Sikh Guardsman, beards, turbans & military history

I have long wondered why there were so few Sikh soldiers in the British army.

A Sepoy In ItalyYou don’t need to be a military history buff to know that there ahs been a longstanding military relationship between Britain and India and many of our great “British” military victories have were won with the effort of thousands of soldiers from the then Empire.  At the risk of sounding a little old-fashioned (and racist?!?) Sikhs have traditionally been seen as great soldiers.

So why is the story that Guardsman Jatenderpal Bhullar is on parade in a turban such big news? I understand that turban and beard represent a break with tradition but breaks with tradition happen all the time in the army and new things become traditions surprisingly quickly.  It is the fact that we are having this discussion now rather than in the 1950s or 60s that I find a little surprising.

This whole episode leaves me asking two questions. 1; Why haven’t we had hundreds of Sikhs in the British army for decades? And 2; Why is a Brummie joining the Scots Guards?

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