British Empire Books

Warrior Saints

Three Centuries of the Sikh Military Tradition

Contributed by Prof. Richard Norton

AuthorsAmandeep Singh Madra & Parmjit Singh
Published byI.B. Tauris Publishers
This Edition1999

This handsome volume is large enough to be called a "coffee table book." Well written and easily read in a short period of time, it would make an attrractive addition to any historical book collection.

The authors provide a concise and running history of the Sikh religion and culture, from its inception in 1699 unto the present day. The history appears balanced and even-handed but someone with more specialist expertise than myself would need to confirm this.

There are an impressive quantity of pictures and photographs interspersed throughout the book. Alas, these are in black in white, but still of great interest and many have previously been unpublished. Photos include at least (and usually only) one each of the 1st, 14th, 15th and 45th Sikhs. There is an excellent one of a 47th Sikh sentry in heavy weather gear on station in Tientsin, 1906. Other pictures of note include a quartet of highly decorated Sikh soldiers, including Ishar Singh, first Sikh to win the Victoria Cross marching through Whitehall and a charming picture of "Cadet Jawan (which I understand means soldier or trooper) Singh (which I have learned translates to "lion") saluting General Auchinleck before being awarded the prize for being the "smartest recruit (One wonders if they meant IQ or sharpness of uniform?) at King George's Royal Indian Military Academy for the year 1945/46." Jawan Singh looks to be about seven or eight years old. There are also pictures of Sikh bicycle dispatch riders from the Great War and a sketch of "Gurkhas rifling dead Sikhs during one of the battles of the Sikh Wars, plus dozens more.

The book also provides a tantalizing reference to the "Battle of Saragarhi" which sounds very much like a Sikh version of Camerone -- except that there were no Sikh survivors.

But this piecemeal approach to a review runs the risk of making the book seem less than the sum of its parts. The complete reading experience leaves the reader with a very deep appreciation and respect for the superb fighting qualities of these splendid warriors.

Buy this book at: Amazon

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by Stephen Luscombe