Sikhs in WWII

Discussion in 'History' started by buggerit84, Mar 5, 2009.

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  1. Point taken and apologies, this was getting a little off-topic in the Current Affairs forum.

    So anyway, as some of you seem to know a lot more about it than me, would you mind educating me about the roles of the Sikhs in the Second World War, with some fighting for and against us please? I was only aware that there were axis units of Sikhs, evidently unhappy with the British in India and taken the 'enemy of my enemy' approach, but I'm unaware if numbers.
  2. No mention there of any dying for the Vaterland.

    In WW2 as far as I know only some 2000 Sikhs were in the German army having been recruited from POW camps.The Germans used them and others for propaganda purposes,cant really see the master race treating brown chaps as equals can you? :wink:
    IN WW1, again as far as I know , some were recruited by some twat who was trying to undermine Ghandi. Maybe somebody else can give more detail?
  3. Thanks! I just remember seeing something about it with a couple of photos in a history book at school, so it's good to find out more!
  4. Good linkies SP ,thank you

  5. In WW2 the japanese trained and armed the Indian National Army to fight the British/Commonwealth troops but I'm not sure if any Sikhs joined them. Anybody heard of this?
  6. There were a small number of Sikhs in the INA but the vast majority were Hindu or Muslim. The INA formed around those captured in the Malay campaign but were then joined by many expat Indians.

    A handful of the significant commanders tried for their actions after the war were Sikh, although from a brief glance at the figures they appear to be slightly under-represented, compared to the Sikh population.

    The regiments captured in the Malay campaign were predominantly from the Punjab and Kashmir areas, where Sikhs and Pathans are heavily represented.
  7. There are a few different threads in the topic, to deal with the most prominent one so far, The german army did turn some captured Sikhs in the European theatre, whilst the numbers weren't all that high that may reflect the fact that the numbers of Sikhs in the theatre weren't that high anyway. The majority of the British Indian Army was used elsewhere during WWII. Many of those that did, served with a high degree of capability, Sikhism originates in the Pubjab, an area of what is now divided between Pakistan and India that has a number of martial tribes, reflecting that the British authorities never really established control over the area, power was exercised through treaty up until the early part of the 20th Century.

    That said, many Sikhs also performed in Europe in the WWI, far more numerically than WWII.

    A further thread is the Indian National, that did contain a portion of Sikhs. It initially formed around a core of around 45000 captured troops in the Malay campaign, predominantly from regiments from Punjab, Kasmir, Rajput and Baluchistan who will have had a high proportion of Sikhs and Pathans. Numbers in the INA fluctuated wildly. they were ill equipped and not integrated into the Japanese command, and were only moderately successful as a result.

    Moving away from the purely military aspect is where it gets interesting. The German command recognised the dependence Britain had on the Indian reserves, which at the time encompassed what is now Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Malaya and Singapore, maintaining friendly relations with Thailand. That meant that any threat to the stability of the area would tie up large chunks of the British Indian Army in maintaining security. After WWI the amount of disturbance in British India increased markedly, with particular issues in the North West and North East. Some of that was caused by the Muslim League but a lot was also the Indian National Congress, with a leadership split between Hindu and Sikh, although membership was predominantly Hindu which reflects the makeup of Indian society. During the late 1930s there was a growing German influence and support to both of those main groups, as disrupting India disrupted the empire.

    It's a complex picture, but as with any population there are individuals on all sides of a situation. Sikhism itself may contribute to their slightly lower than population comparisons. It's an amalgam of Hindusim and Islam, a consequence of the meeting of the two in Baluchistan, Sindh, Kasmir and Punjab. It's quite insular and cohesive, very much advocating the strength of community as one of its pillars. That's one of the reasons why the Sikh Regiment is as effective as it is.

    I hope that helps fill in some background.

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