Legacy of Sikhs in Great War

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

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NEXHIBITION about the con­tri­bu­tion of Sikh sol­diers dur­ing the First World War has come about thanks to a man from Hayes, writes Goolis­tan Cooper. Em­pire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World Ward One is the first el­e­ment of a three-year project.

Aman­deep Madra, 44, is co-founder and chair­man of the UK Pun­jab Her­itage As­so­ci­a­tion, which is stag­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion at The School of Ori­en­tal and African Stud­ies, in cen­tral London.

“We started plan­ning and get­ting fund­ing for the project in 2011, but I’ve been work­ing on this topic for 15 to 20 years, when I co-wrote a book in 1999 on the mil­i­tary his­tory of the Sikhs.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion also looks at the piv­otal role played by the en­tire In­dian Army of 1.5 mil­lion men. Mr Madra in­vites peo­ple to share in­for­ma­tion they have on fam­ily mem­bers who served in The Great War.

“And we can help you re­search your First World War story,” he added.

One in six Bri­tish sol­diers came from the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent – more than the rest of the Em­pire’s com­bined – but their hero­ics are barely told in In­dia, Pak­istan and Bangladesh.

Mr Madra said: “You won’t find firearms, shells and that sort of thing. This is about peo­ple’s sto­ries.

“Young men trav­elled for the first time out of their vil­lages and did so very gal­lantly. They made a tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tion to the war.

“We are proud of the con­tri­bu­tion of our fore­fa­thers.”

Em­pire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World Ward One runs un­til Sun­day. High­lights in­clude rare ar­chive footage, sound record­ings of Sikh pris­on­ers of war, an ac­tiv­ity zone for chil­dren, and orig­i­nal arte­facts from the days of the Sikh Em­pire.

For more about the project, go to www.em­pire­faith­war.com.

Con­trib­uted

■ VAL­UED: Sikh sol­diers on pa­rade

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