From Jawans To Generals - Sikh Soldiers At Doncaster Museum

| 30 January 2004
Shows a black and white head and shoulders photograph of a Sikh soldier. He is heavily bearded, with a curled moustache and is staring intensely out of the image.

Photo: courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London.

From Jawans to Generals: Loyal Allies, Proud Britons, takes a photographic look at the contribution of Sikh soldiers during the two world wars and is on at Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery until March 21.

As a highly visible minority, Sikhs are instantly recognisable throughout the world, yet little is known of the huge sacrifices made by brave Sikh soldiers fighting on behalf of Britain.

Organised by the Maharajah Duleep Singh Centenary Trust, this exhibition has come to Doncaster as a direct response to a request from members of the town’s Sikh community.

A spokesperson for Doncaster Museum explained how the trust’s Harbinder Singh Rana conveyed the sheer number of Sikhs who gave their lives in the allied effort.

"He asked me 'what’s the population of Doncaster?', which is about 280,000, and used that as an analogy."

With the help of English Heritage, the Imperial War Museum, the V&A, the British Library and the British Army, the exhibition brings together a powerful collection of photographs.

Shows a black and white photograph of a line of Sikh soldiers standing to attention in front of a wooded area. Being led down the line and shaking hands with one of the soldiers is Winston Churchill, dressed in military uniform.

Photo: courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London.

From the Anglo Sikh wars of 1845-49, to the sweltering swamps of Burma in the Second World War, the display traces the 200-year-old military relationship Britain has had with Sikhs.

It aims to demonstrate the qualities of liberty, equality, service to mankind and the duty to fight oppression, which has defined the Sikh role in global conflict and the resulting peace.

The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of lectures, which will take a closer look at the role played by Sikhs at war.

On February 14, Daljit Singh Sidhu will discuss the combination of spirituality and bravery behind the emergence of Sikhs as fearless soldiers, while on February 28 Sarinjit Singh Bahia will look at the Anglo Sikh relationship from the battlefields of the Punjab to the two world wars.

Finally, Harbinder Singh Rana will be relating the tale of one of the bravest actions in the annals of military history, the siege of Saragarhi, on March 13.

All lectures will take place at 14.00 and tickets are available free of charge from Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery.

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