Not all WW1 heroes were white – IMFC

Editor’s Pick | Asia Samachar | 25 Mar 2015 
Subedar Manta Singh Johal,
15th Ludhiana Sikhs
Son of Khem Singh of Salempur, Masandan, Jalandhar, Punjab.
Born: 1870 / Died: March 20, 1915


On this day 100 years ago an injured Indian soldier tragically died from wounds sustained in a courageous act of valour – an act that would give rise to a century of friendship.

Subadar (Lieutenant) Manta Singh was injured in March 1915 during the battle of Neuve Chapelle, the first offensive of the British Forces in French Flanders.

Having witnessed an English comrade, Lieutenant George Henderson, suffer a serious injury , Manta Singh reached for his friend picking him up to carry him to safety, according to an article at a website dedicated to the memories of Punjabi heritage and its links to Canada.

During the selfless rescue, that would save his friends life, Manta Singh, while trying to navigate a hail of machine gun fire in no-man’s land, would be hit in the leg. Despite the injury, Manta Singh was able to find a wheelbarrow to help carry his fellow officer to a nursing station.

The article entitled Not All WW1 Heroes Were White was found at the, a website run by the Indus Media Foundation Canada (IMFC).

Blood Brothers – Manta Singh bringing a wounded George Henderson to safety. (IMFC Print)
Blood Brothers – Manta Singh bringing a wounded George Henderson to safety. (IMFC Print)

The article goes on:

Understanding the workings of Empire and the respect that had been engendered amongst the fighting men of the Imperial forces can be difficult today. However, during WW1 the bonds of loyalty between British and Indian were not at all unusual. The preceding Victorian era of small wars had forged a unique camaraderie within a ‘Punjabified’ British Indian Army; white and brown men fought, bled, and died together in distant outposts of Empire from Africa to China. In many parts of the east, the very face of the British Empire was a turban clad Punjabi in an Indian Army uniform standing side by side with the Sahib.

While it may be difficult to explain to outsiders the bonds between soldiers, without this camaraderie a Punjabi dominated army would never have supported a century of British rule. Even those newly recruited into the war effort, who may have not fully appreciated all the intricacies of fighting in their colonial master’s quarrel, remained true to the colours of their proud regiments. During WW1 over 9,000 Indian soldiers would be recognised for their acts of courage in the field.



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