Dewsbury model pays tribute to ‘forgotten army’ of Indian soldiers
Aaqib Zahoor is helping the Kirklees Faith Network to launch ‘Our Shared History, Our Shared Heritage’, an interactive display and resource pack which tells the story of Sikh and Muslim men who fought for the British Empire.
It includes a stunning archive of photos of what Aaqib describes as ‘the forgotten army’ of colonial servicemen who joined the British forces. The project is aimed at mosque pupils as well as adults who are keen to learn more about the Indian sub-continent’s role in trench warfare, and will also mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which this year coincides with the month of Ramadan and the Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.
“Young men from Britain and other parts of its empire, including Muslim and Sikh soldiers, gave their lives for ‘King and Country’. The casualty and death rate was absolutely horrific as an entire generation was wiped out,” said Aaqib.
“The aim of this project is not to glorify war, but to use the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr to remember the sacrifices made by our great-grandparents – the forgotten army.
“They gave their lives to create a better world for us.”
Over a million soldiers from the Indian Army, which had British officers, fought alongside the allies during World War One. The young men were mainly recruited from the villages in the states of Punjab and Kashmir and the North-Western Frontier provinces, with many going on to fight at the Somme. Several British regiments were also stationed in India during the colonial period.
One of the most famous images of the war, showing Indian soldiers at the Somme, will feature in a mobile exhibition that will tour schools and mosques.