Subadar Ishar Singh VC OBI

Ishar Singh was the first Sikh soldier to win the VC. He was born at Nenwan in the Punjab 30 Dec 1895. The 28th had been sent to the tribal territory of Waziristan in April 1921 to help deal with the Mahsuds, the most warlike of the Wazirs, inhabiting the central region.

Ishar Singh was a sepoy at the time and his convoy was moving along the Haidari-Shakan road with an advance guard. The hills on either side of the road were barely visible because of a dust storm. The advance guard came under heavy fire from a 100 strong party of Mahsuds lying in wait close to the road. They were wiped out and Ishar brought his Lewis gun to bear on the enemy but almost immediately received a very severe wound in the chest. In the hand-to-hand fighting, all the officers and NCOs were killed or wounded and his Lewis gun seized. Calling up two other men, he got up, charged the enemy and recovered his gun although bleeding profusely, and got the gun into action again.

A Jemadar ordered Ishar to go back and have his wound dressed, which he decided to postpone until he had helped the medical officer find other wounded men and fetch water for them from the river. At one point he picked up a rifle and helped keep down the enemy fire and at another point he shielded the medical officer while he tended a sick man. After three hours of this he was forced to submit to medical treatment through loss of blood. His conduct inspired all who saw him.

Ishar received his award from the Prince of Wales at Rawalpindi in March 1922. He was flown to London with VIP status in 1929 for a big VC dinner and to take part in three days of parades and ceremonies. He returned to India by sea but was back in England again in 1936 as one of the King's Indian Orderly Officers when the above photo was taken. At this time he was a Subadar and the 28th had become the 4th battalion of the 15th Punjab Regiment wearing a scarlet tunic with buff facings. His medals can be seen here

He served in WW2 and reached the rank of captain (see Photo taken in 1953). He was very proud that two other members of 4/15th won the VC in the war.

Along with the Victoria Cross, and other medals the British awarded him, he was also given 75 Acres of land for farming purposes and provided with a large house. The British authorities also built a road that went up to his village and even built a school for the village.

Unfortunately, his medals are no longer held by his family and are now in a private collection. He died on 2nd December 1963.

His Medals | Singh in 1953

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