Category Archive: sikh

  1. Saragarhi Education Resource – Sign Up!

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    We believe it’s very important to teach children about the historic contribution Sikhs made fighting for Britain, and we know you feel the same. You often tell us there’s a lack of school resources and that is why teachers are not able to do so.

    Not any more!

    As we prepare to mark Saragarhi Day 2018 we’re pleased to announce we’ve produced a new education resource based on the battle containing films and lesson plans, which can be used to teach History, Citizenship and RE at KS3/4 level.

    This pack has been developed alongside British school teachers for Key Stage 3 & 4 pupils. It is made possible through funding via the Armed Forces Covenant, and as such we’re able to give the first 100 school teachers who apply FREE copies.

    If you’d like a pack – please fill in the form below, ensuring you provide your school name, your position there and the best address to post the pack out to.

      NB: Packs will be posted in Sept/Oct 2018, with a limited supply of one per school.

    • Remembering Lt Col John Haughton at Uppingham School

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      Today, we visited Uppingham School to speak to pupils there about the life and times of old boy Lt Col John Haughton, the commander of the 36th Sikhs at Saragarhi.

      The visit was timed to mark the 120th anniversary of Haughton’s death during the Tirah campaign.

      The talk was immensely succesful as filmmaker Capt. Jay Singh-Sohal addressed 850 pupils and staff in the school’s chapel. Later, we presented a copy of our Saragarhi book and film to the school’s headmaster.

      Below are the remarks made to pupils:

      Uppingham School: 120th anniversary of John Haughton’s death

      It’s my absolute pleasure to be here today – to speak about an Uppingham old boy who you might not have heard of but who has an important role in one of the greatest stories of Sikh heroism.

      His name was Lt Col John Haughton and he commanded the 36th Sikh regiment of Bengal Infantry on the unruly NW frontier of British India in 1897.

      The 36th was a class regiment – meaning all the soldiers within it were of the same faith, my faith, Sikhs.

      We believe in One God, and the teachings of the ten living Gurus – which give us our spiritual beliefs and martial traditions.

      The officers commanding the 36th understood this well – but they were British and Christian. Thus, developed a unique and mutually respectful relationship between our two races.

      Under the command of Haughton the 36th Sikhs gained a glorious reputation when on 12th September 1897, 21 of his Sikh soldiers defended the small signalling post of Saragarhi against the onslaught of 10,000 enemy tribesmen.

      The British recognised this brave last stand with many honours including a regimental holiday – which the Indian Army continues to mark to this day. The men received the posthumous award of the Indian Order of Merit, the equivalent at the time of the Victoria Cross.   

      We in the British Army also celebrate Saragarhi Day every year in September as a way of remembering the Sikh contributions on the frontier.

      It is through researching the bravery of the Sikhs at Saragarhi that I learnt more about Haughton – and with the assistance of your archivist Jerry Rudman, had the opportunity to uncover his life story at this school for my film about the battle.

      Monday marked 120 years since the death of Haughton – so today I’d like to reflect upon the life of the man described as “a hero of Tirah”. His story is an inspiring one – of eagerness to learn, to serve and to do ones’ duty which I hope will inspire you as you progress through your studies and into your careers.

      John Haughton was born in 1852 in India. He was the son of a General and war hero of the 1st Afghan War.   And although he spent his childhood in India – he came here for schooling in 1865.

      Haughton had a very Victorian education but did not distinguish himself during his schooling, as evidenced in his reports. Perhaps a lesson there to persevere in all you do.

      After Uppingham aged 17 he passed the entrance exam to attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and thus began his journey to follow in his father’s footsteps as an officer.

      Selection for India service at the time was difficult with only those at the top of the class at Sandhurst being selected; and it’s a testament to Haughton’s efforts that he passed out in 1871 and would go on to lead a native Indian regiment.

      In 1887, aged 35 (the same age as I am now) Haughton helped raise the 35th Sikhs in Punjab, before taking over its sister regiment the 36th Sikhs in 1894.

      Stationed in Peshawar in modern day Pakistan, Haughton immersed himself in frontier warfare. Studying and learning the tactics of the enemy tribesmen, as well as languages. He spoke French and was also learning Russian. This on top of the Punjabi and Urdu he was expected to know as a British Indian Army officer.

