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Perth-based Amarjit Singh Pabla, a founding member of Australian Sikh Heritage Association (ASHA) has visited village Chhokran (tehsil Phillaur, dist Jullundur), to trace the family of Pte Sarn Singh. Hear the full interview:
As previously reported by SBS Punjabi, Sarn Singh enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force in May 1916, but was killed in the battlefields of Belgium where he was deployed as an Australian soldier, on June 10, 1917.
Although as many as 19 Sikhs applied to join the Australian army during WWI, AIF records prove at least a dozen of them were recruited. They all went to Europe to participate in Allied campaigns of WWI, and all of them came back to Australia at the end of the war, except Sarn Singh, who was killed in action. To mark the centenary of the ultimate sacrifice of this fallen Sikh Anzac, the Governor of South Australia is holding a commemoration at Government House on June 16, 2017. And ASHA is very keen to find any living descendant of Sarn Singh, so that they can be included in the commemoration - which will be the first of its kind in Australia.
Speaking to SBS Punjabi, Amarjit Singh Pabla shared all the information he had gleaned during his visit to village Chhokran in February this year. "We know that Sarn Singh hailed from village Jandiala and was married to Partap Kaur of village Chhokran. After he was killed in WWI, his wife Partap Kaur came back to her maternal house in Chhokran and lived there till the end of her life. Sarn Singh and Partap Kaur had no children, and the latter was fondly called "Bhua" by the whole village, because she was a maternal figure to all of the youth in the village."
"Partap Kaur was known to be a fierce lady who ran a wheat mill on a large allotment, and even carried a gun. The villagers said that she received an overseas pension after her husband died. She had a younger brother named Ajit Singh, who was the village Patwari. Ajit Singh had three sons - Jaswant Singh (who died in 2012), Nahar Singh (who died in Leicestor, UK) and Gian Singh, who we believe is alive and well in the USA. I am trying to establish contact with Gian Singh, and we hope to succeed in the very near furture," said Amarjit Singh Pabla of ASHA.
Partap Kaur's land is looked after by a caretaker named Sarabjit Singh in the village Chhokran, and her chakki (mill) still exists.
Amarjit Singh Pabla also found out that Sarn Singh's father was given the title of "Zaildar", as a mark of respect from the British rulers back then. Although Mr Pabla wanted to go to the village Jandiala (dist Phillaur) where Zaildar Kishan Singh and his other son Charan Singh lived, but so far, he's been unable to go. He requests anyone with any further information to come forward, "because the family deserves to participate in the centenary celebrations in June."