Soldiers of the British Empire - Pakistan

#1
My grandad, his two brothers on my paternal side and my great-grandad on my maternal side fought for the British Empire in both WW2 and WW1. I want to dedicate this thread to countless men like them who history has forgotten. They have been lost in the mist created by nationalism, religion, changing nomenclature and march of time.

Years ago I was watching Mrs Merton with Bernard Manning and Richard Wilson. We all know Manning's humour but what offended me was not his use of "Pak**" but his comment that there were no "Pak**s" at Arnhem. He might have been right but what I found offensive was his insinuation that non fought in WW2. Video below - go to 2:20.




Most people will know that Indian soldiers took part in both world wars but Pakistan, No. The irony in all this is that the constituent peoples that make up the federatiom today called Pakistan contributed amongst the largest share in the erstwhile British Indian Army. This is even more significant if you take into account their share in the population of the former British India.

But before I go further I want people like Bernard Manning to reflect on the list of "Pak**s" below. Men from the region that would form Pakistan in 1947. All won Victoria Cross in the service of the British Empire with many losing their lives in far away battlefields. At top is Subadar Khudadad Khan the first South Asian to win the Victoria Cross in Hollebeke, Belguim in 1914.

* Khudadad Khan VC > Khudadad Khan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Mir Dast IOM VC > Mir Dast - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Shahamad Khan VC > Shahamad Khan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Fazal Din VC > Fazal Din - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Abdul Hafiz VC > Abdul Hafiz (VC) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Sher Shah VC > Sher Shah (VC) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Ali Haider VC > Ali Haidar (VC) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sepoy Ali Haider VC



The official citation for Haidar's award, published in the London Gazette in July 1945 reads:-

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: — No. 26534 Sepoy ALl HAIDAR, 13th Frontier Force Rifles, British Indian Army.


In Italy, during the crossing of the River Senio, near Fusignano, in daylight on 9 April 1945, a Company of the I3th Frontier Force Rifles were ordered to assault the enemy positions strongly dug in on the far bank. These positions had been prepared and improved over many months and were mainly on the steep flood banks, some 25 feet high.


Sepoy Ali Haidar was a member of the lefthand Section of the left-hand Platoon. As soon as the Platoon started to cross, it came under heavy and accurate machine gun fire from two enemy posts strongly dug in about 60 yards away. Sepoy Ali Haidar's Section suffered casualties and only 3 men, including himself, managed to get across. The remainder of the Company was temporarily held up. Without orders, and on his own initiative, Sepoy Ali Haidar, leaving the other two to cover him, charged the nearest post which was about 30 yards away. He threw a grenade and almost at the same time the enemy threw one at him, wounding him severely in the back. In spite of this he kept on and the enemy post was destroyed and four of the enemy surrendered. With utter disregard of his own wounds he continued and charged the next post in which the enemy had one Spandau and three automatics, which were still very active and preventing movement on 'both banks. He was "again wounded, this time in the right leg and right arm. Although weakened by loss of blood, with great determination Sepoy Ali Haidar crawled closer and in a final effort raised himself from the ground, threw a grenade, and charged into the second enemy post. Two enemy were wounded and the remaining two surrendered.


Taking advantage of the outstanding success of Sepoy Ali Haidar's dauntless attacks, the rest of the Company charged across the river and carried out their task of making a bridgehead.


Sepoy Ali Haidar was picked up and brought back from the second position seriously wounded.

The conspicuous gallantry, initiative, and determination combined with a complete disregard for his own life shown by this very brave Sepoy in the face of heavy odds were an example to the whole Company. His heroism had saved an ugly situation which would — but for his personal bravery — have caused the Battalion a large number of casualties at a critical time and seriously delayed the crossing of the river and the building of a bridge. With the rapid advance which it was possible to make the Battalion captured 3 officers and 217 other ranks and gained their objectives.



There are few reasons why these men have been forgotten. The first is after 1947 the newly independant countries distanced themselves from these men. However there was another factor that has created "mist". These men served in the former British Indian Army. After 1947 two countries inherited the legacy of the former British colony. One was India and the other Pakistan. Because the former carried the same name the legacy of the past has been almost entirely credited to "India". Thus the men from what is now Pakistan and their contribution slips through the nomenclature gap.

This is what I as a British Pakistani intend to address here. I feel it is important for this community to "own" these men and to celebrate them. It also helps in feeling of belonging and tying your future to the Union Jack and counter the sense of conflicted identity many feel. These are the men this community should be looking upto. They were their grandfathers.

