From Golden Fields to Crimson. Punjab’s brothers in arms in Flanders.
Why are certain histories covered, discussed and inquired about, while others remain hidden? Going beyond the old tropes of colonised histories this book presents the Indo-Canadian community’s pioneer experience within the events leading to the ejection of the Komagata Maru from Canadian waters in July 1914 and the subsequent outbreak of the Great War in August 1914. Canada has a proud Great War record, and its achievements will be celebrated during WW1 centennial commemorations. However, the story of a longstanding Punjabi-Canadian community that fought for western civilisation & the British Empire, side by side with Canadians and under the same flag, has gone untold. Punjabi soldiers played a pivotal role in the opening months of the war in France & Belgium. A great book to introduce Canadian youth to a more inclusive look at our history.
Written by Steven Purewal, illustrated by Christopher Rawlins.
Comic book story illustrated by Claude St. Aubin and Ruth Redmond.
REVIEWS AND COVERAGE
“It has been said that in the history of the hunt, the hunter has always told the story of the lion. Between 1914 and 1918 nearly 500,000 Turban wearing soldiers from the Punjab Province of British India, served to deliver the freedoms we enjoy today, only to have their images scrubbed from the pages of history by their colonizers.Duty, Honour & Izzat restores those pages in glorious colour and sweeps you through multiple layers of a heroic narrative and a battlefield of emotions. By its end, and after 100 years, I had finally heard the black lion’s roar!”
– Pardeep Singh Nagra, Executive Director, Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada
“[A]n extremely well thought-out and researched book […] As a whole, Duty, Honour & Izzat shares the untold history of an entire army which was a major player in one of the greatest wars in history. This is something that Punjabis should be proud of, and it’s a history that everyone should know about.”
– Josh Rose, Rogues Portal
“A powerful reminder, or perhaps lesson, that Sikh soldiers were proud members of the British Empire, just like their comrades from Canada and that the First World War was a multicultural war as were Canadian victories at Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Cambrai.”
– Rob Alexander, Rocky Mountain Outlook
“Should be a part of the School Curriculum…it will infuse pride and a sense of future and commitment for the well being of Canada.”
– Mota Singh Jheeta, President of Federation of Sikh Societies
“I want to read the book again and again. Also, I want others like me to read the book as well!”
– Gurpal Johal – Student, Vancouver
– Arjan Manhas – Vancouver Island
“Duty, Honour, Izzat has been a life-changing book – my personal outlook on Canadian identity has been changed for the better. Growing up as a young kid with a turban I had always felt a disconnect to my identity as a Canadian. After reading Duty, Honor, Izzat, my self-perception on Canadian identity has transformed. Learning many of our forefathers had fought so hard and selflessly for the country we are so blessed to live in, has helped create a deeper and stronger connection with my country and ultimately my culture and heritage. I highly recommend all my peers and the younger generation to read this book, it will reveal truths that many individuals never had the slightest clue about and help ultimately connect us to our roost and finally help transform what it truly means to be a Canadian.”
– Prabh Tiwana ( Kids Play) – Surrey
“Duty, Honour and Izzat is an amazing read. As a teenager (a long, long time ago) I read dozens of books about WW1 and became quite knowledgeable, but I hadn’t realized the contribution made by Indian and, particularly, Sikh troops. The book represents a significant contribution to the understanding of the hitherto little-known, but vital impact made by Indian troops to the success of the British Empire and its allies in WW1 and, by interweaving historical fact with a contemporary morality tale, the book shows how the culture that produced those soldiers is as valuable and effective today as it was a century ago.”
– Leo Smale – Washington State USA
“Duty Honour & Izzat is a very interesting read with major battles like the Somme, Cambrai and Flanders covered. My reason for purchasing this book was a seeming innate fascination all Brits have with the World Wars and understanding how for good or bad, Britain’s influence impacted on others around the globe. This book serviced that need but also did that rare thing of illuminating areas I was previously unaware of and am sure to read further into. The book touches on the injustices, sacrifices and achievements of different military units alongside individuals who excelled and were awarded the highest honors of the crown. Striking a fine balance to ensure a feeling of grievance does not prevail instead a feeling of pride and hope through detailed accounts over overcoming these obstacles. The book describes these conflicts and battles in a way that sparks interest and a desire to then go on and seek further information about these individuals and battles. The newspaper clips and illustrations throughout really bring it all to life and highlight how invaluable these efforts were. This is an enjoyable read that is bound to lead to wider reading around individuals and events that otherwise I would not have come across. Highly recommended!”
– Zakk Flanagan – Vancouver
“Steven Purewal’s “Duty, Honour, & Izzat”, combines illustrations by Christopher Rawlins along with vivid historical pictures to shed light on the heroic, yet undervalued contributions made by the people of India in various wars involving the British Commonwealth. Indian people make up a significant portion of the Canadian population, and as such, the book should be treated not only as Indian military history, but also Canadian history. While it is in fact woven into the very law of Canada via the “Canadian Multiculturalism Act” which states that it is “An act for the preservation and enhancement of multiculturalism in Canada”, the historical contributions and experiences of various minority groups in Canada has and continues to be either minimized, or completely ignored. Books such as Purewal’s, which explore Canadian history through a multicultural lens, should be required reading in Canadian high school history and social studies classes. The cultural mosaic that is Canadian society, as a whole, can only serve to benefit from learning the history and culture of all the people and groups which make it a nation. We should celebrate both our differences and our similarities. That is what makes Canada such a great place to live, and books such as Purewal’s serve to remind us of our unique history and our shared history.”
– Drew Galloway – Vancouver
“Providing a comprehensive look at the British Indian Army’s participation and contributions to World War I, this highly engaging Canadian work combines a fictional graphic novel-style story with primary sources, quotations, and an array of visuals including photographs and art work.”
– Focused Education Resources
CTV and Global News have both run stories covering the film adaptation of Duty, Honour & Izzat called Promises, to be released next year:
[“It’s really an opportunity to be a part of something special, that telling of a story that’s been neglected for far too long,” said Sukhpreet Singh Heir, a border agent appearing in the film.
None of the people portraying Sikh soldiers are actors. Instead, they’re all played by local law enforcement officers.
For Heir, the project is personal because his great-uncles and great-grandfather fought in the war for the British.
“They were an oppressed people; they were colonized people at the time. And, you know, they signed up for something that required them to give their lives for a greater cause,” he said. “So when I put on that uniform, it gives me that opportunity to connect with that mindset.”] (from Angela Jung, CTV)
And from Peace Arch News (Alex Browne): Movie traces Punjabi soldiers’ role in battle during Second World War