Seniority of VC

I have always thought that the VC was the most senior of medals, and therefore wen on the left hand side.However I went to the IWM the other day and a certain P Singh and 3 further medals to the left of the VC.Is this merely a cock up by the IWM or something else.

Will try and post pictures tomorrow.


Book Reviewer
It is possible that he was in the Indian Army. Therefore after independance in 1947 all of his 'British' decorations would be worn after any he subsequently received in the 'new' Indian Army; even a VC.
If the medals are to the left of the VC, then the VC is in the right place??? unless you mean when looking at them. I to thought nothing was higher than the VC? but i cannot see the IWM making such a cock-up without a reason. Be interested in seeing the pic.
diplomat said:
It is possible that he was in the Indian Army. Therefore after independance in 1947 all of his 'British' decorations would be worn after any he subsequently received in the 'new' Indian Army; even a VC.
I think you are absolutely right, this picture of Sam Makenshaw shows his MC and British medals after all his Indian ones:

i.e., last six medals are MC, 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, War Medal, Indian Service Medal and a General Service Medal.


That prompts the thought of how many British Officers remained behind in the newly formed armies and how many served till retirement?
ugly said:
That prompts the thought of how many British Officers remained behind in the newly formed armies and how many served till retirement?
An infinitesimally small number would have served on and on. The independence of a country usually involves the rejection of 99% of the colonial power's influence, regardless of the personal relationship.

However when the partition took place and Indian Army units fell into either Pakistani or Indian colours, their remaining cadre of British officers were forbidden by their chain of command from participating in the ensuing hostilities. One of the most famous stories is of a CRA who told the British Gunners to have nothing to do with the war. He then departed on leave and sent his officers away too.

One of the former BCs travelled to fight/advise his Indian officers and men, ostensibly duck shooting. He was busy adjusting fire as part of a fire plan, when the keen "water-colourist" Brigadier happened to pass by his OP and make some helpful suggestions...

It is stories like that which make me want to grab the nearest imperial apologist and rub their face against a wall. The relationship between Indian sepoys and their sahib-officers is one of the greatest examples of the warrior bond ever.
Sam Manekshaw, who died last week aged 94 was a Parsee and attended Staff College at Dehradun. He rose to become one of the only two Field Marshalls in the Indian Army.

Manekshaw is reported to have once said: "I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla."

sounds familiar....!

I remember hearing about Manekshaw during the Indo Pakstan war in '71. Messages were being passed from senior staffs from one side to another via the War studies staff at Sandbags, which were then shared with us students... stuff along the lines of " that was an abysmal attack you put in last night Ravi... you need to get a grip of your junior NCOs in the lead company.." etc - very interesting..

This video of his speech on moral courage is worth listening to..

A good soldier by anyone's reckoning IMHO...


Didnt FM Slim run the Pakistani Army after Partition?


Book Reviewer
ugly said:
Didnt FM Slim run the Pakistani Army after Partition?
No, the first Chief of Army Staff was Sir Frank Messervy who was in turn replaced by Sir Douglas Gracey. The first Pakistani Chief was Ayub Khan who took over in 1951.


Thanks for that, I had read or rather misread it somewhere but I believe that FM Slim was in the UK and at Bisley in 1951!


Book Reviewer
That medals in that rack are:
* Raksha Medal (1965 War)
* Sainya Seva Medal (1947) clasp: "Jammu & Kashmir"
* Indian Independence Medal (1947)
* Victoria Cross
* India General Service Medal (1936-39) clasp: "North West Frontier 1937-39"
* 1939 - 45 Star
* Burma Star
* War Medal (1939-45)
* India Service Medal (1939-45)
* General Service Medal (1918-62) clasp: "S.E. Asia 1945-46"
* Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953)
* Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubiliee Medal (1977)

ugly, in answer to your question of how many officers stayed on post independence, just under 490 British officers were seconded to the Pakistani Army and I'm going to guess that at least the same again for the Indians.


Thanks, now I'm curious as to how he was eligible for the silver jubilee gong, they werent exactly giving them away over here!


Assuming this is the correct one;
Umrao Singh was the only non-commissioned officer from either the Royal Artillery or the Indian Artillery to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War. He won the award for single- handedly beating back repeated attacks by the Japanese in a crucial coastal sector in Burma, even engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. He was also the last surviving Indian VC holder.