To make a sense of all this I feel I need to explain a few things. Most of these men were either ethnic Pashtun or Punjabi Muslims. Think of UK and it's four constituting elements, England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster. Now think of Pakistan as the following provinces each with unique ethnic group:-

Punjab - Punjabi
NWFP- Frontier ~ Pakhtun/Pashtun
Balochistan - Baloch
Sindh - Sindhi
Kashmir - Kashmiri ( disputed )




It is NWFP (Pakhtuns) on the Afghan border, Punjab (Punjabi) and Baloch who provided huge numbers to the British Raj Armies. How and why so many men were recruited from this region is something we will look at later but some facts here.

A region ( NWFP and Punjab ) with population less than 10% of British India provided in 1929

Punjab - 86,000*
NWFP- 5,600
Kashmir - 6,500
Balochistan - 300 > Total over 98,000

Out of total 138,000 excluding Nepal. *Figure includes Punjabi Muslim and Sikhs.

Source > http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/48674/WP24_Shaheed_Hussain.pdf

One who never went back home. Sepoy Zarif Khan of Baloch Light Infantry




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#2
Yep, those Indians did help out in WW2.
 
#4
My grandad, his two brothers on my paternal side and my great-grandad on my maternal side fought for the British Empire in both WW2 and WW1. I want to dedicate this thread to countless men like them who history has forgotten. They have been lost in the mist created by nationalism, religion, changing nomenclature and march of time.

Years ago I was watching Mrs Merton with Bernard Manning and Richard Wilson. We all know Manning's humour but what offended me was not his use of "Pak**" but his comment that there were no "Pak**s" at Arnhem. He might have been right but what I found offensive was his insinuation that non fought in WW2. Video below - go to 2:20.




Most people will know that Indian soldiers took part in both world wars but Pakistan, No. The irony in all this is that the constituent peoples that make up the federatiom today called Pakistan contributed amongst the largest share in the erstwhile British Indian Army. This is even more significant if you take into account their share in the population of the former British India.

But before I go further I want people like Bernard Manning to reflect on the list of "Pak**s" below. Men from the region that would form Pakistan in 1947. All won Victoria Cross in the service of the British Empire with many losing their lives in far away battlefields. At top is Subadar Khudadad Khan the first South Asian to win the Victoria Cross in Hollebeke, Belguim in 1914.

* Khudadad Khan VC > Khudadad Khan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Mir Dast IOM VC > Mir Dast - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Shahamad Khan VC > Shahamad Khan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Fazal Din VC > Fazal Din - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Abdul Hafiz VC > Abdul Hafiz (VC) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Sher Shah VC > Sher Shah (VC) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
* Ali Haider VC > Ali Haidar (VC) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sepoy Ali Haider VC



The official citation for Haidar's award, published in the London Gazette in July 1945 reads:-

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: — No. 26534 Sepoy ALl HAIDAR, 13th Frontier Force Rifles, British Indian Army.


In Italy, during the crossing of the River Senio, near Fusignano, in daylight on 9 April 1945, a Company of the I3th Frontier Force Rifles were ordered to assault the enemy positions strongly dug in on the far bank. These positions had been prepared and improved over many months and were mainly on the steep flood banks, some 25 feet high.


Sepoy Ali Haidar was a member of the lefthand Section of the left-hand Platoon. As soon as the Platoon started to cross, it came under heavy and accurate machine gun fire from two enemy posts strongly dug in about 60 yards away. Sepoy Ali Haidar's Section suffered casualties and only 3 men, including himself, managed to get across. The remainder of the Company was temporarily held up. Without orders, and on his own initiative, Sepoy Ali Haidar, leaving the other two to cover him, charged the nearest post which was about 30 yards away. He threw a grenade and almost at the same time the enemy threw one at him, wounding him severely in the back. In spite of this he kept on and the enemy post was destroyed and four of the enemy surrendered. With utter disregard of his own wounds he continued and charged the next post in which the enemy had one Spandau and three automatics, which were still very active and preventing movement on 'both banks. He was "again wounded, this time in the right leg and right arm. Although weakened by loss of blood, with great determination Sepoy Ali Haidar crawled closer and in a final effort raised himself from the ground, threw a grenade, and charged into the second enemy post. Two enemy were wounded and the remaining two surrendered.


Taking advantage of the outstanding success of Sepoy Ali Haidar's dauntless attacks, the rest of the Company charged across the river and carried out their task of making a bridgehead.


Sepoy Ali Haidar was picked up and brought back from the second position seriously wounded.

