Sikh soldiers' First World War contribution recounted in new book by Redbridge author

He found an archive of more than 1,000 letters that were sent to and from Sikh soldiers at the British Library and over ...

After six years of research a Clayhall author tells the untold story of the Sikh involvement in the First World War through the soldiers' own words.

Sukwinder Singh Bassi is a data manager by day but in his free time he set about gathering hundreds of letters from Sikh soldiers and the result is his first book "Thousands of Heroes Have Arisen: Sikh Voices of the Great War 1914 - 1918".

He found an archive of more than 1,000 letters that were sent to and from Sikh soldiers at the British Library and over the course of three and a half years he went to work transcribing them all.

Sukwinder said: "It was a time consuming project but a real labour of love."

"The overall Indian contribution in terms of manpower was over one million people but most people don't know that."

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He published extracts from almost 700 letters in the book which tells the story of the soldiers struggling to adapt to foreign lands and encountering racism along the way.

Sukwinder said: "There was a feeling of helplessness to their situation that came through in many of the letters...

...Sukwinder said he hopes his book educates people so they know the real history of the Indian contribution to the war effort.

He said: "What Laurence Fox said was factually incorrect but he didn't know it at the time.

"There's no way people didn't fight together then. It's not revisionist history, it's telling the truth."

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