DUTY, HONOUR & IZZAT Unearths Pivotal History of Punjabi Soldiers in First World War (Review)

by | Sep 4, 2019

duty honour izzat review

From Renegade Arts Entertainment, DUTY, HONOUR & IZZAT is a historical book interwoven with comic elements from writer Steven Purewal, illustrator Christopher Rawlins, artists Claude St. Aubin/ Ruth Redmond, letterer Sean Tonelli and editor Alexander Finbow. It is available to own NOW and you can buy a copy HERE.


Presented as a historical scrapbook with beautifully realised, photo-realistic artwork. Framing the history is a graphic novel story about a teenage boy, in Surrey BC, caught up in drug gangs. He rethinks his choices after his 95 year old great grandfather comes to visit the family in Canada. His stories of their past, and seeing him reunited with a Canadian soldier his great grandfather saved during WW2 opens up a different path to live his life.

Second printing will ship August 23rd 2019, including exclusive bonus art print to commemorate the end of WW1 and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, June 28th 1919.

“In combat they are wild and undaunted by death, just like the Gurkhas, they are masters of knife fighting. As their officers make them believe that the Germans will not take them prisoner, they often fight to the death. There is no denying that the Sikh, and the Indians in general, are noble in combat and display a certain kind of gallantry, especially towards our wounded.” – Lieutenant Karl Strolin, Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 121- 1916 (excerpt from the book) 

duty honour izzat review

It’s never too late to unearth pivotal moments in history and the role that Punjabi soldiers played during the first world war is one that has been buried for so long that reading the accounts that writer Steven Purewal has brought to light here in DUTY, HONOUR & IZZAT is both fascinating and extremely eye-opening. Did everyone just assume that Canadian soldiers were entirely responsible for the famous victory at Vimy Ridge? Not entirely true – and you would probably never had known anything different until reading how Sikh artillerymen covered Canadian forces with “the most wonderful artillery barrage ever known in the history of the world” according to first hand accounts. Or how over the course of WWI, India sent more than 140,000 men to the Western Front, with 90,000 of them serving in the infantry and cavalry (known then as Black Lions). By the end of the war, Indian forces suffered nearly 60,000 casualties.

duty, honour and izzat comic

Duty, Honour & Izzat is a gorgeous hardcover historical collection and perhaps the most stunning piece of art published under Renegade Arts Entertainment today thanks to Christopher Rawlins’ jaw-dropping paintings that canvass Purewal’s dense and occasionally overwhelming amount of material. There’s also a fictional and traditional comic story embedded in here as well featuring artwork from  Claude St. Aubin and Ruth Redmond with brilliant lettering from Sean Tonelli. It was my personal favorite chunk of reading amidst the 152 pages of material but if you’re a war buff or a sucker for an in-depth history lesson, then you’re in for a crash course in how the war on the Western Front was much more multicultural than initial documentation led Canadians to believe.

A Question of Honor (the fictional comic story within Purewal’s historical documentation) is a perfect modern-day narrative that sets the tone for the book in general. At one point in the story, a Sikh war veteran returns to Canada and encounters racism at the Veteran’s Association after refusing to remove his turban. The story does a tremendous job showing the impact this soldier had while fighting alongside Canadians on the brutal battlefields of World War I while also displaying the kind of fears and prejudices that many white Canadians tend to display on a regular basis, which is largely why this story in general and many like it, have gone unacknowledged for so long. From Golden Fields to Crimson, this is a story that deserves to be told to as many people as possible. It’s an incredibly eye-opening experience and although the book can feel a tad overwhelming at times due to the amount of material included, it’s an essential collection of historical facts and the message included within the comic story is one of the strongest literary works I’ve seen in years.

Rating: [star rating=”4″]

Duty, Honour & Izzat