| Vicki Treadell | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 15 Nov 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Datuk, Datin, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and thank you for getting up early this Sunday morning to be here.
In the UK, Remembrance Sunday always falls on the second Sunday in November. It is a day for the nation to remember and honour those who have sacrificed their lives to secure and protect our freedom. We commemorate in particular the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in both World Wars as well as more recent conflicts. It is also a time to pause and remember all those that have, and are continuing to be, badly affected by war and conflict.
This year though is a special year of commemoration. Back in the UK and around the world we have commemorated amongst others, the 100th Anniversary of Gallipoli, the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and the 70th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War, remembering that it was not until the ‘Far East Campaign’ ended, three months after the war ended in Europe, that the Second World War finally came to an end.
SEE ALSO: Sikh Reflection on KL Remembrance Day
The debt of gratitude that we owe those who delivered victory in both World Wars is greater than ever. And as we think back to the end of the Second World War, and particularly here in SE Asia, we should remember not only the Veterans of the campaign, but all those who lost their lives, including the many military Prisoners of War and civilian internees who suffered in captivity throughout the region.
To give you a sense of the scale of the loss, around 300,000 soldiers in the Far East became Prisoners of War – 100,000 of whom died in captivity. That is more than the entire strength of the British Army today.
Today I would also like to make mention of our Sikh friends; and hopefully many of you will have also noticed the Sri Damesh Band when you arrived. I would like to take this opportunity of welcoming and thanking the local Sikh Community for participating in this year’s Remembrance Service and I congratulate the band for their excellent performance during our arrival.
The role of the Sikhs in both World Wars is not as well documented as it could or should be. The Sikhs made up a relatively small percentage of undivided India and yet at the start of WW1 they contributed to over 20% of the British Indian Army. These numbers swelled over the course of the war and Sikhs fought in all the major theatres contested by British forces from the Western Front to the Middle East. In WW2, the Sikhs represented more than 60% of the total Indian Commonwealth Force in Malaya that fought against the Japanese invasion.
Over the last few years, as part of the UK’s WW1 programme of commemoration, we have sought to tell the story of the Sikh contribution to the First World War in particular. I am therefore delighted what we are able to contribute to this initiative by involving the local Sikh community today.
Finally, before the end of this ceremony we will observe two minutes silence. The first two minute silence in Britain was held on 11 November 1919, when King George V asked the public to observe a silence at 11am, one year after the end of World War I. He made the request so “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead“.
May I ask that when we observe our silence this morning that we remember not only our fallen heroes but also spare a thought for all those who are still willing to risk their tomorrow for our today.
Lest we forget.
Sikh Reflection on KL Remembrance Day (Asia Samachar, 10 Nov 2015)
Big Sikh presence at KL Remembrance Sunday (Asia Samachar, 8 Nov 2015)
British Army second commemoration for Battle of Saragarhi (Asia Samachar, 16 Sept 2015)
WW2 fallen Sikhs not accorded proper last rites (Asia Samachar, 11 Sept 2015)