A permanent memorial honouring the Sikh soldiers who fought on the side of Great Britain during World War 1 has been unveiled in Staffordshire.
The crowd-funded memorial at the National Memorial Artboretum features a bronze statue of a turban-clad Sikh soldier in a British Army uniform and commemorates the more than 130,000 Sikh soldiers who took part in the war.
“Some Sikhs left their towns and villages for the first time to venture abroad to fight for Great Britain and made a contribution when Britain itself did not have the troops,” said author and campaigner Jay Singh Sohal who is chairman of the World War 1 Sikh Memorial Fund.
“It has got a large turban, long flowing beard, very much the image of a Sikh soldier from that period. It has the look and feel of a Sikh soldier with the uniform and the medal that they would have been eligible for and would have won as a result of their service,” Mr Sohal added.
Despite making just one percent of the Indian population at the time of the outbreak of the Great War, Sikhs constituted a fifth of the British Indian Army and were renowned for their warrior spirit.
Sikhs fought all along the Western Front and later also fought in World War 2.
The memorial was created by sculptor Mark Bibby whose grandfather served alongside Sikhs in the Second World War.
The statue was funded through a campaign on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter with 153 people contributing more than £22,000.