It was an epic battle.

A small band of just 21 Sikh soldiers of the British Indian Army fought to the last man against 10,000 enemy tribesman, to defend a small outpost at Saragarhi, in what was then India, near the border with Afghanistan.

The Battle of Saragarhi, in 1897, was commemorated by the British at the time, with memorials built to it and a battle honour awarded to the 36th Sikh regiment.

And a Birmingham filmaker is helping to ensure it is remembered today.

Writer and filmmaker Jay Singh-Sohal, a British Army reserve and a former pupil at Handsworth Grammar School, travelled to India, Pakistan and across the UK to produce a documentary film called Saragarhi: The True Story.

It tells the tale of the battle to defend a communications post from attacking Pashtun tribesmen.

The soldiers chose to fight to the last, rather than surrender, to prevent their enemy reaching two nearby forts.

They were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest gallantry award of that time.

Jay-Singh-Sohal, who produced Saragarhi: The True Story, a documentary about the Battle of Saragarhi in 1897

And their bravery is relevant today, according to Mr Singh-Sohal, because it highlights the long connection between Britain and Sikhs.

He said: “I think this story is immensely important for the Sikh community in the West Midlands in particular.

“I am third generation British Sikh. My grandparents migrated here in the 60s, during that wave of great migration.

“For Sikhs that came during that period, they were pioneering and they were going to Britain for economic opportunities, but there was always this connection to what Britain is about.

“When we look back at our past and we can see this connection goes back more than 100 years, it is a very empowering thing.

"We can say that we are part and parcel of the makeup of the Midlands, and it’s not just because of our grandparents’ generation who migrated here, but the deeds and the heroism of those Sikhs on the frontier, and during the First World War and Second World War, who fought for Britain to ensure we could have the freedom and prosperity we enjoy today.”

The project was funded partly through donations of £9,000 raised on the Kickstarter website, and was produced in partnership with Birmingham-based Sikh TV channel KTV and digital arts producers Taran 3D.

Mr Singh-Sohal, a former Sky TV journalist, has also written a book about the battle.

He said: “The story of Saragarhi is a crucial one for British Indians but over the years it has had many myths attached to it.

"Our motivation in telling the true story through documentary film is to delve into what really happened, using authoritative research and primary sources, in order to pay tribute to those who fought in accordance with their Sikh creed and ethos to the bitter end.

“This will give the proper respect due to their sacrifices which can only inspire many more young people to take up public service.

”The documentary was launched at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which recognises the service of the Armed Forces and civil services, and will be shown around the UK and across the world.

Learn more about the Battle of Saragrhi at