Tag Archive: sikh

  1. PM awards outstanding British Sikh history champion

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    The Prime Minister has today, 23 September, recognised Jay Singh-Sohal, from Royal Sutton Coldfield, for his exceptional service commemorating Sikh contributions to the British Armed Forces.

    Jay led the successful campaign to create the UK’s only memorial to the more than 120,000 Sikh soldiers who fought during the First World War. Jay, who is an Army Reserve Captain, also works with the British Army to commemorate Sikh contributions to the British Armed Forces on Saragarhi Day, every September. The Battle of Saragarhi saw 21 Sikh soldiers fight for the British Indian Army and defend the North-West Frontier with Afghanistan against 10,000 enemy forces in 1897. While the battle has long been commemorated in India by the Indian Army, Jay was inspired to bring commemorations to the UK to serve as an opportunity to engage British Sikhs with their heritage and celebrate continued Sikh contributions to the British military today.

    Jay is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. He was presented with his award by the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street (see left).

    In a personal letter to Jay, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

    “I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how you have created our country’s first memorial to the 120,000 brave Sikh soldiers who fought during the First World War. It is fitting that we honour their enormous courage and sacrifice in ensuring the freedoms we all enjoy today.”


    Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

     “I have known Jay for around three years now. He is hugely passionate about our Armed Forces and the historical contribution of Sikh soldiers in WW1 and WW2. This has led to the creation of the permanent Sikh WW1 memorial at the National Arboretum and has significantly raised the profile of the Battle of Saragarhi. He is extremely well deserving of this honour and I am pleased his work has been recognised by the Prime Minister.”


    Jay said:

     “I’m delighted to be receiving a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Telling the story of shared British Sikh history through the battle of Saragarhi has been a fantastic journey working with wonderful people with the same enthusiasm for our heritage. It continues to inspire many more to serve our country in whichever way they can. I’m proud of the part I’ve been able to play in driving grassroots community activity in this way. It’s important to me, as it creates better understanding between diverse communities and gives young people confidence and encouragement in seeking to achieve their goals. I hope my award encourages many others to do the same.”

    Jay is the 1244th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.

    Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

    Notes to Editors

    1. The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
    2. The Prime Minister makes daily announcements of the winners to celebrate, encourage and promote volunteering and the value that it brings to the country.
    3. If people know someone who could be a Point of Light they should write to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.
    4. Website: www.pointsoflight.gov.uk



  2. GNG Smethwick partner with Armed Forces

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    Brigadier Richard J. Carter, Commanding Officer of 11th Signal Brigade at Guru Nanak Gurdwara (GNG) in Smethwick with its President, Jatinder Singh, (left) posing with their newly signed Armed Forces Covenant.

    Corporal Mark Larner RLC

    The Commander of the Army in the West Midlands has met with leaders of the Sikh community in Smethwick where they put pen to paper to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, formally recognising the strong ties between the Sikh community and the Armed Forces.

    Brigadier Richard Carter, Commander HQ 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade, said: “A diverse military is a strong military which is why we’re committed to making sure the Army in the West Midlands better represents the society we serve. This Covenant signing is yet another demonstration of this.

    “Sikhs have a rich history with the Army, from their unsurpassed courage at the Battle of Saragarhi over 120 years ago, to the hundreds of thousands of Sikhs who fought for Britain during the First and Second World Wars as symbolised by the wonderful Lions of the Great War statue in Smethwick. We look forward to working with Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick to ensure that tradition continues.”

    170 Sikhs currently serve in the Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force, with many more around the UK serving as Reservists. The British Sikh report published last year found that 69% of Sikhs would support their child taking a career to defend the nation.

    Jatinder Singh, President of Guru Nanak Gurdwara (GNG) Smethwick, said: “Guru Nanak Gurdwara is embarking on an ambitious vision that we hope will set us aside as a flagship centre for inspirational community projects and innovate partnerships.

    “This vision is fuelled by our desire to create a learning environment for Sikh generations in UK to become strong role models for supporting their community and wider society and through the message advocated by our Gurus perform social action with humility that benefits all mankind.

    “This partnership through the Armed Forces Covenant shows our clear commitment to building relationships between our community and military personnel with their families as well as creating opportunities for the military to understand more about the Sikh way of life so it can better impart cultural knowledge to its personnel. The WW1 Sikh statue is one such example of this.

    “We also look forward to exploring through our ambitious youth leadership programme, how we better equip future generations of British Sikhs to serve their community and nation. And subsequently provide opportunities for members of our congregation to find out more about training and career opportunities in a wide variety of careers including the uniformed services.”

    Captain J Singh-Sohal, a member of the GNG Smethwick’s Education Board said: “It’s so important that institutions such as our Gurdwaras engage with their Armed Forces and create a better working relationship with one another. By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, GNG Smethwick is committing to a strategic partnership that will provide character and leadership development opportunities for Sikhs in the West Midlands while also educating those who serve about our faith and practices. It codifies and gives direction to a community already committed to serving our country, and I hope many more faith-based organisations will follow this lead to develop pledges in support of co-operation between the wider military community and those it works to protect.”