      Through Haughton’s leadership, the 36th trained and prepared to occupy the Samana – a strategic location near the British garrison town of Kohat with various frontier forts that ensured the Pathan tribes did not encroach into British territory.  

      It was there that the post of Saragarhi was attacked and its defenders put up a gallant last stand. Haughton showed equal courage in leading his troops, trying several times to divert the enemy from the outpost but to no avail. In his diary we find Haughton full of remorse about not being able to save his men.

      His biographer Major A.C Yates writes of Haughton’s qualities that he had a high sense of duty, strong religious feeling, staunchness, cool courage and a readiness to sacrifice himself.

      This was evident five months after the attack at Saragarhi – which led to an expedition into the Tirah homeland of the waring tribes. Haughton led his Sikhs on a difficult march into an uncharted part of Afghanistan, through hostile terrain that no Army had ventured.  

      It was on 29th January 1898, that as British and Indian troops meandered through the mountains that Haughton went to reconnoitre the Shinkamar pass. A misunderstanding in orders led to his party being exposed and the enemy advanced upon the men.

      Haughton ordered his Sikhs to fix bayonets and fire their remaining ammunition. But it was too late, a Pathan sniper shot Haughton in the head. He died aged 46.

      The commander was buried in Peshawar, leaving behind a young family. And it’s remarkable when you think that much of his adult life was spent on the frontier, far from home and from his children.

      During the making of my film we rediscovered his gravesite in Pakistan – the once magnificent marble cross has since disappeared but luckily the stone carrying his name is still there revealing his last resting place.

      After his death this school’s magazine published an article in his memory in which his old form master Mr Candler described him as “strong and valiant – a man to be depended on and trusted.”

      His brother officers in the 35th and 36th Sikh regiments raised a memorial plaque in his honour in this chapel which pays tribute to Haughton, stating he “boldly defended a position to the last against overwhelming odds.” 

      Take a moment when you can to visit the plaque, just there, to remember him.

      You might not have heard of John Haughton before today – but I hope the qualities he exhibited in his life as a Christian and through his heroic deeds are ones which you will be inspired by: bravery, leadership, devotion to the men under his charge … and to his duty.

    • Saragarhi in 2017

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      What a year 2017 has been for this project and our longstanding efforts to narrate the story of Saragarhi to mainstream audiences.

      In January, we began the year with a special meeting with HRH The Prince of Wales (pictured) where we shared the story of Saragarhi and how the British Army are succesfully utilising this shared Anglo-Sikh heritage to engage with Indians in the UK.

      In February, we began filming for the “Saragarhi: The True Story” documentary, with several shoots in India (further details here).

      March brought special recognition for our director and filmmaker, J. Singh-Sohal, who was awarded a prestigious Sikh Jewel Award by the Defence Secretary at a glamorous gala for all his efforts over the past several years with this project (further details here).

      In April we worked alongside renowned artist Raj “Pentacullar” Tattal to produce a special edition artwork of the battle of Saragarhi.

      In May, we continued our filmmaking efforts and were thankful to connect with a heliography expert who explained to us how the signalling device was utilised by the Sikhs at Saragarhi.

      June saw speaking engagements about the battle in Leicester and in Southall.

      July and our filming working for the documentary in Pakistan led to the rediscovery of the grave of Lt Col John Haughton, the commander of the 36th Sikhs, in Peshawar.

      In August we visited New Delhi (pictured) where J. Singh-Sohal delivered a special talk and teaser of the Saragarhi film to veterans and historians at the prestigious United Services Institute.

      September marked an historic ‘Saragarhi Day’, the 5th year that the event has been hosted by the British Army in the UK, at the National Memorial Arboretum, the guest of honour was Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, the eternal Guru of the Sikhs. Our film Saragarhi: The True Story also had it’s world premier at the event before being broadcast on KTV.

      October and we continued our tour of the film with a special screening in Birmingham.

      November saw screenings in London (Nehru Centre) and California, before an historic moment in the British Parliament with a screening and a standing ovation by Paliamentarians, the British Army and community represents in honour of the 21 at Saragarhi (pictured).

