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World War Soldiers who lost battle to Epidemic; John Brown, Bertram Walsh resting in Graveyard at Igatpuri

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Prashant Nikale

Two world war I soldiers John Brown and Bertram Walsh are resting in Igatpuri’s cementery. Its surprising fact that the graves of these two soldiers are in Igatpuri. Whoever heard this thinks that its a rumour, but its true. The regiments which they served were posted in Poona and Peshawar in British India Period. Both the soldiers died of disease.

John Brown was a Lance Sergeant in 2nd battalion, Queens Cameron Highlanders Regiment.Lance-sergeant in the armies of the Commonwealth was an appointment given to a corporal so they could fill a post usually held by a sergeant. The appointment is retained now only in the Foot Guards and Honorable Artillery Company in the British Army. In these regiments today, all corporals are automatically appointed lance sergeant. He was posted in Poona and died out of disease at the age of 27 years.

Bertram Walsh was soldier of a Private rank which is a soldier of the lowest military rank. In modern military parlance, “private” is shortened to “Pte” in the United Kingdom. He was serving in The kings Liverpool Regiment. Bertram too died due to disease between his serving period in India as his posting remained in Peshawar in British India throughout the war.

The local caretaker informed that both the graves are maintained under Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Beaurains, France. Every month the church receives a payment of Rs 1000, Rs 500 for each grave. People here don’t know the historical importance of their town in time of British India.

Both the soldiers have got Victory Medal, British War Medal and Memorial Death Plaque Of WWI. Brown has also got The 1914 Star, which was instituted in 1917 for service ashore in France and Flanders between 5 August and 22 November 1914. In 1919 a clasp bearing the above dates was authorised and given to those individuals who had actually been under fire between the prescribed dates, popularly known as the ‘Mons star’.

When inquired about the War Graves Sources from Britain explained “The 1914-1918 Memorial commemorates, nearly two thousand soldiers who served and died in India during the 1914-1918 War, who are buried in many civil and cantonment cemeteries in India and Pakistan where their graves can no longer be properly maintained. The Kirkee 1939-1945 Memorial commemorates 193 East and West African soldiers who died in non-operational zones in India, whose graves either cannot be located or are so situated that maintenance is not possible.”

But unfortunately, there are no records which can assure why these graves of soldiers is doing here in Igatpuri.

First Name: John

Initials: J

Surname: Brown

Birth Town: Dunfermiline, Fifeshire

Resided Town: Glasgow, Lanarkshire

Nationality: British

Date of Death: 26/09/1914

Fate: Died

Rank: Lance Serjeant

Service Number: 7456

Duty Location: India

First Name: Bertram

Initials: B

Surname: Walsh

Birth Town: Montreal, Canada.

Resided Town: Blackpool.

Nationality: British

Date of Death: 03/01/1919

Fate: Died

Rank: Private

Service Number: 72902

Duty Location: India

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