Thakur Singh the Soldier

The 47th Sikhs were initially raised at Sialkot in Punjab in 1901 and were composed of 4 companies of Sikhs. [1] Military records indicate that Thakur Singh not only survived World War I but had a illustrious career with the 47th Sikhs and was part of the regiment from its early days, achieving the rank of Jemadar on March 17, 1901, promoted to the rank of Subadar on March 1, 1904, Subadar-Major on April 1, 1917 [2] and finally the honorary rank of Second Lieutenant on October 7, 1919. [3]

His full title at the end of the war was Subadar –Major Thakur Singh Bahadur, M.C. Order of British India, 2nd Class. [4] The title ‘Bahadur’ was an honorary title that was used by winners of the Order of British India. The order was highly regarded and was awarded for distinguished service on a particular campaign or to officers with between 20 to 30 years’ service. [5] The M.C. designates a recipient of the Military Cross. This medal and title was instituted by the King on December 28th, 1914 to formally recognize the courage of junior officers during wartime. [6] What is very unique is that Thakur Singh was in the very first batch of soldiers, British or Indian, to be awarded the medal by King George. [7] During WWI there were only 12 Military Cross winners among the 47th Sikhs. [8]

Thakur Singh's Medal Card

Before the war, Thakur Singh had seen combat in the 1903-1904 British invasion of Tibet to prevent the Russian Empire from gaining a foothold and received a Tibet 1903-04 medal with clasp for Action at Gyantse and March on Lhasa. [9]

During World War I and immediately following it, Thakur Singh and the 47th Sikhs saw action in France, Mesopotamia and Palestine. [10]

The 47th Sikhs were among the early Indian divisions arriving in France at Marseilles on September 26, 1914 as part of the 3rd Lahore Division. [11] The 47th Sikhs participated in the attack on Neuve Chapelle beginning on October 25, 1914 [12] and it was during the fierce fighting here that Thakur Singh was wounded in battle on October 27, 1914. [13] After hospitalization and eventual recovery Thakur Singh rejoinder the 47th Sikhs on January 11, 1915 from England [14] at Allouagne in France. [15]


1. The Quarterly Indian Army List January 1919 Volume 2, (Army Headquarters India, Calcutta 1919)

2. Ibid.

3. The London Gazette (23, January, 1920) 988

4. The Quarterly Indian Army List January 1919 Volume 4, (Army Headquarters India, Calcutta 1919)


6. Military Cross,

7. The London Gazette (1 January, 1915) 8


9. The Quarterly Indian Army List January 1919 Volume 4, (Army Headquarters India, Calcutta 1919)


11. 47th Sikhs War Record, The Great War 1914-1918 (Picton Publishing Ltd., United Kingdom, 1992) 7

12. Ibid. 23

13. Ibid. 24

14. Ibid. 273

15. Ibid. 54