The conspicuous gallantry, initiative, and determination combined with a complete disregard for his own life shown by this very brave Sepoy in the face of heavy odds were an example to the whole Company. His heroism had saved an ugly situation which would — but for his personal bravery — have caused the Battalion a large number of casualties at a critical time and seriously delayed the crossing of the river and the building of a bridge. With the rapid advance which it was possible to make the Battalion captured 3 officers and 217 other ranks and gained their objectives.



There are few reasons why these men have been forgotten. The first is after 1947 the newly independant countries distanced themselves from these men. However there was another factor that has created "mist". These men served in the former British Indian Army. After 1947 two countries inherited the legacy of the former British colony. One was India and the other Pakistan. Because the former carried the same name the legacy of the past has been almost entirely credited to "India". Thus the men from what is now Pakistan and their contribution slips through the nomenclature gap.

This is what I as a British Pakistani intend to address here. I feel it is important for this community to "own" these men and to celebrate them. It also helps in feeling of belonging and tying your future to the Union Jack and counter the sense of conflicted identity many feel. These are the men this community should be looking upto. They were their grandfathers.

To make a sense of all this I feel I need to explain a few things. Most of these men were either ethnic Pashtun or Punjabi Muslims. Think of UK and it's four constituting elements, England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster. Now think of Pakistan as the following provinces each with unique ethnic group:-

Punjab - Punjabi
NWFP- Frontier ~ Pakhtun/Pashtun
Balochistan - Baloch
Sindh - Sindhi
Kashmir - Kashmiri ( disputed )




It is NWFP (Pakhtuns) on the Afghan border, Punjab (Punjabi) and Baloch who provided huge numbers to the British Raj Armies. How and why so many men were recruited from this region is something we will look at later but some facts here.

A region ( NWFP and Punjab ) with population less than 10% of British India provided in 1929

Punjab - 86,000*
NWFP- 5,600
Kashmir - 6,500
Balochistan - 300 > Total over 98,000

Out of total 138,000 excluding Nepal. *Figure includes Punjabi Muslim and Sikhs.

Source > http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/48674/WP24_Shaheed_Hussain.pdf

One who never went back home. Sepoy Zarif Khan of Baloch Light Infantry

We all know of the contribution of Indians in WW1 and WW2, it is not forgotten. However it may be forgotten in India and surrounding region. Given that Pakistan did not exist in WW1 and WW2 I do not know what your point is. It a simple fact that at the time they were not Pakistani and there was no Pakistan ergo Pakistan and its people did not take part in WW1 and WW2. You cannot change history and that is certainly something you cannot change.

(I also do not know why you are offended by the word Paki, its akin to calling a Briton a Brit.)
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
#6
@Atik, I think you need to think before you write. As you stated in your post "Men from the region that would form Pakistan in 1947.", therefore BM was right as no Pakistani fought in WW2 as that ended in 1945 and Pakistan never came around until 1947.
 
#7
An interesting read and extremely brave men. However, yes, they weren't officially Pakistani until 47. I understand the pride in their source region, but it was still India - a bit like the Midlands claiming all the blokes from Rourkes Drift, when we all know they were Welsh.....:wink:
 
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B

bumgrapes

Guest
#8
I think maybe the thrust of the OP is since that region now known as Pakistan formally part of India is a separate country these days, that perhaps their forbears are not recognised as making a contribution to the world wars.

I could certainly believe BF/EDL mouth breathers would be ignorant of this, but certainly most arrsers would be aware
 
#10
Brave men all, but they'd have considered themselves British subjects. Possibly Indian, but not some amalgam like British /Indian, since all Indians were part of Imperial Britain.

The op should note there's no dichotomy in this, the modern American idea of being Irish American, Italian American or whatever doesn't translate to Britain nor its former imperial colonies. One can be British or one can be Pakistani, but not both at the same time.
 
#11
bit like the Midlands claiming all the blokes from Rourkes Drift, when we all know they were Welsh.....:wink:
I think the vast majority of those fighting there were Zulus.

I'll get my coat.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
You're all being a bit pedantic about the Pakistan/India point. Many of the men from the area that became Pakistan may not have considered themseles Pakistani when they joined the Indian Army but they were the ones who formed the Pakistani Army in 1947. Personally I agree with the OP. We should be actively remembering these men - perhaps if we did so it would foster some pride in a shared heritage and in the current climate that can't be bad.
 
S

Spider39

Guest
#14
Bernard Manning is widely regarded as the fat, racist mong that he was. I don't see the relevance of the clip.
By people who are easily offended like you perhaps ,imho and in many many others he is/was absolutely hilarious.

