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Last Indian VC dies

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Victoria Cross winner Umrao Singh dead


Subedar Major and honorary Captain Umrao Singh, last of the surviving Victoria Cross winners in the Indian Army, died at the Army Research and Referral hospital here today after a prolonged illness.

Singh, 85, of Jhajjar in Rohtak, Haryana, won the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery under imperial India for beating off four Japanese attacks on his advanced battery position at Kaladhan valley in Burma on the night of December 15-16, 1944.

He struck down three Japanese soldiers before being knocked out.

Six hours later, on counter attack, Allied forces found Singh at the site of his gun, so severely wounded that he was hardly recognisable. Around him lay 10 dead Japanese soldiers.

He was the last survivor among 40 Victoria Cross winners in the Indian Army known for their feats in the first and second World Wars.

Singh's funeral will take place in Palra tomorrow with full Army honours, an Army spokesman said.


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I hope to know more in a week or so, but I am told that efforts are underway to retain his medals and memory in-country, but -- as in most places -- historical consciousness is shallow in today's India and tends to get all wrapped up in jingoistic patriotism.

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