Families of soldiers of World War 1 and II of Chappar Chiri village continue to carry a flicker of hope that the government would construct a memorial to preserve and display their prized possessions of a bygone era. Their proudest possession — the Man Singh Trophy — gained recognition after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted a replica to the then Australian counterpart Tony Abbott. In addition to the trophy, the families claim that they have medals from soldiers during World War I and II, letters of appreciation and pictures of soldiers to showcase in the would-be memorial.
The trophy is named after Man Singh, a soldier in the Sikh Regiment Battalion. The unit served in World War I in Egypt, Gallipoli, Sinai and (the then) Mesopotamia from October 1914 to May 1917. The Man Singh trophy commemorates the brave action of the battalion’s soldiers.
EX-SARPANCH ARTICULATES DEMAND FOR MEMORIAL
“The war veterans of World War I and II settled in this village but do not have any memorial to their name,” said Zora Singh Bhullar, former sarpanch of the village, adding that one of Man Singh’s sons, Gurbax Singh, had first raised the demand of a memorial in 1994.
“Some years ago, officials from the Sainik Welfare board took away medals from the widows in the village claiming that these would be displayed at a Ropar museum. The memorabilia we have should be preserved for all to see where generations could remember the valour of their forefathers,” Bhullar added.
PROUD SON RELIVES PAST
“After the war, Man Singh was allotted land in Pakistan. In those days a soldier was honoured with a horse and a maraba (around 25 acres). Post partition they were shifted to India and finally settled in Chappar Chiri,” recalled Gurcharan Singh, one of the two sons of Man Singh, showcasing the prized possession — a replica of the Man Singh trophy.
“At a strapping height of 6’4” , Man Singh was so strong that he could comfortably jump over high wire obstacles and broad ditches - a necessary part of trench warfare during the World War I. He could throw a grenade up to 50 yards,” added Gurcharan, speaking of his father’s bravery. The man himself died in April 1976 at 88.
ADMINISTRATION WAITING FOR DEMAND
“We have not got any demand so far. Once we receive a demand and in case rules allow the construction of a memorial, we will provide assistance,” said DS Mangat, deputy commissioner SAS Nagar.