      And we ended December with a screening in New York City, at the Sikh Arts Film Festival; and in Punjab hosted by the Maharaja of Kapurthala.

      Throughout 2017 we endeavoured to share our journey with our audience through the groundbreaking “Saragarhi Live” Facebook Lives and regular blogs on this site.

      In 2018, we will continue the year with special screenings and engagement with key audiences, details to be announced. Thereafter we’ll likely take a hiatus as we prepare for our next exciting project!

      We thank you for all your support and good wishes this year – and hope you are also inspired to help tell the story of Sikh bravery and valour.

      All the best for the New Year! May it be a blessed one!


    • Saragarhi in India

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      Fresh from our screening and speaking engagement in New York City, we were off to India for a special screening of “Saragarhi: The True Story” in Punjab.

      The journey began with the Maharaja of Kapurthala Brig. Sukhjit Singh Ahluwalia hosting the feature film at the Sainik School, which was attended by hundreds of cadets.

      The school, formerly the Jagatjit Palace and royal seat of the rulers of the princely state of Kapurthala, was a wonderful venue for the screening.

      In the below image, filmmaker J. Singh-Sohal presents a copy of the DVD of the film to the schools principal.

      We thank all those who helped arrange the event and supported our film and visits. These included to the Captain Jhaggar Singh Memorial for Flag Day, and to the inaugural Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh, where we got to speak to Armed Forces personnel and dignitaries about our work.


    • Saragarhi Film Receives Applause in Parliament

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      +Press Release

      14th November 2017

      Saragarhi film receives applause in Parliament

      On Tuesday 14th November 2017, the British Parliament resounded to a thunderous round of applause in honour of 21 native Indian soldiers who fought to defend British India on the unruly North West frontier in 1897.

      Parliamentarians, leading members of the British Indian community and representatives of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces gathered for a special Parliamentary launch and screening of the new docu-drama “Saragarhi: The True Story”, hosted by former Justice and Work and Pensions Minister Shailesh Vara MP.

      The film, made in honour of the Sikhs who fought at Saragarhi to mark the battle’s 120th anniversary, comes after more than seven years of research and production by Captain J. Singh-Sohal, a British Army reservist and filmmaker.

      “Saragarhi: The True Story” narrates, for the first time on film, the fate of the 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment of Bengal Infantry who on 12th September 1897 found themselves surrounded by 10,000 enemy tribesmen during an uprising on the North West Frontier between colonial India and Afghanistan.

      The brave 21 fought to the last man despite the odds, in an engagement lasting nearly seven hours and with only limited ammunition. The battle is a significant one which was commemorated by the British with memorials in India, a battle honour for the 36th Sikh regiment that fought (now the 4th Sikh Regiment in the Indian Army) and the issue of the Indian Order of Merit class III, the highest award of gallantry at that time given to native Indians on par with the Victoria Cross, which was awarded posthumously to the 21 men.

      The documentary, filmed in India, Pakistan and the UK; tells the story with unique access to private archives, never-before-seen images, stunning visual graphics, effects and re-enactment scenes.

      Event host Shailesh Vara MP said:

      “This film rightly records the outstanding courage and bravery of Sikh soldiers fighting against the odds and paying the ultimate price.

      It is right that we remember these brave men in the Mother of Parliaments, and I congratulate Captain Jay Singh-Sohal for his commitment and dedication over many years in making this remarkable film.

      The film not only informs the public, but it will also be a valuable resource for historians in the years to come.”

      Speaking about his new film, Captain Singh-Sohal said:

      “It is a unique and fitting way to honour the memory of the men who fought at Saragarhi by remembering their bravery and valour in the very Parliament of Queen and country they were fighting for. This episode of British Indian history inspired many more Indians to serve during the first and second World Wars shoulder to shoulder with the British and troops from all over the Commonwealth. And it inspires a new generation now to commit to defending our parliamentary democracy and the values it represents.  Sharing their story in our Parliament is a tremendous honour for which I’d like to express my thanks to Mr Vara.”

      The film will now begin it’s international tour, with a screening at the “Sikh Arts and Film Festival” in New York City and events across India.

