Campaigners to teach children about Sikh contribution to Britain during World Wars
By Barfi Culture Team
11th September 2018

The story of the Battle of Saragarhi is almost legendary among some Sikhs.

Historians say it was fought in 1897, when 21 soldiers of Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army under the British found themselves surrounded by 10,000 enemy tribesmen during an uprising on the North West Frontier.

The 21 soldiers are said to have fought heroically until the last man, in an engagement lasting more than six hours. The British built several memorials to the battle, including in Amritsar, and awarded those who died a posthumous Indian Order of Merit.

Now a group dedicated to raising awareness of Sikh contribution to the two World Wars has developed a teaching resource around the battle.

Their aim is to teach school children at Key Stage 3/4 level about Sikhs by focusing on the battle of Saragarhi. The lesson plan on Religious Education covers Sikhism, the one on History covers the Indian Army.

Writer and filmmaker Capt. J. Singh-Sohal, who has written about and made a film on the battle, says: "Throughout our work over the past decade we have found parents frustrated that the Indian contribution is not taught in schools and teachers with an interest in this field unable to connect with the relevant authoritative resources to include these subjects in their lessons."

The education pack is edited by Sikh lecturer and writer Harjinder Singh, who said: "This is an essential resource for teachers and educators working in the fields of history and community cohesion."

"It brings to light, the themes of military service, heroism, loyalty and the politics of identity and colonialism, creating debate and developing critical thinking."

They say the education pack has been developed with school teachers who say there are not enough resources available to learn about the different faiths who fought with Great Britain before India's independence in 1947.

It has been made possible with funding support from the Armed Forces Covenant, and its creators say it will help assist in teaching history, citizenship and religious education.

The resource is available for free for school teachers via their website.

Picture from a previous Battle of Saragarhi commemoration event.

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