ANGLO SIKH HERITAGE REVEALED AT IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM LONDON
By Richard Moss 02/06/2006
His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester was at the
Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London on June 2 2006 to unveil the
latest plaque in a UK-wide scheme which highlights items of Anglo-Sikh
heritage held in museums and at heritage sites.
The IWM is latest museum to sign up the scheme and trail plaques
have already been unveiled at several key museums and other sites
around the UK.
The interesting thing about the Heritage Trail is that it
can be found in different points of the UK and therefore it catches
people by surprise, said his Royal Highness.
It arouses curiosity and hopefully it will entreat people
to try and find out a little bit about more the history of the way
the Sikh people and the British people have come together in a significant
Nowhere is this more obvious than here at the
Imperial War Museum where the Sikh martial tradition and its unparalleled
contribution to the World Wars is so powerfully illustrated.
Included in the museums galleries and now part of the trail
are the Victoria Cross and kara (a metal bangle which has religious
significance) of Parkash Singh, who fought in the Burma Campaign
with the Indian Army during the Second World War.
Parkash was awarded his VC for braving heavy enemy fire to rescue
Allied troops under attack by the Japanese in the Arakan region,
one of the most bitterly fought over areas in the war in Far East.
Also featured is a figure of a Sikh soldier from the
Mesopotamian campaign in the First World War, as well as a highly
significant photographic record of Sikh service within the two world
wars, held within the museum archives.
Since October 2000 the museum has also held an annual event called
the Portrait of Courage Lecture, which focuses on an important event
within the long military history of the Sikh people.
Speaking at the unveiling, Harbinder Singh, the Anglo Sikh Heritage
Trails president described the inclusion of the IWM in the
trail as being integral to explaining the martial tradition
of the Sikhs. But he was also keen to explain why this tradition
had emerged and what it should tell people about the Anglo Sikh
In 1604 the fifth Master of the Sikh faith was brutally tortured
and martyred in defence of our principles, he explained. It
was from that time that we saw this transformation in the Sikh psyche
- from a pacifist faith into one that made us stand proud, shoulder
to shoulder, as one of the great martial traditions in the world.
When we talk about our martial tradition, actually what we
need to do is look beyond that - to those values that our martial
tradition is protecting, he continued. Its those
values that give us a pride and a place in British society. Integrity,
honour, service, compassion and tolerance its those
values that we hope the ASHT will highlight.
The reception and unveiling also included a tour of some key items
in the IWM collection and the Duke was introduced to Sikh veterans
of the Burma Star Association and members of the Undivided India
The Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail was launched in July 2004 to celebrate
a hitherto little known aspect of the cultural landscape of Britain.
Visitors are able to follow the trail through a series of locations,
exhibits and institutions throughout the UK. For more information
visit the ASHT website
Imperial War Museum, London
Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London, SE1 6HZ, England
T: 020 7416 5320
Open: Open daily, 10.00-18.00
Closed: Closed 24-26 December