Who Do You Think You Are?
Lost records of Punjabi soldiers published online
The records of Punjabi soldiers who served in the First World War are now available to search online thanks to a new project.
Punjab & World War One ( punjabww1.com), a joint project between the United Kingdom Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA) and the University of Greenwich, London, was launched on Remembrance Day.
Almost 1.5 million Indian soldiers served with the British Army during the First World War, fighting in all major theatres including the Western Front, Mesopotamia and Palestine. Of these, 500,000 came from the Punjab, which was divided between India and Pakistan in 1947.
UKPHA chair Amandeep Madra said, “Punjab was the main recruiting ground for the Indian Army during World War One, making its contribution as significant as that of Australia. Often referred to as the sword arm of British India, its importance in fighting the Great War cannot be overstated. And yet the contribution of its men has largely been unrecognised. In digitising these records we’re allowing the global Punjabi diaspora, as well as researchers and academics worldwide, access to a rich seam of data which helps tell the stories of men of all backgrounds who fought alongside one another and other British and Allied troops.”
The collection of 320,000 Punjabi service records was held by Lahore Museum.
In 2014, the UKPHA held the exhibition ‘Empire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World War One’. Following the exhibition, Lahore Museum sent the service records to UKPHA.
They are now in the process of being digitised and transcribed. So far, 45,000 records covering three provinces – Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Sialkot – have been added to the website.
Punjabi men at the time did not use family names, but each man is listed by his first name, his father’s name, his village and his regiment.
The records also sometimes include details such as rank and caste, community or religion. Images of the documents are available to view.