The United Kingdom Punjab Heritage Association was granted £450,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. They were tasked with researching the regimental histories, dispatches, correspondences and interviews with the surviving members of Sikh soldiers.
While only 2% of the British Indian population were Sikhs, nearly 20% of the British Indian Army and approximately 130,000 fought in the battle of Somme.
The chairman of the London-based UKPHA has told the London Evening Standard: “The role of Sikhs in the Great War is largely unknown but a fascinating part of the story of the Allied war effort and indeed ‘the British story.”
The UKPHA is working hard to create their own exhibition called “Empire, Faith and War: Sikhs in World War One.” Many Sikh soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for their country; however, their stories go untold. With these projects, some light will be shed on the lives of these men. Many of the Sikh who now reside in the United Kingdom can trace their roots to someone who fought in the Raj armies.
The UKPHA urges the British population to become ‘citizen historians’ and research their family’s history. The hope is that families will be able to uncover unknown stories and add to the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Centenary Project. The project will be a network of over 500 local, regional, national, and international organizations which focus on culture and education. They hope to present the world a better understanding of the different cultures who served in WWI.