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Sikh memorial planned for Southampton city centre

Sikh memorial planned for Southampton city centre

Sikh memorial planned for Southampton city centre
Hardit Singh Malik (right) flew a Sopwith Camel (OCHD/PA)

First World War fighter pilot and BAME pioneer Hardit Singh Malik is to be remembered in a new memorial dedicated to the thousands of Sikhs who lost their lives in the two world wars.

The planned memorial to Hardit Singh Malik is to be dedicated to the black and ethnic minority service personnel who lost their lives in the two world wars.

He was renowned as the first Indian to fly as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps its successor, the Royal Air Force, 

Group Captain Malik, an Indian civil servant and diplomat prior to becoming a pilot, became known as the “Flying Hobgoblin” as he wore a specially designed helmet that fitted over his turban.

By the war's end, Malik had been credited with two aerial victories, though he claimed six victories, which would have made him a flying ace and the only other Indian flying ace of the First World War besides Indra Lal Roy.

The memorial is aimed at remembering what he and many other Sikh's did during the war and will also include a semi circle of seven monoliths branded with the texts and symbols of other religious faiths.

Food bank
Plans for the memorial plates to be installed in Southampton in April 2023. (OCHD/PA)

Alan Mercel-Sanca, OCHD co-founder and director of the UK Nepal Friendship Society, said: “This much-needed memorial will have truly national level educational and significance for the 21st century multicultural and diverse communities of Britain.

“Hardit Singh Malik was not just the first Sikh community member and BAME pilot, but a major UK level pioneer for our BAME communities as his story involved successfully challenging the racial exclusion notions of the day with his appointment as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps.

Lord Rami Ranger, chairman of the British Sikh Association and OCHD chief patron, said: “I am truly overwhelmed by the striking beauty and power of this exceptional design of the memorial, which captures the spirit and endeavour of this great RAF fighter pilot, Hardit Singh Malik, so well.”

Pritheepal Singh, ceo and director of One Community Hampshire and Dorset (OCHD) said: "The project will benefit both our current and future generations historically and also our local economy."

I am absolutely delighted with the final design. It testifies to the major contribution our Sikh and broader ethnic minority communities have made to our country, as we live in such a vibrant multicultural society here in Southampton.”

The project is set to cost around £300k in total and is supported by BAME community leads from across the South Coast, academic experts, representatives of all three of the armed forces and the Chair of Hampshire FA.

In a statement, the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s said: "This historic project brings huge significance to our communities supporting our society and is very much overdue.

"We are very proud that the world is not only going to be witnessing the Sikh memorial, but also in conjunction with this, those of other faiths and beliefs that also contributed so much in both those wars."

A meeting is now set to take place with Southampton City Council on March 15 to approve the plans.


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