10 Legendary Sikh Military Officers in Indian History


Here is a list of ten of the most legendary Sikh Military officers to come out of the Indian Armed Forces.

Marshall Arjan Singh

1) Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC is the only officer of the Indian Air Force to be promoted to five-star rank, equal to a Field Marshal, to which he was promoted in 2002. He was born in the Punjab town of Lyallpur, British India, into an Aulakh family.

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His father was Risaldar Darbara Singh of the Hodson’s Horse who had served in Gallipoli during the First World War and was wounded in Burma during World War II and retired from the Army in 1949. With the death of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in June 2008, he is the only living Indian military officer with a five-star rank.

2) General Bikram Singh

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General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM is a former Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army (CoAS). Previously the head of the Eastern Command, he became the 25th CoAS succeeding General V. K. Singh, who retired on 31 May 2012. He is second Sikh to be CoAS, the first having been General J. J. Singh. He was Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) of the Indian armed forces.

3) Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora

Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

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He led the ground forces campaign in the Eastern front of the war, which led to an overwhelming defeat of the 90,000 strong Pakistan Army and the creation of Bangladesh.

4) Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon

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Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, PVC was an officer of the Indian Air Force. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration, in recognition of his lone defence of Srinagar Air Base against a PAF air raid during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He is the only member of the Indian Air Force to be so honoured.

5) Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan

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Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan, PVC was a Subedar in the Indian Army who was awarded the distinguished Param Vir Chakra, the highest war-time gallantry award of the Indian Army. On 28 September 1936, he was enrolled in the 1 Sikh Regiment. His father, Sher Singh Sahnan, belonged to an agricultural Saini Sikh family which had relocated to village Mahla Kalan near Moga from village Munaka of district Hoshiarpur.

His mother’s name was Bibi Krishan Kaur Bhela. He married Bibi Gurdyal Kaur Banga, who was from a Saini family of village Kothay Rara Singh near Kot Kapura. He went to primary school in village Nathu Ala and to village Daroli for his middle school.

6) Major General Shabeg Singh

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Major General Shabeg Singh AVSM and PVSM (1925–1984), was an Indian Army officer noted for his service in training of Mukti Bahini volunteers during the Bangladesh Liberation War. General Shabeg Singh belonged to Khiala village (earlier known as Khiala Nand Singhwala), about nine miles (14 km) from Amritsar-Chogawan Road.

He was the eldest son of Sardar Bhagwan Singh and Pritam Kaur, and had three brothers and a sister. He traced his lineage to great Sikh warrior, Bhai Mehtab Singh who along with Bhai Sukha Singh slew the notorious Massa Rangar in 1740 and thus avenged the desecration of the Golden Temple. The family was well-to-do and prosperous and had sizeable land holding. Sardar Bhagwan Singh was the village Lambardar. Nand Singh was the great-grandfather of Shabeg Singh.

7) Lt. Hardutt Singh Malik

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Malik became the only Indian aviator to survive the First World War. After the war he joined the Indian Civil Service and later the Indian Foreign Service. Malik eventually served as Indian Ambassador to France. And as long as he lived Malik proudly carried the remnants of the bullets firmly embedded in his leg.

8) Mehar Singh

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Mehar Singh’s flight to Leh in Ladakh has been well chiseled into annals of the Indian Air Force’s Legend. When the remote district of Ladakh was in a danger of being cut off and overrun by a Pakistani force from Skardu along the Shyok Valley, A decision was taken to fly troops by air to Leh, which had an airfield at an altitude of 11, 540 feet. flying an uncharted route, over hills and peaks ranging from 15000 feet to 24000 feet, Mehar Singh flew the first Dakota to Leh and landed it at the highest airstrip in the world. The faith in this man was reimposed by none other than the commander of land forces in the Srinagar Valley sector, Maj Gen K S Thimmayya DSO, who accompanied Mehar Singh on the pioneering flight.

9) Manmohan Singh

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Manmohan Singh was the first Sikh aviator and the first Indian to fly solo from England to India, was born at Rawalpindl, now in Pakistan, in September 1906, the son of Dr Makkhan. Singh, a recipient of the Kaisar-i-Hind medal from the government for his distinguished public service as a medical practitioner.

In the history of Indian aviation, Man Mohan Singh will always be remembered as a pionecr. He was passionately devoted to flying. He never married, but was fond of children, and loved to give them joy-rides in the aircraft. According to contemporary news reports, he, while in Africa, gave free lifts to more than 20,000 persons in Kenya in the first quarter of 1936. For an example of his extraordinary concentration and stamina, it is quoted that he once took his aircraft up into the air and landed it 150 times in a single day.

10) Naib Subedar Bana Singh

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The highest medal of India for bravery reads that During June 1987, the 8th Jammu & Kashmir LI, was deployed in the Siachen area. It was then found that a large number of Pakistani infiltrators had intruded in the Siachen Glacier. The ejection of these infiltrators was considered difficult but necessary and a special task force was, constituted for the purpose. Naib Subedar Singh volunteered to join this force. The Pakistani intrusion had taken place at a height of 6500 metres. The enemy post was virtually an impregnable glacier fortress with ice walls, 457 metres high, on either side. Naib Subedar Bana Singh led his men through an extremely difficult and hazardous route. He inspired them by his courage and leadership. He and his men crawled and closed in on the adversary. Lobbing hand-grenades, charging with a bayonet and moving from trench to trench, he cleared the post of all intruders. Naib Subedar Bana Singh was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry medal, for conspicuous bravery and leadership under most adverse conditions.

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