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Statue honouring Sikh soldiers who fought for Britain during WW-1 to be installed in UK

The statue, depicting a Sikh serviceman carrying a rifle, will pay tribute to the thousands of troops from India who fought and died for Britain between 1914 and 1918.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2018 22:48 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, London
honouring Sikh soldiers,Sikh soldiers,Sikh
Indian infantrymen on the march in France during World War I.(Getty Images)

A 10ft-high bronze statue of a Sikh soldier honouring the community’s “unmeasurable” contribution during the First World War will be installed in the UK’s West Midlands to commemorate 100 years since the end of the conflict.

The Lions of the Great War monument, which will be installed in November in Smethwick, West Midlands, will honour the South Asian service personnel who fought for Britain, BBC reported.

Sandwell Council called it a “striking tribute” to the community.

The statue, depicting a Sikh serviceman carrying a rifle, will stand on a 6ft granite plinth with inscriptions that name the regiments in which South Asian soldiers served. It will pay tribute to the thousands of troops from India who fought and died for Britain between 1914 and 1918.

More than 83,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers gave their lives and more than 1,00,000 were injured during the two world wars.

President of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick, which is covering the cost of the statue, Jatinder Singh said, “These men volunteered to serve and fought to defend the freedoms we enjoy today.

“The memorial will ensure that this part is never forgotten.”

The statute’s sculptor Luke Perry said he is “incredibly proud” of the work.

“I am incredibly proud to be working on a sculpture that is, at its heart, a statement of gratitude for the actions of a people who gave their lives for our independence when they had not yet achieved their own,” Perry said.

“It will be a striking and permanent marker of the richness of our community and that those who have been under-celebrated are finally getting the recognition they deserve.”

The statue will sit between High Street and Tollhouse Way in a newly created paved public space, including seating and lighting, it said.

Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling, said: “I am very proud that Smethwick is paying such a striking tribute to the very important role played by South Asian service personnel during times of conflict.”

The council said the statue will be installed in time for Armistice Day in November, the report said.

Preet Kaur Gill MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, said the statue will recognise an “integral part of Sandwell’s rich history”.

In 2015, a national memorial to Sikh soldiers who fought during World War One was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

According to official records, despite making up only 2% of the Indian population when the First World War broke out, Sikhs accounted for more than 20% of the Indian Army’s manpower.

Sikh soldiers from Punjab and surrounding States saw action in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, most notably on the Western Front and at Gallipoli.

On the Western Front, Sikhs fought and died alongside their British, Indian and Commonwealth counterparts. Their contribution was essential to the war effort and of the 22 Military Crosses awarded to Indian soldiers, 14 went to Sikhs.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 20:41 IST