On 15/16 December 1944, Havildar (sergeant) Singh of 33 Mountain Battery " part of Viscount Slim's 14th Army " was a field gun detachment commander whose position in the strategically located Kaladan Valley in the thickly forested Arakan region came under sustained attack by the Japanese 28th Army's 75mm guns and mortars. After nearly two hours of punishing bombardment, Singh's position was attacked by two Japanese companies confident that most, if not all, opposition had been pulverised.

Twice wounded by grenades during the first assault, Singh fought off the enemy with the detachment's Bren light-machine gun whilst directing his surviving crew-members' rifle fire with devastating effect. In the renewed Japanese assault, all but two of Singh's crew died, but they somehow managed to repulse the attack.

When the third assault followed, Singh's dwindling reserves of small- arms ammunition was exhausted and all his comrades lay around him, dead or badly wounded. Singh met the Japanese onslaught head- on with nothing but a hand spike, a long steel rod used to thrust shells into artillery field guns.

He fatally struck down three of the enemy before falling under a rain of blows. 'They found him lying face down on the dead Japanese soldiers with his fingers still tightly clutched around the hand- spike', said Lt- Gen J.F.R. Jacob, who served with Singh during the Burma campaign. When the smoke cleared, 10 dead Japanese soldiers were found scattered around the prone Singh. Miraculously, after six hours of incessant fighting, the 24-year-old had managed to save his gun; it was pressed into action soon after and helped retain the critical sliver of territory, considerably delaying the Japanese advance further east into British-India.

Singh's citation for the Victoria Cross, which he received from King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 15 October 1945, read: 'Havildar Umrao Singh set a supreme example of gallantry and devotion to duty.'

Half a century later, Singh fought another equally vital, albeit less blood-spattered, battle when he complained to the British prime minister John Major at the 1995 VE Day celebrations at Hyde Park about the paltry pension of pounds 168 annually paid to Indian VC holders. 'I don't think the prime minister speaks Hindi, but when I talked to him he just said yes to everything,' Singh said after their meeting.

Subsequently, the British government raised to pounds 1,300 the yearly pension for Singh and nine other surviving winners of the VC, an award that was barred for Indian soldiers until 1912. Thereafter, through the two world wars till independence in 1947, 40 Indian soldiers got the VC.

Umrao Singh was born in 1920 into a poor farming family in Paka village in Rohtak district, some 50km north of Delhi. Like his Jat ancestors, who trace their lineage to Central Asia's warring tribes that migrated to northern India thousands of years ago, he was commissioned into the Royal Indian Artillery in the early 1940s.

In 1942 Singh was promoted to havildar in the 33 Mountain Battery Brigade, which eventually became part of Viscount Slim's 14th Army poised for a right-flank offensive against Lt-Gen Sakurai Seizo's 28th Japanese Army along Burma's western coastline between the Irrawaddy river and the Bay of Bengal. The offensive that was launched down the Kaladan Valley on 12 December 1944 was met with fierce and unprecedented Japanese resistance with Singh's batteries facing the worst.

After recovering from his injuries Singh was promoted to subadar or sergeant major and retired from the British Indian army in 1946. But after independence a year later, he signed up for duty once again before eventually retiring in 1965. He was made an honorary captain in 1970.

Singh returned home to his village " where he was known as VC Sahib " to farm his small two-acre plot from which he eked out a bare living. A friend who knew about Singh's VC and his penury- ridden state suggested he sell his medal after one was auctioned in London for pounds 20,000. An indignant Singh said selling his medal for money would 'sully' the izzat (honour) of his fallen comrades.

Umrao Singh, soldier: born Paka, India 21 November 1920; VC 1945; married (two sons, one daughter); died Delhi 21 November 2005.

Copyright 2005 Independent Newspapers UK Limited

Or this one:
PARKASH SINGH V.C. - 29 years - Indian
Havildar, 8th Punjab Regiment, Indian Army
On 6 January 1943 at Donbaik, Mayu Peninsula, Burma (now Myanmar), Havildar Parkash Singh drove his own carrier forward and rescued the crews of two disabled carriers under very heavy fire. Again on 19 January in the same area he rescued two more carriers which had been put out of action by an enemy anti-tank gun. He then went out yet again and brought to safety another disabled carrier containing two wounded men.
Later achieved rank of Major.
Blimey those sort of write ups just want to make you crawl into a small ball and beg to be removed genepool as you are not worthy to breath the same air, let alone suggest you are of the same species as these guys.

ugly said:
...all his comrades lay around him, dead or badly wounded. Singh met the Japanese onslaught head- on with nothing but a hand spike, a long steel rod used to thrust shells into artillery field guns.
Bloody hell! :worship:


Would have been handy to know him on a night out in a rough part of town eh?
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