Indian soldier fought WWI, widow battles for his honour

Shimla, March 30: As Indian soldiers who fought World War I are going to be remembered and honoured by Britain this year in commemoration of the 100th anniversary, a George Cross recipient Indian soldier’s widow is struggling to get the lost honour back.

For Brahmi Devi, who received the George Cross awarded to her martyred husband from Viceroy Field Marshal Lord Wavell in 1946, the celebrations have no meaning.

“A series of events lined up to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the battle have no relevance for me. Till date, I am not able to get back the last remembrance of my late husband,” Devi, who lives in a village in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, told IANS Saturday.

Her husband Naik Kirpa Ram was awarded the George Cross, considered the civilian counterpart of Britain’s highest military decoration — the Victoria Cross — for sacrificing his life to save his comrades while disposing of a misfired rifle grenade at a camp in Bangalore Sep 12, 1945.

But the medal was allegedly stolen from Devi’s house in 2002. After a prolonged legal battle, her counsel in Britain managed to get back the medal. But it is still lying with the counsel. Devi said the British authorities have so far not facilitated the process for the return of the medal to India.

“The medal is lying with the counsel (in London) for more than three months now. Neither the Indian nor British authorities have so far tried to return the medal to me,” she said over phone.

“If Britain intends to honour the World War I heroes, restoring the bravery medal to its original owner will be another honour for a soldier who survived the British Indian Army’s Burma campaign (1944-45),” she added.

Members of the Indian community in London have raised a charity of