Migrant who died for new country honoured

Published on SGT Dave Morley (author and photographer)

Location(s): Adelaide

Topic(s): Helicopters, HMAS Adelaide (L01)

Leading Seaman Aviation Charanpreet Anand, of HMAS Adelaide, lays a wreath during the ceremony for Private Saran Singh. (photo: SGT David Morely)
Leading Seaman Aviation Charanpreet Anand, of HMAS Adelaide, lays a wreath during the ceremony for Private Saran Singh.

A Navy member has paid tribute to a Sikh Anzac killed in action at Messines Ridge, Flanders, on 10 June 1917, at a ceremony at Government House in Adelaide.
 
Private Saran Singh migrated to Australia from Punjab, India, and was one of 19 Sikhs known to have enlisted in the 1st Australian Imperial Force during the First World War, serving in the 43rd Infantry Battalion.
 
The service was hosted by the Governor of South Australia, Hieu Van Le, marking 100 years since the battle.
 
As part of proceedings on 16 June, Leading Seaman Avation Support Charanpreet Anand, of HMAS Adelaide, who migrated from the same Indian region as Private Singh, laid a wreath.
 
Leading Seaman Anand, who has been in the Navy for 10 years, comes from a Sikh background with a rich military history, which influenced and inspired him at an early age.
 
“I had just finished school and felt strongly about representing my country and that of my community, too, with my turbaned identity,” Leading Seaman Anand said.
 
“I believe I was the first turbaned Sikh to join the Navy at that time, and it was a proud moment for our community.
 
“It was a privilege and a great honour to be invited as a representative of the current generation of serving members of Indian descent and of Sikh faith, especially as it was conducted at the state government level.”
 
Leading Seaman Anand said it was important to honour men such as Private Singh, as he not only represented Australia, but also a whole other community during a period when Australia’s population was not very diverse.
 
“Private Singh achieved a lot during the short time he served with the Australian Imperial Force,” he said.
 
“Being a migrant in the 1800s and being able to enlist, while belonging to the Sikh faith, is definitely a remarkable feat, considering their extremely small population in Australia at that time.
 
“I feel Private Singh has now received the reception he deserved.”
 
Before Private Singh enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force, he worked as a farmer, in the town of Maggea, in rural South Australia.