memorial, Somme


Recommended Posts

Does anyone know whether the Indian Memorial on the Somme is still in place ?  

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Hyacinth1326 said:

Does anyone know whether the Indian Memorial on the Somme is still in place ?  

 

Which Indian Memorial on the Somme? Do you mean the Indian memorial at Neuve-Chapelle? Neuve-Chapelle isn't on the Somme and I wouldn't know why any memorial wouldn't be in place any more.

Link to post
Share on other sites
HERITAGE PLUS

There is also the Indian Armed Forces Memorial at Villers-Guislain, Nord., which was set up in 2018 to mark the centenary of the ending of the war.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Indian Memorial on the Somme battlefields is at Longueval, and is still there.

 

1087357629_IndianMemorial.jpg.5514c43d8a6c308b2c9b93608c952837.jpg

 

 

Photo from Thierry Grier

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, that is the one I was referring to..  Longueval Mill site. Google Maps imagery shows an empty polythene wrapped plinth and the response to the work has not been universally positive:

 

https://www.rt.com/news/471526-indian-cavalry-memorial-somme-mocked/

 

 

 

Edited by Hyacinth1326
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Hyacinth1326 said:

Yes, that is the one I was referring to..  Longueval Mill site. Google Maps imagery shows an empty polythene wrapped plinth and the response to the work has not been universally positive:

 

https://www.rt.com/news/471526-indian-cavalry-memorial-somme-mocked/

 

 

 

From the photo, it looks to be about as impressive as the Mickey Mouse Dragon at Mametz.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Tulloch-Marshall
6 hours ago, mills-bomb said:

From the photo, it looks to be about as impressive as the Mickey Mouse Dragon at Mametz.

 

I was at Caterpillar Valley late today and stopped at the Indian Memorial just to check that it was as ABSOLUTELY GHASTLY as I remembered it from the opening ceremony. It isn't - its WORSE ! If I were Indian I'd be outraged - it is DREADFUL beyond belief. It cannot be described as anything but a horrible caricature of Indian troops. The sculptor should have been horse-whipped. Longueval is rubbish memorial central, with the horrible "piper" just down the road at the crossroads.

 

To my eye the Dragon at Mametz is elegant, striking, and deeply meaningful.

Now't as queer as folk (and their opinions).

Tom

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hedley Malloch

Tom: but you are not Indian. It would be interesting to have an Indian take on the work. For sure the work does not come from the Lutyens and Jaggesr stable of commemorative sculpture, but that is possibly no bad thing. You could regard it as a celebration of diversity.

Mrs Malloch is doing a degree in the History of Art and she has introduced me to something called Conceptual Art. This has helped me understand sculptures such as this one. Please note that understanding is not the same thing as sympathy.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

From what I can see, were I Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan or from Myanmar, I would be outraged at having the Indian flag and 'Jai Hind' on it. Of course, it might note the fact that a large proportion of the Indian Army came from outwith the borders of modern India, but the picture above seems not to show it.Not having seen it, of course I might be wrong. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Hedley Malloch said:

Tom: but you are not Indian. It would be interesting to have an Indian take on the work. For sure the work does not come from the Lutyens and Jaggesr stable of commemorative sculpture, but that is possibly no bad thing. You could regard it as a celebration of diversity.

Mrs Malloch is doing a degree in the History of Art and she has introduced me to something called Conceptual Art. This has helped me understand sculptures such as this one. Please note that understanding is not the same thing as sympathy.

 

For a civilisation so rich in art forms as the Indian sub-continent, I must say I am disappointed with the memorial at Longueval.  I realise there would have been financial constraints and one further observation would be that Sunni Muslims would not have opted for a memorial depicting a human form, though this would have been perfectly acceptable to Hindus and Sikhs.  I am unsure whether the Deccan Horse would have comprised all Hindus.  Somebody will know.  I suspect each regiment would have been either all Muslim or all Hindu. Potential sectarian conflicts would have been avoided at all costs. It is interesting that the most vocal critics have been of Indian heritage themselves (See the link to just some of them in my earlier post).

 

I have always found the Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial to be profoundly moving and culturally appropriate.  I realise that it is a Western interpretation of Indian art (in the case of Neuve Chapelle, Buddhist re Sarnath with Mughal style screen and pavilion, topped off with Hindu decorative elements) but none could take issue with its beauty.   I think we would all agree that the Cavalry attack of 14 July should be commemorated.  I just don't think it should have been remembered in this way.  

