Memorial to Indian Forces at the Menin Gate, Ypres

First World War Sikh and Commonwealth soldiers remembered at Leicester University

Posted on centenarynews.com on 15 October 2014
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The sacrifice of thousands of Sikh and Commonwealth soldiers who gave their lives for the Allied cause from 1914-18 will be remembered in a lecture series at Leicester University on October 18th 2014.

Organised by the Sikh Welfare and Cultural Society, the event will highlight the role of Sikhs in the colonial Indian Army and the effects of the First World War on their communities.  

Troops from British-ruled India were sent to reinforce the Western Front within weeks of the declaration of war. October 2014 marks the centenary of their participation in the First Battle of Ypres.

Almost 1.5 million Indians from all communities served during the First World War, fighting alongside their British and Commonwealth counterparts in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Sikhs made up nearly 20 per cent of the volunteer Indian Army at the start of the war, despite accounting  for less than one per cent of the population of undivided India (now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh).

The Sikh Welfare and Cultural Society says the talks at Leicester University aim to "awaken and highlight to the world the great sacrifices made by Sikhs and Commonwealth soldiers for the freedom of all humanity.”

Leicester's Director of External Relations, Thomas Veit, explains that the university was originally founded as a living memorial to those who died in the Great War.

"The University has a longstanding tradition of celebrating the role of diverse communities and this event is a timely reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought and died in the First World War,” he said.

'Invisible Heroes: The Sikhs and Commonwealth Soldiers in World War One’ takes place at Leicester University at 2.30pm on October 18th 2014. The event is free and open to all. Further details are available here

Source: University of Leicester

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News