Stories and Memories

Remembering those who were part of India’s contribution in the First World War is central to the USI-MEA Great War Commemoration project. We invite you to contribute photographs, souvenirs, posters, memorabilia, stories, and anecdotes of these distinguished Indians. Share with us details of your family’s military heritage to assist us in highlighting the key role played by those Indians who served with credit and honour in World War 1. Help us remember them and raise awareness about India’s oft-forgotten role in the Great War. We would be happy to give due acknowledgement to the contributors.

1. Risaldar Major Bichhattar Singh, IDSM, 13th Lancers (late 31st Lancers)

This is Risaldar Major and Hony Captain Bichhattar Singh, IDSM, 13th Lancers (late 31st Lancers). This photograph was kindly shared by his grandson Colonel MS Ahluwalia (Retd) and we were able to help not only trace his service history but also managed to dig up three generations worth of history of the family in the army dating all the way back to 1864. Col Ahluwalia was thrilled as he was able to connect the dots and now knows a lot more about his great great grandfather, great grandfather and grandfather all of whom rose to the highest ranks attainable and were decorated and distinguished soldiers.

Bichhattar Singh enlisted in the army on 1st May 1906. He was commissioned as a Jemadar on 20th March 1917 and became Risaldar on 1st July 1922. He was qualified in Machine Gun and Vickers Gun, had passed the course of Transport Instruction and was qualified at equitation school.During the Great War, he was with the 31st Lancers which later amalgamated with the 32nd Lancers in 1922 and became the 13th DCO Lancers.

He saw service in France from 29th October 1914 to 19th November 1916, in Iraq from 2nd February 1917 to December 1920 and apart from being awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM) in 1921 in Mesopotamia, he was also Mentioned in Despatches on 3rd June 1917.

Bichhattar Singh's father; Tilok Singh, Bahadur, OBI, RVM was also in the same regiment and retired as the Risaldar Major of the regiment in 1909. His grandfather Risaldar Major and Hony Captain Hukam Singh, Bahadur, OBI, served in the 16th Bengal Lancers. His photograph has been added to our 'Indian Faces of the Great War' Flickr photostream.


2. Lieutenant Colonel Raghbir Singh Pathania, 2nd Jammu & Kashmir Rifles

Lieutenant Colonel Raghbir Singh Pathania, (2nd J&K Rifles), son of General Nihal Singh Pathania, Sardar Bahadur, OBI, C-in-C J&K Forces was killed in action while commanding the battalion in Jassin, Tanganyika, 1915 in East Africa. His original photograph is on our online Flickr photostream , 'Indian Faces of the Great War'

Image Courtesy: Mr Vasu Pathania, grandson of Lt Col Raghbir Pathania.


3. Subedar Major Ujala Singh, 98th Infantry (later 4/19th Hyderabad Regiment)

Subedar Major Ujala Singh was the son of Ram Rattan. He was from village Badesara, district Hissar of undivided Punjab (now in district Bhiwani after the creation of Haryana).

Date of Birth - Jun 1886 (exact date not known)

Service Particulars:

Enrolled in 98 Infantry Regiment - 02 Dec 1906
Date of first Commission, Jemadar- 27 June 1917
Date of second Commission, Subedar - 06 Nov 1919
Promoted to Subedar Major - 01 Oct 1927
Retired - 31 Jan 1933
Demise - July 1944 (exact date not known)

During the Great War, the 98th Infantry served in India, German East Africa and Persia. It was re-designated the 4/19th Hyderabad Regiment in 1922.

His photograph has been added to our flickr stream, 'Indian Faces of the Great War'

Image Courtesy: Lt Col Rajendra Pal Singh (Retd), grandson of Subedar Major Ujala Singh.


4. Lt Col Thakur Aman Singh Jodha, Sardar Bahadur, OBI, IOM, Jodhpur Imperial Service Lancers

Lt Col Thakur Aman Singh Jodha was born in Digarana, Marwar in 1870. He served the Jodhpur state forces for 40 years from 1889 to 1929. Joining the Jodhpur Imperial Service Lancers in 1889, he took part in a number of overseas operations. He served in the Durand Commission to define the line between British India and Afghanistan as part of a troop of Jodhpur Lancers. He then served in the North West Frontier Tirah campaign in 1897 and was awarded the Indian General Service Medal for Tirah 1897-98.

He served in China during the Boxer Rebellion 1900-01 and was awarded the China medal. During the First World War, he proceeded overseas on 29 August 1914 and returned to India only in February 1920. He went to war as Risaldar Major of the Jodhpur Lancers and was promoted to the rank of Captain on 13 Dec 1915 and made 'B' Squadron Commander.

He was awarded the Order of British India (2nd class) with the title of Bahadur on 20th April 1917 for field service in France. He was also awarded the Indian Order of Merit on 23 Sept 1918 for gallantry while leading the Jodhpur Lancers in their famous charge at Haifa (now in Israel). Lt Col Jodha also received the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and Victory Medal during the Great War. His photo has been added to 'Indian Faces of the Great War'


5. Lieutenant Colonel Bapubha Narainji Gohel, Bahadur, OBI, IDSM, Commandant, Bhavnagar Lancers, Imperial Service Troops

Lt Col Bapubha Narainji Gohel joined the Bhavnagar Lancers in February 1899, eight years after it had been established as part of the Imperial Service Troops scheme, and was commissioned in April 1905.

The Bhavnagar Lancers served extensively in Egypt, Palestine and Syria during the First World War as part of the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade, and received battle and theatre honours for Suez Canal, Egypt 1915-17, Gaza, Megiddo, Sharon, Damascus, Palestine 1917-18. In various ISF Army Lists, including the January 1938 edition, Lt. Col Bapubha’s war services are recorded as: ‘Mesopotamia 1916-18, Egypt 1918-20, twice mentioned in dispatches.’ Although these lists are not always accurate in fine detail, the inclusion of ‘Mesopotamia’ must be correct as this is the theatre within which Risaldar (Squadron Commander) Bapoo Bhai [sic], Bhavnagar I.S. Lancers earned his IDSM (G.G.O. No.1360 of 18th August 1917). It might be deduced from the foregoing that Risaldar Bapubha was posted to extra-regimental duty in Mesopotamia, as there is no record of the Bhavnagar Lancers having served in this operational theatre. His photo has been added to 'Indian Faces of the Great War'


6. Mentioned in Despatches Certificate of Naik Sohan Singh, 90th Punjabis

A Great War Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) Ceritificate of No. 1699 Naik Sohan Singh, 90th Punjabis of Village Rampur, District Sialkot. The MiD was awarded for services rendered in Mesopotamia.

A soldier mentioned in dispatches (or despatches) (MiD) is one whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which is described the soldier's gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy.

This certificate was kindly provided by Maj Gen A. J. S. Sandhu, VSM (Retd), grandson of Naik Sohan Singh.

  • About Us

    The Joint USI-MEA Centenary Commemoration project highlights the oft-forgotten role of India in the First World War and commemorates those soldiers who served during the War. The project is aimed at exploring India’s engagement in the war from a variety of perspectives.
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