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Jat Sikh soldiers

Jat Sikh soldiers in World War I & II


A large number of Sikh soldiers fought on the side of Great Britain during both the First and Second World Wars. The recruitment policy concerning the Sikh soldiers into the British India Army appears to have been heavily biased towards the Jat Sikhs. For example, three handbooks  produced for the British India Government basically covered material concerning the Jat Sikhs and explicitly made statements such as follows:

Captain Falcon, R.W. , pp. 81, 106: “…if military service is made the exclusive right of Jat Sikhs and a few outcasts, still the Jat must ever be the main source for recruits, as he far and away outnumbers the other people, and possesses as a class qualities which no other people can claim. If, too, a Sikh belonging to a good Sikh tehsil (sub-district), does not give the name of a well known Jat Sikh tribe (clan) as his, he is pretty sure not to be a Jat…”.

Captain Bingley, A.H. , pp. 111: “…a man will say he is a zamindar (landlord) or Jat and that he ploughs, to which fact the horniness of the palms of his hands will certify, he may be claiming to be a Jat…”.

Major Barstow, A.E. , pp. 180-181 and 2: “…Jat Sikhs sent a very high percentage of their eligible men to army. Units whose standard prewar (World War I) were 5 feet 9 in. with proportionate chest development were through force of circumstances obliged to take men at 5 feet 3 in., and moreover instead of maintaining a Jat Sikh standard were required to open their ranks to every kind of…. Out of ten Punjabis, nine live in villages and…; it is from these plains, from the great tribe of Jats, that our recruits are obtained”.

Professor Joyce Pettigrew  added, “the army (British India Army) had recruited only Jats (Jat Sikhs) and had been closed as an occupation to…”.

Furthermore, Philip Mason  says “Most Sikhs-particularly in the army-are descended from Hindus who were Jats by race before their conversion (to Sikhism)…. They make good soldiers…”.

British military officers appear to have regularly used the term “Jat Sikhs”, for example, General Sir MacMunn  on page 4 of his book wrote regarding the arrival of the British Indian Army in France during World War I, “The martial races shall stride across the stage… …as they swung through Marseilles (France) with half the girls of France on their arms… …that Marseilles that went beside itself to see the smoke stacks and masts of the mighty. Armada that brought the Army of India. The Jat Sikhs mighty and curled of bears, kin perhaps of the men of Kent (a district in England), the Jutes from Jutland…