Saragarhi Day Champion
1244. Jay Singh-Sohal
Jay Singh-Sohal led the successful campaign to create the UK’s only memorial to the 120,000 Sikh soldiers who fought during the First World War.
Jay, who is an Army Reserve Captain, also works with the British Army to commemorate Sikh contributions to the British Armed Forces on Saragarhi Day, every September. The Battle of Saragarhi saw 21 Sikh soldiers fight for the British Indian Army and defend the North-West Frontier with Afghanistan against 10,000 enemy forces in 1897. While the battle has long been commemorated in India by the Indian Army, Jay was inspired to bring commemorations to the UK to serve as an opportunity to engage British Sikhs with their heritage and celebrate continued Sikh contributions to the British military today.
In a personal letter to Jay, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how you have created our country’s first memorial to the 120,000 brave Sikh soldiers who fought during the First World War. It is fitting that we honour their enormous courage and sacrifice in ensuring the freedoms we all enjoy today.”
“I’m delighted to be receiving a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Telling the story of shared British Sikh history through the battle of Saragarhi has been a fantastic journey working with wonderful people with the same enthusiasm for our heritage. It continues to inspire many more to serve our country in whichever way they can. I’m proud of the part I’ve been able to play in driving grassroots community activity in this way. It’s important to me, as it creates better understanding between diverse communities and gives young people confidence and encouragement in seeking to achieve their goals. I hope my award encourages many others to do the same.”
Watch more below from BBC Asian Network about 2019’s Saragarhi Day commemorations:
The @BritishArmy’s held a special event to honour Sikh soldiers killed in a historic battle more than a 100 years ago.
21 men fought to the death in the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi against 10,000 enemy. @DefenceHQ pic.twitter.com/KosCAWSCLo
— BBC Asian Network (@bbcasiannetwork) September 16, 2019