On 12th September 1897, 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikhs which is now the 4th battalion of the Sikh regiment proved their valour and girth while fighting against 10,000 Afghans. This historic battle was fought at the North west frontier province in a small village of Saragarhi which is why this epic war has been given the name of Battle of Saragarhi.
On this historic day the British Indian contingent comprised of 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikhs who were sanctioned to guard an army post at Saragarhi and were attacked by 10,000 Afghans. The Sikhs were terribly outnumbered but they chose to fight till their last breathes and instead of running choose to fight to the death.
The 36th Sikhs Units were led by Havildar Ishar Singh fought the unimaginable war and registered their name as one of history’s greatest last stands. However, the battle of Saragarhi resulted in the defeat of British Indian contingent but the guts and strengths of these 21 Sikh soldiers are still worshipped.
The Battle of Saragarhi: As the History Suggests
The details of the battle of Saragarhi is considered to be nearly correct as the event which occurred was signalled by Gurmukh Singh to Fort Lockhart by heliograph according to their occurrence.
The occurrence of events are as follows:
- The signalling post at Saragarhi witnessed the attack of approximately 10,000 Afghans around 09:00.
- Sepoy Gurmukh Singh reported to Col. Haughton who was situated in Fort Lockhart that they were under attack.
- Col. Haughton denied of sending any immediate help to Saragarhi.
- The Soldiers situated in Saragarhi decided to fight till their last breath to prevent the enemy from reaching the forts.
- The first soldier to be killed was Sepoy Bhagwan Singh and the first person to get seriously wounded was NK. Lal Singh.
- The signals also came which reported that NK. Lal Singh and Sepoy Jiwa Singh reportedly carrying the dead body of Bhagwan Singh back to the inner layer of the post.
- A portion of the wall of the picket was broken by the enemy.
- The estimated Pashtuns attacking Saragarhi were in between 10,000 to 14,000 as signalled by Col. Haughton.
- The leader of the Pashtun forces makes promises to Sikh soldiers in order for them to surrender.
- Two determined attempts of opening the gate were unsuccessful reportedly.
- However, the wall was breached later leading to the fiercest hand to hand combat between troops on both sides.
- Havildar Ishar Singh showed immense bravery and ordered his men to fall back into the inner layer while he remains fighting alone. However, this was breached and all but one of the defending soldiers gets killed, killing along with them many of the Pashtuns.
- The communicator of the battle with Col. Haughton, Sepoy Gurmukh Singh was the last Sikh defender and he is stated to kill more than 20 Afghans and the Pashtuns had to set fire to the post for killing him and the last sentence while he was dying was the Sikh battle cry “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal!!”
The names of the 21 recipients of the gallantry award are:
- Havildar Ishar Singh (regimental number 165)
- Naik Lal Singh (332)
- Lance Naik Chanda Singh (546)
- Sepoy Sundar Singh (1321)
- Sepoy Ram Singh (287)
- Sepoy Uttar Singh (492)
- Sepoy Sahib Singh (182)
- Sepoy Hira Singh (359)
- Sepoy Daya Singh (687)
- Sepoy Jivan Singh (760)
- Sepoy Bhola Singh (791)
- Sepoy Narayan Singh (834)
- Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (814)
- Sepoy Jivan Singh (871)
- Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (1733)
- Sepoy Ram Singh (163)
- Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1257)
- Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1265)
- Sepoy Buta Singh (1556)
- Sepoy Jivan Singh (1651)
- Sepoy Nand Singh (1221)
The Celebration of Saragarhi Day:
Every year on 12th September across India and all the Sikhs worldwide celebration of Saragarhi Day is done to remember the Battle of Saragarhi Martyrs. Saragarhi Day is a Sikh military commemoration day and every year Sikh military personnel and civilians commemorate the battle around the world. This day is also celebrated by the Sikh Regiment as Regimental Battle Honours Day every year.