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World War 1 Sikhs@War - A Documentary On Sikh Soldiers Of World War One


Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
A new documentary film exploring the forgotten history of Indian soldiers who fought for Great Britain during World War One is being released online as a free educational resource for young people.


"Sikhs@War" tells the story of the 100,000 Sikh soldiers from modern day India and Pakistan who signed up to fight for Britain thousands of miles from their homeland in the European trenches of the Western Front.
It's told from the first-person perspective of Jaspal Singh from Coventry, a teenager who's Great Grandfather Maghar Singh was his age when he signed up to fight - at just 15!

The film marks a journey for Jaspal as he visits the trenches of Ypres in Belgium where his forefather fought and sees for himself the Indian Monument at Neuve Chapelle in France where thousands of Indian soldiers, who died, are commemorated.

It's all the more personal because Jaspal has suffered from bullying because of his Sikh identity, but rather than cut his hair and lose his religious identity he is inspired by stories of his great grandfather Maghar Singh and other Sikhs like him who went to war without losing their religious beliefs as turban-wearing Sikhs. Jaspal has also been affected by race-based attacks against the Sikh War monument in Coventry which is also explored in the film.

The film has been made by Birmingham based film-maker Jay Singh-Sohal who highlights its importance: "Just recently HRH Prince Charles himself commented about the lack of recognition for the ethnic minorities that fought during the Great War. In making this film I wanted to ensure that young people had access to this forgotten part of our history in a manner in which they could see for themselves why it's still relevant today. So we see from Jaspal's personal journey that remembering those that fought nearly 100 years ago still inspires young people in their daily lives. That there were more than 100,000 Sikhs from the Punjab who fought, also says something about the unique relationship Britain's had with the Sikhs. They've always been respected as loyal and brave soldiers and continue to be an important part of British society."

The film is being released online as a free educational resource so young people from all backgrounds can view and learn about this forgotten part of British history. It can also be digitally down-loaded from the www.sikhsatwar.info website. Over the next few months, Dot Hyphen Productions will be promoting it as an educational resource for teachers, youth organizations and young people to learn about this forgotten part of British and Sikh history and to raise awareness about the contribution of Indian troops during the liberation of Europe.

The film will be touring internationally later this autumn and has its UK based Official Launch at The Houses of Parliament, supported by the Derby based "National Sikh Heritage Centre and Holocaust Museum". An advance media screening will take place in Derby in August where local school children will also be in attendance and available for interview.


Stills and Footage - Stills images and moving/audio footage are available for publication and broadcast upon request. Footage from the website and Youtube can only be used with express permission from the filmmaker.


Dot Hyphen Productions are based in Birmingham, and run by filmmaker and journalist Jay Singh-Sohal.
"Sikhs@War" has been part-funded by the "Un Ltd Millennium Awards Scheme" as well as through sponsorship and donations.
The film will be screened at film festivals in New York, Toronto and in Hollywood later this year during its overseas tour.

Facts about Sikh soldiers:

From India, the number of Sikhs who fought, rose from 35,000 in 1915 to more than 100,000 by the War's end.
They formed 20% of the British Indian Army in action -despite being only 2% of the Indian population. Of the 22 Military Crosses awarded for conspicuous gallantry to Indians, 14 were Sikhs. 83,005 Sikh Soldiers were killed during both World Wars, 109,045 more were wounded.



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