Home Secretary Visits the National Sikh Museum
November 28th, 2014
The National Sikh Museum, Derby has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exhibition which commemorates the Sikh soldiers who fought for Britain in the First World War and explains the role they played in the conflict. Home Secretary, The Rt Hon Theresa May, MP, performed unveiling ceremonies to formally open the exhibition.
Altogether, almost 1 million Indian soldiers took part in the War and, despite making up only 2% of the Indian population, Sikh soldiers amounted to 20% of the men who fought. A proud warrior race, Sikh gallantry is legendary.
After the battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915, Sikh regiments had lost 80% of their men and three regiments stood at only 16% of their original compliment. At the first battle of Ypres in 1914, a platoon of Sikhs fought literally to the last man, who, rather than surrendering, used his last bullet to take his own life.
One Sikh soldier, Indar Singh, wrote home saying “It is quite impossible that I should return alive. Do not be grieved at my death because I shall die arms in hand, wearing the warrior’s clothes.”
Mrs May had a tour of the museum and unveiled two statues of Sikh soldiers which form part of the exhibition. She said that she was honoured to be asked to perform the ceremony and mentioned the Sikh reputation for bravery saying that the Sikh soldiers “Showed great valour and sacrifice to give us the freedoms we enjoy today.” Mrs May also unveiled two plaques, in English and Punjabi, commemorating the role of Sikh soldiers in the War.
The Museum is open 7 days per week between 10am and 3pm. Tel: 01332 402530 Web: http://www.nationalsikhmuseum.com