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Highlands' fallen heroes added to national roll of honour housed at Edinburgh Castle

By Gavin Musgrove

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South Asian soldiers who died in Scotland during the Second World War have had their names added to the national roll of honour.

Fourteen soldiers from Force K6 of the British Indian Army mainly from present-day Pakistan lost their lives while serving in harsh conditions.

Most of the young men died whilst stationed in Badenoch and Strathspey where there were training in the Cairngorms and are buried at Kingussie's New Cemetery.

They have now been added to the Indian Army Rolls of Honour book at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle.

The book is accessible to the public, allowing anyone to pay tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives.

The move follows an application by The Indian Contingent – Force K6 (Royal Indian Army Service Corps) as part of Kingussie’s Am Fasgadh Regeneration Company, which last year unveiled a memorial to the troops in the Badenoch capital.

The soldiers’ inclusion has been welcomed by Colourful Heritage, which is seeking greater recognition for the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Gurkhas and others from a range of nations who fought in the two world wars, with more than 160,000 of them losing their lives.

Dr Saqib Razzaq, project officer and head of research at Colourful Heritage, said: “This marks a significant moment in recognising the service and sacrifice of these soldiers who travelled from afar to fight alongside British troops in the Second World War.

“The inclusion of their names to the Roll of Honour ensures that their memory will be preserved for generations to come.

“But we must also remember that these soldiers are part of a much larger story of the contributions made by people from South Asia and other parts of the world to Britain's war efforts.

“We must continue to work to tell this story and ensure that their legacy is never forgotten.

“The permanent memorial in Glasgow will serve as a powerful symbol of this legacy, reminding future generations about Scotland's diverse history and the importance of inclusivity.”

Members of Force K6 at one of their camps set up in the strath during World War II.
Members of Force K6 at one of their camps set up in the strath during World War II.

Susan Flintoff is chief executive and keeper of the rolls at the Scottish National War Memorial.

She said: “We were pleased to add these names to the rolls of honour and to recognise the contribution of these soldiers.”

Colourful Heritage has organised annual multi-faith remembrance events at Kingussie since 2018, and also recently secured planning permission for a permanent memorial to all British Indian Army soldiers in Glasgow.

The National Roll of Honour is maintained by the trustees of the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

It is held on a database and also extracted to the printed pages displayed in the Hall of Honour of the war memorial which towers over the capital.

The Scots roll of honour contains the names of individual casualties from both world wars and those who have died in conflict since 1914.

Scotland hosts the largest concentration of Second World War Muslim soldiers’ graves from Force K6 in the UK.

There are 13 graves spread out in four cemeteries, with nine graves at Kingussie Cemetery.

Town resident Isobel Harling (BEM) – who turned 100 years old last week – and her family have tended to their graves for more than 70 years.

The men whose names have been added to the roll of honour include Ali Bahadur, 38, Bari Sher, 37, Dadan Khan, 22, Fazl Ali, 25, Karam Dad, 22, Khan Muhammad, 32, Khushi Muhammad, 35, Muhammad, 29, Muhammad Sadiq, 29, and Mushtaq Ahmad, 21.

Mir Zaman, 22, Abdul Rakhman, 37, Ghulam Nabi, 24, and Mangli have also been officially recognised as causalities of war.

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What was Force K6?

Early during the Second World War, an urgent call was made to the Indian empire – then the joint Indian and Pakistan subcontinents - for troop companies to come to France to help the allies.

Force K6 Mule Transport Corps arrived in Marseilles in December 1939 to join the war effort, and the regiment was later evacuated out of Dunkirk. They spent the next three and a half years in the UK, and were moved to Scotland to train with British infantry brigades.

Some of the young soldiers died while training in harsh conditions in rural Scotland and are buried here. They were primarily from the Punjab region and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa in present-day Pakistan.

The British Indian Army contributed 1.5million servicemen in the First World War. A total of 74,000 died and up to 100,000 were injured.

In the Second World War, there were 2.5million servicemen – 87,000 died and up to 150,000 were injured. The soldiers were Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Gurkhas, and Indian Christians. They provided supplies of £479million in WW1 (around £25 billion in today’s money) and £1.3 billion in WW2 (around £53 billion in today’s money).

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