Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Umrao Singh: Hero
On 15/16 December 1944 in the Kaladan Valley, Burma (now Myanmar), Umrao Singh was a field gun detachment commander in an advanced section of 33 Mountain Battery, Indian Artillery. After a sustained Japanese artillery bombardment, Singh's gun position was attacked by at least two companies of Japanese infantry. He used a Bren light machine gun and directed the rifle fire of the gunners, holding off the assault. He was wounded by two grenades.
A second wave of attackers killed all but Singh and two other gunners, but was also beaten off. The three soldiers had only few bullets remaining, and these were rapidly exhausted in the initial stages of the assault by a third wave of attackers. Undaunted, Singh picked up a "gun bearer" (a heavy iron rod, similar to a crow bar) and used that as a weapon in hand to hand fighting - he was seen to strike down three infantrymen before succumbing to a rain of blows.
Six hours later, after a counter-attack, he was found alive but unconscious near to his artillery piece, almost unrecognisable after head injury. Ten Japanese lay dead nearby. His field gun was operable and was in action later that day.
Thanks to W for the tip.