Remembering the Soldiers

S1 pupil, Yusuf writes about his experience attending the first ever National Muslim Service of Commemoration at the Woking Peace Garden to remember the South Asian soldiers of World War I and II this month. 

In just over a week's time the nation will be commemorating those who fought and died from the armed forces. One part that has been forgotten by most people is the contribution of the British Indian Army which represents soldiers from modern day Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

On Saturday 6th October I attended the first ever National Muslim Service of Commemoration at the Woking Peace Garden. I was invited by Colourful Heritage (www.colourfulheritage.com), an organisation which works with Glasgow Museums to preserve and promote the stories of South Asian and Muslim migrants to Scotland.

Their GlaswegAsians exhibition is open to the public at Scotland Street School Museum.

Researchers have mentioned that if it were not for the contribution of the British Indian Army, both of the World Wars would have had a very different outcome. In the First World War the British Indian Army consisted of approximately 1.5 million soldiers who risked their lives. 430, 000 were 

Muslims, 800, 000 were Hindu, 100, 000 were Sikh and 55, 000 were Gurkhas. Unfortunately, 100,000 of the British Indian Army soldiers were injured. Twelve Victoria Crosses were awarded to the British Indian Army. Victoria Crosses are the highest military honour.

In World War Two even more soldiers from the British Indian Army risked their lives, approximately 2.5 million soldiers. One million were Hindu, 600, 000 were Muslims, 150, 000 were Sikhs and 100, 000 were Gurkhas. 28 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the British Indian Army in World War Two. 

The National Muslim Service of Commemoration consisted of many speeches including the Mayor and soldiers from the Army. One of the speeches I remember was by the Minister of State for Defence. In addition, the speech by the daughter of the last soldier buried at the Muslim Burial Ground in Woking was very emotional. She spoke about how she felt when her father left for war while she was still a child.

I really enjoyed the experience of attending the National Muslim Service of Commemoration because it was really interesting to learn all about the British Indian Army and of their contribution.

I did not know anything about the British Indian Army before the event but now I know that they played a big part in both of the World Wars. The service ended with a recital of the Kohima Epitaph. Kohima is a place in India and epitaph is a phrase or some words written in memory of a person who has died. 

It reads: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, For your tomorrow, we gave our today”

 

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