The Victoria Cross is Britain’s highest military award for conspicuous battlefield gallantry.November 23, 1914, Battle of Festubert, France.Undeterred by bullets and grenades ripping the night sky, twice wounded in the head and once in the arm, the Indian army Naik (Corporal) steadily moved forward with tactical perfection as part of the first trench raid of World War II. As written in Philip Mason’s authoritative A Matter of Honour, the blood drenched Naik single-handedly bayoneted five Germans and survived to become the first Indian warrior to receive the Victoria Cross on French soil.
The Germans died for their fatherland in a cold, hostile land at the hands of a diminutive fighter from a faraway land.The Hindu Kshatriya hereditary warrior followed the dharma of his caste.
He was from the northeast Indian region of Garwhal, whose clans are as renowned for their battlefield ferocity as for being law-abiding.
Naik Darwan Singh Negi of the 1st Battalion of 39th Garhwal Rifles served with honor and conspicuous gallantry..
While receiving the Victoria Cross on December 5, 1914, he was asked if he wished for something.
He asked for a school in his district, Chamoli.
The request was granted.
Negi served until 1924, obtaining the rank of Subedar (Warrant Officer), when he took premature retirement, devoting his time to uplift his underdeveloped district in a backward region. He helped war widows, opened a school in his village and got the authorities to provide road and rail links to his village.
On 24 June 1950, he died peacefully of natural causes, in Kafarteer Village, Uttar Pradesh, India.
What a moving, inspiring, and informative post. The pictures add to the power of your account that is beautifully woven from simply apt words.
According to London Gazette the first INDIANS to receive the VC are Darwan Sigh Nagi and Khudad Khan. Khudad Khan performed act of bravery in Hollebeke on 31Oct 1914 whereas Nagi’s Operation was on 23 Nov 1914. Nagi was bestowed the medal on 5 Dec and Khudad on 7 Dec 1914. I think in all fairness both the valiant soldiers should be taken as the First Indian Recepient Of VC.