As for the Indians that fought in either wars firstly its an uncomfortable fact that they were never completely trusted either in battle not to desert or in peace not to turn on their white rulers .There battlefield reputations often vary as well ie the British were always glad to see their fellow "British" divisions turn up and i mean British [or Dominion] not colonial .In WW1 Indian Infantry divisions were taken out of the line by 1915 all that remain of them were mostly cavalry ,apparently they could not adjust to the cold weather and were sent to Iraq .

They were also considered a hinderance to many generals because of the religious beliefs some would not fight certain days others would not eat certain rations .

They also joined not through the desire to defend the empire but to feed themselves [like a lot of Bitish soldiers] in fact its fair to say they overwhelmingly defended their own country under white generalship and logistics of course.

Also its a fact that they were subject to other kinds of manipulation by the whites, often certain religions would be sent to police other religions part of India/Afghanistan/Pakistan ie Hindu polices Muslim ,with of course their white quarter [up until I believe late ww2 when it became a third ] these were to "encourage" or in reality to keep an eye on the natives or to "Police the Police".
 
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#15
You're all being a bit pedantic about the Pakistan/India point. Many of the men from the area that became Pakistan may not have considered themseles Pakistani when they joined the Indian Army but they were the ones who formed the Pakistani Army in 1947. Personally I agree with the OP. We should be actively remembering these men - perhaps if we did so it would foster some pride in a shared heritage and in the current climate that can't be bad.
Pedantic or Factual?

No problem with rembering their service but changing historical fact to fit your own agenda?

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan didn't exist until after the war.
 
#16
You're all being a bit pedantic about the Pakistan/India point. Many of the men from the area that became Pakistan may not have considered themseles Pakistani when they joined the Indian Army but they were the ones who formed the Pakistani Army in 1947. Personally I agree with the OP. We should be actively remembering these men - perhaps if we did so it would foster some pride in a shared heritage and in the current climate that can't be bad.
But they weren't as a total - Dudes called 'Khan' for want of a better collective were spread throughout India until the partition then many decided to make home in the Islamic utopia we now all know as Pakistan and a whole bunch of other ethnic Muslims decided to go to the East and set up Bangladesh, formally East Pakistan.

There's still plenty of Muzzies throughout India.

All those that fought with the British have my respect.
 
#17
If you want active remembrance, get yourself down to Brighton Pavilion. It was used as a hospital for Indian troops in WWI and there was a display on last year which included detailed maps of precisely where the troops came from. I don't know if it's still on but, if it is, they clearly explain that these were Indian troops, and why. It's also very clear that the contribution from those from modern-day Pakistan was significant.

It's not dismissal; it just reflects the world as it was at the time.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
Pedantic or Factual?

No problem with rembering their service but changing historical fact to fit your own agenda?

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan didn't exist until after the war.
It's not changing history. Pakistani soldiers were proud of their service in WW2. I suspect that some didn't consider themselves "Indian" when they were fighting even though they were part of the British Indian Army. The drive for a seperate Pakistan originated before the war, not after. Would you say that the Republic of Ireland should not be proud of the men who went to fight in WW1?
 
#19
If you want active remembrance, get yourself down to Brighton Pavilion. It was used as a hospital for Indian troops in WWI and there was a display on last year which included detailed maps of precisely where the troops came from. I don't know if it's still on but, if it is, they clearly explain that these were Indian troops, and why. It's also very clear that the contribution from those from modern-day Pakistan was significant.

It's not dismissal; it just reflects the world as it was at the time.
Royal Pavilion
South Gate: a gift to the city in 1921
Reproduced with permission from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990

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Royal Pavilion South Gate, built in 1921. It is inscribed "This gateway is the gift of India in commemoration of her sons who, stricken in the Great War, were tended in the Pavilion in 1914 and 1915." Dedicated for the people of Brighton by the Maharajah of Patiala on 26 October 1921.

From the private collection of Tony Drury
 
#20
It's not changing history. Pakistani soldiers were proud of their service in WW2. I suspect that some didn't consider themselves "Indian" when they were fighting even though they were part of the British Indian Army. The drive for a seperate Pakistan originated before the war, not after. Would you say that the Republic of Ireland should not be proud of the men who went to fight in WW1?
Who said anything about not being proud of them?
They did their bit and deserve remembrance as much as any one.

It was the tone of the OP which seems to read as " They are ignored because they were Pakistani (you racists)" .
Even though the contribution of the Indian forces is well documented.

Nothing wrong with the OP being grateful to his countrymen but don't blame us for the fact that they aren't singled out for an extra bunch of remembering due to a name change.
 
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