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Posted at: Dec 7, 2018, 1:29 AM; last updated: Dec 7, 2018, 2:25 AM (IST)

British govt recognises sacrifice of Mehma Singh Wala soldiers

70 soldiers from the village fought World War I for the British
British govt recognises sacrifice of Mehma Singh Wala soldiers
British Deputy High Commissioner Andrew Ayre lays a wreath at the memorial to World War I soldiers in Mehma Singh Wala village on Thursday. Tribune photo

Minna Zutshi & Mahesh Sharma
Tribune Reporters
Ludhiana, December 6

Half-forgotten stories of the First World War, occasionally remembered in the narratives of a village elder, sometimes dredged up from a random memory – run through the collective consciousness of this village unobtrusively and seamlessly. Mehma Singh Wala is a small village in Ludhiana with a population of around 1000, including a sizeable number of NRIs. About 100 years ago, 70 soldiers from the village fought a war that was not their own, yet one that they had owned up, displaying rare valour and courage. Five soldiers from this village fell fighting. The war was fought by the British to defeat the German forces in the First World War lasting from 1914 to 1919.

The British Government has finally recognised the contribution of the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the First World War. Andrew Ayre, British Deputy High Commissioner at Chandigarh, today unveiled the plaque installed by the NRIs from the village and paid tributes to all soldiers from the village who had fought in the war. Five of them were martyred in the action.

As an act of remembrance and the rededication of the World War 1 memorial, Ayre, along with other dignitaries, laid wreaths on the memorial constructed at the village gurdwara. He also planted a sapling in the memory of the martyrs.

Drawing attention to the role played by the Indian soldiers in the wars fought by the then British government, Ayre appreciated the dedication, bravery and valour of Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular. He said the outcome of the war could have been different had over one million Indians not served the British Army. He acknowledged that Punjabis were on the forefront among the 74,000 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives along with their counterparts from other countries. He later visited the football stadium of the village and interacted with young football players.

The organisers, led by NRI Jaswant Grewal, felicitated the British Deputy High Commissioner on the occasion. The villagers also announced that the coming football tournament will be dedicated to the memory of the soldiers and martyrs of the First World War. “Though descendants of the martyrs have immigrated to foreign countries, we have decided to keep the memory of the brave soldiers alive by dedicating the football tournament to their memory,” said Lachhman Singh, an office-bearer of the committee organising the annual football event.


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