This section provides a list of important and prominent figures from Anglo-Sikh History which have been listed in alphabetical order, according to ethnicity and time period.

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Gian Singh VC

Victoria Cross Winner (2nd March 1945)


On 2 March 1945 on the road between Kamye and Myingyan, Burma (now Myanmar), where the Japanese were strongly positioned, Naik Gian Singh who was in charge of the leading section of his platoon, went on alone firing his tommy gun, and rushed the enemy foxholes. In spite of being wounded in the arm he went on, hurling grenades. He attacked and killed the crew of a cleverly concealed anti-tank gun, and then led his men down a lane clearing all enemy positions. He went on leading his section until the action had been satisfactorily completed


Published in the Obituaries section of The Times,

Wednesday October 16 1996.

Gian Singh, VC, who won the decoration in Burma in March 1995, died in Jullundur, Punjab, on October 6 aged 76.

He was born on October 5, 1920. In a display of personal bravery - allied with tactical acumen - which stands out even in the extraordinary annals of the Victoria Cross, Gian Singh overwhelmed singlehanded a series of Japenese stringpoints during the hard fighting for the Irrawaddy port of Myingyan in the spring of 1945. Although it was a victory achieved
only at platoon level, Singh's action had an inspiring effect on those around him which was of incalculable value at a time when General Messervy's Corps was experiencing increasing difficulities as its columns
pressed on towards Myingyan.

The approach to Myingyan was across a flat, sandy plain. Dust clouds revealed every movement of armour and infrantry to the enemy who was strongly dug in with his rearguards well protected by cleverly sited artillery. Dry gullies and deep ravines lay at right angles across the line of advance, denying passage to tanks. Many of these were screened by thick undergrowth and afforded ample opportunities to ambush the attacking forces.

On March 2, 1945, Singh's unit, the 4th Battalion 15th Punjab Regiment, was advancing down the road between Kamya and Myingyan when it was pinned down by accurate artillery and machinegun fire directed at it from a series of strongpoints and foxholes located in tree-screened positions. Naik (ie corporal, as he was then ) Gian Singh, who was in the leading platoon of his company, perceived that a nasty situation was developing in which the whole battalion might well find itself sustaining heavy casualties.

The Japanese defence of their rearward positions had by this time taken on the semi-suicidal huw which had come to characterise their operations as the heady victories of 19424 turned into the bitter defeats of 1944
and 1945. With grenades strapped to their bodies, some Japanese soldiers were hurling themselves into the midst of British/Indian units or throwing themselves under lorries and armoured fighting vehicles.

Summing up the situation with that tactical intelligence which is instinctive in the finest infantry leaders, Singh determined to take out the enemy foxholes before they could inflict the kind of damage that might
seriously affect his battalion's attack. Armed with grenades and a submachine gun he assailed foxhole after foxhole, subduimg the defendants with grenades and mopping up with bursts of sub-machinegun fire.

During this breathtaking singlehanded assault, which astounded all who

witnessed it, Singh was himself hit in the arm by small arms fire. But he realise that his task was not finished and refused to go to the rear. A cleverly concealed anti-tank gun was still giving trouble and he rushed it and killed its crew with more bursts of fire and further grenades. He then called to the rest of his section who, much heartened by this robust action, followed him down the lane along which the battalion had been trying to advance, clearing enemy positions along both sides of it.

The action, which was in the finest traditions of the Punjabi regiments of the Indian Army, helped to keep up the momentum of the assault on Myingyan, which fell later in the month after further hard fighting. The Myingyan battle was itself a vital component of the campaign against the railway junction at Meiktila, whose capture prised loosed the grip of General Honda's Japanese 33rd Army on central Burma.

Singh's VC was gazetted on May 22, 1945. Although he had sustained quite serious injuries, he refused to be invalided out of the Army, and insisted on participating in the drive for Rangoon which concluded the Burma campaign later in the year. During this he was mentioned in dispatches.

With the partition of India and its Army in 1947, Singh was drafted to the 11th Sikh Regiment in the new Indian Army. He was to participate in further fighting, during the Chinese incursion into India of 1962, and later in operations in Kashmir. In retirement he farmed in Punjab.

A quiet man of great gentleness and charm - though one of unmistakable military bearing - Gian Singh was devoted to his family. He greatly enjoyed the reunions of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association and only ill-health las year prevented him from making the journey to London to be present on that occasion.

His wife Hardail Kaur died last year. He is survived by three sons and two daughters living in this country (UK) and a son who lives in India.



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