Lest we forget the Jullunder Brigade

REMEMBERED: Schoolchildren from Lancashire pay their respects at the Neuve Chapelle Memorial in France
REMEMBERED: Schoolchildren from Lancashire pay their respects at the Neuve Chapelle Memorial in France
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Indian soldiers who fought alongside troops from Lancashire in some of the bloodiest battles of the First World War are to be remembered in classrooms across the UK.

A digital book about the Jullunder Brigade is being put together by pupils for use in all schools, to help children understand the shared sacrifices of their Sikh, Muslim, Hindu and Christian forebears.

The Brigade will be the subject of a youth conference at the Guild Hall in Preston on Thursday involving 600 pupils from 14 Lancashire primary schools.

“This project is a really important reminder of the common heritage shared by so many of our communities, regardless of where our origins may lie,” said Coun Marcus Johnstone, LCC cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services.

“The teachers’ resource book that the children are producing will provide a lasting legacy for the project and bring the lessons of the Jullundur Brigade’s story of shared sacrifice to a much wider audience.”

The Jullunder Brigade, made up of British and Indian troops, was part of the Indian Corps and its soldiers were some of the first to see action on the Western Front in 1914.

The Brigade fought at the first battle of Ypres, Neuve Chapelle, Givenchy, the capture of Neuve Chapelle, the second battle of Ypres, Festubert and the Loos offensive.

Colonel Chris Owen, regimental secretary of The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, the north west’s infantry regiment, said: “There were Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians in the Jullundur Brigade which closely reflects the area where we recruit now. This project has real resonance for our community and is a valuable educational resource for the children.

“The multi-cultural element of the war is often overlooked, but we have to remember that it was an empire then and we have a Commonwealth now.”

The project builds on a visit to Neuve Chapelle in northern France in October last year, which saw over 100 serving soldiers, 90 Lancashire schoolchildren, 30 army cadets and local civic and religious leaders commemorate the first action of the Jullundur Brigade in World War One.