The greatest stand ever, where 21 Sikh Soldiers bravely stood against and killed 600 armed Afghans!

If ‘300’ movie really impressed you, then we have something more impressive and interesting for you guys.

Yes, we are talking about the greatest last stand ever, wherein a group of 21 young Sikh men stood to face out the Afghans.

Owing to our rich war history, the battle of Saragarhi clearly stands out and is considered to be one of the greatest last stands ever.

Battle of Saragarhi

In this battle of Saragarhi district, a group of 21 Sikh soldiers posted at the 36 Sikh Regiment bravely faced and fought with an army of more than a thousand Afghans and killed 600 of them in the war before perishing and surrendering to the bullets of the enemy army.

The History of the Battle:

Going back to the history, the battle took place in the Tirah region of the North West Frontier province, which is now located in Pakistan on 12th September 1897.

The Saragarhi district was a post that used to connect the British India forts of Gulistan and Lockhart located on the border regions of Afghanistan.

This post of Saragarhi always remained prone to the unannounced attacks from the Afghans who were usually hostile on the Indian borders.

saragarhi fort

But in this battle, when the Afghans attacked in real, they marched down with a big army of 10,000 soldiers. Astonishingly, the Sikh soldiers who were at that time guarding against the post willingly chose to face them instead of retreating.

During that time, the post of Saragarhi had 1 detachment (1 NCO) Non-Commissioned officer and 20 ORs (other ranks), wherein commander Havildar Ishar Singh was posted as leader of this unit.

The Sikhs faced an odd of 1:476:

Something more than just courage was highly required when it comes to facing such a big challenge where death seems so certain.

Considering even the war of Thermopylae, the Greeks still had a chance and choice because luckily, they were battling in a region of hilly terrain.


But, to its contrary, the battle of Saragarhi was fought all out in the open. The ratio of Sikhs and Afghans was striking and odd at 1:476, where Alexander could have second thoughts about giving it a try.

But these 21 Sikh men did not care and showed up with much valour and courage.

How it all did begin?

The morning of 12th September 1897 saw an army of 10,000 Afghans marching down the post of Saragarhi. At around 9 am, the Sardar Gurmukh Singh quickly gave a signal to Col Haughton in the fort of Lockhart that they are suspecting an attack.

Listening to this, col pleaded for his helplessness to send reinforcement at such short notice. It is then, the soldiers decided to fight.

Surrendering at this point of time had been an easy option and would have saved their lives, but this would have made the fall of the fort of Lockhart certain and this is what the Sikhs did not want.

How the battle of Saragarhi unfolded?

Soon enough, the battle began and it was Sepoy Bhagwan Singh who became the first casualty, which was followed by an assault on Sepoy Lal Singh.

All this was being witnessed by Col Haughton who was standing far away from the post. Witnessing all of this, he knew that it was certain that the Afghans would soon kill all the Sikh soldiers posted there. Afghans too were aware of this fact and certain of a victory; they were constantly enticing the Sikh soldiers to surrender.

But the Indian soldiers did not give up and were continuously firing at the Afghans. But unfortunately, the Afghans broke the wall and got in.

This then became a hand to hand combat fighting and when Col Haughton saw that the number of Indian soldiers was increasingly shrinking, he too went in to fight the Afghans with his fellow soldiers on the field.

While fighting, the col could only hear the shouting cries of the Sikhs which said “Jo bole so Nihaal, Sat Sri Akaal”. But slowly the sounds died with the death of 21 Sikh brave heart soldiers who kept fighting with all their courage and kept the Afghans at bay for almost the duration of three hours.

12th September as Saragarhi day:

Even today, in remembrance of the death of brave 21 Sikh soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of Saragarhi, the date of 12th September is celebrated to honour their sacrifices. 12th September is observed as the Sikh Military Commemoration day.

Also, the three famous Gurudwaras namely in Saragarhi, Amritsar and Ferozepur had been made to commemorate and honour their sacrifice.

The names of the 21 recipients of the gallantry award are:

1 Havildar Ishar Singh (regimental number 165)
2 Naik Lal Singh (332)
3 Lance Naik Chanda Singh (546)
4 Sepoy Sundar Singh (1321)
5 Sepoy Ram Singh (287)
6 Sepoy Uttar Singh (492)
7 Sepoy Sahib Singh (182)
8 Sepoy Hira Singh (359)
9 Sepoy Daya Singh (687)
10 Sepoy Jivan Singh (760)
11 Sepoy Bhola Singh (791)
12 Sepoy Narayan Singh (834)
13 Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (814)
14 Sepoy Jivan Singh (871)
15 Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (1733)
16 Sepoy Ram Singh (163)
17 Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1257)
18 Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1265)
19 Sepoy Buta Singh (1556)
20 Sepoy Jivan Singh (1651)
21 Sepoy Nand Singh (1221)


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