The First World War ended over 90 years ago. Little is known or understood about the vital contribution of Commonwealth Soldiers to the British Empires effort to defeat Germany during the first World War.
The Indian Army for example lost over 65,000 solders and that brave sacrifice was recognised recently when a group of Sikhs from the UK travelled to European battlefield’s to pay homage to those that died for ‘Queen and Country’.
Visiting a number of French and Belgium small town’s the climax of the visit was to Neuve-Chapelle where the delegation paid homage to those that died there fighting the Germans in 1915. Visiting the memorial in the town that records the names of 4,700 Indian soldiers, the delegation was deeply moved by the specially planned memorial ceremony.
Harjit Pamar was part of the delegation organised by the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail had mixed emotions:
“I feel proud that we contributed and were there, but also sad at how many people died to give us the life that we have now.”
Harbinder Singh Director of the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail added:
“As soon as the British Empire came to an end the stories of the Indian Army became almost redundant. I think in Britain there was a reluctance to acknowledge sacrifices other than those of British troops. Unfortunately, this was seen as a war for the British.”
Reflecting on a general trend, he said that the,
“historical exclusion of Commonwealth countries and their contribution to two worlds wars remains largely unacknowledged’ despite huge sacrifices made by them.
“Our recognition needs to be given due gravity within what is said about remembrance and the wars. I think we need a greater emphasis on the fact that there were other communities that voluntarily gave their lives.”
Filed under: Historical |