Dear ZTFE Members & Freinds
2014 is the centennial year of the beginning of the First World War. Many Zoroastrians volunteered to serve King Emperor and enlisted in the British Armed Forces.
To remember those who did not return, the Zoroastrian community together with the Bombay Parsi Punchayet donated money to establish a cenotaph within Khareghat Parsi Colony, near the Towers of Silence, South Bombay. After the Second World War, more names of the fallen soldiers were added to the cenotaph. Annually there is a remembrance ceremony invoking the Fravashis of those who volunteered to served the King Emperor and sadly did not return.
Fortunately other did return including our past President Dr Sohrab B Warden – brother of Pestonji B Warden who started Parsiana in 1964, who served in Mesopotamia. Another was Kersasp Ardeshir Naoroji, grandson of our past President and founder member Dr Dadabhai Naoroji, who established the ZTFE in 1861 and become the first Asian to be elected MP in 1982.
Kersasp, known to his comrades by his nickname ‘Kish’, served during WWI in the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army, and was injured. Kish joined as a Private and rose to the rank of Sergent, which was quite an achievement, bearing in mind that during WWI Black and Asian soldiers could not become commissioned officers, except in the medical core.
Kersasp (Kish) Ardeshir Dadabhai Naoroji was also a Director for TATA. In 1951, the Indian Government stopped imports of foreign cosmetics because of an exchange shortage. This upset some women because no worthwhile cosmetics were made in India. The Indian Government sent for Kish Naoroji, the local director of Tatas in New Delhi and said that Tatas could expect all the assistance from the government if they would go into the cosmetics business in a big way. The next day Kish Naoroji rang to say that Tatas would undertake the project on a priority basis. Thus was born the well known cosmetic brand ‘Lakme’. Kersasp passed away in 1977.
To commemorate the contribution of Black and Asian soldiers who served during WWI, Middlesex University together with the Eastside Community Heritage Centre is running a heritage project, investigating Black and Asian soldiers who served the Middlesex Regiment.
Middlesex university and Eastside Community Heritage Centre is looking for more information about Sergent Kish Naoroji. They would like to know more of his military service, though would like to collect oral histories from any relatives, friends or acquaintances of Kish to gather a sense of his life after the war, and a flavor of his personality. They are hoping that Kish should still be within living memory, as he died only in 1977. Any memories, contacts photos, memorabilia or further leads relating to K.A.D ‘Kish’ Naoroji will be most welcome.
Kindly forward information to Simon Buck, Project Worker at Eastside Community Heritage Centre by email [email protected] or phone +44 020 8553 3116. Please also cc information to [email protected] and [email protected] since ZTFE is also compiling a list of Zoroastrians who have served in the British Armed Forces.
Malcolm M Deboo