Calls for Birmingham war memorial for Muslim soldiers who fought for Britain

Calls for Birmingham war memorial for Muslim soldiers who fought for Britain

A councillor has called for a national memorial in Birmingham recognising Muslim soldiers who died in the first and second World Wars whilst serving in the British Army.

Cllr Majid Mahmood (Lab, Hodge Hill) stated the second city is the ‘ideal’ location for such a monument arguing that it is home to relatives of Muslims who lost their lives in the conflicts.

In doing so he pointed to the heroic services of Khudadad Khan , who received the Victoria Cross, and Noor Inayat Khan, who earned the George Cross.

Indian troops at gas mask drill

It is estimated more than 3.5million soldiers from Asia fought for the Allies in the two wars, including 400,000 Muslims in World War One and 600,000 in World War Two.

Tens of thousands were killed.

Indian troops at bayonet exercise
Indian troops at bayonet exercise

Cllr Mahmood made the call for a memorial in Birmingham as the city council backed a monument to be installed at Cannon Hill Park to victims of the 2015 Tunisia terror attacks in Sousse and the Bardo Museum, which is to be funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

He said: “I know there is some funding for a Sikh memorial in London but there is nothing for Muslims in the country and I think it is time we started a campaign.

“It is estimated 60,000 Muslims died whilst fighting for the British Army (in the First and Second World War).

“People forget the roots of Muslims, where we have come from and where we have come to.”

Coun Majid Mahmood.
Coun Majid Mahmood.

He added: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are contributing towards a memorial for the victims of the Tunisia attacks.

“None of the victims are from Birmingham but it has been chosen because the location is central.

“But we have got people in Birmingham who have immediate family who were killed fighting for the British Army who were Muslim, but there is nothing in the country to recognise it.

“This is the ideal place for a memorial.”

Khudadad Khan, a Sepoy of the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis, was commended for his actions during the battle of Ypres, in Belgium, on October 31, 1914.

The Baluchis were massively overwhelmed by the German attack but Khan, who was the only one left of his machine gun team, managed to halt their advance until reinforcements arrived.

He became the first Indian soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Khudadad Khan, VC
Khudadad Khan, VC

Noor Inayat Khan served with the Special Operations Executive and was the first female radio operator to be flown into occupied France during the Second World War where she continued sending messages back to London whilst avoiding capture.

She was ultimately betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo but refused to give up intelligence under interrogation. Khan was executed at Dachau concentration camp and posthumously awarded the George Cross, the highest decoration available to a civilian.


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