• Thread starter IntellectualThug
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A friend of mine (regular in a teeth arms regt) tells me they've just had a Sikh lad join. As I went to school with a few Sikhs, I got wondering as to how many Sikhs there are in the Army (Reg and TA).

Any ideas? Any Sikhs in your own units?
Better on our side than t'other I think....they were the mainstay of the British-Indian army (them and the gurkhas and pathans) because when the Mutiny came - they didn't.

A Sikh Regiment in British army?

Kim Sengupta

controversY OVER THE plans to raise a Sikh regiment within the British army has pitched Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales into conflict with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).The MoD believes that such a force would be divisive and immensely difficult to organise, even though the proposal has the support of some past and present senior officers.

The Prince, Colonel-in-chief of a number of regiments, has taken a keen interest in ethnic minority recruitment and is known to have lobbied for a separate Sikh regiment in meetings with General Sir Charles Guthrie, while he was Chief of Defence Staff.

Leaders of Britain’s half a million Sikhs think the Royal backing significantly boosts their chances of a regiment of their own. They say such an unit will be no different from the Scots, Welsh and Irish Guards, or the Gurkhas, and there will be no shortage of young recruits from a community that prides itself on its martial heritage.

Sikhs have fought for the Crown, from Flanders to Burma, as part of the old British Indian army, with a large number winning decorations for gallantry. They continue to play a central role within the Indian Army and have produced several of the country’s chiefs of staff.

Mohan Singh Gill, one of a group of former servicemen campaigning for the setting up of a regiment, said "The army has a shortfall in recruits and we have young men to fill that. We have a warrior tradition and nothing to prove if you look at our record."

Harbinder Singh Rana, the chairman of the Maharaja Duleep Singh Sikh Centenary Trust, said "The army should do this because we have a legacy of military achievement with this country. I could give the army 280 names tomorrow."

However, outside consultants brought in by the MoD to attract ethnic recruits do not favour the Prince’s proposals, and advised against forming such an unit. The MoD points out that a Sikh regiment will be a religious one. There are also the logistical problems. There are currently only six Sikh officers and 18 other ranks out of the Army’s 105,000 personnel, which would make it impossible to form a purely Sikh officer corps.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "The Prince of Wales is very interested in the matter of recruitment from ethnic minorities. He believes there should be a debate on this issue and that, of course, includes the Sikhs with their martial traditions."

[Courtesy: Independent Newspaper (UK) & Bhai Harbans Lal]


yeh, interesting stuff. a friend of a friend - a sikh regular officer - says he's against the idea of a separate sikh regt.

i've heard of a sikh guy in the signals, and also that guy who was in the Blues n Royals a while ago but got chucked out cos he and his white mates had some drug in their system after a night out on the piss.

anyone heard of other sikhs currently serving? i'm interested as to how they get on with NBC stuff and their beards.
Sikhs are warriors. They were the top regiments in the Imperial Indian Army. Sadly they are few and far between in our Army - mostly I suspect because their parents feel that being a soldier does not live up to their expectations.

I know of one Sikh in the 1980s who whilst serving with the Queen's Regt was awarded the Military Medal for his actions after an IRA ambush in Londonderry - not many of them awarded to 'green' troops out there.



what was the story about that ambush?

your point about career choices is noted, but i think that it's becoming more respectable in their eyes now.
It wasn't an ambush in Londonderry but a major public-order disturbance in West Belfast in about 1988. The NCO in question was commanding a section of troops and had 9 contacts in one night. Things got too hairy for RUC who left the Queens' Section to man a postion consisting of vehicles strung across a road. Every so often a gunman would appear from a crowd about 250m away and shoot at the troops. Cpl X gave a description of the gunman to his troops and they watched for him.......Next time crowd parted Cpl X shouts "Watch my Tracer" and engages gunman, whole section fires hitting terrorist several times.....section dry F&Ms up street but crowd take mortally wounded terrorist away.

