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Lest We Forget: Trench Brothers

This Sunday, the Armistice Centenary coincides with Britain’s Remembrance Day, a day filled with commemorations honouring the 100 years since the Great War ended.

But, dear Ummahsonic reader, we ask you, what normally springs to mind when you think of WW1? You might say ‘poppies’ or a young British lad fighting in the trenches. But what if we told you over 400,000 Muslim soldiers fought for Britain in WW1? What’s more, what if we added in 15,600 men also served in the British West Indies regiment and more than a million in the Indian army across the eastern and western fronts in the first world war? Those numbers might just alter your perception of who EXACTLY was involved in the Great War.

 

Brothers-in-arms from the West Indies, Somalia, India and elsewhere are being honoured by the Trench Brothers project, an initiative that brings the First World War to life for students through the experiences and personal stories of the Indian Army, British West Indies Regiment and black British soldiers. In an effort to immortalise the heroic deeds of these forgotten soldiers, Trench Brothers commemorates their contributions using puppetry and music. To date, Trench Brothers has reached over 40 schools in London and Lancashire since 2014 and is now working with schools across the South East and the Midlands prior to performances at the Brighton Dome and the National Memorial Arboretum.

Tertia Sefton-Green, the creative director of Trench Brothers and the wider HMDT programme, says that part of the aim of Trench Brothers was “to show that this is so many more people’s story than the white story so often represented”. The idea of using the Brighton Dome as the finale for the project came when they discovered that it had been used as a military hospital for Indian soldiers during the first world war.

So, this Sunday, remember to pay homage to all the brave men that risked their lives to protect our country in the Great War; whether that soldier was born and bred in London or came all the way from Calcutta.

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