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World War 1 Sikh-Canadian Pioneers: Still Searching For Our Sikh War Heroes

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Sikh-Canadian Pioneers: Still Searching for Our Sikh War Heroes
by DAVID R. GRAY

In the making of a new Canadian documentary film, Canadian Soldier Sikhs: A Little Story in a Big War, we have reached a watershed.

Our film is taking shape, filled out by the exciting detail we have found in war diaries, attestation papers and other archival documents, and by some amazing personal stories.

We know that the film will be well-received, but we are hesitant to bring it to completion.

Why?

Because we are certain that there are still other undiscovered treasures of information about "our" ten Sikh soldiers that we have so far not uncovered. Where are these treasures of information? They are in the memories and the stories passed down through generations of Sikh families, both here in Canada and in India.

By requesting help from readers of sikhchic.com, I am hoping that more stories will come to light about these and other men, so that they can be shared through this film.

How can you help?

First, some background to the film. When our first film, Searching for the Sikhs of Tod Inlet, was screened at The Spinning Wheel Film Festival in Toronto in 2007, we were asked what the next project might be. I hesitantly suggested that I would like to follow up on my recent discovery that a handful of Sikhs had enlisted in the Canadian Army in the First World War.

I also shared my concern that such a topic might not be possible. Would there be enough information? Would it even be possible to find photographs of these men? Would any personal stories be found, or was that too much to expect when we were searching for just ten men in an army of thousands?

That very day we discovered, by a wonderful coincidence, that there were already two of us researching the story of one of these Canadian Sikh soldiers, and that one of his war medals had just been discovered (CLICK here for article by Sandeep Singh Brar).

Well, the last four years have continued to be an amazing time of research and discovery. We received a grant from the OMNI Television Independent Producer's Initiative to produce the film. A year ago our two-man crew was in Europe documenting the graves of two of the Sikh-Canadian soldiers who were killed in action. We have found some wonderful stories and unexpected nuggets of information that we have worked into the film.

A short preliminary trailer version of our film, called Sikh-Canadian Heroes of the First World War, was screened at The Spinning Wheel Film Festival in Toronto and at the Film Festival in Hollywood, California, U.S.A. in 2008, where it was awarded a Creative Media Award. The short version was also screened at the exhibition, The Spirit Born People: Defending the World, at the West Block, Parliament of Canada, Ottawa, in October 2009.

In the strong belief that there are more unknown stories that we need to tell, I would like to ask readers to look at the following list of ten Canadian soldiers, to see if any of these men are known to your family and friends.

The Soldiers
Of the dozen men from Punjab and India who had immigrated to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Army during the First World War, one was Muslim, one probably Hindu and the others, most with the surname "Singh," were probably Sikhs. Of the ten, eight served in England and France. One man who enlisted never left Canada.

Here's How You Can Help
We are looking for help from people who live in, or travel to India and Pakistan, and may be able to contact the relatives or descendants of the Sikh-Canadian soldiers. As well as contact information, we are hoping to discover photographs of some of
these Sikh-Canadian soldiers, perhaps even letters written home, as we know that at least one of the Canadian soldiers wrote letters to his family in India.

The following section gives some basic information on the ten soldiers. For more detailed information on the film and the soldiers, please visit our website at: www.canadiansoldiersikhs.ca

If you know the families of any of these soldiers, or if you may be travelling to their home villages or places where their next-of-kin lived, please help us with contacts or information. Any contacts with the soldiers' families or home villages would be gratefully appreciated.

If you can help, please let us know. Contact:

David R. Gray, Director/ Producer
Grayhound Information Services
3107 8th Line Road
Metcalfe, Ontario
Canada K0A 2P0

Tel: 613-821-2640

grayhound@xplornet.com

www.canadiansoldiersikhs.ca



THE SOLDIERS

1 John Baboo (John Baboo Singh)
Service Number: 830650
Address: Henry Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba and P.O. Box 571, Vancouver, BC.
Next of Kin: Wife - Virginia Maude Alice Baboo (124 Smith Street, Winnipeg)
Birth Date: May 27, 1888
Place of Birth: Sharpa, Puajah (Punjab), India
Trade: groom, labourer
Place and Date of Attestation: Winnipeg. Jan. 29, 1916
Military Unit: 144th Battalion, to 44th Btn
Former Military Unit: 28th Calvary Madras India
Later History
Last Known Address: 837 Bay Street, Victoria
Family Names:
Wife - Virginia Maude Baboo (Irish, born Indiana, USA about 1888)
Daughter - Margaret (born in USA in 1908 or 1906)
Time and Place of Death: July 9, 1948 (?) Saanich, B.C.

