Remembrance - D-Day in Normandy

Sarbjit Singh and Bhupinder Singh discuss the valor of Sikhs who served in WW II

Bhupinder Singh,

You must have seen the US president Barack Obama paying tributes at Normandy coast in France on June 6 to the soldiers who laid down their lives in the second world war. There was no mention of many Sikh soldiers who laid down their lives in France. Why is that? France is not recognising the sacrifices of Sikh soldiers to that country. I hope that you can throw light on this subject as you have done lot of research on this subject.

regards, sarbjit



Dear Sarbjit Singh, Guru Fateh !!

Yes, I have seen President Barack Obama and others paying tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives in 2nd World War at Normandy (see photo.) Before I answer your other questions, I would like to give you some information about this D – Day.

Remembrance of D – Day in Normandy, France on 06-06-2009


D –Day was the term used for the day of actual landing, which was dependent on final approval. The Normandy Landings were the first operations of the Allied Invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Neptune and Operation Overload. Operation Neptune began on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and ended on June 30, 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors:  Utah, Omaha, Golf, Juno and Sword. The operation was the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, with 160,000 troops landing on June 6, 1944. Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. The assault was conducted in two phases: an air assault landing of American, British including Royal Indian Air Force. Here is the name of some Sikh Pilots who have memorials in the United Kingdom at Smaads in Runnymede.

RAJENDER SINGH SANDHU, Pilot Officer, 2915, 53 O.T.U., Royal Indian Air Force. 10 September 1944. Age 21. Son of Hakam Singh, of Pakhopur, Amritsar, India. Panel 264.

 JAGIT SINGH, Flying Officer, J, Royal Indian Air Force. 13 September 1946. Age 25. Son of Sarder Bahadur Santokh Singh. Panel 286.

And Canadian airborne troops landed shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions including many Sikh Regiments on the coast of France commencing at 6:30. There were American and Canadian Divisions also but I give you the names of British Divisions involving many Sikh Regiments and mixed Regiments of the Sikhs.

British 6th Airborn Division.

British I Corps, British 3rd Infantry Division, British 27th Armoured Brigade, British XXX Corps, British 50th Infantry Division, British 8th Armoured Brigade, 79 Armoured Division.

Some of the Canadian Divisions participated in the operation are:

Canadian 3rd Infantry Division, Canadian 2nd Armoured Brigade and rest were American Divisions.
The total number of troops landed on D-Day was around 160,000
•    By the end of 11 June (D + 5), 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies.
•    By June 30th (D+24) over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies.
•    By July 4th one million men had been landed. •    

Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on June 6 came from Canada, the Free French Forces, the United Kingdom including the Sikhs and the United States. In the weeks following the invasion, Polish Forces also participated, as well as contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands. Most of the above countries also provided air and naval support, as did the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zeeland Air Force, and the Royal Norwegian navy.

The Invasion Fleet was drawn from 8 different navies, comprising 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 transport vessels (landing ships and landing craft), and 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. They were under the command of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay (who had been directly involved in the North African and Italian landings where many Sikh Regiments were also involved)

Sikhs fought in France, marched through Belgium and Holland and fought in Germany during the advances of the Allied forces towards Berlin during world War 2nd.

Also they have fought in :
Mediterranean, Middle East and African theatres of World War II
o    East African campaign
o    North African campaign
    Operation Compass
    Operation Battleaxe
    Operation Crusader
    First Battle of El Alamein
    Second Battle of El Alamein
o    Anglo-Iraqi War
o    Syria-Lebanon campaign
o    Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
o    Italian campaign
    Battle of Monte Cassino Battle of Forli, Battle of Ravenna, Battle of Sangro River.
•    Greece
•    Cyprus
•    Indonesia
•    Battle of Hong Kong
•    Battle of Malaya
•    Battle of Singapore
•    Burma Campaign
o    Battle of Kohima
o    Battle of Imphal

Some of the evidence is given below :
France: CHAMPENOUX COMMUNAL CEMETERY - Meurthe-et-Moselle

Commonwealth War Dead 1939-1945

PURAN SINGH, Lance Daffadar, 1700. P.A.V.O. Cavalry (11th F. F.). Indian Armoured Corps. 2nd September 1944. Age 32. Son of Hira Singh, of Lauhke, Amritsar, India; husband of Gurdip Kaur, of Lauhke.

EPINAL FRENCH NATIONAL CEMETERY - Vosges

Commonwealth War Dead 1939-1945
AJMER SINGH, Sepoy, 16828. 4th Bn. 11th Sikh Regiment. 11th May 1944. Age 21. Son of Inder Singh and Har Kaur, of Laihra Khana, Ferozepore, India. Row 1. Coll. grave 1-65.

AMAR SINGH, Sepoy, 16852. 4th Bn. 11th Sikh Regiment. 11th May 1944. Age 22. Son of Badan Singh and Uttam Kaur, of Manupur, Ludhiana, India; husband of Dalip Kaur, of Manupur. Row 1. Coll. grave 1-65.

GANGA SINGH, Sowar, 3340. Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry (11th F.F.), I.A.C.. 11th May 1944. Age 26. Son of Risaldar Jiwan Singh and Narayan Kaur, of Ruriwala, Amritsar, India; husband of Santo, of Ruriwala. Row 1. Coll. grave 1-65.

Germany:

DURNBACH CREMATION MEMORIAL, Germany

BALWANT SINGH, Sepoy, MTN/898669, Royal Indian Army Service Corps. 14 March 1945. Age 23. Son of Sohan Singh and Jamna Devi, of Kotli Squianwali, Amritsar, India.

