Sikh community pledges to fund a war memorial to those who served on the frontline

Huddersfield, London: Calls have been made for a war memorial to honour members of the Sikh community who fought on the frontline.

The Sikh community in Huddersfield is in discussion with Kirklees Council about creating a war memorial in Greenhead Park.

And the Sikh community has offered to fund the memorial if it’s agreed.

Manjit Singh, a community leader, said: “It’s an idea but one we hope to get support for.

There were many Sikh people who fought on the frontline and contributed to the Empire’s effort and fought in Burma and Japan and other places.

“We hope it will encourage the Sikhs to join further into the Armed Forces and it will also bring back memories of people who died during the wars because these people played a big contribution.”

He said it wasn’t yet known how many Sikhs with links to the Huddersfield area the memorial would honour, but research would begin if they got approval.

Mr Singh, of Birkby, said the town’s two Sikh temples were working together on the idea.

He added: “It is right and proper that Remembrance memorial ceremonies take place and that the war graves, cenotaphs and war memorials are properly maintained for all time.

“It is also important that all who served and made sacrifices are remembered in these services and at the memorials.

“The Sikhs made a massive and crucial contribution to winning both the First and Second World Wars.

Some one and a half million Sikhs served in both wars and they suffered severe casualties – over 80,000 killed and over 109,000 wounded.

“They were commended widely for their bravery courage and fortitude as a skilled, effective and determined fighting force – often known as the Black Lions – in many fields of battle.

“In the First World War they served in the British Indian Army on the Western Front in Flanders and France.

“In the Second World War they were part of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk and later served in North Africa, Italy and in the liberation of Greece and in particular fought the Japanese in Burma and beyond. Sikhs also served as pilots in the RAF.

“All in all an amazing contribution which they did out of honour and loyalty to Britain.

“It is therefore fitting that there should be a permanent memorial dedicated to all the Sikh people who served Britain with such dedication, valour and success.

“The families of many of them now reside in the Kirklees area and it would be very appropriate for permission to be given for such a memorial here in Kirklees.”

Mr Singh’s own father, Jiwan Singh, served on the frontline during the Second World War with the 7th Division the Sikh Battalion Regiment. He came to England in 1962 and passed away just over 12 years ago.

“He told me the stories and I won’t ever forget them,” Manjit added. “There’s many Sikh families whose family served and who deserve a memorial to them.”

Both Sikh Temples at Fartown and in Springwood say they are willing and able to provide and maintain such a memorial to a design agreeable to the council.

Source: Huddersfield Daily Examiner

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