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  • The Sikh Anzac (Photo by Australian Sikh Heritage)
The Australian Sikh Heritage Association (ASHA) has been awarded a 'Saluting Their Service' commemorative grant of $61,027. ASHA will use this grant to publish and distribute a booklet about the Sikhs who served in the Australian Imperial Forces.
18 May 2017 - 1:48 AM  UPDATED 23 May 2017 - 11:34 AM

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs 'Saluting Their Service' commemorative grants have been announced for year 2017.

More than $150,000 has been provided to community projects around the country that commemorate Australia’s wartime heritage.

Minister for Veterans’ Affair Dan Tehan said, the latest round of funding under the 'Saluting Their Service' grants program would allow local communities to honour our military history.

One of the proud recipient of this grant is Western Australia's Australian Sikh Heritage Association.

ASHA secured a total of $61,027, which will be used to publish and distribute Australia’s Sikh military history from 1914 to 1918.

Tarun Preet Singh from ASHA told SBS Punjabi’s Preetinder Singh Grewal that it’s their first national project.

"The Sikh Anzac history booklet published will be distributed free of cost throughout the country. We have prepared a distribution list of 9414 schools, 43 Universities, 1200 RSL clubs, 540 public libraries and more than 30 Gurdwaras."

"This is a small gift from ASHA to the Australian community on the historic occasion of 100th Anniversary of Sarn Singh and 75th Anniversary of Manmohan Singh - the two unsung Sikh heroes of WW Iand WW II"

Sikh history resources made available in Western Australian schools
Australian Sikh history has been included in the Humanities and Social Sciences subjects in WA schools for year 5, 6 and 9.

"ASHA has prepared a list of more than 19 Sikh Anzacs. These men added value to the spirit of kinship of man - the only sustenance for a potent Australian identity,” adds Mr Singh. 

"The infinite pang of love for total-sacrifice manifests in many ways whether in peace or war which lies in the bosom of heart of every Australian."

"No historian or biographer can actually tell us what made these men. Ordinary history gives corpses of events. It accurately registers dead facts but this attempt is slightly different – in the way that it shall reflect sensory experience along with strength of the fabric of our Australian society."

Remembering the unsung heroes of Gallipoli: A tale of battle, bloodshed, & bravery
Sepoy Nanak Singh of the 1/69th Punjabis is one of the few Indian veterans of the Gallipoli campaign. His war memories are still remembered by his descendants living in Perth, WA.

"This booklet will re-introduce Australians to the sacrifice of the previous generations during the turbulent times in history. We enjoy what we have today is fruit of these sacrifices."

Mr Singh also believes that the book will give the current generation a sense of direction and responsibility.

"This booklet will rekindle the flame of our responsibility which comes with sweat and toil to look after our community. Sikh is one who does not yearn for crown or paradise. Sikhs do no lead a dull and listless life."

ASHA has been proactive in seeking assistance from acclaimed historians and other prestigious organisations.

"We have an overwhelming support from the Sikh Association of WA, the Sikh Gurdwara Perth, RSL Cannington, the Military History Society of WA and the Australian War Memorial.”

$150K WA grant to highlight Australia's Sikh history

Western Australia's rich Sikh history will come to life thanks to the addition of interpretive panels along the Australian Sikh Heritage Trail in Riverton. Here is WA Sikh representative in conversation with SBS Punjabi's Preetinder Singh Grewal.

"We are privileged to have one of the best professional historians on this subject who also have the support from the authorities at the helm of War history research in Australia.”

"The project is being guided by Mr Peter Stanley - who has written more than 30 books on Australian military history. He was also the Principal historian at Australian War Memorial."

"Mr Brendon Nelson - Director of the Australian War Memorial - has offered assistance in accessing the records or other material from AWM for this project. He has also requested for a copy of the finished product to add to the research resources of AWM."

"Mr Rana TS Chhina, an MBE and Secretary and Editor at Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research in the United Service Institution of India at New Delhi, has also offered his support for this project and requested for a copy of the finished product for the USIS research centre."

"Mr Edwin Ride, a research agent at AWM will compile the info and design the layout of the booklet."

"In conclusion, we have the best services and support available for the successful implementation of this project. This subject is close to our hearts and we will have some other projects of national importance to start once this is achieved," adds Mr Singh. 


While announcing these grants, Minister for Veterans’ Affair Dan Tehan said that 'The Saluting Their Service' commemorative program is designed to preserve our wartime heritage and to involve people throughout the nation in a wide range of activities and projects.

"As a nation we honour the men and women who serve in our armed forces and these projects will help record and promote different elements of our shared experience.

"The grants recipients will use their funding to deliver a unique, local project that will enhance understanding of the service and sacrifice of the Australians who have served in defence of our nation,” Mr Tehan said.

'Avenue of Honour': Sikh Anzacs remembered in Australian outback
Members of the Adelaide and the Riverland Sikh community attended the ANZAC Dawn Service in Mantung on ANZAC Day (25 April 2017). Three Sikh Anzacs are remembered here - Private Sarn Singh, Private Ganessa Singh and Private Juwan Singh.

Here is a list of the projects that will be funded through these grants. Applications for the next round of 'Saluting Their Service' funding will be available on 1 July 2017.

Private Desanda Singh: The descendants of war heroes celebrate the ANZAC heritage
Private Desanda Singh was among the handful of Indian Anzacs to go to the World War -I as an Australian soldier.
Honour & Duty: Saluting the Unsung Heroes
As part of its ANZAC Day celebration, the city of Wellington has a rare glimpse of Sikh military contributions all over the world, from the late 18th century till the end of World War II in 1945.
Sikh history resources made available in Western Australian schools
Australian Sikh history has been included in the Humanities and Social Sciences subjects in WA schools for year 5, 6 and 9.
Know the story of Private Sarn Singh – Australian Sikh Heritage

Private Sarn Singh was a Sikh Anzac who was decorated with British War Medal and Victory Medal during First World War (WW-1). His name is inscribed at Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Preetinder Singh Grewal reports...