Case study

WW1 Indian VC recipient Gabar Singh Negi

The story of Indian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Gabar Singh Negi.

Gabar Singh Negi
Memorial to Gabar Singh Negi, Chamba, India. Credit: USI - CAFHR

6 men from India received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, during the First World War. As part of the Centenary Commemorations the people of the United Kingdom marked their gratitude to those courageous men by presenting a bronze memorial plaque to their home country engraved with their names. This archive tells their stories.

Name: Gabar Sing Negi (also known as Gobar Singh Negi)

DOB: 21 April 1895

Place of Birth: Chambra, Uttarakhand

Date of Action: 10 March 1915

Place of Action: Neuve Chapelle, France

Rank: Rifleman

Regiment: 2nd Battalion, 39th Garhwal Rifles

Gabar Sing Negi was born on 21 April 1895 in Chambra, Uttarakhand in Northern India. He was a Rifleman with the 2nd Battalion of the 39th Garhwal Rifles during the First World War.

He was twenty one years old when he was part of the attacking force at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, France, in March 1915. Indian soldiers made up half of the attacking force and it was the first major action where the Indian Corps fought as a single unit. Despite heavy causalities they managed to take a key enemy position, and it was his bravery during this battle that led Gabar Sing Negi to be awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. His citation reads as follows:

For most conspicuous bravery on 10th March, 1915, at Neuve Chapelle. During an attack on the German position, Rifleman Gabar Singh Negi was one of a bayonet party with bombs who entered their main trench, and was the first man to go round each traverse, driving back the enemy until they were eventually forced to surrender. He was killed during this engagement.

Gabar Sing Negi is commemorated on the Neuve Chapelle Memorial. The Indian Memorial at Neuve Chapelle commemorates over 4,700 Indian soldiers and labourers who lost their lives on the Western Front but whose last resting place is not known.

In his home town of Chamba every year he is remembered by The Gabar Singh Negi Fair which is held on 20 or 21 April, (depending on the Hindu calendar).

In 1971 the Garwhal Regiment built a memorial to him in Chamba where people pay their respects to his bravery. The area around the memorial comes alive with stalls during the fair.

Published 20 June 2016