b. 21/11/1920 Palra, India. d. 21/11/2005 New Delhi, India.
Umrao Singh, son of Mohar Singh, was born into a Hindu farming family in Palra, a small village in Jhajjar district in Haryana (then the Rohtak district of undivided Punjab), 50 km north of Delhi. Different sources give his ancestry as Ahir or Jat.
He attended a local school and joined the Indian Army during World War II in November 1939. He was promoted to Havildar (Sergeant) in the Royal Indian Artillery, Indian Army in 1942.
On the night of 15 to 16 December 1944 in the Kaladan valley, Burma (now Myanmar), Umrao Singh was a field gun detachment commander in an advanced section of the 33 Mountain Battery, 30th Mountain Regiment, Indian Artillery, serving on detachment as part of the 81st West African Division in Viscount Slim's British 14th Army, supporting the advance of the XV Corps on the Arakan. Singh's gun was in an advanced position, supporting the 8th Gold Coast Regiment. After a 90 minute sustained bombardment from 75 mm guns and mortars from the Lt-Gen Sakurai Seizo's Japanese 28th Army, Singh's gun position was attacked by at least two companies of Japanese infantry. He used a Bren light machine gun and directed the rifle fire of the gunners, holding off the assault. He was wounded by two grenades.
A second wave of attackers killed all but Singh and two other gunners, but was also beaten off. The three soldiers had only a few bullets remaining, and these were rapidly exhausted in the initial stages of the assault by a third wave of attackers. Undaunted, Singh picked up a "gun bearer" (a heavy iron rod, similar to a crow bar) and used that as a weapon in hand to hand fighting. He was seen to strike down three infantrymen, fatally wounded, before succumbing to a rain of blows.
Six hours later, after a counter-attack, he was found alive but unconscious near to his artillery piece, almost unrecognisable from a head injury, still clutching his gun bearer. Ten Japanese soldiers lay dead nearby. His field gun was back in action later that day.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: CREMATED - ASHES SCATTERED.
RA Chapel, Woolwich