On 10/07/2020 at 19:58, Tom Tulloch-Marshall said:

Longueval is rubbish memorial central,

 

 

Maybe it is competing with that thing at the rear of Pozieres Mill

Edited by Hyacinth1326
Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Tulloch-Marshall
11 hours ago, Hedley Malloch said:

Tom: but you are not Indian. …  You could regard it as a celebration of diversity. …"

 

No I'm definitely not Indian but as they have said for some time - "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." - I was at the opening ceremony for the Indian memorial at Longueval, and it was embarrassing. It is b***** awful - to be blunt, its a ****-take. Is "a celebration of diversity" one of these new WOK / LGBGABCD or whatever they are expressions ? World's going mad. If I were standing next to somebody beside that memorial and they said"'aint that handsome" I'd just walk off and leave them.

 

As a Scot I simply refuse to look at the monstrosity at the Longueval central crossroads as I drive past - but if they'd made it as bad as the Indian thing I'd probably stop and hit it with a hammer.

Tom

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Tom Tulloch-Marshall said:

 

No I'm definitely not Indian but as they have said for some time - "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." - I was at the opening ceremony for the Indian memorial at Longueval, and it was embarrassing. It is b***** awful - to be blunt, its a ****-take. Is "a celebration of diversity" one of these new WOK / LGBGABCD or whatever they are expressions ? World's going mad. If I were standing next to somebody beside that memorial and they said"'aint that handsome" I'd just walk off and leave them.

 

As a Scot I simply refuse to look at the monstrosity at the Longueval central crossroads as I drive past - but if they'd made it as bad as the Indian thing I'd probably stop and hit it with a hammer.

Tom

 

 

Well from what I can gather from the little information around, the memorial is a private initiative. Presumably he land was purchased from the local commune. The photographs on twitter appear to show a Sikh family but of course many Hindus also wear the turban.   Whatever the aesthetic shortcomings of the memorial, the Mill site was also used as the jumping off point for many actions subsequent to July 14, notably the attacks of 76 Infantry Brigade (2nd Suffolks, 1st Gordon Highlanders, 10th RWF) and others through August.  At least the landscaped area will provide a useful vantage point to describe these activities.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/07/2020 at 19:58, Tom Tulloch-Marshall said:

 Longueval is rubbish memorial central, with the horrible "piper" just down the road at the crossroads.

 

To my eye the Dragon at Mametz is elegant, striking, and deeply meaningful.

Now't as queer as folk (and their opinions).

Tom

Well you certainly have your opinions!

 

ps;

I quite like the Piper.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield

As a general rule, I find most modern memorials lacking in grace and charm. The piper thing is utterly appalling (though the one in Albert is far, far worse), but my particular reservations concern memorials made in what looks like polished black marble with gold lettering. When new they just look shiny and 'in your face', but I dread to think what they'll look like after a few years in the sun, rain, snow, ice, frost, wind ...

Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Tulloch-Marshall
11 hours ago, Hyacinth1326 said:

… Well from what I can gather from the little information around, the memorial is a private initiative. Presumably he land was purchased from the local commune. ….

 

That corner plot opposite the Bristol Cross at Longueval is the "Jardin de la Nouvelle-Zelande" and was inaugurated by the Commune de Longueval 15/9/2016 - the date having obvious centennial significance. I presume that the installation of the Indian memorial on the plot was "allowed" by the commune (?). Why the Indian memorial has this stuck on the side I do not know >

1242202658_gwfIndianP1110971(10).JPG.1d4d61d4ab65c751eb7f89b605c06c74.JPG

 

As for the Indian memorial itself, I have now been educated that this is "Conceptual Art" >

1949415447_gwfIndianP1110971(5).JPG.fce75a7408308f6de4a9a6b12e77e619.JPG

 

Right then

Tom

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Tulloch-Marshall
10 hours ago, mills-bomb said:

Well you certainly have your opinions!

 

Yes I do - and how you can be the slightest bit "down" about this splendid memorial I do not know >

1501104222_gwf38thDivisionMametzccccc).JPG.90aa5b672d87a9481c4b1a78aa494fbe.JPG

 

They were cleaning and repainting it

Tom

Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
21 minutes ago, Tom Tulloch-Marshall said:

 

 

 

 

As for the Indian memorial itself, I have now been educated that this is "Conceptual Art" >

1949415447_gwfIndianP1110971(5).JPG.fce75a7408308f6de4a9a6b12e77e619.JPG

 

 

 

 

Certainly conceptual.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Tulloch-Marshall
11 hours ago, mills-bomb said:

Well you certainly have your opinions! ps; I quite like the Piper.