      Colonel John Kendall, from the British Army, who was part of a delegation to India that visited the Saragarhi Memorial sites added:

      “The courage and loyalty of the Sikhs as a warrior race is legendary.   For over a century and a half the British Army has been proud to serve alongside Sikhs.  We have fought together in many campaigns including the North West Frontier and the First and Second World Wars.  We have fought alongside each other to protect democracy and to rescue those in need from natural disasters.  Today we are privileged to have Sikhs serving among our ranks across Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and support the work of the British Armed Forces Sikh Association (BAFSA) who help us to promote the message of inclusivity and Sikh service in the Army.”

    • New Saragarhi film set to be released for 120th anniversary

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      Press Release: 

      New Saragarhi film set to be released for 120th anniversary

      Following more than seven years of research and production, a long-awaited factual film about the epic Indian frontier battle of Saragarhi is being released to mark its 120th anniversary.

      “Saragarhi: The True Story” narrates, for the first time on film, the fate of the 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th (Sikh) Regiment of Bengal Infantry who on 12th September 1897 found themselves surrounded by 10,000 enemy tribesmen during an uprising on the North West Frontier between colonial India and Afghanistan.

      The brave 21 fought to the last man despite the odds, in an engagement lasting nearly seven hours but with limited ammunition. The battle is a significant one within British frontier history as it came during the period known as the ‘Great Game’ with Russia, but in recent times it has largely been overlooked.

      Its impact was such that the British at the time created several memorials to it in Punjab, awarded a battle honour awarded to the 36th Sikh regiment that fought (now the 4 Sikh regiment in the Indian Army) and issued the Indian Order of Merit class III, the highest award of gallantry at that time given to native Indians on par with the Victoria Cross, to 56 men involved in the defence of all the Samana outposts.

      The documentary tells the story with unique access to private archives, never-before-seen images, stunning visual graphics effects and re-enactment scenes. Filming took place all over the UK, in India and Pakistan.

      For the first time groundbreaking footage was also gathered from the actual site of the ruins itself, which fall within the unruly tribal area of Pakistan. To highlight the dangers of doing so, on the day that filming took place on the Samana the Pakistan Army were combating Islamic State militants 40km north of the site in Rajgal.

      Speaking about his new film, journalist and filmmaker Jay Singh-Sohal said: “It’s been a long but fulfilling journey to research, film and promote for the first time the bravery of the 21 Sikhs at Saragarhi. It’s a personal endeavour; I’ve myself been inspired by it because it speaks to the shared history and values that make me proud to be both British and Sikh, and I know many others in my community feel the same.”

      “The Sikhs who fought for Britain on the frontier were rightly rewarded and honoured for their bravery and devotion to duty at that time, today we must continue to remember the sacrifices they and others made in such conflicts which might not be so well known but are vitally important. We must share it with others, celebrate our long and rich connection to our country, and motivate young people to learn from their historic lessons to take up such acts of public service.”

      The film will be screened on Tuesday 12th September 2017 at the official ‘Saragarhi Day’ commemoration hosted by Her Majesty’s Armed Forces which this year will be held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The film will be broadcast on KTV (Sky channel 858) at 9.30pm on the same day.

      A special preview of the film will be held for select guests on Wednesday 6 September at a corporate venue in London Bridge. Contact us directly to register your interest in attending.

      For more information about Saragarhi:

      History of War Magazine article

      Remember the Sikh heroes for fought for Britain

      Armed Forces commemorate Saragarhi 2015

      Saragarhi book launch at RMAS 2013

      Watch commemoration day videos:

      Saragarhi Day 2015

      Saragarhi Day 2014

      Saragarhi Day 2013

    • Haughton’s Grave Rediscovered

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      During our filming for “Saragarhi: The True Story” we have been delving deep into two leaders who’s courage and duty proved crucial on the Samana in 1897. One was Havildar Ishar Singh, about whom very little is know. The other is the commanding officer of the 36th Sikhs, Lt Col John Haughton.

      Haughton’s life and times have been well chronicled by his biographer Major A.C. Yates and so we know all about his upbringing in India, his schooling in Leicestershire and his subsequent service on the frontier. This has all been explored elsewhere on this website. During our research we had the opportunity to film at his school in Uppingham and retrace his steps as an officer.

      Now we can share that after months of work we’ve managed to track down his grave in Peshawar as well.

