TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A delegation of 50 Taiwanese officials and expatriates attended a memorial service on Saturday at a cemetery in Ramgarh district of the Indian state of Jharkhand to commemorate the sacrifices of 600 Republic of China (ROC) soldiers who fought in the victorious Battle of Yenangyaung in World War II.
In April 1942, nearly 75 years ago, ROC soldiers from the 113th Regiment fought their way through horrific heat and smoke from the burning oil wells of Yenangyaung in modern day Myanmar to rescue 7,000 British Indian soldiers of the 1st Burma Division, who had become completely surrounded by Japanese forces.
After three days of intense fighting, Chinese Nationalist forces led by General Sun Li-jen (孫立人), nicknamed the "Rommel of the East," managed to reach British forces, but at the cost of 600 out 800 combat personnel.
With the permission of the Indian government, the ROC government built a cemetery in the nearby Indian state of Jharkhand in 1942. The site was first renovated in 1982 and was again renovated and re-dedicated in August 2011, after a NT$7.58 million (US$244,303) renovation project.
Tien Chung-kwang (田中光), Taiwan's representative to India, while attending the ceremony on Saturday told CNA he hopes such a memorial can be held once every five years, that the overseas Chinese community will remember the sacrifices of these soldiers and that the ties between Taiwan and India will continue to grow.
Tien Chung-kwang, standing in front of the tombstone of an unknown soldier. (CNA photo)
The memorial service for the war heroes was led by a Buddhist priest from the Kolkata branch of the Kaohsiung-based Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) Buddhist Temple and included offerings of incense, flowers, and fruit.
In 2015, Ma Zhanwu (馬占武), China's consul-general in Kolkata, reportedly led a group of his colleagues and a group of Chinese businessmen to break into the cemetery to pay respects to the soldiers. Taiwan strongly protested this move, which Tien at the time described as "reckless, rude and disrespectful."