New Delhi: History was created on the 67th Republic Day celebrations, when French Army soldiers on Wednesday marched down the majestic Rajpath, becoming the first foreign military contingent to take part in the occasion.
For the first time, a contingent from the French 35th Infantry Regiment - elements of which had served in India in 1781-84 - was given the honour of leading the marching contingents and it performed with panache, preceded by a pipes and drums band and saluting in a rather unusual style with the right hand held straight across the chest.
The French infantry regiment recently participated in a joint training exercise with the Indian Army for "Shakti 2016".
The Infantry Regiment was first formed in the early 1600s at Lorraine.
Interestingly, the French troops fought along with Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan against the Britishers. Also, the French were defeated when they attacked the Indian troops of the 24th Bengal Native Infantry and Madras Army on June 25, 1783.
In this war a French soldier Jean Baptiste de Bernadotte was wounded, who later made into Napoleon's Army as a Marshal and finally became the King of Sweden.
Tipu Sultan's cavalry later was named as Mysore Lancers and was further renamed as 61 Cavalry after India got Independence. On this Republic Day, the 61 Cavalry marched right behind the troops of France. They were preceded by a band, including 48 musicians, led by Major Jean-Claude Leberruyer.
India's 67th Republic Day was celebrated across cities and towns on Tuesday, with the country's military might on display in the capital.