  3. Remembrance at the WW1 Sikh Memorial

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    On Sunday 5th November 2017, we were joined by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant to mark Remembrance at the WW1 Sikh Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum.

    The event is a regular event, held on the first Sunday of November and before the national Remembrance Day.

  4. Forli War Cemetery

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    It’s my absolute honour and a privilege to be working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as a trustee of their new foundation.

    As part of this endeavour, I’ve been visiting CWGC sites to discover more about the men from all over the Commonwealth who fought during WW1 and WW2.

    At Forli, I saw the impressive Indian memorial statute and found out more about the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim men who served side by side fighting for the Allies in Italy.

    I highly recommend others to make such pilgrimages to discover the stories of our forebears.

    For more information visit the CWGC website here.

  5. Saragarhi: The True Story on Tour

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    Our new film “Saragarhi: The True Story” has had a fantastic response so far – and it’s with pleasure we can announce we are going on tour to screen the film in the UK and abroad.

    More dates and information will be shared directly via our Facebook site, so do bookmark and join the page for the very latest via: www.facebook.com/saragarhi

    For now, we will be screening as per the below:

    October – Birmingham
    November – London, LA
    December – New York, Punjab

    Saragarhi: The True Story is available for screening in your locality. To host or arrange a showing contact us directly via DM or on: dothyphen1 AT gmail DOT com

    Thanks for all your continued support!

    PS – the DVD of the film will be released in late November 2017 via Amazon. You can order via here.

  6. Saragarhi Day media coverage

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    Lot’s of media coverage of Saragarhi Day 2017 and our film launch at the National Memorial Arboretum. Here’s a round up of outlets and media for you to share and enjoy:
    The Times – image picture above
    BBC News Channel – link to follow
    BBC Midlands Today – https://www.facebook.com/MidlandsBBC/videos/10155639365299761/
    BBC East Midlands Today – link to follow
    BBC WM – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05d6p32
    BBC London – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05dpvwx
    BBC Leicester – Ushma Rose story about Lt Col John Haughton, listen below

    BBC Asian Network Debate show with Dil Neiyyarhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b093st79
    BBC Asian Network Reports http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b093t6wj
    BBC Radio 4 – link to follow
    ITV News – image to follow
    BBC History When 21 Sikh soldiers stood against 10,000 men: the battle of Saragarhi http://www.historyextra.com/article/bbc-history-magazine/when-21-sikh-soldiers-stood-against-10000-men-battle-saragarhi
    Hindustan Times Deathless in death: Saragarhi bravehearts were limited by numbers, bullets: http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/deathless-in-death-saragarhi-bravehearts-were-limited-by-numbers-bullets/story-E0wTuZyV9pAcCyOD47N2kO.html
    The Scroll (India) British documentary wants to ensure that the epic Battle of Saragarhi is not forgotten https://thereel.scroll.in/850302/british-documentary-wants-to-ensure-that-the-epic-battle-of-saragarhi-is-not-forgotten
    History of War magazine Saragarhi: The True Story shows how heroism can overcome nationalism buff.ly/2h0i2AQ
    Tribune (India) Saragarhi saga captured on film: http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/saragarhi-saga-captured-on-film/465601.html
    Asian Image Anniversary of legendary heroism of 21 British Indian Army Sikh soldiers commemorated http://www.asianimage.co.uk/news/15530444.Anniversary_of_legendary_heroism_of_21_British_Indian_Army_Sikh_soldiers_commemorated/
  7. Saragarhi site to be revealed in New Delhi talk

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    We’re proud to announce that Capt. J. Singh-Sohal will be delivering a guest lecture at the prestigious United Services Institute (USI) of India in a month’s time about the Battle of Saragarhi.

    The talk will take in the untold but true story of the battle, as well as showcase for the first time moving footage of the modern site – which will be revealed in full in the forthcoming documentary “Saragarhi: The True Story”.

    If you’re interested in attending the talk in New Delhi on Weds 23 August get in touch with us via dothyphen1@gmail.com.

    We’ll share more details of the talk and hopefully a video also on this website. Here’s a taster image of the ruins of Saragarhi from the film footage:

  8. Saragarhi talk at Southall Cadets

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    We had a fantastic time visiting Southall and speaking about the battle of Saragarhi to 193 Cadets (Army Cadets) and 1846 Squadron (Air Cadets).

    The group of young people were between the ages of 12 – 18, and they were given insight into the battle and got to handle the Martini Henry mk IV rifle.

    If you’d like to book a talk such as this, contact us directly.















  9. After Annexation: Frontier Defence to the last stand at Saragarhi

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    On Sunday 4th June, we were invited to the fantastic Anglo-Sikhs Wars exhibiton in Leicester to make a presentation about what happened after the fall of the second Sikh Empire.

    “After Annexation: Frontier Defence to the last stand at Saragarhi” was presented by writer and filmmaker J. Singh-Sohal (pictured) and delved into how the Sikhs went from being the fiercest of British foes to the staunchest of allies.

    It took in not only the development of the Sikhs in the various units that were raised to serve on the North West Frontier, but the current context of Islamist terrorism which we see – which has some similarity to what led to the tribal uprisings of 1897.

