British Army links celebrated in parade
A request from the local temple resulted in the British Army taking part in Vaisakhi celebrations in Derby.
Soldiers joined the Sikhs’ founding anniversary and new year procession through the city on Sunday April 19.
Army spokesman Lt.Col. David Hollas said that the Sikh community had wanted to commemorate historic ties with the Army.
He told BBC News that the Sikhs had a very strong military tradition. He wanted to reactivate the sense of a shared history – to say to British Sikhs: “We’re your Army and let’s continue the journey together.”
City Councillor Ranjit Banwait, who helped arrange the Army’s attendance, said that in the Second World War Sikhs fought bravely with the British Eighth Army in North Africa and Italy. They also experienced the terrible conditions of the trenches in the First World War alongside British comrades.
The Army’s presence in the procession – comprising 30 soldiers including a colonel and three majors – celebrated old friendships and forged new ones, he said.
Representatives of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Princes Street, Derby, initiated the invitation to the soldiers.
Around 12,000 people witnessed the parade.
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