Churchill, Sir Winston
Prime Minister of England (1874-1965))
Sir Winston Churchill was very well conversant with the bravery of the Sikhs, who had fought for Britain in the World Wars. Churchill while speaking in the British Parliament said:
"…..It is a matter of regret that due to the obsession of the present times people are distorting the superior religious and social values, but those who wish to preserve them with respect, we should appreciate them as well as help them. Sikhs do need our help for such a cause and we should give it happily. Those who know the Sikh history, know England’s relationship with the Sikhs and are aware of the achievements of the Sikhs, they should persistently support the idea of relaxation to Sikhs to ride a motorbike with their turbans on, because it is their religious privilege."
Churchill, further added:
"…British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans. At that time we were not adamant that they should wear safety helmets because we knew that they are not going to wear them anyways and we would be deprived of their help. At that time due to our miserable and poor situation, we did not force it on them to wear safety helmets, why should we force it now? Rather, we should now respect their traditions and by granting this legitimate concession, win their applaud."
MILITARY UNITS WITH WHICH CHURCHILL SERVED
Churchill Also served in the British Army with Sikh Regiments
4th Queen’s Own Hussars (cavalry regiment): England and India, 1895 99.
31st Punjab Regiment, Bengal Infantry, Indian Army, part of the 1st brigade, Malakand Field Force: NW Frontier of India, September 1897.
35th Sikh Regiment, Bengal Infantry, Indian Army, part of the 2nd brigade, Malakand Field Force: NW Frontier of India, September 1897.
21st Lancers (cavalry regiment): Egypt and the Sudan, August-October 1898. The regiment became the 21st (Empress of India’s) Lancers after the Battle of Omdurman, 2 September 1898.
South African Light Horse (Imperial Yeomanry cavalry regiment): commissioned January 1900, served as officer and correspondent until July 1900.
Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (Yeomanry cavalry regiment):
SIR WINSTON’S OBSERVATIONS
Sir Winston Churchill, the greatest statesman Historian writing about the causes of the Indian Mutiny 1857 and the circumstances leading to the Anglo-Sikh Wars in his History of the English speaking peoples volume IV pages 65 says, "A more immediate cause of the rising (Mutiny) was a series of defeats and reverses suffered by the British (in Afghanistan and Punjab). The Russian threat to India had begun to overhang the minds of Englishmen. The menace seemed real when a small body of Russians had penetrated into the fringes of Afghanistan. A British expedition was despatched in 1839 to Kabul and a British Candidate (Shah Shujah) placed on the Afghan throne. The country rose up in arms. In December, 1841, the British garrison off our thousand troops, accompanied by nearly three times as many women, children and Afghan Camp-followers began to withdraw through the snow and mountain passes, when nearly all were murdered or taken prisoners. A second expedition avenged the treachery in the following year, but the repute of European arms was deeply smitten and the massacre resounded throughout the peninsula."
Sir Winston adds:
"Another defeat soon followed in the Punjab, the most northernly state of the Indian provinces at that time. Here the warrior Sikhs, had long held sway. Encouraged by the news from Afghanistan, and restless after the death of their great leader, Ranjit Singh, who had hitherto held them in check, they resolved to try their hand at invading the Company’s territory. In 1845, they crossed the boundary river of Sutlej, and were met and repulsed two hundred miles north of Delhi. The British installed a regency. Three years later the Sikhs tried to overthrow it. There was, a desperate drawn battle deep within the province at Chillianwala, in which three British regiments lost their colours. Shortly afterwards the British re-deemed their name and the Sikh army was destroyed. The Punjab was pacified by John and Henry Lawrence. These famous brothers ruled with absolute power. They sent the Koh-i-noor diamond to Queen Victoria and gained from the formidable warriors of the province an affection and loyalty for the British Crown which was to endure for nearly a century. One of their subordinates, John Nicholson, who was to be for even famous as the liberator of Delhi, was ever worshipped by some Punjabis as a deity. Nevertheless, among the ill-informed and ill-disposed in other regions of India "Remember Chillianwala" became a battle-cry and a bloodstained slogan in the upheaval which was to come."
From the above statement following points have emerged which may be examined in the light of verdict of the British Historians and documents of Sir Winston’s own countrymen who, then, either controlled or were vitally concerned, both in England and in India, with the affairs of the East India company:
1. that encouraged by the British massacre in Afghanistan, the Sikhs, after the death of Ranjit Singh, resolved to try their hand at the British Territory in India.
2. that in 1845, the Sikhs crossed the boundary river Sutlej and were met and repulsed.
3. that the British installed a regency at Lahore, which the Sikhs after three
years tried to overthrow.
4. that soon after their defeat at Chillianwala, the British redeemed their name and the Sikh army was destroyed.
5. that Lawrence brothers (John & Sir Henry) sent the Kh-i-noor diamond to Queen Victoria.
6. that remember Chillianwala’ became a battle-cry and a blood stained slogan, among the ill-informed and ill-disposed in other regions of India in the upheaval (Mutiny) which was soon to’ come.