Britain salutes an Indian braveheart
The untold story of gutsy Indian soldier and Victoria cross awardee, Naik Yashwant Ghatge, killed in World War II is about to unfold in classrooms across the world, as Britain prepares to repay a debt of honour. A report by Rahul Singh.Updated: Feb 04, 2008 02:15 IST
The untold story of a gutsy Indian soldier killed in World War II is about to unfold in classrooms across the world, as Britain prepares to repay a debt of honour.
Naik Yashwant Ghatge was awarded the Victoria Cross, the UK’s highest military decoration, for his superhuman valour in one of the fiercest battles of the Italian campaign.
Sixty-four years after he was killed, the Playstation generation across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and India will finally know who Ghatge was and how, at 23, he proved that honour and courage were not just words.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which maintains graves of the members of the Commonwealth forces killed in the two wars, is producing educational resources for schools in these countries to tell Ghatge’s story. Its director general, Richard Kellaway, told HT: “It’s a salute to Ghatge’s duty and sacrifice. We hope his saga inspires the younger generation.”
Literature, CD-ROMs and DVDs on Ghatge will be circulated in schools by the commission.
Ghatge, from the 5th Mahratta Light Infantry, was one of the two and half million Indian men, who fought alongside the British during World War II. The VC was awarded to 20 soldiers in the Italian campaign. Eight of them, including Ghatge, are still buried near battlefields in which they fought.
On July 10, 1944, Ghatge’s unit attacked a position strongly defended by the enemy. A rifle section led him came under heavy fire, which killed or wounded all except him. He rushed to the machine-gun post and killed three men before being shot by an enemy sniper. He died in the post that he had captured single-handed.