Sandwell unveils Lions of the Great War statue

A 10-foot high bronze statue of a Sikh soldier was unveiled in Smethwick High Street at the weekend to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.

The Lions of the Great War statue, which stands on a six-foot granite plinth, is the first full statue of a South Asian First World War soldier in the UK.

Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick commissioned Black Country sculptor Luke Perry to create the statue to honour the sacrifices made by South Asian service personnel of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain in the Great War and other conflicts.

Millions of men from the Indian subcontinent fought in the two world wars, serving in the British Indian Army. Most never visited the country they were fighting for, yet many sacrificed their lives on the battlefield or afterwards.

The Lions of the Great War statue is sited between High Street and Tollhouse Way, where Sandwell Council has worked with the gurdwara to create a paved public space with seating and lighting as well as improving an adjoining green space.

The site will be also protected by Centenary Fields, run by the national charity Fields in Trust in partnership with The Royal British Legion.

Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick has covered the cost of designing and building the statue. President of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick Jatinder Singh said:

“We are so proud to be unveiling this memorial to honour the sacrifice of all those brave men who travelled thousands of miles to fight for a country that wasn’t their own. These men volunteered to serve and fought to defend the freedoms we enjoy today.

“The memorial will ensure that this part is never forgotten. Although Sikhs were less than two per cent of the population, they made up 20 per cent of the British Indian Army in the Great War. The monument makes us feel proud to be Sikh and proud to be British."

Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Steve Eling added:

“It’s a very proud moment for Smethwick and Sandwell to see this impressive statue unveiled.

“Many people from the Indian subcontinent have made Smethwick their home and I hope this contributes to the growing recognition of the sacrifices that servicemen from South Asia and across Commonwealth countries have made for our country.”


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