      Above left is Haughton and in the middle is his grave site and the marble monument placed on it after his death and burial.

      Below here is how it looks now. Sadly the elements (and perhaps vandals) have left the monument in ruins. It is only the middle segment of the monument that survives, the cross is long gone as is the top block that said “sacred to the memory of”.

      Also missing or destroyed is the bottom marble segment which said “”erected by his brother officers of the 35th and 36th Sikhs in token of their regard for him as a true gentleman and a gallant soldier.”

      On the surviving marble segment you can still read that it says “Lt Col John Haughton Commandant 36th Sikhs Killed in action at the Shin Kamar Pass Bara Valley Tirah on the 29th January 1898 Aged 46 years”, although the last line is obscured by the ground.

      Finding Haughton’s resting place is important for us, not just to ensure this is included in the forthcoming documentary but to catalogue this hero’s final resting place. It is where this commander, who was dedicated to his men and his regiment, was buried after his tragic but heroic death during the Torah campaign.

      It is our hope that those who have a chance to visit Pakistan make it a point to see and pay respects to this bold and inspiring leader. You will find him at the Gora Kabristan just off the GT Road.

      *** Watch  Facebook Live: Haughton’s Memorial ***
    • After Annexation: Frontier Defence to the last stand at Saragarhi

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      On Sunday 4th June, we were invited to the fantastic Anglo-Sikhs Wars exhibiton in Leicester to make a presentation about what happened after the fall of the second Sikh Empire.

      “After Annexation: Frontier Defence to the last stand at Saragarhi” was presented by writer and filmmaker J. Singh-Sohal (pictured) and delved into how the Sikhs went from being the fiercest of British foes to the staunchest of allies.

      It took in not only the development of the Sikhs in the various units that were raised to serve on the North West Frontier, but the current context of Islamist terrorism which we see – which has some similarity to what led to the tribal uprisings of 1897.

      The talk covered the battle of Saragarhi in depth, through photographs and eye witness accounts of the heroism on the Samana.

      The audience also had a chance to handle the rifle used by the Sikhs – the Martini Henry Mk IV.

      Thanks to the organisers Sikh Museum for putting together such a fantastic exhibition and series of talks.

      A video of the talk will be shared in due course.

    • Is Saragarhi in the right place?

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      Through our Saragarhi Live videos we’ve connected with many people from around the world who are interested in the battle and our forthcoming film. A continuing conversation with one of these has been fascinating and forms the basis of this post – pinpointing exactly where Saragarhi is and why this location was the best for it.

      In researching for the book “Saragarhi: The Forgotten Battle” we found several primary sources which indicate and describe exactly where the signalling post was situated, including the original document for the placing of the Samana posts after the second Miranzai expedition.

      The official history from the India Army Intelligence Branch, 1908, puts it simply that: “Saraghari was … situated on the the highest point of the range between Fort Lockhart and Gulistan.”

      We took this research to pinpoint the site of the post on Google Maps, right next to the Samana Road.

      But why was this the best site? Could Saragarhi have been located somewhere else?

      Richard Fowell, a heliography expert from California, got in touch with some interesting insight, which we are publishing here with his kind permission.

      Using digital elevation maps (DEM), Richard found not only where Saragahri was located (33.554º N 70.888º E), but all locations where a relay post in between could have been sited.

      Below are his calculations:

      “Various accounts place Saragarhi at various distances from Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan, and variously north or south of the road (or line) between the forts. Since Saragarhi has been obliterated, we can’t directly locate it with Google Earth. However, we should be able to locate Saragarhi definitively from topography. Based on the below, I place it at 33.554º N 70.888º E.

      I began my analysis at Michael Kosowsky’s free site His site uses Google’s computerized contour maps (digital elevation models (DEMs) to find the highest point within a given radius of a location, to show areas visible from a given location and height, and to find the bearing and range to other points.

      Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan are marked on Google Maps – I began at a point midway between the two. The “Contours” option at displays the ridge between the forts. As the 1908 official history places Saragarhi at the high point of that ridge,  I picked a point in the centre of the ridge and asked for the highest location within one mile. chose 33.554167º N 70.8875º E 6467 ft elevation. The areas visible from eye level at that point (6 feet above ground level (AGL) : 6473 ft) are tinted red in the first screenshot from the analysis here: Saragarhi Post.