 

So, you like this, with his - well just how do you describe that face and those hands … ?

1378219308_gwfPiperMemorialLonguevalwerggrgw).JPG.8ab652d8fe0b9df22aa1ceec0958e3bf.JPG

 

And with the mythological red heraldic dragon of Wales you don't like this >

1463722711_gwf38thDivisionMemorialfSimondroneg-proNov2014(8).JPG.1fef8f38c3470fa25a9e9d32c14dcf4c.JPG

 

The Welsh memorial faces Mametz Wood and grips the German barbed wire. It has "depth". It expresses a sense of the horrible task of the Welsh Division against the Germans - the enemy - the aggressor. The Longueval piper thing is a travesty - a caricature - it doesn't commemorate anybody, it ridicules them.

Tom

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hedley Malloch

Conceptual art is about the concept - not about the finished product. But you really don't want to go there.  It will bring out your inner Hermann Goering*

I am minded of the reaction to Gormley's 'Angel of the North'. When it was first inaugurated in 1994, it was compared to a 1930s Nazi statue and was subsequently dubbed 'the Gateshead flasher'. It is now a much-loved feature of the Tyneside landscape. I think in 25 years time the Indian Memorial on the Somme will be seen as quaint, idiosyncratic, but well-meaning and a worthy contribution to the stock memorials on the battlefields of the Western Front. For sure, it is not from the workshops of the CWGC, the drawing board of a French monumental mason, nor is it the creation of a British town or village memorial committee, but that it not a bad thing. There is an extent to which memorials are a reflection of the people who built them.  So let's revisit in 25 years time and see what we think then.

And whoever has built this has managed a complex project across three languages and come up with what I estimate would be €25k, all to honour the memory of part of the British army which is not over-commemorated. I did not see anyone else queuing up to do this. So credit where credit due.

 

* Goering is credited with the phrase 'when I hear the word 'culture', I reach for my gun', but the saying properly belongs to Hans Johst, a German dramatist. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand what Hedley means by the conceptual nature of the work and can appreciate it in that context.  It can be seen to reflect certain aspects of secular Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist art forms, particularly illuminated manuscripts.  However sectarian and nationalistic facets may also be present

 

Does the memorial commemorate the Deccan Horse( Secunderabad Cavalry) attack at High Wood in July 1916 or is it a more generic memorial to the contribution of the Indian Sub-Continent ?

 I am not clear..

 

If the Deccan Horse comprised of Hindus or Sikhs then it could be argued that the memorial is appropriate.  If the Deccan Horse was manned by Sunni Muslims (for whom  figurative art is strictly proscribed) then the memorial would arguably not be appropriate.  I believe there is a fallen member of the Deccan Horse buried at Daours Cemetery. . 

 

The man is Arjan Singh, a Daffadar and  he was a Sikh  I have also noticed that buried close by there are a number of Muslim cavalry men who served in Queen Victoria's own Light Cavalry who were apparently attached to the Deccan Horse and died as a result of wounds sustained during the charge at High Wood

 

Quite apart from aesthetic considerations it should be borne in mind that art works are not ideologically neutral. The inscription on the Memorial suggests to me that Indian nationalistic impulses may have outweighed more subtle considerations in this instance.

Edited by Hyacinth1326
Link to post
Share on other sites

Instead of rubbishing things , perhaps we should be applauding the time, effort and commitment by those who got the memorial erected, to say nothing about raising the funds. 

 

It is a very easy be a  armchair critic.

 

TR

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hedley Malloch
10 minutes ago, Terry_Reeves said:

Instead of rubbishing things , perhaps we should be applauding the time, effort and commitment by those who got the memorial erected, to say nothing about raising the funds. 

 

It is a very easy be a  armchair critic.

 

TR

 

Quite.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Tulloch-Marshall
7 hours ago, Terry_Reeves said:

Instead of rubbishing things , perhaps we should be applauding the time, effort and commitment by those who got the memorial erected, to say nothing about raising the funds. It is a very easy be a  armchair critic.

 

Sometimes it would be better to do nothing rather than produce something which really doesn't achieve what might have been intended. As for "Conceptual art is about the concept - not about the finished product" rather sounds to me like "We knew what we wanted to achieve but unfortunately we didn't have the skill to do it." Having looked closely at the Indian Memorial I rather suspect it won't be there in 25 years time - looks like its made of plastic.

 

BTW - I've always liked Gormley's 'Angel of the North', and his "Another Place" statues which interface with the sea are quite striking / attractive. They are up there with the "conceptionally clever" and very well executed Mametz Dragon.

Tom

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...