UK body to highlight role played by Sikhs in World War 1

London, UK: The unique story of the Sikh contribution in helping the Allies win the World War I is to be told, thanks to support from the London-based Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

A preliminary grant of just under Rs 40 lakh (£39,400) represents 10 per cent of what the UK Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA) can expect to help fund its project, “Empire, Faith and War: Sikhs in World War One.”

Sue Bowers, Head, HLF, said: “We are pleased to give initial support to this project. The Sikh contribution to the World War I is a heritage subject of national and international importance but little understood. The project will help to address that.” The funding, made available ahead of the 100 year anniversary of the World War I in 2014, will also help highlight the role of non-white Commonwealth soldiers.

The UKPHA aims at using the funds to create a major exhibition at a prestigious central London gallery, featuring interactive displays and an educational zone for children as well as a commemorative publication. Educational packs for schools are also being planned, as is a nationwide programme of outreach events, designed to provide opportunities for the public to take part in a number of exciting ways.

Also planned is an interactive online project to document stories of Sikh soldiers and their families. Members of the public will be encouraged to undertake their own research into their and others’ family histories to help create an online database, the commemorative publication and exhibition material. Amandeep Madra, UKPHA Chair, said: “The UKPHA is delighted to have received HLF support for our ambitious project. Given the major commemorations that will take place nationwide in 2014, this seemed like the appropriate time for the Sikh contribution to be recognised in a fitting way.”

He said: “The role of Sikhs in the Great War is largely unknown. Sikhs made up a tiny percentage of undivided India and yet at the start of the war contributed some 22 per cent of the British Indian Army. These numbers swelled over the course of the war and Sikhs fought in all the major theatres contested by British forces from the Western Front to the Middle East. The UKPHA looks forward to revealing the untold stories of these soldiers and, just as importantly, the families they left behind and we will be calling on people from all backgrounds to help us in doing so.”

Source: The Tribune

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