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Lt Judge, the Indian hero remembered on Victory over Japan Day

world Updated: Aug 09, 2015 16:32 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
British Indian troops


As Britain prepares to mark 70 years of Victory over Japan Day -- the day that marked the end of Second World War -- later this week, one of the British Indian Army soldiers being remembered for daring exploits during the Burma Campaign is Karamjeet Singh Judge (1923-45).

A part of the two and a half million-strong British Indian Army, the largest volunteer army in history, Judge was a lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment deployed in Burma.

His actions on 18 March 1945 during the Battle of Meiktila (Burma Campaign) earned him a place in British military history as one of many courageous Indians who were awarded Victoria Crosses in recognition of their bravery.

On the day, Judge, a platoon commander, was ordered to capture a strategically important cotton mill located just outside Myingyan, Burma. The conditions for an attack were extremely difficult on that day, but he courageously faced well-defended enemy positions and intense enemy fire.

An official account of his exploits says that despite the conditions, Judge’s platoon spearheaded the British advance in what would come to be known as the Battle of Meiktila. During the battle, Judge "dominated the entire battlefield by his numerous and successive acts of superb gallantry", as a London newspaper reported at the time.

At one stage whilst leading an infantry attack, Judge was confronted by two Japanese soldiers only 10 yards ahead, charging towards him with their bayonets fixed and without hesitation he protected his platoon and fought the Japanese.

The account adds that towards the end of the battle, the final pockets of Japanese resistance were proving difficult to clear. The remaining three Japanese defending bunkers began to hold up both the infantry and tank advances.

For what would be the final time, Judge displayed his leadership and bravery, the qualities he would later be remembered for. While opening fire from the tanks, he also led a small section to clear the bunkers.

As he approached the first bunk, an enemy light machine gun opened fire and fatally wounded him. His death spurred on his section to put an end to the long battle as they attacked and cleared the remaining bunkers.

Had it not been for Lieutenant Judge’s action, the Battle of Meiktila would have proved much more costly for the British and Indian Forces, the account says.

Leading members of Britain’s political and royal establishment are due to attend a series of events in London on 15 August to mark the day. The police has reportedly foiled a Boston marathon-style attack planned for the day by Islamic extremists.