The Uri Memorial to Nand Singh VC MVC : Forgotten Hero
On the way to Uri lies this memorial dedicated to Nand Singh of the Sikh Regiment. This is the point where, this most decorated soldier of the Indian Army, fell fighting the enemy on December 12, 1947.
This Memorial and more importantly this man lies mostly forgotten and I also happened to see it while on my way to Uri. There is a board here which says dedicated to Nand Singh and it has been put up by the Pir Panjal Brigade.
For me this has a personal twist because I traditionally belong to this area with our Village being 20 kms on the other side of the LOC. I still remember my Grandmother telling me how the "Kabalis" or the Tribal Lashkars poured into Kashmir and were at the Gates of Srinagar till the Sikh Regiment flew in. Until then they thought they would meet the same fate as the rest of the family did at our Village and be killed to the last man. But then she added out of nowhere appeared the Sikh soldiers sent in by the Maharaja of Patiala who landed at the Airport and took on the Lashkars. And the tide of history turned.
Nand Singh had served with the Sikh Regiment in Burma and for a certain action of his was awarded the Vitoria Cross (the highest battle award given to British and Commonwealth soldiers). The current equivalent of the same is the Param Vir Chakra. I quote his Victoria Cross citation here
"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:—
No. 13068 Sepoy (acting Naik) Nand Singh, 11th Sikh Regiment, Indian Army.
In Burma on the night of the 11th/12th March, 1944, a Japanese platoon about 40 strong with Medium and Light Machine-Guns and a Grenade Discharger infiltrated into the Battalion position covering the main Maungdaw-Buthidaung road and occupied a dominating position where they dug fox-holes and underground trenches on the precipitous sides of the hill.
Naik Nand Singh commanded the leading section of the platoon which was ordered to recapture the position at all costs. He led his section up a very steep knife-edged ridge under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire.
Although wounded in the thigh he rushed ahead of his section and took the first enemy trench with the bayonet by himself. He then crawled forward alone under heavy fire and though wounded again in the face and shoulder by a grenade which burst one yard in front of him, took the second trench at the point of the bayonet.
A short time later when all his section had been either killed or wounded, Naik Nand Singh dragged himself out of the trench and captured a third trench, killing all the occupants with his bayonet.
Due to the capture of these three trenches the remainder of the platoon were able to seize the top of the hill and deal with the enemy. Naik Nand Singh personally killed seven of the enemy and owing to his determination, outstanding dash and magnificent courage, the important position was won back from the enemy.".
After the end of the War he returned and rejoined his unit. It was his Unit the Sikh Regiment which first flew into Srinagar as the first Indian soldiers to land in Kashmir to stop the Lashkars at the end of October.
By the beginning of December the Lashkars had been pushed back to Uri and it was during one such action that Nand Singh was ordered to extract his battallion from an ambush that they found themselves in. Nand Singh led his D Company into a desperate but successful attack on the enmey positions and killed a few with his own bayonet. He cleared a couple of positions till he stood up after clearing a certain position that he was machine gunned down though his men achieved the goal the had been set. It was for this action that he was awarded the second highest Indian Gallantry Award, the Maha Vir Chakra.
His combination of the Victoria Cross and the Mahavir Chakra is still unique in the annals of the Indian Army.
And here he fell down. On this little Hill outside of Uri where except the probably besides the Armed Forces personnel no one ever visits. There is a small Temple built at the base of this Hill by the BSF. And there is a Gurudwara down the Road towards Lagama.
Apparently his family is waiting for a bust to be put up in his native Village near Bathinda and till last year nothing had really come out of it.
And now the really sad part. As per Captain Amrinder Singh, the present Chief Minister of Punjab and the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, who himself was in the Sikh Regiment the body of Nand Singh fell into the hands of the enemy and someone amongst them recognised the Victoria Cross ribbon that Nand Singh proudly wore on his chest. They carried his body off to Muzzarfarbad and in the most abominable manner it was paraded spread eagled on the top of truck through Muzzafarabad town and and announcements were made that this would be the fate of every Indian VC winner.
Later his body was thrown into a garbage dump. His body was never found.
Sawa Lakh Se ek Ladaun, Tabai Gobind Singh Naam Kahaun (Call me Govind Singh, only, when each of my Sikh will fight with more than one and quarter lakh of the enemy )
Pic from December 2017. Uri, Kashmir.