“10 Sikh Supermen” die in Battle of Festubert - 1915

Author chronicles the contribution and participation of Sikhs in the two World Wars.

100 years ago, during the month of May 1915, Sikh soldiers and officers, participating in the famous Battle of Festubert in France laid down their lives and won proficiency medals. The author has doggedly worked over the last decades to chronicle the contribution and participation of Sikhs in the two World Wars.
 

100 years ago, during the month of May 1915, Sikh soldiers and officers, participating in the famous Battle of Festubert in France laid down their lives and won proficiency medals. The author has doggedly worked over the last decades to chronicle the contribution and participation of Sikhs in the two World Wars. As the month of May 2018 draws to a close, I thought it pertinent to share the role of Sikh soldiers of the Meerut and Lahore Divisions who […]

As the month of May 2018 draws to a close, I thought it pertinent to share the role of Sikh soldiers of the Meerut and Lahore Divisions who took part in the Battle of Festubert, France on 19 May, 1915.The battle of Festubert, 15-27 May 1915, was the second British contribution to the second battle of Artois, the major Allied spring offensive of 1915.

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Lieutenant John Smyth of the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs was ordered to take a bombing party and two boxes of bombs from the old frontline to the captured trench over open ground with ten volunteers of 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. By the time they reached their objective, only one man was left with him, the rest were either killed or wounded. Lieutenant John Smyth was awarded the Victoria Cross and all those who were with him were awarded medals. One soldier was awarded the Indian Order of Merit (IOM) and 9 others were bestowed the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM).

According to Commonwealth War Graves Commission -CWGC Record, they have apprised in their letter dated 21 May 2018 that as per their their records only 2 of the 10 Sikhs who were part of the troops of Lieutenant Smith died at the time.

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The report says, 10 Sikhs took part in the mission, 2 died in the Mission and 8 were wounded. One died in 1918 because of the wounds or an other action, is not clear. That has been recorded. Perhaps the other 7 died a natural death later on and are not recorded. Historian Charles Allen has called them the 10 Sikh Supermen..

The names of the two who died are recorded at Neuve Chapelle Memorial, France. Their details are as follows:

Harnam Singh, Sepoy, 1360. I D S M. 19th Punjabis, attd. , 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. 19 May 1915. Son of Atar Singh, of Bajwara, Hoshiarpur, Punjab. Grave Reference: Panel 27.

Sarain Singh, Sepoy, 1255. I D S M. 19th Punjabis, attd., 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. 19 May 1915. Son of Chet Singh, of Talwandi, Rya, Sialkot, Punjab. Grave Reference: Panel 27.

Of the other soldiers, one of them died in Italy and his details are:

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Fateh Singh, died in Italy on 29/10/1918

Fateh Singh, I D S M, Bronze Military Medal for Valour ( Italy ) Havildar, Service Number 1036, Died 29/10/1918, 45th Rattray’s Sikhs, Son of Ladha Singh of Lakhan Ka Chak, Daska, Sialkot, Punjab.

A list of the 10 Sikhs who took part in this mission was obtained from the London Gazette.

They are as follows:

Service Number 131, Lance Naik, Mangal Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the second class Order of Merit (IOM)
Service Number 702, Sepoy Lal Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.
Service Number 638, Sepoy Sucha Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.
Service Number 962, Sepoy, Sapuran Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.
Service Number 1255, Sepoy, Sarain Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.
Service Number 1036, Sepoy, Fateh Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM)
Service Number 1001, Sepoy, Ujagar Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM)
Service Number 1249, Sepoy, Sundar Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM)
Service Number 1339, Sepoy, Ganda Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM)
Service Number 1360, Sepoy, Harnam Singh, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. Awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM)

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