Sihks were a major part of the British-Indian Army that fought in the First World War, and Duty, Honour & Izzat seeks to share that fact with the world. Great Grandfather Hari has come to Canada from India to visit his family and find an old comrade who he fought alongside with during World War II. While there, Hari teaches his family about their legacy as Sihks who fought for the British Empire during World War I. Hari’s grandson Jasjeet sees parallels between his gang and the Punjabi soldiers, but he soon learns that the difference between the two is izzat or honour.
Duty, Honour & Izzat is split into three parts: The first is a comic narrative drawn by Claude St. Aubin, with colors by Ruth Rawlins. The second part is about the Punjabi experiences in the British Indian Army, and the third goes into detail about the meaning of izzat.
Duty, Honour & Izzat is an extremely well thought-out and researched book. As a historian, Steven Purewal has put together an extensive book covering the Punjabi contribution to World War I. While I found some of the dialog to be awkward, the comic as a whole was very informative and emotional. Bonds between family were strengthened, and the bond between two old comrades was renewed.
Christopher Rawlins has some incredibly beautiful illustrations. The first part of Duty, Honour & Izzat features scrapbook-like pages complete with taped newspaper clippings and photo-realistic paintings. These paintings aren’t just of Punjabi Soldiers posing or killing the Central Powers Soldier but also of marching through cities and dying on the battlefields. His illustrations neither glorify war nor show the British Indian Army as an incredible fighting force. Rather, they show a gritty and sobering reality of military conflicts during the early 20th century.
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.