Khudadad Khan

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Khudadad Khan Minhas
Action by Sepoy Khudadad Khan VC Ypres.jpg
Sepoy Khudadad Khan, VC, 129th Duke of Connaught's Own Baluchis, Hollebeke Sector, Belgium.
First Battle of Ypres, 31 October 1914.
Born 20 October 1888 (1888-10-20)
Dab, District Chakwal
Died 8 March 1971(1971-03-08) (aged 82)
Mandi Bahauddin,Pakistan
Allegiance British India
Service/branch British Indian Army
Rank Subedar
Unit 129th Duke of Connaught's Own Baluchis
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Victoria Cross

Khudadad Khan, VC (20 October 1888 – 8 March 1971) born in Chakwal in what is now Pakistan, was the first South Asian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest military award for gallantry in the face of the enemy given to British and Commonwealth forces.

On 31 October 1914, at Hollebeke, Belgium, 26-year old Khan performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

A statue of Khudadad Khan graces the entrance of the Pakistan Army Museum in Rawalpindi.1

Details

Born on 20 October 1888 in the village of Dab in Chakwal District (then a tehsil of District Jhelum) of the Punjab Province, British India (now Pakistan), Khudadad Khan was a Sepoy in the 129th Duke of Connaught's Own Baluchis, British Indian Army (now 11th Battalion The Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army). The battalion formed part of the Indian Corps, which was sent to France in 1914, to shore up the British forces fighting on the Western Front during the First World War.

In October 1914, the Germans launched a major offensive in northern Belgium, in order to capture the vital ports of Boulogne in France and Nieuport in Belgium. In what came to be known as the First Battle of Ypres, the newly arrived 129th Baluchis were rushed to the frontline to support the hard-pressed British troops. On 31 October, two companies of the Baluchis bore the brunt of the main German attack near the village of Gheluvelt in Hollebeke Sector. The out-numbered Baluchis fought gallantly but were overwhelmed after suffering heavy casualties. Sepoy Khudadad Khan’s machine-gun team, along with one other, kept their guns in action throughout the day; preventing the Germans from making the final breakthrough. The other gun was disabled by a shell and eventually Khudadad Khan’s own team was overrun. All the men were killed by bullets or bayonets except Khudadad Khan, who despite being badly wounded, had continued working his gun. He was left for dead by the enemy but despite his wounds, he managed to crawl back to his regiment during the night. Thanks to his bravery, and that of his fellow Baluchis, the Germans were held up just long enough for Indian and British reinforcements to arrive. They strengthened the line, and prevented the German Army from reaching the vital ports. For his matchless feat of courage and gallantry, Sepoy Khudadad Khan was awarded the Victoria Cross.23

Khudadad Khan retired as a Subedar. He died in 1971 and is buried in Chak No. 25, Mandi Bahauddin. His Victoria Cross is on display at his ancestral house in Village Dab (Chakwal), Pakistan.4

Citation

War Office, 7th December, 1914.

His Majesty the KING-EMPEROR has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned soldiers of the Indian Army for conspicuous bravery whilst serving with the Indian Army Corps, British Expeditionary Force: —

[...]

4050, Sepoy Khudadad, 129th Duke of Counaught's Own Baluchis.

On 31st October, 1914, at Hollebeke, Belgium, the British Officer in charge of the detachment having been wounded, and the other gun put out of action by a shell, Sepoy Khudadad, though himself wounded, remained working his gun until all the other five men of the gun detachment had been killed.
London Gazette 4 December 1914 (dated 7 December 1914)5

See also

References

  1. ^ Unattributed. "Subedar Khuda Dad Khan". Pakistan Army Museum Collections. museum.com. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Thatcher, WS. (1932). The Fourth Battalion, Duke of Connaught's Own, Tenth Baluch Regiment in the Great War. Cambridge: The University Press. pp. 13-17. ISBN 1-84734-752-5
  3. ^ Ahmed, Maj Gen Rafiuddin. (1998). History of the Baloch Regiment 1820-1939. Abbottabad: The Baloch Regimental Centre. pp. 173-78. ISBN 1-84734-130-6
  4. ^ However, there is some controversy as to the genuineness of this existing medal on display and many say it is a duplicate/copy. According to old newspaper reports, Pakistan, Khudadad Khan's original VC was stolen from him in Rawalpindi in 1950, and a police report was lodged at that time but the medal was never recovered. In early 2011, various reports and advertisements began to appear in Pakistan, that the original VC was 'for confidential sale' with a jeweller in Haripur area see http://haripur.olx.com.pk/medal-victoria-cross-1914-for-sale-iid-68882112; and in March 2011, a Pakistani reporter also posted this information at the site/weblog of a non-governmental organization in the North-West http://omrite.blogspot.com/2011/03/national-treasure-for-sale.htm Retrieved 25 April 2012. The truth of the matter is still not exactly clear, and speculation on it persists
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28999. p. 10425. 4 December 1914. Retrieved 2 August 2009.

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