Sikhs During World war 1 and 2


Sikhs During World war 1 and 2

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Latest Activity: Nov 15, 2012

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Comment by ilinder kaur on November 15, 2012 at 4:44

This year on Remembrance Day another little known part of Canadian history was brought to light by the hour-long documentary “Canadian Soldier Sikhs: A Little Story in a Big War.

The documentary reveals the fascinating and untold story of those Sikh immigrants who enlisted in the Canadian Army during the World War I, reminding Canadians of the many challenges faced by ethno-cultural groups in the process of making Canada their home.

They were volunteers who fought, and some died, for a country that was not only discouraging and preventing South Asians from immigrating to Canada but were also denying them Canadian citizenship.

With a long military tradition Sikhs have always been at the forefront in serving their country. Over 65,000 Sikh soldiers fought in WWI as part of the British Army and over 300,000 Sikhs fought against German and Japanese tyranny in WWII.

While searching for information on a group of 40 Sikhs who came to Victoria, British Columbia in 1906 -1907 for his film “Searching for the Sikhs of Tod Inlet,” David Gray discovered that eight Sikhs, with the surname Singh, had enlisted in the Canadian Army in the First World War. Two additional Canadian soldier Sikhs have since been found. This part of Canadian Sikh history was virtually unknown and thus of great interest to the Canadian Sikh community.

The film goes back in time to observe the soldiers on their journey. From the enlistment process and training, to their transport to France by ship and their return to civilian life, the documentary features the struggles these Sikh soldiers faced and the battles they fought, including those during which two of the men were killed.

The film also follows one injured soldier back to Canada on a hospital ship and to Kitchener’s TB hospital.

Gravestone (123K)He was 25-year-old Private Buckam Singh, who came to Victoria, British Columbia from Mahilpur village in the Hoshiarpur District of Punjab in 1907 at age 14 and eventually moved to Toronto area in 1912/1913.

He fought for Canada, came back and died alone in Kitchener, far from his birthplace in 1919 in a community that did not know the funeral rights of Sikhs. His grave in Kitchener is the only known First World War Sikh Canadian soldier’s grave in Canada.

His family, who lived in Punjab, British India, knew nothing about his time at war. They just received a notice when he died.

While he never got to see his family again and died forgotten almost 93 years ago, his heroic story has only recently been reclaimed and celebrated.

About five years ago, Sandeep Singh Brar, a historian from Brampton bought a Victory Medal that led him to a Kitchener cemetery, where he found the tombstone of Private Buckam Singh. With the discovery of the Victoria Medal of Private Buckam Singh a heroic story of bravery and adventure has been uncovered.

He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the spring of 1915. He served with the 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion in the battlefields of Flanders during 1916.

Buckam Singh, whose grave drew little attention for almost 90 years, now attracts hundreds people every year for Remembrance Day Sikh prayers at the Kitchener cemetery.

Images of his war grave, a remembrance service almost 90 years after his death, and the story of how his war medal was discovered, bring a personal touch to the film.

The film ends with the story of the soldiers’ return to civilian life, the tracing of their descendants, and the visit to the European grave sites of two of the Canadian Sikh soldiers.

Singh who died alone .. embraced by fellow Sikh Canadians after nearly a century.


Comment by ilinder kaur on September 12, 2011 at 4:00

Sat Sri Akal

Certainly a debt that can never be repaid!. My Grandfather and 3 Great Uncles were at Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, Festubert in France on the Western Front. They were in the Worcestershire and South Staffs Regts. respectively. Two of the uncles were killed in action.Fighting alongside my  family were Sikhs, Ghurka and the Seaforth Highlanders. (the Ghurka would only fight with the Seaforths) In any event the Sikh were the first to volunteer to fight for the British making up 1/3rd of the total British Army. Sikh's won 14 Victoria Crosses.. a per capita record since their regt size was small. They are a martial race as are the Ghurka a reason British love to have them on their side. Fight until the bullets are  used up then get out the sword. Sikh most decorated regiment  bar none. I am for one proud to live alongside them during my time in UK, here in Canada and now to be part of the  family.  

