Sikh Soldiers of The Great War

Sikhs made up a tiny percentage of undivided India. Yet at the start of World War I, they contributed some 22 percent of the British Indian Army. Sikhs fought in all major theatres contested by British forces, from the Western Front to the Middle East.

With a great martial tradition embedded in their faith, it was not uncommon to see Sikhs carrying their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, before a marching battalion.

In this programme, Nelufar Hedayat hears some of the stories of those Sikh soldiers. She asks why so many of them would have fought a war which was essentially not their own, and what their legacy means to young Sikhs today.

Her guests include:
Amandeep Singh Madra, who chairs the United Kingdom Punjab Heritage Association and has spent several years researching the stories of Sikh soldiers for Empire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World War One, a major exhibition at the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London running from 9th July to 28th September 2014;

Satdeep Grewal, an artist whose great-great-grandfather fought in the First World War;

Runjeet Singh, a dealer in antique Indian arms whose maternal great-grandfather was killed in France in 1914; and

Sukhraj Singh, who takes a critical view of the Sikh participation in World War I because in his opinion, it lacked a clear moral aim – unlike World War II.


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  • […] Sikh Soldiers of The Great War […]

  • We are proud of My grand fatherSardar Bahadur Sardar Thakur singh Sandhu who served in the British Army. Our 4 generations served in the British Army. My Grand father fought in the 1 st World War. He was from village Padhana ( Lahore). He was given IDSM, OBI medals. He was also given prohibited 455 Bore, 35 muraba gallantry Award Land by the British .He held Rank of Subedar Major Honorary Lieutinent. In the British Army.

  • I am proud to be a son Sardar Manna Singh who served in British Indian Army during World War I. He remained posted in Ist Battalion 2nd Punjab Regt. as nk 202 Sepoy . He joined at the age of 25 years and served for 9 years and 5 months and was discharged from services on 15/05/1923. I am in possession of the original army discharged certificate signed by his British Commanding officer. This certificate contains wording “ HE IS ALSO ENTITLED TO THE MEDAL FOR BRITISH VICTORY MEDAL HAVING SERVED AS SEPOY IN 2 / 67 PUNJAB DURING THE OPERATION FOR WHICH IT IS GRANTED.” Unfortunately, we lost the medal while repatriating from Pakistan during partition of Pakistan and India.
    A few months back a team of reporters from Indian Express news paper came to our residence and recorded our interview which was later published in the supplementary section I shall feel obliged if asked for photo copies of document or any further information.

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