- Contributed by
- St Barnabas Library
- People in story:
- Amrit Singh
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 17 November 2004
I joined the airforce in 1946, I became a mechanical Engineer. I had to enter into training for four months. I then one month off, and then came back for technical training for one year.
The Royal Indian Air force during the British rule in India. I was paid 60 rupees per month. I finished with the airforce in 30th June 1947, due to communal riots. It was terrible during this time, a group of muslins in Lahore killed a train full of Indians and Sikhs and sent it to India ( Amritsar), with the slogans " that it how you kill people".
This types of terrible activity happened from both sides. People was feeling bad, and did not know what to do. Some of my reletive was killed in the crossfire, and came to india like refugees.
Once the situation came under control, then I joined the Indian Army. This was in 19th Febuary 1948. At first I was an electrician/ motor vehicle engineer. After this I was made an Armamnet Artificial Vehicle Officer. At that time India was in the commonwealth. India brought independance in 1947. However, Lord Mountbatton was still the Governer General of India until 1952.
During the British period the uniforms were Khaki. Under Indian rule this changed to olive Green. Status was low. We used to receive the same wages though, 29 rupees monthly. Normally people were not very well educated at that time. When i joined the air force,
During the beginning, I was going to join in 1945, but the British recruitment was finished. That is why I had to join later. Living standards were very good for army people, and people used to give us more respect. British people really appreciated the Sikhs joining the British Army, and were very encouraging. They were really allowed to do the religious practices during the day. During that time, the government allowed and encouraged us to wear our turban. Turban were issued by the government. The government felt that we would draw strength from our religion.
From the whole of the Sikh contribution in both world wars, we received 14 Victoria Cross which was a record for the Sikh community.
The British army were very proud of the Sikh army. My dad was in a regiment called the 19th Punjab Regiment. His name was Subedar Suchet Singh (Subedar means Vice roy commission). In WW1 my dad served in Kenya, Tansania and Iraq. In WW2 my dad stayed in India. My dad was in the fighting force. I had two brothers in the army as well.
My eldest brothers name was Niab Subeder Chanan Singh. His rank was Army Signal Corp. His duty was in Arab countries and Italy. During WW2, he was a wireless operator. My next brothers name was Hon. Captain Sardara Singh, he managed to achieve this ranking, which was superior than Subedar. They joined as ordinary officers, and worked hard to achieve that ranking.
In WW2 my brother fought in South East Asia, commanded by General McArther.
Whenever the British army thought they were falling behind in the battle, they tried to put the Sikhs in the front line because they had such faith in us.
I remember who the last General Comander in Chief.
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