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The unwritten war diary of a Sikh Gallipoli veteran

Havildar Waryam Singh (left), with his military mates during WW1 Source: B S Banwait

Havildar Waryam Singh was a Signaller in the 14th Sikhs, the battalion that fought alongside the Anzacs in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

Havildar Waryam Singh was awarded the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and The Allied Victory Medal for his efforts in assisting the British Commonwealth in seeking victory during World War-I. He also received Indian Distinguished Service Medal, Indian General Service Medal and General Service Medal.

 

It is often said that those who are busy making history, seldom write it. And that holds absolutely true for the Indian, Punjabi and the Sikh troops who participated in WW-I and WW-II because of which their personal experiences and stories have remained largely forgotten in the annals of history. Prof Peter Stanley's recent book Die in Battle, Do no Despair, Indians on Gallipoli has documented some of the stories about these brave Indian troops, and for the first time revealed the story of Havildar Waryam Singh, as narrated by Havildar Singh's son Balbir Singh Banwait.

73-year-old Mr Banwait lives in Sydney. He clearly recalls his father recounting many tales and anecdotes from the First World War, and as a special presentation to SBS Punjabi listeners, we present this oral history, a century after the Gallipoli campaign. Whilst there may be some historical inaccuracies in this anecdotal account, but the historical value of this first-hand account cannot be underestimated.

Click here to hear Balbir Singh Banwait's memories of the stories of WWI that his father shared with him. And do click on the photo gallery below to see rare photos of Havildar Waryam Singh and his service records.

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