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Ceremony to Honour Overseas Born WW1 Victoria Cross Recipients

On 5th March 2015 at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire UK, the British Government paid tribute to the 145 servicemen born overseas who were awarded Victoria Crosses in WW1. The event was held now as next Monday is Commonwealth Day.

145 servicemen born in 19 different countries were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. They are Australia (52), Canada (32), India (17), New Zealand (14), South Africa (5), Pakistan (3), United States of America (4), Denmark (2), Germany (2), Netherlands (2), Nepal (2), Sri Lanka (2) Belgium (1) China (1), Egypt (1), France (1), Iraq (1), Ukraine (1). Memorial stones for all members were displayed at the event.


I was extremely honoured and privileged to be invited to attend the ceremony. I especially wished to remember the 3 Muslim soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross in WW1 from present day Pakistan, as I have been researching this contribution for 6 months.

Prime Minister David Cameron specially arrived at the memorial to address the audience and honour the valiant soldiers from WW1.

He paid tribute to the “remarkable valour and devotion to duty” of the overseas born recipients of Britain’s highest military honour, the Victoria Cross (VC) for service in the First World War.

Speaking at the ceremony where 145 commemorative paving stones were unveiled, the Prime Minister said:

‘Today we write the names of these Victoria Cross winners into the soil of our land. A century may have passed since these extraordinary acts but the courage of these men remains as humbling and inspiring today as it was back then.

It is absolutely right that here in our National Memorial Arboretum where so many acts of courage are commemorated these paving stones should provide a permanent memorial to heroes from 19 different countries around the Commonwealth whose bravery and service won them the Victoria Cross.’

After the speeches there was a 2 minute silence and laying for wreaths.

Victoria Cross recipients from present day Pakistan

  • Khudadad Khan (1888- 1971)

First South Asian and First Muslim recipient of the Victoria Cross. From Dab Village, Chakwal.

From Tirah, North West Frontier, Pakistan was with the 55th Cokes Rifles, Frontier Force (attached to the 57th Wildes Rifles). He received the VC for carrying back 8 injured officers from the front line in April 1915, at Ypres, Belgium.

  • Shahamad Khan (1879- 1947)

             From Rawalpindi, Pakistan was part of the 89th Punjabis Regiment. In April 1916 he alone defended his machine gun position for many hours in Mesopotamia.

I do not wish to debate the political rights and wrongs of War. However my humble plea to readers is to remember the extraordinary courage and sacrifices of the soldiers involved. To this effect a group of researchers in Islamabad have started a campaign to recognise present day Pakistan’s significant contribution to the First World War.

Please see website: http://www.worldwar1.pk/


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