Legacy of Sikhs in Great War
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.
■ VALUED: Sikh soldiers on parade