The Cpl in question was my Skill-at-Arms CSgt at RMAS and told the story to us wide-eyed OCdts (Week 3 or 4) instead of teaching us LSW Lesson 3!
Lets face it the Indian Army aint exactly shy of recruiting Sikhs and they dont get light duties in Kashmir.

The Empire has used them in the past and as mentioned above, they are a Martial, disciplined people.

Top idea, in my opinion.



outstanding story. so this was a sikh Cpl with turban and beard etc?

top shooting that.
I went through Grantham with a Sikh medical officer - famous in his part of the world for giving two thieving charvers a good slapping when he caught them in his garden. Excellent man and he would have made a great infantry officer.
Believe the Air Force allows Sikhs to wear appropriately-coloured (sky blue) issue turbans if they wish, and keep a beard. Nice bit of flexibility to aid recruitment and retention.
MrPVRd said:
Believe the Air Force allows Sikhs to wear appropriately-coloured (sky blue) issue turbans if they wish, and keep a beard. Nice bit of flexibility to aid recruitment and retention.
So does the army. I remember some Sikhs in WFR wearing a grey turban with the green patch and regimental badge, one of them used a scrim net instead of a turban on ex. Sky blue ?? surely that'd make them want to leave??
There are at least 3 REME sikhs that I know of:

There's a Lt Col who's big in Army Gliding (I flew with him at Upavon) he's in this month's CRAFTSMAN magazine.

There was/is a Lt at 1 Bn REME he deployed on TELIC with 3 Bn REME. He was 2 years through a pharmacy degree when he decided to join the Army. He's a pukka chap, comes from Wembley and lived next door to the Kumars.

There was also Greg Singh, now out, but left as a WO1 (ASM).

Sikhs like most religons have their fundametalists and the those religious in UNICOM print only. Greg singh didn't have a beard nor did the Lt. The Lt Col wears a full beard and turban.

On NBC training they vaseline the beard to get a seal round the respirator. On Ops they shave, the priests/imams/rabbis/gurus of the religion have said it's OK to shave for chemical warfare. The fundamental tenets of the sikh religon (the 5K - knife, baggy pants, beard, turban, bangle) are to do with being warriors, so they don't see there being a problem with the shaving thing.
IntellectualThug said:
I got wondering as to how many Sikhs there are in the Army (Reg and TA).
Thug (and anyone who is interested), the short answer to this is: no-one really knows!

Consider these figures, which are an extrapolation from UKDS reading of the National Census. Be aware that a number of respondents chose NOT to declare their ethnic origin. Also, these figures are only 'correct' as at FY 02/03.

Intake to 'Trained Strength' of Army


White 835
Ethnic Minority 25
Unknown 25

Other Ranks (ghastly term - apologies!)

White 12930
Ethnic Minority 2100
of which Fijians, Vincenians & St Lucians 790
Unknown 40

Outflow of Personnel (All Ranks) (Trained/Untrained)


Trained 790 (6% of total)
Untrained 180
Total 970

Other Ranks

Trained 8870 (10.5% of total)
Untrained 4700
Total 13570

A few points:

1. Note the relatively high total of Fijians etc - an issue that has been raised elsewhere on this site.

2. Note the astonishing imbalance between Intake/Outflow for Other Ranks - surely not sustainable?

3. Statistics can prove anything.

Hope this helps someone!
I have heard that Singh means Lion.

I wonder if the hirsute adornments our Victorian forbears cultivated were inspired by the martial peoples (such as the Sikhs) they encountered?


Don't the Sikh guys (the ones with the turbans and beards) in the army today face Osama Bin Laden-related jibes?

Having said that, I doubt anyone would get away with calling the sikh Colonel that!
We have a sikh captain from the ranks who doesn't wear a turban, have long hair or a beard. He is an excellent officer, very inspiring and a bit of a madman. I doubt they would be allowed all that adornment in infantry as there would be NBC considerations. I saw once a signaller with a blue turban but not long hair either.
I believe sikhs are ok and can drink with the boys anytime.

How about a muslim regiment??

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