    The talk covered the battle of Saragarhi in depth, through photographs and eye witness accounts of the heroism on the Samana.

    The audience also had a chance to handle the rifle used by the Sikhs – the Martini Henry Mk IV.

    Thanks to the organisers Sikh Museum for putting together such a fantastic exhibition and series of talks.

    A video of the talk will be shared in due course.

  10. Is Saragarhi in the right place?

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    Through our Saragarhi Live videos we’ve connected with many people from around the world who are interested in the battle and our forthcoming film. A continuing conversation with one of these has been fascinating and forms the basis of this post – pinpointing exactly where Saragarhi is and why this location was the best for it.

    In researching for the book “Saragarhi: The Forgotten Battle” we found several primary sources which indicate and describe exactly where the signalling post was situated, including the original document for the placing of the Samana posts after the second Miranzai expedition.

    The official history from the India Army Intelligence Branch, 1908, puts it simply that: “Saraghari was … situated on the the highest point of the range between Fort Lockhart and Gulistan.”

    We took this research to pinpoint the site of the post on Google Maps, right next to the Samana Road.

    But why was this the best site? Could Saragarhi have been located somewhere else?

    Richard Fowell, a heliography expert from California, got in touch with some interesting insight, which we are publishing here with his kind permission.

    Using digital elevation maps (DEM), Richard found not only where Saragahri was located (33.554º N 70.888º E), but all locations where a relay post in between could have been sited.

    Below are his calculations:

    “Various accounts place Saragarhi at various distances from Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan, and variously north or south of the road (or line) between the forts. Since Saragarhi has been obliterated, we can’t directly locate it with Google Earth. However, we should be able to locate Saragarhi definitively from topography. Based on the below, I place it at 33.554º N 70.888º E.

    I began my analysis at Michael Kosowsky’s free site heywhatsthat.com. His site uses Google’s computerized contour maps (digital elevation models (DEMs) to find the highest point within a given radius of a location, to show areas visible from a given location and height, and to find the bearing and range to other points.

    Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan are marked on Google Maps – I began at a point midway between the two. The “Contours” option at heywhatsthat.com displays the ridge between the forts. As the 1908 official history places Saragarhi at the high point of that ridge,  I picked a point in the centre of the ridge and asked for the highest location within one mile.

    Heywhatsthat.com chose 33.554167º N 70.8875º E 6467 ft elevation. The areas visible from eye level at that point (6 feet above ground level (AGL) : 6473 ft) are tinted red in the first screenshot from the heywhatsthat.com analysis here: Saragarhi Post.

    This puts Saragarhi 1.8 +/- 0.1 miles (as the heliograph flash travels) from both forts It is south of, and 60 ft above, the crest of Samana Road.

    Some published accounts place Saragarhi post north of the road – how do we convince skeptics?

    DEMs aren’t perfect. The DEM for this region was probably based on Shuttle radar data, likely 90 m horizontal spacing and 16 m (53 ft) vertical accuracy (90% confidence), with any points in between interpolated (an “educated guess”) from that data.  The Google Earth DEM for this ridge puts  the location above 22 ft lower (6445 ft), and says the ridge high point is 66 meters SW, and eight feet higher, at 33.553673º N 70.887908º E 6453 ft.

    We know Saraghari was visible from both Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan – we can use this as a check.

    The locations of Fort Lockhart and Gulistan are marked on Google Maps, with the buildings visible in “satellite” view.  I used heywhatsthat.com to pick the highest point in each fort. The 1908 official history says the forts had 14 ft walls, so I set the height to eye level above the walls (20 feet AGL).

    Heywhatsthat.com provided these views:

    Fort Lockhart +20 ft AGL: latitude 33.556353º N longitude 70.919012º E elevation 6592 ft above sea level

    Fort Gulistan +20 ft AGL: latitude 33.557208º N longitude 70.856536º E elevation 6086 ft above sea level

    I overlaid these views, with the top view set to 50% transparency, to get the second screenshot, where locations visible from both Lockhart and Gulistan are darker red.

    One interesting observation from the intervisibility map is that the heliograph station did not have to be placed between the two forts to communicate to both. [1]

    I sketched in blue lines to show all the locations between Lockhart and Gulistan that were visible from both. 
    I’ve marked an attractive alternate signaling site north of the road, about 1 km NW of Saragarhi post. Militarily, this northern location has the disadvantage that snipers at Saragarhi would (slightly) overlook it, but Fort Gulistan suffers the same disadvantage with respect to the slopes west of it.

    The northern point is 25 m lower than Saragarhi, so it is clearly not the highest point on a ridge, but it is a high point on the ridge. Are we putting too much weight on the adjective “highest” in the 1908 account?

    We can show that our location is correct by combining information from the DEMs with photogrammetry from photos of Saragarhi taken shortly after the battle. That will be the subject of my next communication.”

    Heywhatsthat.com overlay images are Copyright 2017 Michael Kosowsky. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

    [1] A contrarian choice would have been a signal post at Samana Suk, west of both forts. It would be within 5 miles of both forts – point-blank range for a heliograph. It would also offer advance warning for any incursion from the west.