Who can forget the heroism of Sikhs in the battlefields of World War I and II. Historic battle of Ypres and bloody battle of Neuve Chapelle are just some examples.
“Finally, we that live on can never forget those comrades who in giving their lives gave so much that is good to the story of the Sikh Regiment. No living glory can transcend that of their supreme sacrifice, may they rest in peace.
In the last two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world and during shell fire, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith.” (General Sir Frank Messervy KCSI, KBE, CB, DSO)
“Thousand and hundreds of thousands of soldiers have lost their lives. If you go on the field of battle you will see corpses piled upon corpses, so that their is no place to place or put hand or foot. Men have died from the stench. No one has any hope of survival, for back to Punjab will go only those who have lost a leg or an arm or an eye. The whole world has been brought to destruction.” (letter home from a Sikh soldier)
Over 138,000 Indian troops fought in Belgium and France during World War I, many of them Sikhs. More than one quarter of these soldiers would became casualties.
In the first battle of Ypres at Flanders in 1914 a platoon of Dogra Sikhs died fighting to the last man, who shot himself with his last cartridge rather than surrender.
After the bloody battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915 the Sikh regements had lost 80% of their men, 3 regements stood at only 16% of their original compliment.
“It was the dark days of 1914 when our men had to face mortars, hand grenades, high explosive shells for which they themselves were not provided. They could reply only with their valour, their rifles and two machine guns per batallion. And yet they did it.” (Lt. General Sir James Wilcox, Commander of the Indian Corps)
Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India wrote in his memoirs :
“Within six months of the outbreak of war seven divisions of infantry and two divisions and two brigades of cavalry were sent from India overseas. But in addition to these organised forces no less than 20 batteries of artillery and 32 battalions of British infantry, 1,000 strong and more were sent to England. Altogether 80,000 British officers and troops and 210,000 Indian officers and men were sent from India overseas during the first six months of the war….It is a fact that for several weeks before the arrival of some untrained Territorial battalions from England the total British garrison in India, a country bigger than Europe… was reduced to less than 15,000 men. It was a big risk, but I took it, in spite of the repeated and vigorous protests of the Commander-in-Chief and some of the European community, as I trusted the people of India in the great emergency that had arisen, and I told them so and my confidence was not misplaced.” (India and the War, 1914, by Lord Hardinge, My Indian)
Pagal Parrot salutes this brave community and pays a huge respect to the martyrs .