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Battle of Saragarhi

Discussion in 'Military History & Tactics' started by Jatt Boy, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. Jatt Boy

    Jatt Boy BANNED

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    @ MODs - Its British India, and The unique battle is also taught in schools of France and figures as one of the eight collective stories on bravery published by the UNESCO. Please dont move this thread, because battle occurred in the North-West Frontier Province.

    Battle of Saragarhi

    The Battle of Saragarhi was fought during the Tirah Campaign on 12 September 1897 between twenty-one Sikhs of the 4th Battalion (then 36th Sikhs) of the Sikh Regiment of British India, defending an army post, and 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen in a last stand. The battle occurred in the North-West Frontier Province, now a part of Pakistan, which then formed part of British India.

    The contingent of the twenty-one Sikhs from the 36th Sikhs was led by Havildar Ishar Singh. They all chose to fight to the death. Sikh military personnel and Sikh civilians commemorate the battle every year on 12 September, as Saragarhi Day.

    The battle

    Details of the Battle of Saragarhi are considered fairly accurate, due to Gurmukh Singh signalling events to Fort Lockhart as they occurred.

    * Around 9.00am, around 10,000 Afghans reach the signaling post at Saragarhi.
    * Sardar Gurmukh Singh signals to Col. Haughton, situated in Fort Lockhart, that they are under attack.
    * Colonel Haughton states he cannot send immediate help to Saragarhi.
    * The soldiers decide to fight to the last to prevent the enemy reaching the forts.
    * Bhagwan Singh becomes the first injured and Lal Singh was seriously wounded.
    * Soldiers Lal Singh and Jiwa Singh reportedly carry the dead body of Bhagwan Singh back to the inner layer of the post.
    * The enemy break a portion of the wall of the picket.
    * Colonel Haughton signals that he has estimated between 10,000 and 14,000 Pashtuns attacking Saragarhi.
    * The leaders of the Afghan forces reportedly make promises to the soldiers to entice them to surrender.
    * Reportedly two determined attempts are made to rush the open gate, but are unsuccessful.
    * Later, Fort Lockhart is breached.
    * Thereafter, some of the fiercest hand-to-hand fighting occurs.
    * In an act of outstanding bravery, Ishar Singh orders his men to fall back into the inner layer, whilst he remains to fight. However, this is breached and all but one of the defending soldiers are killed, along with many of the Pashtuns.
    * Gurmukh Singh, who communicated the battle with Col. Haughton, was the last Sikh defender. He is stated to have killed 20 Afghans, the Pashtuns having to set fire to the post to kill him. As he was dying he was said to have yelled repeatedly the regimental battle-cry "Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (He who cries God is Truth, is ever victorious).

    Having destroyed Saragarhi, the Afghans turned their attention to Fort Gulistan, but they had been delayed too long, and reinforcements arrived there in the night of 13-14 September, before the fort could be conquered. The Afghans later stated that they had lost about 180 killed and many more wounded during the engagement against the 21 Sikh soldiers, but some 600 bodies are said to have been seen around the ruined post when the relief party arrived (however, the fort had been retaken, on 14 September, by the use of intensive artillery fire, which may have caused many casualties).

    Reception

    British parliament

    When the gallantry of Saragarhi was recounted to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the recitation drew a standing ovation from the members. The saga of Saragarhi was also brought to the notice of Queen Victoria.

    "The British, as well as the Indians, are proud of the 36th Sikh Regiments. It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war" - Parliament of the United Kingdom

    "You are never disappointed when you are with the Sikhs. Those 21 soldiers all fought to the death. That bravery should be within all of us. Those soldiers were lauded in Britain and their pride went throughout the Indian Army. Inside every Sikh should be this pride and courage. The important thing is that you must not get too big-headed it is important to be humble in victory and to pay respect to the other side." - Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim

    Commemorative tablet

    The tablet (pictured right), inscription reads;

    Order of Merit

    All the 21 Sikh non-commissioned officers and soldiers of other ranks who laid down their lives in the Battle of Saragarhi were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest gallantry award of that time, which an Indian soldier could receive by the hands of the British crown, the corresponding gallantry award being Victoria Cross. This award is equivalent to today's Param Vir Chakra awarded by the President of India.

    Saragarhi and Thermopylae

    The battle has frequently been compared to the Battle of Thermopylae, where a small Greek force faced a large Persian army of Xerxes (480 BC).

    The comparison is made because of the overwhelming odds faced by a tiny defending force in each case, and the defenders' brave stand to their deaths, as well as the extremely disproportionate number of fatalities caused to the attacking force.

    It is important to note that during the Battle of Saragarhi, the British did not manage to get a relief unit there until after the 21 had fought to their deaths. At Thermopylae, the 300 Spartans also stayed after their lines had been breached, to fight to their deaths.

    600 Afghans killed as per the story. The total casualties in the entire campaign, around 4,800.

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    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009
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  2. POPS

    POPS BANNED

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    that indeed was the greatest if not the best of valour, loyalty & sacrifice shown by Sikh's its an honur that we have such legendary fighter's gaurding owr motherland...jo bole so nihaal sat shree akal
     
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