      This puts Saragarhi 1.8 +/- 0.1 miles (as the heliograph flash travels) from both forts It is south of, and 60 ft above, the crest of Samana Road.

      Some published accounts place Saragarhi post north of the road – how do we convince skeptics?

      DEMs aren’t perfect. The DEM for this region was probably based on Shuttle radar data, likely 90 m horizontal spacing and 16 m (53 ft) vertical accuracy (90% confidence), with any points in between interpolated (an “educated guess”) from that data.  The Google Earth DEM for this ridge puts  the location above 22 ft lower (6445 ft), and says the ridge high point is 66 meters SW, and eight feet higher, at 33.553673º N 70.887908º E 6453 ft.

      We know Saraghari was visible from both Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan – we can use this as a check.

      The locations of Fort Lockhart and Gulistan are marked on Google Maps, with the buildings visible in “satellite” view.  I used to pick the highest point in each fort. The 1908 official history says the forts had 14 ft walls, so I set the height to eye level above the walls (20 feet AGL). provided these views:

      Fort Lockhart +20 ft AGL: latitude 33.556353º N longitude 70.919012º E elevation 6592 ft above sea level

      Fort Gulistan +20 ft AGL: latitude 33.557208º N longitude 70.856536º E elevation 6086 ft above sea level

      I overlaid these views, with the top view set to 50% transparency, to get the second screenshot, where locations visible from both Lockhart and Gulistan are darker red.

      One interesting observation from the intervisibility map is that the heliograph station did not have to be placed between the two forts to communicate to both. [1]

      I sketched in blue lines to show all the locations between Lockhart and Gulistan that were visible from both. 
      I’ve marked an attractive alternate signaling site north of the road, about 1 km NW of Saragarhi post. Militarily, this northern location has the disadvantage that snipers at Saragarhi would (slightly) overlook it, but Fort Gulistan suffers the same disadvantage with respect to the slopes west of it.

      The northern point is 25 m lower than Saragarhi, so it is clearly not the highest point on a ridge, but it is a high point on the ridge. Are we putting too much weight on the adjective “highest” in the 1908 account?

      We can show that our location is correct by combining information from the DEMs with photogrammetry from photos of Saragarhi taken shortly after the battle. That will be the subject of my next communication.” overlay images are Copyright 2017 Michael Kosowsky. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

      [1] A contrarian choice would have been a signal post at Samana Suk, west of both forts. It would be within 5 miles of both forts – point-blank range for a heliograph. It would also offer advance warning for any incursion from the west.














    • Saragarhi and the Indian Order of Merit – Clarification

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      This blog post serves to act as a clarification on the issue of whether the 21 Sikhs at Saragarhi were actually awarded the Indian Order of Merit (IOM), at the time in 1897 the highest award of gallantry available to native Indians (the Victoria Cross legibility changed in 1911).

      The Sikh Regiment archives lend us to believe that the 21 were indeed issued the IOM 3rd class, and this has been reflected in various other writings and accounts of the battle. But having spent some time digging around at the British Library, and speaking to other experts, I can now clear up the issue.

      The IOM came in three classes. The junior classes (3rd class, pictured left, and the 2nd class) were distinguished by a badge of silver while the senior class (1st) had a badge of gold. All three in the shape of a military laurelled star, bearing in its centre the inscription “Reward of Valour.”

      The IOM 3rd class was “obtained by any conspicuous act of individual gallantry on the part of any native officer or soldier in the field, or in the attack or defence of fortified places, without distinction of rank or grade.” Subsequent acts of valour could result in a promotion within the order to 2nd and then 1st class.

      Admission to each of the classes was “obtained upon application to the Governor-General of India in Council.” The original recommendation had to specify the act of gallantry and a representation of the circumstances made through the Commanding Officer of the regiment, by the Captain or Officer commanding the Troop or Company.

      Being awarded the Order conferred a member with an additional allowance, in the 3rd class it was equal to 1/3rd of the ordinary pay of his rank, over and above that pay or the pension he may be entitled to on retirement. In the 2nd class it was equal to 2/3rds and in the 1st class it was the entirety of the amount.

