Archive: Jul 2012

  1. Where Sikhs Went 1914-18

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    As we expand our work on telling the story of Sikhs who fought during the Great War – we recognise there are two crucial parts of the history we we need to tell in order to create greater understanding of their deeds.

    Where Sikhs served and fought during the conflict and how many there were.

    Understanding this is important, in our view, to appreciating the sacrifices Sikhs soldiers made during the conflict.  They were leaving their homes and villages to travel very far overseas, many didn’t think they’d return.

    To address the first point, we’ve produced this new short introductory film which will help facilitate greater understanding of the Great War conflict and of the importance of the staunch Sikhs during it.

    It concisely shows where Sikhs went as part of the Indian Expeditionary Forces (there were 7 in total).

    You can watch it below:

    And please do post your thoughts in comments – so we can gauge your opinions of our research and work in bringing this history to mass audiences.

  2. Slough to Soldier trailer

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    Here’s the trailer for our forthcoming short film series “Slough to Soldier: Why I joined the British Army”.

    We had an amazing experience meeting and filming Sikh officers and raw recruits – and discovering more about the significance of Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst for Sikhs.
    The films will be released shortly – will post links here and on our FB page:
    All the films will appear on our Youtube page:
  3. Did the Great War allow Sikhs to prosper internationally?

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    In 1914 – a conflict broke out which would engulf the World in War.
    From India, many thousands of Sikhs volunteered to fight for Great Britain.
    Most had never stepped outside their villages or towns; but now they were being sent to serve in far flung parts.
    Their story is all the more special because where they went – and what they did – ensured the growth and prosperity of the Sikh community all over the world.
    The British had found the Sikhs, post-Punjab annexation, to be a community in need of direction.  In 1847, the Sikhs were leaderless and demoralised after the fall of the Sikh Kingdom under Maharaja Duleep Singh.
    But what the Sikhs were were good fighters – the Anglo-Sikh Wars were a close fought affair and only favoured the British because of the duplicity of the Dogra brothers and infighting in the court of Lahore.
    And so after annexation, the British remobilised the Sikhs under the Punjab Frontier Force and sent them to fight the other menace – the Afghans – in the North West Frontier Province. 

    There in Afghanistan, the Sikhs excelled as they have always done as fighters.  And to British eyes the notion of Sikhs as a martial race was once again seen in their loyalty during the India Mutiny of 1857.

    So why do we say – that 50 years later with the Great War – the conflict ensured growth and prosperity for Sikhs?
    The Sikhs had until 1914, only ever ventured outside the sub-continent for work, study or pleasure.  
    Work – Sikh soldiers and civil servants who served the Empire
    Pleasure – Sikh raja’s who could afford to travel for fun.
    Study – the rare few sent to English universities.
    The War opened up the possibility of actually living outside of the homeland because Sikhs now got to see what the lands of the ferenghi were actually like.  And they liked it.

    Without this the mindset of the Sikhs would not have become more international – and taken risks in uprooting themselves and their families to live in far away places.

    I’d like your thoughts on this – please do comment or get in touch.