Bengalee war memorial, Kolkata, a legacy of Bengal Army

Bengalee War memorial, Kolkata. NoiseBreak

The Bengalee War Memorial. Kolkata./

The Bengalee  War Memorial made of marble in College Square, Kolkata is not as popular as other memorials are and the state government is taking steps to make it an important tourist destination. Until a decade  ago, none of the Bengalis had any idea about this memorial and it's historical significance. It is a heritage site where the ethnic Bengalis are honored for their brave and vital contribution in world War I in a far off country.

For some reason, the British did not show any interest whatsoever in recruiting  Bengalis  for the army and the general consensus among the historians is that the level of literacy and political awareness was high among them and they might dislike the unpalatable military strategies to be taken by the British India Army to put down rebellions and intense freedom movements. As for the international theater, this would provide radical Bengalis  a chance to share military secrecy with the enemies and there was room for their helping espionage activities of enemy countries in India to achieve "Free India". Yet another fact is, during the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, Bengal Army vigorously rebelled against  the British army who used the Punjab army to quell the rebellion. The British looked elsewhere for army recruitment, none from Bengal.  The 49th Bengalee regiment was formed  under strange circumstances and they had an obligation to serve in India as well as in any place across the globe to protect the British interest and dignity.

The Bengalee War Memorial

The Bengalee War Memorial at the College Square was erected in  memory of officers and soldiers of the 49th Bengalees in the  British India military. The marble column stands in front of the small eastern entrance and it is guarded by the metal railing on all sides. At the base of the memorial, there are inscriptions on all sides. On one side the inscription is as follows: “In Memory of members of the 49th Bengalee Regiment who died in the Great war 1914-1919. To the Glory of God, King & Country”. The other 3 sides contain inscriptions displaying the names of those who were killed, their registration numbers, rank, date of death and their native  places. Invariably, most of them came from many parts of Bengal.  Names of several districts are mentioned in the plaque. It was the only infantry regiment to be raised from the state and all were ethnic Bengalis. The plaque has 56 names. On the 1st of July 1917, in Karachi (now in Pakistan)  officially the 49th Bengal Infantry Regiment or 49th Bengalee came into being. Earlier it was known as the BDC -  Bengali Double Company  (nicknamed Bangali Polton). 

The49th Bengalee Army's first foreign assignment was in Mesopotamia, poorly administered European country during WWI. Unfortunately, the Bengalee Army  had to undergo pain and hardship in a severely battled region. Besides, there were some serious internal turmoil within the army orchestrated by 

Begalee War memorial, Kolkata. locatiom map. NoiseBreak

discontentment  among soldiers with respect to promotion and ranks. After Armistice on the 11th of November, 1918, the war came to an end and on 31st August, 1920, the 49th Bengalee Army was demobilized by the British. The angry and disappointed Bengali soldiers came back to Bengal from war. Their experience on the war front and the way the British handled them made them become terribly disillusioned. This opened up their eyes to the grave situation prevailing in India and with patriotic zeal they joined the freedom moment in large numbers. The fate had it that India got her freedom after the WWII after  which Britain lost much of its political clout and her economy was in a shambles. Their last efforts to hang on to India to improve their economy did not go well as there were serious rumblings in many British colonies. India was their biggest loss from which they never recovered.

Recently, the Police Memorial has been erected in the vicinity of the Glorious Dead Cenotaph, dedicated to the memory of the Police personnel killed on