Indian Army cadets on a trip to the Highlands have offered their nation’s heartfelt thanks to a centenarian who worked tirelessly to keep alive the memory of 14 of their countrymen.
For more than seven decades, Isobel Harling from Kingussie tended the war graves of Indian soldiers who died during training exercises in the second world war in the north of Scotland.
The party of ten cadets were on an exchange trip hosted by their UK Army counterparts.
They visited Fort George Barracks, Culloden Battlefield and a memorial built in Kingussie last year that is dedicated to the lost servicemen.
Isobel was awarded the British Empire Medal for her commitment to the Kingussie branch of Legion Scotland a few years ago.
The former member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service tended to the graves of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps Force K6 servicemen.
It was an animal transport regiment, sent to Scotland to support the preparation of war-time operations.
The soldiers, 13 Moslem and one Hindu, perished during gruelling training in the Cairngorms, thousands of miles from their homes in the Punjab and North West Frontier.
Speaking during a visit to Culloden, Indian Army Cadet Major Chhaya Korwal said: “It’s a great thing that Isobel has looked after the Indian soldiers’ graves for so many years. It’s a great contribution and I am thankful and grateful for that.”
Senior Cadet Captain Shreyansh Singh added: “I feel really honoured. There is heartfelt gratitude from all of India for her service.”
Iain Anderson of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which now maintains the graves, paid his own tribute to Isobel Harding’s dedication, saying he has been fortunate to meet her on several occasions.
The cadets’ visit coincides with South East Asian History month.
Guided by Major John Patchett (retired) of the ex-Gurkha Rifles, the cadets laid a wreath at the Gynack Gardens memorial in Kingussie.
They were joined by Major Heather Lawrie, the memorial’s project officer, and Highland councillor Russell Jones who is seeking to develop more enduring links between different communities so youngsters can learn lessons from the past.
The tri-service Indian National Cadet Corps, with over a million youngsters aged between 13 and 22, aims “to develop character, commandership, discipline, leadership, secular outlook, spirit of adventure and the ideals of selfless service.”