Globally known as Bastille Day, 14 July is celebrated as the Fête Nationale Française or the National Day in France. On this day, during the French Revolution in 1789, Bastille was stormed.
This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited as the Guest of Honour at the Bastille Day Parade in France. Modi’s trip to Paris will be special as it will be the first Bastille Day visit by a foreign leader in President Macron’s current term. A tri-services contingent of the Indian armed forces on Thursday left for Paris to participate in the parade.
The parade will witness a 269-member tri-services contingent of the Indian Armed Forces marching alongside their French counterparts. The Indian Army contingent comprising 77 marching personnel and 38 members of the Band is being led by Captain Aman Jagtap. Indian Navy contingent is being led by Commander Vrat Baghel, and the Indian Air Force contingent led by Wing Commander Sudha Reddy. Three Rafale fighter jets will also participate in the fly-past over the Champs Elysees.
The Punjab Regiment represents the Army contingent, one of the oldest Regiments of the Indian Army. The troops of the Regiment have participated in both the World Wars and 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‘. They earned 16 Battle Honours and 14 Theatre Honours in World War II.
The Rajputana Rifles Regiment Band is accompanying the contingent. The Regiment is the seniormost rifle regiment of the Indian Army. Most of its battalions have a long and glorious history.
The association of the Indian and the French Armies dates back to World War 1. Over one million Indian troops served overseas, of whom 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. Indian troops valiantly fought on French soil also. In World War 2, another 2.5 million Indian soldiers were deployed in various theatres of the war in Asia, Africa and Europe.
The battlefields also included France. A large number of gallantry awards were bestowed on the Indian soldiers in both the Great Wars. Indian battalions still carry their old battle honours with pride and elan and honour their braves who displayed conspicuous gallantry during these wars.
The India-France strategic partnership is now 25 years old. Both armies have been participating in joint exercises and sharing their best practices. Over the years, India and France have become reliable defence partners.