A statue of a Sikh soldier from the First World War was unveiled on Sunday in the West Midlands town of Smethwick. (Picture: Sandwell Council)
The bronze statue of a Sikh soldier, named ‘The Lions of the Great War’, stands 10ft tall in Smethwick, Sandwell.
It was unveiled in a public square outside the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, the largest Sikh temple in Europe.
The statue acknowledges South Asian service personnel of all faiths who fought for Britain in the world wars and subsequent conflicts.
The unveiling just off Smethwick High Street was performed by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands Major (Retired) Sylvia Parkin, the Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Joy Edis, President of the Gurdwara Mr Jatinder Singh and Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Steve Eling.
A military parade of local cadets and a band will kicked off the event before a one-minute silence at 11am.
Soldiers from 159 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) were also be in attendance.
The Commanding Officer of 159 RLC, Lieutenant Colonel Pat Allen, said:
"As the local Logistics Regiment, it's a huge honour for us to be in the community and to be part of the commemorations and unveiling of the Lions of the Great War statue.
"We look forward to working with the Gurdwara to strengthen and build upon our relationship with the community."
Brigadier Richard Carter, Commander of Donnington, Telford, based 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade gave a keynote speech at a VIP lunch afterwards and said:
"The statue represents the ultimate sacrifice that Sikhs have made protecting the unprotected and fighting those who would do us harm.
"It also represents the close bonds between the Sikh community and the Armed Forces, forged through a shared history of well over a hundred years and the everlasting shared values of service and courage."
Reflecting on his role in the creation of the monument, sculptor Luke Perry said:
“The importance of this monument both locally and nationally is huge.
"I am incredibly proud to be working on a sculpture that is, at its heart, a statement of gratitude for the actions of a people who gave their lives for our independence when they had not yet achieved their own.
"I intend it to be my finest work to date.”