Sikhs mark 100 years since Battle of Somme

Sikhs across the UK took part in nationwide commemoration ceremonies, honouring those who fought in the Battle of Somme during World War 1 in 1916.

Events in Birmingham, Plymouth and London were attended by Sikhs, representing the thousands of Sikh troops who fought in the battle alongside Allied troops from India, France and Britain take on German soldiers on the upper reaches of the river Somme. Wreaths were laid and Sikh prayers recited at some of the events.

Chaz Singh, Sikh activist and former Labour candidate for Plymouth who laid a wreath as part of the town’s official Battle of Somme remembrance ceremony, said, “It is very important that the Commonwealth contribution is remembered. The Sikhs contributed  significantly and as a Sikh it is a great honour to be able to represent  them here in Plymouth.”

Chaz Singh at the Plymouth Battle of Somme commemoration event

Other events where Sikh soldiers were represented include in London, where the British Armed Forces Sikh Association (BAFSA) were in Westminster Abbey for a remembrance event, whilst Mandeep Kaur  read out Sikh prayers at a Birmingham commemoration event.

Representation from BAFSA in Westminster Abbey

Today’s anniversary has also been used as the launch date for a new website – www.EmpireFaithWar.com – which is to be a hub for information and previously unknown tales of Sikh soldiers.

​Amandeep Madra, Chair of the UK Punjab Heritage Association said:
“Sikhs played a massively disproportionate role in the Great War, and served with distinction as part of the Indian cavalry at the Somme, as well as in the blood soaked trenches of the Western Front and the deserts and heat of Africa and the Middle East. That’s why we are launching today our website ‘Empire, Faith & War’ to help Sikhs connect to their incredible wartime history and commemorate their ancestors’ role in the ‘war to end all wars’.”
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