True to their Salt - A Real Hero Story ~ Karm Singh

Many acts of bravery were conducted by the officers' men in the Battle of Gallipoli which is worth sharing....

True to their Salt - A Real Hero Story

Karm Singh ~ 21st Kohat Mountain Battery (Gallipoli)

Many acts of bravery were conducted by the officers' men in the Battle of Gallipoli which is worth sharing. But this one is incomparable.

At Anzac, during a major Turkish counter attack, Lance Naik Karm Singh No. 424 ( 21st Kohat Indian Mountain Battery) would hear the order shouted from above, and would pass it on down below... Karm Singh was passing down his orders when an orderly from his battery walked down the trench. The orderly noticed that Karm Singh was sitting close up against the side of the trench, with his head near the wall and his hand over his eyes, as if he had a headache. 'What is the matter, Karm Singh?' he asked, 'Oh, it's nothing; don't worry. I am quite able to pass messages', was the answer and the orderly passed along on his business... Sometime later when the business in hand was finished, they went down and had a look at Karm Singh. They found he had been shot through both eyes... Karm Singh could still speak, If he could not see - that was all he cared for until his job was finished. Karm Singh stuck to his duty until forcibly removed. For his bravery, he was awarded the Indian Order of Merit. ~ (Charles Bean, official dispatch). 19th May 1915

It was, befitting that future generations should not forget that, when Britain's need was highest, Indian comrades, who were free men and voluntary soldiers, true to their salt, gave their lives in a quarrel of which it was enough for them to know that the enemy were foes of their Sahibs, the Empire, and their King.

The following is one of the true stories of this war, It was on 19th May, the day of the most serious attack the Turks have made. The attack was spent, and should have been stopped, but a few isolated waves of it continued to heat up fiercely against Quinn's Point where the Fourth Brigade then were until early midday. The Turkish artillery had given us something of a bombardment overnight, and it started again in the morning.

One of the Indian mountain batteries was in action, and all except two of its complement were under cover. One of them was at the back of the guns and the other, Karm Singh by name in the communication trench leading down to the guns. The phone was not being used they were passing the orders and corrections down by word of mouth. Karm Singh would hear the order shouted from above, and would pass it on down below, They were waiting for a particular gun to open in order to jump down its throat in the very sudden way these Indian mountain batteries have. All at once a new two gun battery opened that had not previously, been in action against us, at any rate from that position, Karm Singh was passing down his orders when an orderly from his battery walked along the trench. The orderly noticed that Karm Singh was sitting close up against the side of the trench with his head near the wall and his hand over his eyes as if he had a headache, What is the matter, Karm Singh," he asked. "Oh, it's nothing - don't worry I am quite able to pass messages," was the answer, and the orderly passed along on his business.

Sometime later, when the business in hand was finished, they went down and had a look at Karm Singh. They found he had been shot through his both eyes, The first shot from the new guns had hit not only him but the other man who was out in the trench. Karm Singh could still speak if he could not see. That was all he cared for until his job, was finished.

On the beach at Gallipoli one of the doctors in the Indian Hospital attended to his wounds. Karm Singh feebly asked, "Sahib, shall I have my sight?" The doctor hadn't the heart to tell him the truth, and answered, "Perhaps, after in time, but only in one eye". "It is nothing, Sahib," said Karm Singh. "Have I not eaten your salt and taken your bread?" He breathed as he leaned back on his stretcher. And never had a man more faithfully held by that high code.

References:~

1) Gallipoli 1915 by Richard Reid
2) London Gazette 5th November 1915, Page 11003 & 11004
3) http://www.gallipoli.gov.au/anzac-timeline/events-of-the-gallipoli-
campaign/may-1915.php
4) http://king-emperor.com/Indian%20Army%20Other%20Ranks.html
5) Gallipoli diaries.
6) Photo Courtesy of Australian War Memorial (AWM A03150)

Gallipoli (130K)
An Indian Mountain Battery in action at the back of Quinn's Post, Gallipoli. The Indian batteries were the first ashore to support the Anzacs on 25th April 1915 ( AWM A03150)

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