My name is Nehchal Singh. I’m the great grandson of Private Desanda Singh who served in the Australian army as an Anzac in the 3rd Light Horse which was in World War 1.
Back as a child my grandmother would tell me stories about how her father, who lived in Australia was involved in the military. But she wouldn’t have much details other than that to give to us.
I saw a post on social media about 16 sick soldiers who were enlisted as Anzac’s in the Australian Imperial Force. There was a veteran wearing some of the medals, and I could sort of connect to those medals as well. I immediately recognised them and said, “These are the medals I have played with as a kid”. And that’s when I started digging up and found out that I’ve got a lot deeper connection to Australia than I originally thought.
I think that my great grandfather Desanda Singh really enjoyed Australia. As in, it was his country. And a lot of Australian values would have resonated with him. Particularly the freedom of expression and freedom of religion and giving everyone a fair go. Treating everyone with respect and dignity. And generally giving everyone an equal opportunity regardless of their background. And that’s the reason he really loved Australia.
The Australian vales, I think, are part and parcel of our day-to-day lives. That’s how I want my son to grow up. That’s what I would be trying to inculcate with him, and pass on to him.
I migrated here 16 odd years ago. I felt that Australia was a land of opportunities. For me, it helped me build a career. And you know, you are free in a way… The kind of lifestyle I wanted to live. It’s a free country. There’s no restrictions on anyone to do anything, as long as it’s legal. You are allowed to live your life freely. And that allowed me to make that decision to come to Australia.
But the day I found out about his legacy it sort of gave me another meaning to my life in Australia. And when I say that, it made me feel deeply connected that I was no longer a new migrant to a new country. To a foreign country. I was almost you know… 5th generation Australian. It was the centenary of ANZAC Day when I found out about my history and connection to the first World War through my great grandfather. I was looking forward to the next years parade. We had joined early in the morning, I had my dad here, and that was the first year we were ever a part of the parade.
I’m particularly looking forward to introducing my son to the concept of going for an Anzac Day parade. And I just want to teach him slowly about what it means and that it’s something he has to carry for work, hopefully through the family lineage.
World War 1 was one of the most significant, if not the most significant events in Australian history. There were a lot of people from different backgrounds who helped form the national identity of Australia through World War 1 and their participation. They all contributed to make Australia what it is today and we are lucky to enjoy those freedoms and those rights we have due to the sacrifices made by people from different backgrounds back in the days.