Mian Khan, fitter with the Corps of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME), was only 17 years of age in 1944 when he was drafted for what is known as the battles of Monte Cassino in Central Italy, during the Second World War.
He was later sent to Greece to help stabilise the country after the Axis withdrawal as part of “Operation Manna”. Khan was on a mission to prevent communist groupings from seizing power in Greece after the German withdrawal.
He was the youngest among the soldiers of the army of undivided India to have made the supreme sacrifice for ensuring the success of the mission.
“Their names liveth forever more”, says the plaque at the Faleiron War Cemetery lying a few kilometers to the South East of Athens. There are 2028 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated at this cemetery including 74 gallant soldiers of the Indian Army who died during the campaigns in Greece and Crete.
President APJ Abdul Kalam on a state visit visited the cemetery on Thursday and laid a wreath in their honour. Military attaché of the Indian Embassy at Prague, Group Captain Shreesh Mohan received the President on the occasion.
"There are a great many visitors at the cemetery from India and other commonwealth countries," said Manolis N Isoulos, head gardner at the cemetery. The cemetery commemorates the sacrifice of several Indian soldiers including Nar Bahadur Thapa, Bhagna Bahadur Adhikari and Nahar Singh Chhetri of the Gorkha Rifles and Arumukkham Dorai Swamy and Murugesham Palaniyandi of the Madras Sappers and Miners. Soldiers from the Army Medical Corps (AMC), Sikh battalion and the Armoured Corps are also commemorated at the cemetery.
A Second World War cemetery for the entire mainland of Greece for honouring the sacrifice of allied soldiers from England, New Zealand and India, the site is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
There are special memorials commemorating casualties re-buried in the cemetery from original graves which – owing to destruction of local records – could not be identified.