1917 – The Great War

A new film has caused controversy in recent days due to its inclusion of a Sikh Soldier shown shoulder-to-shoulder with other British troops. An accusation has been made by Actor Laurence Fox; that the inclusion of a Sikh Soldier was nothing more than diversity gone mad. Stating the inclusion of a single Sikh soldier amongst thousands of white counterparts causes ‘a very heightened awareness of the colour of someone’s skin’ due to ‘the oddness of the casting’.

As an organisation dedicated to spreading awareness of Sikh involvement in British history, we would like to take this time to share some resources that will help spread self development and learning amongst our peers into this subject matter. Historically we have not been represented in schools or wider learning material such as documentaries etc.

‘Indian troops started arriving on the western front from September 1914’ were they ‘fought and died for Britain during the conflict.’ Although these soldiers ‘made up only one per cent of the Indian Population at the time they accounted for 20 per cent of the Army which fought alongside the British in the trenches.’

We found it quite interesting that the film ‘1917’ was based on stories told to the director by his grandfather. In the film this person is depicted as stereotypically white British. However his grandfather was born in Trinidad to Portugese parents. If an actor portraying his grandfather had been picked with a darker complexion and a Trinidad accent, what would be the response.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/class-clips-video/history-ks3-ks4-what-was-the-contribution-of-indian-sikhs-in-world-war-one/zhkdhbk

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-29186508/british-army-honours-sikh-role-in-world-war-one

https://www.forces.net/services/army/ww1-sikh-soldiers-memorial-campaign

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/role-of-sikh-soldiers-in-world-war-i-ii-exemplary-british-army-brigadier/articleshow/72478234.cms

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/alfred-mendes-war-hero-real-life-romeo-inspired-1917/

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