Darwan Singh Negi: Story of India’s First Victoria Cross Winner

Darwan Singh Negi, a remarkable soldier hailing from India, etched his name in history as the first recipient of the Victoria Cross (divided India, as Sepoy Khudadad Khan became the first soldier from undivided India), the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

His heroic actions and unwavering courage during World War I exemplify the indomitable spirit and bravery of the Indian soldiers who served in the British Indian Army.

In this article, we will explore the life, achievements, gallant actions, and Darwan Singh Negi biography.

Early Life & Darwan Singh Negi Biography

Born in the panoramic village of Kafarteer village of Chamoli in Uttarakhand, India, in the year 1883, Darwan Singh Negi belonged to a modest background. His journey began when he enrolled in the Garhwal Rifles, a renowned infantry regiment of the British Indian Army.

darwan singh Negi photogrid, he is holding a rifle in left image and his portrait on right

Negi’s dedication, discipline, and determination soon propelled him forward, earning him respect among his peers and superiors.

Darwan Singh Negi Education

Darwan Singh Negi hailed from a modest background, growing up in the picturesque region of Garhwal. His thirst for knowledge began at a young age, and he displayed immense determination and dedication toward his studies.

Despite the challenges posed by limited educational resources, Negi embraced every opportunity to learn and expand his horizons.

Joining the British Indian Army

Inspired by the stories of valor and heroism, Darwan Singh Negi decided to join the British Indian Army. His decision was motivated by a desire to serve his nation and protect its interests.

In 1904, he enlisted in the Garhwal Rifles, a renowned regiment of the Indian Army.

Training and Development

Upon joining the British Indian army, Negi underwent rigorous training to develop the necessary skills and expertise required of a soldier. The training encompassed physical fitness, marksmanship, tactical maneuvers, and discipline. Negi’s dedication and perseverance during this period laid a solid foundation for his future endeavors.

The Gallant Actions

Battle of Festubert

In May 1915, during the Battle of Festubert in France, Negi’s unparalleled bravery came to the forefront. As a part of the Indian Expeditionary Force, he found himself amidst a fierce battle, facing relentless enemy fire and challenging conditions.

Undeterred, Negi displayed extraordinary courage, leading his comrades in a daring assault on the enemy trenches. Despite sustaining multiple injuries, he persisted to inspire his fellow soldiers, refusing to yield until victory was secured.

Capture of German Trenches

Negi’s valorous acts did not stop at Festubert. In March 1916, during the Capture of German Trenches in France, he once again exhibited unwavering bravery.

Despite facing heavy artillery bombardment and intense enemy resistance, Negi fearlessly led his men in a resolute charge, capturing a vital enemy position. His exceptional leadership and personal heroism played a pivotal role in the success of the mission.

Recognition and Legacy

In honor of his exceptional bravery and selflessness, Darwan Singh Negi was awarded the Victoria Cross on October 28, 1915. This prestigious accolade, presented by King George V, was a testament to his extraordinary feats on the battlefield.

Negi’s gallantry and sacrifice continue to inspire generations, symbolizing the indomitable spirit of the Indian soldiers who fought alongside their British counterparts during World War I.

Honoring a National Hero


The heroic actions of Darwan Singh Negi have not been forgotten. In India, he is revered as a national hero, and his contributions to the nation’s history are celebrated. The Indian government, along with various organizations and communities, has undertaken initiatives to honor Negi’s memory and ensure that his legacy lives on.

Memorials and Statues


In his hometown of Kafalgarh, Uttarakhand, a memorial has been erected to commemorate Darwan Singh Negi. This monument stands as a tribute to his bravery and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers during times of conflict.

Additionally, a statue of Negi has been installed in Lansdowne, Uttarakhand, further immortalizing his heroic deeds.

India Gate


Darwan Singh Negi’s name is proudly inscribed on the walls of honor at the India Gate in New Delhi. This iconic structure serves as a memorial to the 70,000 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War I.

Negi’s inclusion among these honored names reflects his significant role in India’s military history and his distinguished status as the country’s first Victoria Cross recipient.

Remembering the Legacy


Darwan Singh Negi’s legacy extends beyond the physical memorials and statues erected in his honor. His story continues to inspire and resonate with people, serving as a reminder of the extraordinary courage and sacrifice displayed by Indian soldiers throughout history.

Negi’s remarkable journey, from a rural village to international recognition, embodies the aspirations and potential of each individual.

23 December 1914, injured Darwan singh negi being carried to hospital by comrades
23 December 1914, injured Darwan Singh Negi being carried to the hospital by comrades | via Commons

Darwan Singh Negi’s legacy goes far beyond his individual accomplishments. His bravery and selflessness serve as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Indian soldiers who fought alongside their British counterparts during World War I.

Negi’s actions and the recognition he received have had a lasting impact on the collective memory of India and its military history.

Inspiring Future Generations


Negi’s story serves as an inspiration to the youth of India, encouraging them to embrace bravery, dedication, and service to the nation.

His example instills a sense of pride and patriotism, reminding everyone of the countless unsung heroes who have contributed to the progress and prosperity of the country.

Conclusion

Darwan Singh Negi’s remarkable journey from a small village in India to becoming the first recipient of the Victoria Cross is a testament to his extraordinary courage and dedication.

His unwavering spirit and selfless acts on the battlefield inspire us to this day. Negi’s legacy stands as a symbol of the valor and sacrifice of Indian soldiers who have served and continue to serve their nation with utmost bravery.

FAQs

What is the Victoria Cross?

The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for acts of valor in the face of the enemy. It was established in 1856 and is awarded to members of the British Armed Forces and Commonwealth countries.

How did Darwan Singh Negi receive the Victoria Cross?

Darwan Singh Negi received the Victoria Cross for his exceptional bravery during the Battle of Festubert in May 1915.

What impact did Darwan Singh Negi’s actions have?

Darwan Singh Negi’s actions showcased the courage and resilience of Indian soldiers in the face of adversity, highlighting their significant contribution to the Allied war effort during World War I.

How is Darwan Singh Negi remembered today?

Darwan Singh Negi’s legacy is remembered through various memorials, including a statue erected in his honor in Lansdowne, Uttarakhand, and his name being inscribed on the walls of honor at the India Gate in New Delhi.

Can you visit Darwan Singh Negi’s birthplace?

Yes, Darwan Singh Negi’s birthplace, Kafalgarh in Uttarakhand, is open to visitors who wish to explore the hometown of India’s first Victoria Cross winner.

Was Darwan Singh Negi the only Indian soldier to receive the Victoria Cross?

No, Darwan Singh Negi was the first Indian soldier to receive the Victoria Cross. However, he was not the only Indian recipient. Several other Indian soldiers have also been awarded this prestigious honor for their gallantry and bravery.

What happened to Darwan Singh Negi after the war?

Darwan Singh Negi returned to his village after the war and continued to serve in the Indian Army until his retirement. He lived a quiet life and passed away in 1950, leaving behind a legacy of bravery and sacrifice.

Are there any books or documentaries about Darwan Singh Negi?

Yes, several books and documentaries have been written and produced to shed light on Darwan Singh Negi’s life and his heroic actions during World War I. These resources provide detailed accounts of his bravery and serve as valuable historical records.

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