2 Sunta Gougersing, (Gouger Sing, Goojar Singh, Gow Ger Sing, S.)
Service Number: 65400
Next of Kin: Father - Gougersing (Gouger Sing), S.G. Singh was a "widower"
Birth Date: 1881
Place of Birth: Lahore, Punjab, Pre-Partition India, now Pakistan)

Place and Date of Attestation: Jan. 6, 1915, Montreal
Initial Unit: 24th Bn (Quebec Regt)
Former Military Unit: 32nd Punjab Rifles

Later History
Last Known Address: Lahore, Punjab
Family Names
Father - Bhola Singh, Santa, of Janbal, Phillour Tahsil, Jullundur District
Wife - Musammat Bishn Kaur, of Janbal, India
Time and Place of Death: Killed in Action October 19, 1915, buried in La Laiterie
Military Cemetery, Belgium.

3 Buckam Singh (Bukkam, Buk Am, Bukkan)
Service Number: 454819
Next of Kin: Father - Badan Singh,
Mother - Chandi (Mrs Buckan) Mahilpur, Hosiar, Punjab
Wife - Pritam Kaur (married March 1903)
Birth Date: Dec. 5, 1893
Place of Birth: Punjab, India. From Mahilpur, Hoshiarpur, Punjab
Trade: Labourer
Place and Date of Attestation: Smiths Falls, April 23, 1915 Military Unit: 38th Btn
Later History
Last Known Address: Kitchener Military Hospital, Ontario
Family Names
Wife - Pritam Kaur c/o Bhagwan Singh Gill, Jamsher, (Jamshahr)
Jullundur, Punjab.
Also - Nihal Singh Gill, Jullundur
Time and Place of Death: August 27, 1919. Kitchener, Ontario
Gravestone: "Of Mahilpur, Punjab"

See also Sandeep Singh Brar's website at: www.sikhmuseum.com/buckam

4 Hari Singh
Service Number: 139181
Address: 181 Simco Avenue, Toronto
Birth Date: June 6, 1882
Place of Birth: Lallpur, Amritsar, Punjab, India
Next of Kin: Wife - Mrs Nihell Coor Hari Singh
Address: Lallpur, Amritsar, India
Trade: Caretaker
Place and Date of Attestation: July 13, 1915, Toronto
Military Unit: (5th Bombay Cavalry Sindhars - 3 years) 75th Btn, 198th Btn, 3rd
Reserve Btn, Royal Canadian Dragoons.
Former Military Unit: 5th Bombay Cavalry Sindhars - 3 years
Later History
Last Known Address: 783 Gerrard East, and 395 Ossington Av, Toronto
Family Names: Wife - Mrs Nihall Coor Hari Singh, c/o S. Shum Singh, P.O.
Naushshra, Pauuan District, Amritsar, Punjab, India.
Sons - two
Address: Worked at Toronto Carpet Manufacturers and Canadian Corps of
Commissionaires
Time and Place of Death: April 8, 1953, Toronto ?

