Remembering the sacrifices made by the ‘invisible heroes’ of the Great War

Posted by er134 at Oct 08, 2014 12:30 PM |
Sikh and Commonwealth soldiers paid tribute at University of Leicester free public event on Saturday 18 October

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 8 October 2014

The First World War claimed the lives of almost 16 million men, women and children, making it one of the deadliest conflicts in human history and a painful reminder of the destruction that can occur during times of warfare.

Thousands of Sikh and Commonwealth soldiers gave their lives to the cause and offered vital support to the British Army and Allied Forces during the four-year military campaign that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918.

The honourable contributions made by the Sikh community during the First World War form the foundations of an upcoming free public lecture to take place at the University of Leicester on Saturday 18 October organised by the Sikh Welfare and Cultural Society (SWCS).

During the event, ’Invisible Heroes: The Sikhs and Commonwealth Soldiers in World War One’, prominent speakers from the Sikh community will discuss the role of Sikh and Commonwealth soldiers during the conflict and the outcomes the war had on Sikh communities.

The event will be introduced by Dr Rami Ranger MBE, a humanitarian and member of the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Fellowship.

Guest speakers will include Guest of Honour Brigadier Richard Stanford, Flight Sergeant Balbir Singh Flora MBE (retired) and Writer and Historian Bobby Singh Bansal, who has reported extensively on the segregated Sikh community in Afghanistan.

Resham Singh Sandhu, MBE, DL, FRSA, Chairman of the SWCS, said: “It gives me great pleasure to host this World War One Lecture on behalf of the Sikh Welfare and Cultural Society at the University of Leicester, which aims to awaken and highlight to the world the great sacrifices made by Sikhs and Commonwealth soldiers for the freedom of all humanity.”

Known for their bravery, honour and loyalty Sikhs during the First World War were dubbed the ‘Lions of the Great War’ for their noble efforts.

Sikhs were allowed to use traditional Sikh weapons on the battlefield, such as chakrams and talwar swords, and it was not uncommon to see the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, being carried before a marching Sikh battalion or even on the front lines among the battling Sikh troops.

Thomas Veit, Director of External Relations at the University of Leicester, added: “Founded as a living memorial to those who died in the Great War, the University of Leicester welcomes this opportunity to showcase the contributions made by the Sikh community as well as other groups during the conflict. 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.”

‘Invisible Heroes: The Sikhs and Commonwealth Soldiers in World War One’ will take place on Saturday 18 October at the University of Leicester’s Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, Fielding Johnson Building South Wing between 2:30 – 4:00pm, followed by vegetarian refreshments in the Charles Wilson Building from 4.00pm. The event is free and open to all and to reserve a place please RSVP to externalrelations@le.ac.uk

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact Resham Singh Sandhu or contact Ellen Rudge at the University of Leicester’s News Centre on 0116 229 7467 or at: externalrelations@le.ac.uk

The University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is uniquely placed as the only UK university founded in memory of those who died in the First World War.

It is no coincidence that the public fund for the endowment of a University College for Leicestershire – later to become the University of Leicester – was opened on Armistice Day in 1918. The University College was envisaged as a ‘living memorial’ to those local men who had lost their lives in the First World War. Leicester was to have, as the local paper put it, “more than a mere artistic war memorial”. The University motto 'Ut vitam habeant' ('so that they may have life') stands as a permanent reminder on every publication and degree certificate issued since.

http://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/ww1

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