[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]National Sikh Council of Australia opened a weeklong exhibition on the Sikh Military History on World War I & II at Parramatta Town Hall, Parramatta to commemorate centenary of Gallipoli.
The exhibition highlights the contribution of the Sikh soldiers in the Great War, Gallipoli and many other fronts that Sikh soldiers fought and laid their lives.
An impressive Malaysian Sikh Pipes and Drums Band performed at the town hall and mesmerised the public and guests.
Lord Mayor of Parramatta Town Cr Scott Lloyd opened the exhibition and acknowledged the importance of remembering the history where ANZAC troops shared the battlegrounds with the troops from other nations as well as Sikhs.
Speaking at the occasion Hon Dr Geoff Lee MP Parramatta also acknowledged the contribution of the Sikh soldiers in Gallipoli war and many other fronts in four continents. He emphasised on the rich history and cultural heritage that Sikh community shares with mainstream Australians. Dr Lee congratulated the National Sikh Council team members for organising the spectacular exhibition in Parramatta.
Hon Julia Finn MP Granville also praised the council and shared her experience of visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Consul General of Greece HE Dr Stavros Kyrimis also addressed the gathering and recalled the history of Sikhs reaching Lemnos in Greece before the battle of Gallipoli. He paid tribute to the fallen soldiers in that part of the world.
Harchand Singh Bedi of Malaysia who has curated the exhibition mentioned about the role and sacrifice of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and South Africans that have long been celebrated in history books, novels, and award-winning films like “Gallipoli.” But the world hears very little about the 1.3 million British Indian troops who served in the conflict, which claimed the lives of 74,187, with another 67,000 wounded. Their stories of valour, have long been omitted from popular histories of the war, or relegated to the footnotes, he said.
World War 1 marked an important watershed as for the first time, British Indian soldiers were fighting on European soil. They fought in ALL the major theatres of war on land (trenches), air (fighter pilots) and sea (sailors) along with British and ANZAC troops. Their many awards for bravery, as well as their war graves and memorials on the battlefields, are a testimony to their sacrifice in the service of Britain. These memorials give a powerful picture of the scale of the efforts and sacrifice made by these soldiers in the Great War.
In all the battles in which they fought, they suffered heavy casualties. However, there was no wavering among them and they always stood rock steady to rank sky high among the fighting men. While recounting their brave deeds, the immediate attention of all who have a sense of history goes to the first battalion of the Sikh Regiment called the 14th Ferozepur Sikhs, which was moved after a short stay in the Suez Canal area to Gallipoli.
The battle of Gallipoli was fought in an attempt to capture Constantinople and take the Turks, who had entered the war on the side of Germany, out of the war. The 2nd Royal Fusiliers were finding it impossible to even clear the beach heads and so a Company of Sikhs was sent to help. And though the allies did not succeed, the bravery shown by the Sikhs during this operation became a glorious chapter in the history of warfare.
Soldiers from British India fought in every theatre of conflict in the First World War. This included France, Belgium, Gallipoli, Salonika, Palestine, Egypt and the Sudan, Mesopotamia, Aden and the Red Sea coast, Somaliland, The Cameroons, East Africa, north-west Persia and Kurdistan, south Persia, the Gulf of Oman, East Persia, central Asia, north China and the north-west and north-east frontiers of India.
This exhibition commemorates the life of the Sikh soldiers that fought with the allied forces. The office bearers Secretary Bawa Singh Jagdev was the master of ceremonies. Ajmer Gill President of National Sikh Council of Australia and Amarinder Bajwa Vice President greeted and welcomed the guests and public.