RE­MEM­BER­ING SIKH TROOPS’ VAL­OUR

Prayers to com­mem­o­rate them held at gur­d­waras

New Straits Times - - News - ADRIAN DAVID KUALA TERENG­GANU news@nst.com.my

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.

DAVID PIC BY ADRIAN

Peo­ple pray­ing at Gur­d­wara Sahib Am­pang in Jalan Hulu Ke­lang, Se­lan­gor, re­cently.

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