The UK government will fund a new war memorial to honour Sikh servicemen during World Wars
By Barfi Culture Team
1st February 2018

The UK government has agreed to help fund a new Memorial in central London to honour the contribution of Sikh servicemen during World War 1 and 2.

The backing was given on the day the Labour MP Tan Dhesi held an event at the House of Commons making the case for such a memorial.

More than 83,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers gave their lives during both the World Wars and more than 100,000 were injured, according to the UK government's figures.

Sikhs made up less than 2% of India's population at the time but accounted for more than 20% of the Indian Army’s manpower in 1914. And of the twenty-two Military Crosses awarded by the UK government to Indian soldiers for their bravery, fourteen went to Sikhs.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the MP for Slough, hosted the launch of the campaign for a National Sikh War Memorial on Tuesday with widespread cross-party support. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Conservative Minister Sajid Javid, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable and Green joint-leader Caroline Lucas all spoke at the event.

"Memorials already exist in London for Soldiers from the Commonwealth, British India, Poland, African-Caribbean nations, and for the Gurkhas but none of a turbaned Sikh Soldier," said Tan Dhesi.

"It would have huge additional benefits for community cohesion and integration within our country, something which is very close to my heart," he added.

This isn't the first such tribute however.

A memorial commemorating Sikh servicemen during World War 1 was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, in 2015.

The WW1 Sikh Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum

That initiative was led by Jay Singh-Sohal, a filmmaker and consultant, who raised funds for the Sikhs at War project through online donations.

The memorial led by Tan Dhesi MP will be based in central London.

The government has agreed to help set up a Working Group to find a suitable location and provide part of the funding. An amount of £375,000 has already been pledged for the memorial in London.

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