Saturday, 4 February 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Final tributes are paid to city's Sikh war hero
A Sikh war veteran who was "respected by all who met him" has been laid to rest in his adopted home town.
Family and friends from as far a field as Australia, Botswana and India gathered, in Leicester, yesterday for the funeral of Harnam Singh.
Described as a pillar of the community, in Leicester and his native Punjab, Harnam died last month, aged 84.
Son Armarjit, who now lives in Perth, Australia, said: "My father was a great soldier and absolutely fearless as a man – spiritually, physically, morally – in every sense.
"Everything he did came straight from the heart. He was much-loved and respected by all who met him."
Harnam was born into a humble farming family in the village of Lasara and as a teenager fought on the frontline against the Japanese with the British Indian Army in Burma.
He distinguished himself for his bravery as a tank gunner with the 8th King George V Own Light Cavalry during the campaign.
He went on to have a successful career in the Indian Army following independence until his retirement, ranked honorary lieutenant, in 1973.
Harnam became a British citizen, in 1992, when he moved to Leicester, living in Spinney Hills with his wife Daljit Kaur, 82.
For the past six years , the couple lived at the home of his eldest daughter Balbir Kaur Jabbal, in Welford Road.
Balbir, 52, said: "It's hard to say goodbye to someone who was so strong. He was a war hero but also my hero too. We all loved and miss him, my mother especially."
Mourners gathered at the family home, in Welford Road, in the morning to sing hymns and recite prayers from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures.
His funeral, attended by more than 150 people, took place at Gilroes Crematorium, where granddaughters Aman Preet Kaur, 30, from Australia, and Gaggan Kaur Jabbal, 12, from Leicester, each gave an address to the congregation.
The service was followed by further hymns and prayers at a celebration of Harnam's life at the Gurudwara Guru Tegh Bhadur temple, in East Park Road, Spinney Hills.
Son Dr Maninderjit Singh Pabla, 58, from the Punjab, said: "My father was a disciplinarian, a hard worker and intelligent person who had a flair for helping people."
"He paid for health clinics for villagers back in Lasara and set up a scholarship for hard-working students at the local school.
"In Leicester, he also devoted his time to helping others, including many elderly people who spoke little English.
"One of his proudest moments was meeting the Queen during a visit to Leicester in the 1994."
Daughter Kulwant Kaur, 50, from Botswana, said: "I was so proud of my father.
"He was a true community leader and happiest when helping others."Surinderpal Singh Rai, general secretary of the Guru Tegh Bhadur, said: "Harnam was a charismatic, jolly character who will be missed by all."
Harnam died at home on January 25 after suffering from bladder cancer for two years.

No comments:

Post a Comment