BANTA SINGH, Havildar, 8110, 4th Bn., 16th Punjab Regiment. 5 September 1943. Age 31. Son of Atar Singh, of Sandhu Chitha, Kapurthala, India.

Italy : CASSINO MEMORIAL
Commonwealth War Dead 1939-1945

AJIT SINGH, Lance Naik, 15127. 1st Bn. 12th. Frontier Force Regiment. 22nd May 1944. Age 23. Son of Tam Singh and Rattan Kaur; husband of Gurbakhsh Kaur, of Jatpur, Mahilpur, Hoshiarpur, India. Panel 19.

AJMER SINGH, Sepoy, 27368. 2nd Bn. 11th Sikh Regiment. 13th September 1944. Age 25. Son of Santa Singh and Charnd Kaur, of Jari Bagwali, Sangat, Patiala, India. Panel 19.

NICOSIA CREMATION MEMORIAL, Cyprus

AMAR SINGH, Sepoy, 701, Nabha Akal Infantry, Indian States Forces. 10 May 1944. Son of Bishan Singh, of Sakohan, Patiala, India.

BACHAN SINGH, Sepoy, 1270, Nabha Akal Infantry, Indian States Forces. 5 October 1943. Son of Partap Singh, of Chehal, Patiala, India.

CHETA SINGH, Sepoy, 609, Nabha Akal Infantry, Indian States Forces. 30 September 1942. Son of Bakhtawar Singh, of Balad Kalan, Sangrur, India.

MUKAND SINGH, Sepoy, MTN/919461, 10th Indian Inf. Bde. Transport Coy., Royal Indian Army Service Corps. 22 September 1943. Age 26. Son of Jamial Singh, of Ralla Phekhi, Patiala, India.

SINGAPORE CREMATION MEMORIAL, Singapore

SUCHA SINGH, Sepoy, 10205, 2nd Bn., 15th Punjab Regiment. 26 November 1940. Age 26. Son of Kala Singh and Santi, of Gumti Khurd, Nabha, India; husband of Gurdip Kaur, of Gumti Khurd. Grave Ref. Column 16.

UJAGAR SINGH, Sepoy, 13351, 2nd Bn., 15th Punjab Regiment. 17 July 1945. Age 23. Son of Jaimal Singh and Ind Kaur, of Manupur, Ludhiana, India; husband of Gurdial Kaur, of Manupur. Grave Ref. Column 16.

RABAUL (BITA PAKA) WAR CEMETERY, Papua New Guinea

HARNAM SINGH, Naik, 9732, 2nd Bn., 15th Punjab Regiment. 1 March 1945. Age 31. Son of Karam Singh and Hukam Kaur, of Deo, Amritsar, India; husband of Mahindar Kaur, of Deo. Grave Ref. T. C. 5.
Beirut

In Memory of Naik BACHAN SINGH
=9928, 3rd Bn., 1st Punjab Regiment who died age 27 on 15 June 1941 Son of Chanda Singh and Har Kaur, of Sadopur, Malerkotla, India. Remembered with honour

BEIRUT CREMATION MEMORIAL: Al Amein

In Memory of Naik BACHAN SINGH 14135, 4th Bn., 11th Sikh Regiment who died age 26 on 01 July 1942 Son of Indar Singh and Punjab Kaur, of Sihora, Patiala State, India. Remembered with honour

ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
And so on …

Please read my Articles link below and you will find out yourself that in the last two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world, and during shell fire, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith.”

WSN-Special Report-Two World Wars and the Sikhs

WSN-Special Report-World War I through Sikh Soldiers' Letters

WSN-Column-Turban versus Helmet

Memorial: Sikh Casualties of World War I -Bhupinder Singh Holland

Memorial: Sikh Casualties in Italy -Bhupinder Singh Holland

French-Sikh Soldiers -Bhupinder Singh Holland

I can send you more links but it is better to read my books which can be obtained from ‘Singh Brothers, Bazar Mai Sewan, Siri Amritsar’, Punjab.

1)      How Europe is indebted to the Sikhs, Role of Sikhs in Europe during World War One 1914 – 1918 . Sikh University Press, Belgium. 1st edition 2005 and 2nd edition 2009.

2)      How Europe is indebted to the Sikhs, Role of Sikhs in Europe during World War Two 1939 – 1945. Sikh University Press , Belgium. 1st edition 2007

3)      The Dutch Sikhs – A Brief History. Sikh University Press, Belgium. Ist edition 2009.

And now you have other questions, Why there was no mention of the many Sikhs soldiers who laid down their lives in France. Why is it so? France is not recognising the sacrifices of Sikh soldiers to that country. 

Actually, this is the work and duty of a country to cash in on and promote the sacrifices of their nationals. Have India itself recognized the supreme sacrifices of the Sikhs given for the freedom and mankind of the whole world in these two world wars? What has been done so far that the whole world should know and glorify the Sikhs for their unparallel contribution to the International Community?  Where are the families of these martyrs and what has been done for them? India has not even recognized the 80 % sacrifices given by the Sikhs to free their own country. In return, Sikhs have got operation like Blue Star, humiliation, destruction of their holy places and has been murdered by their own army that you all are commemorating the 25th anniversary of this genocide of the Sikhs. Have the demands are met and the guilty has been punished? No.

When our own people don’t mention and speak about the glorious history of the Sikhs, why people like President Obama or others will mention and remember your contributions. This is the whole cause of the problem that we are suffering in India and abroad.

Sikhs have taken this challenging task by themselves in Diaspora and are progressing steadily to make aware and educate the world and different government and the time will come that the Sikhs will get recognition and proper place in world history.

I hope that I have answered your questions and hope to hear soon from you.
Regards – Bhupinder Singh Holland


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