Sydney's Blacktown City Council has approved the establishment of a war memorial commemorating the contributions and sacrifices made by the Sikh soldiers in Australias military history, including World War I & II, Gallipoli, and Saragarhi.
Their sense of service will be exemplified in the statue of the unknown Sikh soldier, to be erected at Glenwood Lake Reserve (cnr of Diamond Ave and Glenwood Drive).
Blacktown is home to a burgeoning Sikh population and the local Sikh Gurdwara is natural epicentre of the community.
This proposed memorial will be a befitting tribute to the turbaned soldiers in Australia’s military history, a proposal to this effect has been accepted by the Blacktown City Council and has currently been put out for community consultation.
The memorial will be in the form of a statue of a Sikh soldier. This will be representative of the valour of the Sikh troops, and will stand tall in Glenwood in Sydney's northwest, home to a large number of migrants of Indian heritage.
Amarinder Bajwa, the founder of Fateh Foundation, who has spearheaded the initiative in conjunction with the Blacktown City Council, has said that the community would privately fund the project.
Mr Bajwa said the war memorial dedicated to the memory and bravery of Sikh soldiers would feature bronze or a gunmetal statue of a Sikh soldier in uniform.
He added that the design of the sculpture is yet to be finalised and widespread consultation with historians and sculptors is ongoing.
“Historically, the Sikh community has played a significant part in the British Empire, sacrificing many sons and daughters in war zones on behalf of us all. When a monument was suggested, we were more than proud to offer support” said Tony Bleasdale the Mayor of the Blacktown City Council.
“Blacktown is a great city for respect for other groups, and Sikhs are part of the big Blacktown family,” Mr Bleasdale said. “They are extremely generous – having performed exemplary service at times of bushfire, floods and COVID 19. Even as we speak, they are out there supporting those who can’t support themselves.”
The association of the Sikhs with the Australian Army can be traced as far back as 1885 when soldiers from the British Indian Army’s Sikh Regiment fought shoulder to shoulder with the Australian troops in Sudan during their first overseas military expedition.
Sikh soldiers fought for the British Army in World Wars I and II at hotspots in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In Australia, their involvement at Gallipoli, where they fought particularly valiantly, came to light in the early 2000s.
Especially noteworthy is the contribution of the 14th Sikh Regiment. 371 Sikhs fought gallantly to their deaths on June 3 & 4, 1915. Their bravery is illustrated by the fact that Sikhs won 14 of the 22 Victoria Crosses awarded to Indian soldiers.
The memorial is expected to becomes a centre of gravity for the community, to gather on occasions such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, as well as other dates of significance on the Indian calendar.
New Zealand should also follow this example being set by their Australian counter parts and do more to celebrate this connection. Indian Weekender has been continously writing about this shared heritage and the Kiwi Indian ANZAC connection.
Please read below two of our very popular articles espousing this cause.
CELEBRATING INDIAN CONNECTION IN THE SPIRIT OF ANZAC
LEST WE FORGET THE INDIAN CONNECTION
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