b. 26/10/1888 Dab, India. d. 08/03/1971 Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan.
Khudadad Khan (1888-1971) was born on 26th October 1888 at Dabb village, Chakwal, in the Jhelum District of the Punjab, India. Little is known of his family and early life. Although he served in a Baluchi Regiment, he was a Pathan. Very few tribesmen of Baluchistan were recruited from Muslims of various tribes within India. In 1914, the 129th was comprised of Punjabi Musalmans, Mahsuds and Pathans. He was mobilised in August 1914 at Ferozepore, Punjab, India.
In October 1914, the Germans launched a major offensive in northern Belgium, in order to capture the vital ports of Boulogne in France and Nieuport in Belgium. In what came to be known as the First Battle of Ypres, the newly arrived 129th Baluchis were rushed to the frontline to support the hard-pressed British troops. On 31st October, two companies of the Baluchis bore the brunt of the main German attack near the village of Gheluvelt in Hollebeke Sector. The out-numbered Baluchis fought gallantly but were overwhelmed after suffering heavy casualties. Sepoy Khudadad Khan’s machine-gun team, along with one other, kept their guns in action throughout the day; preventing the Germans from making the final breakthrough. The other gun was disabled by a shell and eventually Khudadad Khan’s own team was overrun. All the men were killed by bullets or bayonets except Khudadad Khan, who despite being badly wounded, had continued working his gun. He was left for dead by the enemy but despite his wounds, he managed to crawl back to his regiment during the night. Thanks to his bravery, and that of his fellow Baluchis, the Germans were held up just long enough for Indian and British reinforcements to arrive. They strengthened the line, and prevented the German Army from reaching the vital ports. For his matchless feat of courage and gallantry, Sepoy Khudadad Khan was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Khudadad Khan was evacuated to England for treatment at the Indian Convalescent Hospital, New Milton, Hampshire. He received his VC from King George V on 26th January 1915. It is not certain where the investiture took place, but it is likely it was at the Hospital, as we know that the Commandant was present when he received the medal. Although Khudadad Khan was the first native-born Indian to be awarded the VC, the first to actually receive his medal was Naik Darwan Singh Negi, during the King’s visit to France on 5th December 1914; sadly, Khudadad Khan was too ill that day.
Khudadad Khan served on the North West Frontier of India in 1919 and received a Viceroy’s Commission to Subedar (Captain) in December 1929. He attended the VC Centenary Celebrations at Hyde Park, London on 26th June 1956 and the first VC Association Reunion at the Café Royal, London on 24th July 1958. He became a Committee Member of the VC and GC Association.
Khudadad Khan died at Chak No 25 Rukhan Tehsil Village, Phalia District, Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan on 8th March 1971 and is buried in Rukhan Village Cemetery near Chakwal. There is a statue to him in the gardens of the Army Museum, Rawalpindi. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, India General Service Medal 1908-35 with clasp “Afghanistan NWF 1919”, General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp “Iraq”, George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. His medals were recently obtained in a private sale by the Ashcroft Trust and displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: RUKHAN VILLAGE CEMETERY, DAB, PAKISTAN.
Memorial Gates, Constitution Hill
National Memorial Arboretum (Thomas Stewart)
War Illustrated, 30th June 1917
War Illustrated, 30th June 1917
National Army Museum (April 2017)
Imperial War Museum (August 2017)