Sikhs have always been known as great warriors. During two World Wars over 80,000 Sikhs gave their lives for allied cause.Whilst Birmingham celebrates VE Day we could do well to remember this. Often unforgotten, there are many Sikhs who have been awarded Victoria Cross.
Britain has a proud tradition of valiant armed forces and a capable military which has managed to defend these isles effectively for hundreds of years. British Military achievement is well known throughout world and bravery and versatility of its soldiers, seamen and airmen is unquestioned and forever stamped in history.
Today as we look at VE Day Celebrations there is an abundance of information in media that provides an insight into what life would have been like in those troubled times. It is right that we remember them, fallen, and living whose numbers dwindle with every passing year. To them we owe our freedom as they fought for this land and often lost their lives so that we might remain a free country.
However, whilst each country has a right to blow its own trumpet and remember heroic gestures, hardships and victories that made this nation what it is today, we should also remember massive sacrifice given by others from nations further afield.
The Sikhs sacrificed a great deal for this country. During Anglo-Sikh wars of 1845 – 1849 British had been so impressed by Khalsa Army they decided to enlist many battalions of Sikh forces. The former Sikh enemy became so loyal that in 1857 when most of Indian Army revolted, Sikhs remained totally supportive and fought side by side with British Army. Subsequently, Punjab became recruiting ground for British. This staunch and loyal Sikh support was to show itself again during great wars.
During First World War Sikhs joined ranks of British Army in great numbers. They fought in trenches of Germany and at Gallipoli where thousands of Sikhs fought and died. The British Indian Army was made of nearly 20% Sikhs, despite fact that Sikhs account for only 2% of population in India.