Friday, May 20, 2011
Cassino Memorial, Italy
Remembering Sikh Soldiers in Italy
The forces of India played a major role in both World Wars. Nearly 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth including some 160,000 from the forces of undivided British India died in the 1914-18 and 1939-45 Wars. In the first World War, the strength of the British Indian Army rose to one million and in the 2nd World War with two and half million. During WW-1, it fought in China, France and Belgium ( Flanders ), Mesopotamia against Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Egypt , Palestine, Gallipoli and in East Africa. In 2nd WW, a company of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps was part of the British Expeditionary Force in 1940 campaign which ended in the evacuation from Dunkirk ( France ). Divisions of British Indian Army fought in the Western Desert, in the Middle East, in Eritrea, Ethiopia, they fought in Italy and took part in the liberation of Greece. But against Japan in the east, British Indian Army played its greatest role right through from the reverses of 1942 to the final overwhelming victory of 1945.
"In the last two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world, and during shell fire, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith."
(General Sir Frank Messervy K. C. S.I, K. B. E., C. B., D. S. O.)
"The Sikh Regiment in the Second World War"
Colonel F T Birdwood OBE
Published in Great Britain by Jarrold and Sons Ltd., Norwich
Foreword by General Sir Frank Messervy K. C. S.I, K. B. E., C. B., D. S. O.
Most of the People in Punjab do not know that their forefathers, the Sikhs have fought gallantry in Europe including Italy in the 2nd World War and played an important role for the liberation of Europe and paid heavy price for the freedom of mankind along with Allied forces as part of the forces of the Commonwealth. The total Allied casualties killed, wounded and missing were 312,000; of these, 42,000 of the killed belonged to the forces of the Commonwealth in Italy. Gurkhas, Sikhs and Muslims, the traditional warriors has a great history in Italy during that terrible and painful period of war.
It is interesting to note that in Italy, Sikhs are living in large number( about 90,000 ) next to England in Europe and have established more than a dozen Gurudwara's there.