Comment by Amarjit Singh Gupta on January 21, 2011 at 10:37


               Sikh history is full of bravery, courage, valor and discipline.


Comment by prabhjot singh sran on February 20, 2010 at 12:45
A Sikh soldier, Indar Singh, fighting on the Somme in September 1916, wrote home:

"It is quite impossible that I should return alive. [But] don't be grieved at my death, because I shall die arms in hand, wearing the warrior's clothes. This is the most happy death that anyone can die."

I wish the whole world could know about the valor of Sikhs.
Comment by prabhjot singh sran on February 20, 2010 at 12:39
Sat Sri Akal veer ji

thank u for creating this group, I am happy to be a part of this group.
I would like to share a few facts.

This is what General Sir Frank Messervy(British Indian Army officer in both the First and Second World Wars) and Sir Winston Churchill said about sikhs.

General Sir Frank Messervy

—"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."

Sir Winston Churchill

—"British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice [in two world wars] and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans."

well let it be fight against Mughal empire or in world wars or against in the fight against British rule SIKHS have proved their valor every time.
It was because of Sikh the Mughal rule ended other wise there would have been 95 percent of Muslims in India. Sikh troops in world wars from Indian Army were around 35-40% of the armed forces, yet the Sikhs only made up less than 2% of the total Indian population.
And the contribution of Sikh in Indian's war for independence is unmeasurable, It is because of sikhs that India is independent.

Figures below provided by Maulana Abul Azad, President of the Congress Party at the time of Indepedence.

-Out of 2125 Indians killed in the atrocities by the British, 1550 (73%) were Sikhs.

-Out of 2646 Indians deported for life to the Andaman Islands (where the British exiled political and hardened criminals) 2147 (80%) were Sikhs.

-Out of 127 Indians sent to the gallows, 92 (80%) were Sikhs.

-At Jalliawalla Bagh out of the 1302 men, women and children slaughtered, 799 (61%) were Sikhs.

-In the Indian Liberation Army, out of the 20,000 ranks and officers, 12,000 (60%) were Sikhs.

-Out of 121 persons executed during the freedom struggle, 73 (60%) were Sikhs.

The following solemn assurances were made:

"No Constitution would be acceptable to the Congress which did not satisfy the sikhs." (Collected works of M K Gandhi Vol.58. p. 192)

"The brave Sikhs of Panjab are entitled to special consideration. I see nothing wrong in an area and a set up in the North wherein the Sikhs can also experience the glow of freedom. (Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress meeting: Calcutta – July, 1944)

The Sikh homeland Panjab was divided and the Sikhs suffered great loss. Sikh shrines such as Nankana Sahib, Panja Sahib and many more along with the capital city of Lahore was given to Pakistan, over 70% of the most fertile land owned by sikhs was taken by Pakistan and over 500,000 men, women and children lost their lives during the partition.
Comment by kavaljeet SIngh on February 19, 2010 at 12:59
Really I think its greatthat people should me made aware of this. I know the older generation In theUK who took part in the war remember this. When I was livingin Preston for a year an old man came up and sat sat sri akal to me..after the inital shock he then explained to me that he took part in the war and knew of many sikhs. It was great listening to his stories :-)
Comment by Danka on February 19, 2010 at 11:49
Only got to know this fact from my husband. Living and being born in Europe, have never heard it mentioned anywhere before.
Comment by kavaljeet SIngh on February 19, 2010 at 11:16
Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (Victory belong to those; Whom recite the name of god with a true heart)
Comment by kavaljeet SIngh on February 19, 2010 at 11:06
WOuld be good to know if any of you have any comments on the sikhs that laid down their lives in world war 1 and 2 :

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