Battle of Saragarhi "Lest We Forget"

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought during the Tirath Campaignhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirah_Campaign on 12 September 1897 between twenty-one Sikhs of the 4th Battalion (then 36th Sikhshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/36th_Sikhs) of the Sikh Regimenthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sikh_Regiment of British Indiahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India, defending an army post, and 10,000 Afghanhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashtun_people and Orakzaihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orakzai tribesmen. The battle occurred in the North-West Frontier Province, which formed part of British India. It is now named the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and is part of Pakistan.

Details of the Battle of Saragarhi are considered fairly accurate, due to Gurmukh Singh signalling events to Fort Lockhart as they occurred.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi#cite_note-pall-10

  • Around 9:00am, around 10,000 Afghans reach the signaling post at Saragarhi.
  • Sardar Gurmukh Singh signals to Col. Haughton, situated in Fort Lockhart, that they are under attack.
  • Colonel Haughton states he cannot send immediate help to Saragarhi.
  • The soldiers decide to fight to the last to prevent the enemy from reaching the forts.
  • Bhagwan Singh becomes the first injured and Lal Singh is seriously wounded.
  • Soldiers Lal Singh and Jiwa Singh reportedly carry the dead body of Bhagwan Singh back to the inner layer of the post.
  • The enemy breaks a portion of the wall of the picket.
  • Colonel Haughton signals that he has estimated between 10,000 and 14,000 Pashtuns attacking Saragarhi.
  • The leaders of the Afghan forces reportedly make promises to the soldiers to entice them to surrender.
  • Reportedly two determined attempts are made to rush open the gate, but are unsuccessful.
  • Later, the wall is breached.
  • Thereafter, some of the fiercest hand-to-hand fighting occurs.
  • In an act of outstanding bravery, Ishar Singh orders his men to fall back into the inner layer, whilst he remains to fight. However, this is breached and all but one of the defending soldiers are killed, along with many of the Pashtuns.
  • Gurmukh Singh, who communicated the battle with Col. Haughton, was the last Sikh defender. He is stated to have killed 20 Afghans, the Pashtuns having to set fire to the post to kill him. As he was dying he was said to have yelled repeatedly the Sikh battle-cry "Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal" (Victory belongs to those who recite the name of God with a true heart).
Having destroyed Saragarhi, the Afghans turned their attention to Fort Gulistan, but they had been delayed too long, and reinforcements arrived there in the night of 13–14 September, before the fort could be conquered.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi#cite_note-londongaz-0 The Pashtuns later admitted that they had lost about 180 killedhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi#cite_note-ioss-3 and many more woundedhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi#cite_note-defending-5 during the engagement against the 21 Sikh soldiers, but some 600 bodieshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi#cite_note-Gautam1990-7 are said to have been seen around the ruined post when the relief party arrived (however, the fort had been retaken, on 14 September, by the use of intensive artillery fire,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saragarhi#cite_note-Frontier_1897-6 which may have caused many casualties). The total casualties in the entire campaign, including the Battle of Saragarhi, numbered at around 4,800.
 

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