Home News News-Brighton Indian Victoria Cross Winner Honoured

Indian Victoria Cross Winner Honoured

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Police in Brighton and Hove donate £300 towards a commemorative blue plaque for a the Victoria Cross winner in World War One.

Subedar Mir Dast, served in the British Indian Army as a junior officer on the Western Front. He arrived in France in 1915.

Already the recipient of the Indian Order of Merit for his bravery on the North-West Frontier, he again distinguished himself during the Second Battle of Ypres on 26 April, in Wieltje, Belgium.

A counter attack by the allies was ferociously repulsed by the Germans who used heavy artillery and chlorine gas.

 

Lacking gas masks and cover, the men retreated and Mir Dast, though debilitated by gas and slightly wounded, collected various survivors and kept them under his command until the retirement was ordered.

 

After dark, he risked his life again by going back to the battlefield and helped to rescue eight allied officers to safety whilst under fire.
For this act of selfless courage, he was promoted to the rank of chief officer and was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour for bravery.

Mir Dast was was again badly gassed and wounded on 13 May in the trenches at Neuve Chapelle and was consequently evacuated to the Royal Pavilion Indian Hospital in Brighton.

On 25 August 1915, Mir Dast was invested with the Victoria Cross by King George V in the Royal Pavilion Grounds.

Mir Dast never fully recovered and as one of India’s most decorated and popular soldiers, he was invalidated out of the Army in 1917.

He returned to his village of ShagilandiKyan, in Peshawar and is believed to have died on 19 January 1945.

Davinder Dhillon, chairman of the Chattri Memorial Group, said:

An extraordinarily brave soldier, Mir Dast deserves to be remembered as part of the legacy of the undivided Indian Army’s contribution to the Great War for present and future generations.

We are very grateful to Sussex Police for their donation to the purchase and installation of a blue plaque which will be unveiled in 2016.”

During the First World War over one and a half million Indian army soldiers saw active service alongside British troops.

Twelve thousand Indian soldiers who were wounded on the Western Front were hospitalised at sites around Brighton. These included York Place School, the Dome, the Corn Exchange and the Royal Pavilion.

The 53 Hindu and Sikh soldiers who died in Brighton were taken to a peaceful resting place on the Sussex Downs near Patcham for cremation, after which their ashes were scattered in the sea.

Their 19 Muslim brothers-in-arms who also died in Brighton were taken to Woking to be buried in the cemetery close to the Shah Jehan Mosque.  

The Chattri Memorial Group holds a service every year in June in commemoration of those Indian soldiers. Sussex Police lays a wreath at the event.

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp said: 

We are delighted to make this donation towards a blue plaque to remember and honour such a truly brave man.

Each year we attend the commemoration service held by the Chattri Memorial Group, which ensures that the huge contribution made by the Indian army soldiers to the war effort is remembered.”

 

 

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