Renovation Of Lascar War Memorial - 1994

Apart from this memorial, Kolkata has two others the Cenotaph and the Bengali War Memorial, erected in the memory of Bengali Martyrs of the World War I. Lascar memorial was erected by shipping and mercantile companies at the southern end of the Maidan, within few yards of Prinscep Ghat, in the memory of the 896 Lascars of undivided Bengal and Assam who lost their lives at sea during World War I. It was unveiled on Wednesday 6th February 1924 by Lord Lytton, then Governor of Bengal. The memorial a four-sided column of oriental architecture, appropriately designed with the prows of an ancient galley projecting from each of its sides, capped by four small minarets and a large gilt dome. The undulating lines beneath symbolize with Chhajjas and trellises to give it a distinctly Indian look.

On usual morning walk from Navy House co-located with the Lascar memorial, Commodore Mohanti noticed smoke billowing out of the surrounding of the memorial as someone had lit the grass to get the warmth. The Lascar monument till 1994 was in ruins and shrubs and wild plants had grown around it due to neglect. The surface was cracked and the dome was damaged due to vagaries of weather which had taken a toll for seven decades. On a closer look at the memorial one is struck with its historical relevance to the World War I at sea. Commodore Mohanti located a contractor to undertake the repairs and complete it by early December 1994. The interior had lost the sheen which was also redone. The gardens around the memorial were aptly laid out. Philips (India) was approached to help in illuminating the memorial. Trials for illumination was done for a week with different combination of lighting which is infact visible from the bridge Vidya Sagar Setu. After seven decades of neglect Lascar War Memorial had got a new lease of life. During Navy week celebrations when all the gentry, Armed Forces Officers and diplomat of Calcutta were present in the Navy House, the Governor of West Bengal on 7th December 1994 switched on the illumination of Lascar War Memorial.

The Cenotaph at the northern end of the Maidan to the west of Ochterlony Monument, was erected by public subscription and its inscription reads. The Gloriour Dead it is almost a replica of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London and it was unveiled in 1921 by the Prince of Wales who later became Edward VIII. Two bronze soldiers stand guard at its approach. On Armistice Day each year, its base is covered with flowers and the Governor and his entourage, the Army, Navy and a large gathering of people of all communities stand in reverential silence for two minutes. On 3rd September (Merchant Navy Day) in 1995 for the first time wreaths were laid at Lascar War Memorial by personnel of Merchant Navy and Indian Navy which is an annual feature.

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