If you remember my New Year aims post you will recall that one of my aims was to explore my local area more by taking monthly trips. I decided that the first trip of the year would be to the Chattri War Memorial in Patcham, East Sussex. I remember hearing about the Chattri a few years ago, but until recently I didn’t look into what it was and who it represented.
During the First World War over one million Indian soldiers fought overseas alongside British soldiers, this was the first time they had fought on European soil and were deployed widely to Ypres, Neuve Chapelle, the Somme and Passchendaele and Mesopotamia. The Royal Pavillion in Brighton served as a hospital where wounded Indian soldiers were treated, alongside two other temporary hospitals in Brighton.
The Chattri stands in memory of all Indian soldiers who died during the First World War, 1914-1918, over 74,000 soldiers, but it is particularly associated with the 53 Hindu and Sikh soldiers who died in hospitals in Brighton and whose remains were cremated at this spot.
The day that we decided to go to the Chattri coincided with when the Snow came to Brighton, undeterred we got our bikes and cycled up to Patcham which was a challenge in itself, two and a half miles of hills! When we arrived there we found a broken sleigh, which we were able to make use of and spent some time sledging and having fun in the snow. From here we began our walk which to be honest took a lot longer than I was expecting it to. At one point I was worried we might get stuck on the snowy Downs, but we eventually got there after trekking for an hour through fairly thick snow. What strikes you as you are approaching is how beautiful it is. You are walking on the Downs then suddenly you come across the Chattri, it feels almost magical to find it hidden away from everything and allowing you to peacefully reflect, take in the views and pay your respects when you find it.
Walking back we caught sight of some people snowboarding on the Downs, which was an unexpected, but lovely sight and made me glad that we had made the trip. Luckily after getting off the Downs we found a pub, settled ourselves in front of an open fire and had some hot cider before braving the bikes and heading home down the hill.
If you are interested in visiting the Chattri, check out these directions and map to get there.
Obviously I have provided a brief summary of the history of the Chattri and Indian soldiers efforts in World War 1, this is not a simple story, so I would recommend looking into this yourself if you are interested.