      In the case of the 21 at Saragarhi, the medal was not actually given to the surviving dependents of the heroes, unlike a posthumous award made today, and this is largely because when the IOM was instituted the question of posthumous awards did not arise.  The concept of the Order at the time was that it was one into which a soldier was admitted while alive – he then became a member of the Order and remained thus after retirement until his death.

      But Saragarhi becomes the first major incident of a mass posthumous recognition. This came in the form of the wound pension of the award being granted to descendants, along with the IOM additional allowance mentioned above which was according to their rank. At Saragarhi there was one Havildar (Ishar Singh), one Naik, one Lance Naik and 18 sepoys. And so their families would have been compensated accordingly.

      The Government would also provide a monetary sum greater than the silver value of the award to the widow – the 3rd class was valued at 14 Rupees at the time.  The eldest son would also automatically be offered a place by the regiment.

      BUT while the IOM was thus not issued – the campaign medal was. The India Medal 1985 – 1902 was awarded for campaigns on the Punjab Frontier, Chitral, Malakand, Samana and Tirah, and has been covered in a previous post. So out there somewhere are the campaign medals for the 21 at Saragarhi – and the medal for Havildar Ishar Singh who had served on the frontier for decades could very well include some of these clasps.

      Finally, the 36th Sikhs regimental history tells us that 35 IOM 3rd class medals were  awarded to soldiers of the 36th Sikhs. This was for their heroism during the defence of all the Samana forts, and is in fact the largest issue of the IOM for a single battle or action. These medals still exist in private collections.

      There are 33 Gulistan Bahadurs listed below, alongside some of their known acts of valour, of course this is a few short of the 35 mentioned. On top of that, only 30 from Gulistan received the medal, three of them (Havildar Kala Singh and two other sepoys, names unknown) were gravely wounded in their actions, and just as at Saragarhi they did not receive the medal posthumously.

      The regimental history also tells us that 38 men received Mention in Despatches.

      The Gulistan Bahadurs:
      Havildar Kala Singh (63) – on the 13th September, he volunteered with his section of 16 men for the attack against an enemy position where standards were placed twenty yards south west of the fort. They were pinned down by enemy gunfire and had to be rescued. He later died of his wounds.
      Havildar Sunder Singh (755) – along with 11 other Sikhs leapt over the walls of Gulistan without orders to help their comrades pinned down by enemy gunfire, capturing 3 enemy standards in the sortie (image above)
      Lance Naik Sada Singh (807)
      Lance Naik Harnam Singh (817)
      Lance Nail Dewa Singh (1177)
      Lance Naik Jiwan Singh (939)
      Sepoy Hansa Singh (1196)
      Sepoy Sundar Singh (330)
      Sepoy Bhola Singh (383)
      Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (1201)
      Sepoy Sobha Singh (1288)
      Sepoy Jiwan Singh (1354)
      Sepoy Wariam Singh (1380)
      Sepoy Ghulla Singh (1146)
      Sepoy Kala Singh (1123)
      Sepoy Attar Singh (1078)
      Sepoy Sujan Singh (1046)
      Sepoy Chajja Singh (1603)
      Sepoy Badan Singh (1369) – charged against enemy Sangar in 1st sortie
      Sepoy Phuman Singh (1597)
      Sepoy Thaman Singh (1741)
      Sepoy Sawan Singh (1066)
      Sepoy Ghuna Singh (1600)
      Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1588)
      Sepoy Harnam Singh (1589)
      Sepoy Sher Singh (368)
      Sepoy Ralla Singh (1632)
      Sepoy Mihan Singh (1167 – attached from 5th Punjabis)
      Sepoy Hira Singh (1183)
      Sepoy Natha Singh (1539)
      Sepoy Jawahir Singh (1338)
      Sepoy Basawa Singh (907)
      Sepoy Bela Singh (1295) – when the sorties arrived, two men were found to be missing, he and two others jumped the walls to rescue them

      *** My thanks to Mark Higton and Tony McClenaghan for verifying information.  Quoted text is from Cliff Parrett and Rana Chhina Indian Order of Merit, Historical Records 1837-1947, Volume I, 1837-1860. A forthcoming volume 2 is due to be released soon. ***