The Indian Army
The Main Ethnic Groups
Arrival and Trench Warfare
Endurance and Departure
The Rewards of Bravery
Indian Hospitals in Brighton
The Pavilion Hospital
The Indians & Brighton
Cremation and Burial
Brighton and The Chattri
Indian War Memorials
Roll of Honour

Cremation and Burial

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

Recessional. Rudyard Kipling

Funeral Arrangements

With the presence of large numbers of sick and wounded Indians in hospitals at Brighton there were sadly deaths from time to time. It was important to respect religious or caste requirements in the matter of their funeral arrangements.

Grave of Sepoy Zarif Khan (Incorrectly inscribed as Larib Khan) In The Muslim Burial Ground, Woking Died at the Pavilion Hospital Brighton 22nd July 1915 Aged 17 Buried at the Muslim Burial Ground Horsell Common, Woking
The small number of deaths at Brighton in proportion to the total number of men hospitalised was rightly a source of pride to the hospitals concerned. But for those who are surprised by the small number it should be remembered that most deaths from wounds occurred at Field Ambulances and Casualty Clearing Stations within the proximity of the front line. The men at Brighton had survived these facilities and also voyages and treatment on hospital ships before completing their treatment and convalescing here.


Early in the war the War Office commissioned the construction of a burial ground for Muslim Indian soldiers on Horsell Common, Woking, near the only mosque in Britain at that time.
Woking Cemetery Gate
It was arranged that Muslim dead from Brighton would be taken by road to the mosque and interred either at this burial ground or in the Old Muslim Cemetery in Brookwood Cemetery after prayers had been said by the Imam, Moulvi Sadr-Uddin Sahib. A total of 21 Muslims who died in Brighton were buried at Woking or Brookwood. Eventually the Horsell Common burial ground fell into disrepair and in 1968 these bodies were re-interred in the Military Section of Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey.

Burial at Woking

The Assistant Quartermaster of the Royal Pavilion Hospital was a young medical student D.R. Thapar, a member of the Indian Volunteers Ambulance Corps. He was responsible for disposal of those who died in the Pavilion and leaves some account of the arrangements:

“Muslims had to be taken by road to the Mosque at Woking… The funeral cortege comprised a motor hearse, a car and a couple of lorries to carry forty or fifty mourners. It was fortunate that we had very few deaths as each one meant a whole day’s travelling to London and back. The Imam Sahib insisted on every detail to be correctly carried out and soon I became proficient as an undertaker. On the first occasion it seemed strange that the chief mourner should be a non-muslim, but the Imam Sahib was very kind and considerate and soon initiated me into the procedure.”

Brookwood Cemetery


Hindus, including Sikhs, Gurkhas and so on, were traditionally cremated and their ashes scattered.
The Original Burning Ghat on the site of the Chattri A photograph taken by Councillor Louis Meaden and Published in May 1917
The cremations of all Indian soldiers who died in Brighton hospitals took place at the spot 500 feet above sea level on the South Downs near Patcham that we now know as the site of the Chattri. The three granite slabs that form part of the memorial lie directly over three concrete platforms upon which the cremations took place. Fifty-three cremations took place at Patcham, or around one per week for the duration of the Indians’ stay, the first on 31st December 1914 and the last on 30th December 1915

Cremations at Patcham

The funeral cortege generally consisted of a motor hearse containing the dead body suitably prepared for ritual burning, and the officiating staff, with fellow patients as mourners in an accompanying ambulance wagon.
The Muslim Burial Ground Horsell Common, Woking. Picture Taken in the 1950’s
From Brighton the procession would make its way through Patcham and onto the Downs, roads gave way to tracks and eventually the vehicles drove across the turf to the foot of the hill where stood the burning ghat, described by a journalist as “a very ugly little screen and shelter of corrugated iron.” The body and materials would be carried up to the site and the pyre erected. The ceremony would vary from the brief rites of the Jats and the richer but scarcely longer ceremonies of the Sikhs to the elaborate arrangements of the Brahmins.

Deaths in Brighton

Royal Pavilion Eighteen deaths.
Ten Hindus/Sikhs cremated at Patcham; eight Muslims buried - five at Woking and three at Brookwood.

Kitchener Hospital Thirty-six deaths.
Twenty-five Hindus/Sikhs cremated at Patcham; eleven Muslims buried - six at Woking and five at Brookwood.

York Place Hospital Twenty deaths.
Eighteen Hindus/Sikhs cremated at Patcham; two Muslims buried - one at Woking and one at Brookwood.

Total cremated on the Downs at Patcham53
Total buried at Woking12
Total buried at Brookwood9
Total deaths74

Subedar Manta Singh 15th Ludhiana Sikhs Died at Kitchener Hospital 20th March 1915Cremated at Patcham