5 Harnom Singh (alias Harry Robson)
Service Number: 827025
Address: Chilliwack, BC
Birth Date: 4 July 1888
Place of Birth: Juarez Mexico?
Next of Kin:
Father - Joseph Robson / Gondo Robin Hormon
Mother - Bishina Counom
Address: Father - Singapore?, India (134 Linge St.), Mother - Counial Raper,
India Trade: Sawyer
Place and Date of Attestation: October 20, 1916. Vancouver
Military Unit: 47th, 143rd Battalion (Railway Construction Battalion)
Later History
Farmer
Last Known Address: Chilliwack (General Delivery, Vancouver)
Family Names: Wife - Indu Kaur (Indercorp Hindu) (Mrs. Ind Kur)
Address: (Patti) Raipur P.O. Raiper, India, (Poti Rangeki P.O.), Village
Raipur, Thana Delu District, Ludisham, Pounjoub, India
Time and Place of Death: unknown

6 John Singh
Service Number: 721760
Address: Winnipeg
Birth Date: December 13, 1880
Place of Birth: India
Next of Kin: Hird Singh
Address: Dodea, Lahore, Punjaub, India
Trade: Farm Labourer
Place and Date of Attestation: January 28, 1916, Winnipeg
Military Unit: 108th Overseas Battalion, 2nd Labour Battalion, 73rd CFC
Later History
Last Known Address: GPO Winnipeg
Family: Next of Kin - Sidodo S., Fraser Mills, B.C.
Time and Place of Death: October 30, 1971

7 Lashman Singh (Laal M. Singh) (Loal Singh)
Service Number: 219222
Next of Kin: Brother - Dalip Singh, Dlep Singh
Birth Date: Jan. 15, 1885
Place of Birth: Punjab, India
Trade: Labourer
Place and Date of Attestation: Sept. 7, 1915. Smiths Falls, Ontario
Military Unit: 75th Battalion
Later History
Family Names: Brother - Dalip Singh, Address - Bulohiwall P.O. Dhada Fateh Hoshian, Punjab, India
Bulohwall P.O. Singh Wole, Dhade Fatch, Hoskear, PW Punjab
Bulowall P.O. Dhade-Fakh, Hoshiar, Singhwele PU Punjab
Time and Place of Death: Killed in action on October 24,1918. Buried in the Arras
Road British Cemetery, Roclincourt, France.

8 Ram Singh
Service Number: 4080094
Address: Grand Forks BC
Birth Date: December 3, 1888
Place of Birth: Punjab
Next of Kin: Uncle - Ralla Singh
Address: c/o Riverside Nursery, Grand Forks, BC
Trade: Labourer
Place and Date of Attestation: December 12, 1917. Vancouver
Later History
Last Known Address: Grand Forks, BC
Family Names: single
Time and Place of Death: unknown

9 Sewa Singh
Service Number: 2024282
Address: 776 Homer St., Vancouver, BC
Birth Date: June 7, 1890
Place of Birth: Niminra, Dinjutah, India
Next of Kin: Brother - Outram Singh
Address: Niminra, Dinjutah, India
Trade: Millman
Place and Date of Attestation: June 10, 1918. Vancouver, BC.
Military Unit: 1st Cdn Res Battalion
Former Military Unit: 14th Sikhs - 3 years
Later History
Last Known Address: 776 Homer St. Vancouver in 1918
2205 Commercial Drive (Canadian Legion) Vancouver in 1919
Family: widower
Sons: Lowl Singh, Mona Singh
Address: District Gelanda, Boat House, P. Preovada (Pocovada?), City of
Nomarna, Punjab, India (Post Office Fugbara)
Time and Place of Death: 1957?

10 Waryam Singh (Wary Am Singh)
Service Number: 410622
Next of Kin: Father: Wazam Singh, Dhobae, Punjab
Mother: Mrs. Darbey Singh (Darley Kaur)
Birth Date: Jan. 23, 1883 ? and June 15, 1879 ?
Place of Birth: Punjab, India
Trade: Farmer, labourer
Place and Date of Attestation: Smiths Falls, May 5, 1915
Military Unit: 38th Btn (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Later History
Last Known Address: Dhobae, Kapurthala, Punjab and Sikh Temple, Vancouver
Family Names: Daughter - Miss Amrous (Karem Singh), Dhobae, Kapurthala,
Punjab
Mother - Mrs. Darley Kaur c/o Waryea Singh, Dhobae, Kapurthala
Brother: Slae Indar Singh, Dhobae, Kapurthala, Punjab
Time and Place of Death: unknown



The author is a Film Director based in Ottawa, Canada.

February 18, 2011
 

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