REMEMBERING SIKH TROOPS’ VALOUR
Prayers to commemorate them held at gurdwaras
AS Army Day is celebrated this month, the sacrifices and contribution of Sikh soldiers are not forgotten. Special thanksgiving prayers in memory of these soldiers were held at gurdwaras near army camps and elsewhere.
As one senior officer put it, history spoke for itself on the valour and bravery of his kinsmen, who first displayed their prowess in Malaya during World War 2.
“The never-say-die spirit of Sikhs gave Allied forces the impetus, inner strength and resilience to face challenges that came their way.
“Sikh soldiers adhered to their faith and never flinched or surrendered in the face of adversity,” said Army Sikh Religious Affairs Division chairman Lieutenant-Colonel Inderjit Singh Bachan Singh at the prayer gathering led by priests Sukhdev Singh and Balwinder Singh, at Gurdwara Sahib Ampang in Jalan Hulu Kelang, Selangor, recently.
The event, held in conjunction with Army Day on March 1, was attended by serving officers and their families, as well as ex-servicemen of all ranks.
Present were Malaysian Armed Forces Sikh Association president Lieutenant -Colonel Munraj Singh and Sikh Veterans Association president Major (Rtd) Baldev Singh.
Inderjit said the prayers were a tribute to the fallen heroes, many of whom sacrificed their limbs and lives to protect the country.
“I recall how Sikhs formed the backbone of the security forces. Many have since retired.”
He said he had learnt from his peers that at the height of World War 2, two-thirds of Malaya’s 90,000 troops were brought from India by the British and Allied forces.
“Of this total, I was told that 60 per cent were Sikhs,” said Inderjit, the staff officer I (operations) at the Royal Military Police directorate at the Defence Ministry.
He said the Indian regiment was brought in when Japanese troops landed off Kota Baru in Kelantan, and Songkhla and Pattani in southern Thailand, in early December 1941.
Notably, several companies from the Punjab Regiment assisted British and Australian troops to ward off Japanese troops, who were advancing into Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis and Perak via the Malaysian-Thai border.
He added that two Sikhs officers retired as generals.
They are First Infantry Division commander Major-General (Rtd) Datuk Ranjit Singh Ramday, who was the Fifth Infantry Brigade commander during the Lahad Datu incursion by Filipino rebels in 2013, and Brigadier-General (Rtd) Datuk Baljit Singh, who was Royal Ranger Corps chairman.
Inderjit said there were 23 serving Sikh officers and personnel.
Among the most senior are former hockey Olympian Lieutenant-Colonel Jagjit Singh Chet Singh, the staff officer I (networkcentric operations) at the armed forces’ electronic communications unit; 509th Territorial Army deputy commander Lieutenant Colonel Jagjit Singh Inderjit Singh; Lieutenant-Colonel Gogisvar Singh Wariam Singh, Army Provost Marshal’s staff officer II (operations); and, Corporal Gurdesh Singh Jernail Singh, a photographer with the armed forces’ strategic communications unit.
Others include medical officers Major Dr Harvinder Singh, Lieutenant Dr Rajdave Singh Sadu Singh, Lieutenant Dr Melinder Kaur Ragbir Singh and pharmacist Lieutenant Manvikram Singh Gill Baldev Singh.
People praying at Gurdwara Sahib Ampang in Jalan Hulu Kelang, Selangor, recently.