|Born||21 Nov 1920|
|Died||21 Nov 2005|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseUmrao Singh was born in the poor farmer Mohar Singh Yadav the village of Palra, Rohtak district, Punjab, India. He joined the Indian Army in Nov 1939. In 1942, he was promoted to the rank of havildar, or sergeant, in the Royal Indian Artillery. During the night of 15 to 16 Dec 1944, in the Kaladan Valley in Burma, he was commanding a field gun of the 33 Mountain Battery of the Indian 30th Mountain Regiment, attached to the UK 14th Army. After receiving a 90-minute counter-battery bombardment, at least two companies of Japanese troops rushed his gun position. He picked up a Bren light machine gun, while his men wielded rifles, as they attempted to fight off the attack. Singh was wounded by two grenades during the first wave of the attack, and by the time the second wave was fought off, only Singh and two others remained. Running low in ammunition, Singh was seen using a heavy iron rod to brutally beat at least one Japanese soldier to death. Six hours later, his position was reinforced by friendly troops, and he was found on the ground, unconscious, with a serious wound to his head. Ten dead Japanese soldiers lay dead nearby. Singh was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George VI at the Buckingham Palace, London, England, United Kingdom on 15 Oct 1945. He was the only member of the Royal Artillery and Royal Indian Artillery to receive the Victoria Cross. He retired from the Indian Army in 1946. In 1947, he rejoined the Indian Army after India was granted independence, and served until 1965. He retired to his family's small 2-acre farm In 1970, he was promoted to the honorary rank of captain. He attended the VE Day celebrations in London in 1995, and was nearly turned away from the VIP tent because his name was not on the correct list; he was only admitted after Brigadier Tom Longland recognized his medal. After the celebrations, he complained to British Prime Minister John Major about the inadequate pension of Â£168 per year that was paid to Indian Victoria Cross holders, which might had influenced Major's eventual decision to raise the pension to Â£1,300 per year. On 14 May 2003, Singh attended the service of dedication of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Memorial in Westminster Abbey. He was approached several times by collectors who wished to purchase his medal, some offering substantial amounts of money, but he refused all of them; selling the medal would "stain the honor of those who fell in battle", he said. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in Jul 2005 and passed away later that year in New Delhi, India. He was cremated in his native village, and his funeral was attended by Chief Minister of the Indian state of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Army General Joginder Jaswant Singh, and Army Lieutenant General Charanjit Singh.
Last Major Revision: Jan 2010
Umrao Singh Timeline
|21 Nov 1920Â||Umrao Singh was born.|
|21 Nov 2005Â||Umrao Singh passed away.|
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