At solemn ceremony, Modi & Netanyahu lay wreaths at Indian War Cemetery in Haifa

As many as 44 Indian soldiers were killed protecting Haifa from the Ottoman Turks in World War I Photograph:( WION )

WION Haifa, Israel Jul 06, 2017, 10.22 AM (IST) Kartikeya Sharma

At a solemn ceremony in Haifa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu laid wreaths at the Indian War Cemetery in Haifa.

Forty-four Indian soldiers had died liberating the city during World War I.

The two prime ministers unveiled a plaque commemorating Major Dalpat Singh, who had led the cavalry charge that resulted in the liberation of Haifa.

"I am deeply honoured to stand here today to salute the valiant soldiers, who laid down their lives for the liberation of Haifa during the first World War," Modi wrote in the visitors' book.

He also wrote that 2018, the centenary of the Battle of Haifa, would present another opportunity to mark the enduring bond between India and Israel.  

The three Teen Murti statues in Delhi represent the Hyderabad, Jodhpur, and Mysore Lancers who were part of the 15 Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade.

The brigade carried out the charge on the fortified city of Haifa on September 23, 1918, during World War I.

There are various accounts of the battle, but most tell of the valour of the lancers who undertook the assault on the garrisoned town of Haifa protected by the Ottoman Army.

The lancers were armed with lances -- hence the name -- the Ottomans had machine guns. 

The capture of Haifa cleared a route for the Allies to the sea.

Even today, the 61st Cavalry celebrates September 23 as its Raising Day or "Haifa Day".