Sikh World War I Veterans Honored in UK Memorial Service
15th Ludhiana Infantry Regiment re-enactment group in Brighton last year.
The Sikh community was recently honored by the UK government in a memorial service which recognized the contributions by Sikh soldiers in World War I.
The Sikh community has often played a key, though under-appreciated, role in demonstrating skills of gallantry and valor in times of war. It is heartening to note that on the eve of Armistice Day, Great Britain acknowledged their contributions in a unique way. The role of Sikh soldiers in World War I was recalled and appreciated in the House of Commons during a memorial service. This event was attended by many renowned British politicians as well as key military personnel of Great Britain. Some NRIs and members of Sikh community were also invited to this event. Moreover, descendants of many World War I veterans were also able to attend, making the event even more special.
This event showcased speeches honoring Sikh wartime contributions and re-enactments by some well trained Sikh volunteers. The volunteers posed as the soldiers of 15th Ludhiana Sikh Regiment. This regiment was one of the first Indian troop to engage in the war in Europe in 1914. The Sikh volunteers were selected by spreading the word via social media outlets like Twitter. Some of these volunteers rode on the B-type battle bus which carried Indian soldiers during World War I. The way the volunteers expressed their emotions during the event was moving. The volunteers then related the story of Indian soldiers, especially the Sikh soldiers and the role played by them in World War I.
The event was concluded by singing a Punjabi song that expressed the emotions of the Sikh soldiers at the time of war. It expressed how a soldier feels the need to communicate with his loved ones, how he prepares for the upcoming battle, and how he suppresses these emotions and fights valiantly.
One fifth of the Indian Army (representing the British Government) consisted of Sikhs during the Great War, totaling over 130,000 Sikh soldiers. Moreover, every 6th soldier who served in British Army during World War I was Indian.
The event was organized by Paul Uppal, an MP of Wolverhampton South West and the UK Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA). UKPHA is a group dedicated to promoting the recognition of Punjab’s arts, literature, history, and traditions.
This is a great gesture by the British government to appreciate the sacrifices made by the Sikh community.