Army History

Battle Of Saragarhi: Remembering The 'Last Stand'

The heroic rearguard is considered to be one of the greatest in history.

A battle considered by some to be the greatest "last stand" in military history has been commemorated in London.

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought in modern-day Pakistan on 12 September 1897.

Saragarhi was a small outpost, on the border between British India and Afghanistan, in the north-west frontier.

When 21 men of the 36th Sikhs found themselves surrounded by 10,000 hostile Afghan fighters, they had a choice: surrender or fight to the last round of ammunition.

They chose the latter and all 21 men died.

Sounding the battle horn.

A number of people took the chance to watch the commemorations on Saturday, at Southall's Army Reserve Centre in London.

Visitors met Sikh Service personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, and were given the chance to watch the war cry - The Jaikara.

Captain Jay Singh-Sohal, 77 Brigade, said interactive days help to highlight the role played by Sikhs in the forces.

"The battle was seen as such a phenomenal event that the British gave it a regimental holiday and a battle honour, and the Sikhs who were involved were given the Indian Order of Merit which was the then equivalent, for them, of the Victoria Cross," he said.

Members of the public meeting the horses of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment

"Since then, this battle honour has been marked in India by the Indian Army.

"Post-1947, it stopped being marked by the British because of independence but since 2013 we very much brought this back onto the agenda within the military in order to commemorate the past and those sacrifices made at Saragahri in 1897, but also to pay tribute to the continuing contribution by Sikhs in Her Majesty's Armed Forces today."