"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)
NEWS ARTICLE - PRINCE CHARLES OPENS A MUSEUM EXHIBITION ON SIKH SOLDIERS
Jawans, Generals and a Prince
1 May 2002
Prince Charles launched the "From Jawans to Generals: Loyal Allies, Proud Britons" exhibition today at Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London. He praised the Sikh contribution to the two world wars and remembered the 83,000 Sikhs that gave their lives for the defense of freedom. The also quoted from the writings of Guru Gobind Singh about upholding justice.
Harbinder Singh Rana, Projects Director, of the Maharaja Duleep Singh Centenary Trust thanked the Prince and highlighted the fact that the current British Army has 109,000 soldiers, while 107,000 Sikhs were injured in the two World Wars. He also went on to say that the Trust is working with the Army to increase Sikh participation in the UK's armed forces and to rekindle the spirit of the Sikh soldiers of the past. Finally he reflected upon the recent electoral success of the far right in France and suggested that M. Le Penn visit one of the battlefields in France where he can reflect while reading the names on a memorial of thousands of Sikhs who gave their lives to protect the freedom of France.