The second commemoration of the Saragarhi took place at Royal Military Academy Sandhurt RMAS. The battle of Sargaarhi took place in 1987 on the North-West Frontier in what is now the tribal region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. On 12th Sep 1897 more than 10,000 enemy tribesmen descended on their positions, however they did not reckon upon the Sikh spirit of fighting for victory. During the conflict 21 Sikh soldiers were cut off by the enemy at the small outpost of Saragarhi but rather than surrender they fought on for nearly ten hours with limited supplies and ammunition until the bitter end. More information on teh battle can be found here: http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Battle_of_Saragarhi
In 1900 the British recognised the importance of Saragarhi with a battle honour and regimental holiday still maintained by 4 Sikh of the Indian Army. In the modern era, a troop of civilians have formed a memorial troop, the “1914 Sikh Troop”. This troop have been mentored by 159 Regiment RLC and on Friday 12th September 2014 their first parade was held on the prestigious parade square at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
The new Commanding Officer (CO), Lieutenant Colonel (Mark) Comer and the new Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), WO1 (Lee) Davies attended the first Parade 1914 Sikh Tp would conduct over next four years and were impressed by the quality of the drill on show and the fabulous turnout. On our arrival there were refreshments provided by the UK's oldest North Indian Restaurant Punjab, both the CO and RSM enjoyed the nibbles on display!
WO2 English and Cpl Gilbert, both of 237 West Bromich Squadron, first started to mentor 1914 Sikh Troop in July 2013; bringing together the civilians from across the West Midlands who wished to participate in the prestigious troop. Many hours on the weekends and evenings were spent teaching personnel foot drill and weapon drill in preparation for the magnificent day at Sandhurst.
The first part of day was spent receiving briefs in the Indian Army Memorial room on the events of the Saragarhi. We joined by well over 100 friends and family of 1914 Sikh Tp and media from across the nation, including the BBC news team.
At around 1430 the Rifles band took to the Parade Square with 1914 Sikh Troop close behind, poised as they would have been many years ago with the same types of weapons used at Saragarhi. The Drill display was first class and was a credit to everyone's hard work. The Parade even made national news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29186508
Of note General Niche, Brigadier Wheeler, the Director of the Anglo Sikh Heritage trail Mr Harbinder Singh inspected Sikh Troop and again noted that the dress was immaculate.
The British Armed Forces Sikh Association (BAFSA) has now formed which primarily seeks to support and mentor Sikh Service personnel, serving or veterans. The first chairman of BAFSA is Captain (Mak) Singh MBE of 159 Regiment RLC (he's teh one below on BBC breakfast!). More information on BAFSA can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/BritishArmedForcesSikhAssociation
Anyone in the West Midlands who is interested in finding our more about the Regiment and our work with the local community can contact us through the details available here: http://www.army.mod.uk/logistic/regiments/30787.aspx