GABAR SINGH : WAR MEMORIAL

In midst of the Tehri-Garwhal region, a war memorial of the Martyr Gabar Singh Negi is situated. Gabar Singh Negi of the Garhwali community was born in Manjood village near Chamba, Tehri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand and joined ‘The Garhwal Rifles’ in October 1913. As a mere 19-year-old boy he was designated as a Rifleman in the 2/39th Garhwal Rifles, Indian Army and on 10th March 1915, during the First World War, he was awarded the highest gallantry award at Neuve Chapelle, France.

During an attack on the German position, he was one of a bayonet party with bombs who entered their main trench and was the first man to go round each traverse. While driving back the enemy and forcing them to surrender, he died.

Indian Officers, 39th Garhwalis
Indian Officers, 39th Garhwalis

The Garhwal regiment had the distinction of winning two Victoria Cross Medals: one by Rfn Gabar Singh Negi and the other by Nk Darwan Singh Negi.

As a tribute to his sacrifice, an annual fair named- The Gabar Singh Negi Fair is held in Chamba. A memorial was constructed at -Shaheed Sthal Chamba in-Tehri-Garhwal region and each year on 20th or 21st April, the army would perform offerings and later conduct a recruitment rally under the Garhwali Rifles Regimental Centre. The fair became a means of certainty and thus attracted villagers from far and near to pay their homage to this brave soldier.

The Ruins of Neuve Chapelle, 1915
The Ruins of Neuve Chapelle, 1915

Lt Gen Sir James Willcocks, commanding the Indian Corps in France had this to say about the Garhwalis in his book “With the Indians in France”: “The 1st and 2nd Battalions both did splendidly on every occasion in which they were engaged, the Garhwalis suddenly sprang to the very front rank of our best fighting men. nothing could have been better than their elan and discipline”.

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