The Sikh Regiment is one of the most decorated regiments in the Indian Army, with an astounding 72 Battle Honours, 15 Theatre Honours, and five COAS Unit Citations, besides 2 Param Vir Chakras, 5 Kirti Chakras, 14 Maha Vir Chakras, 67 Vir Chakras and an amazing 1,596 gallantry awards. The Regiment’s history spans a total of 154 years with heroic deeds of courage and valour, which have very few parallels, if any.
The Regimental Insignia comprises of a “lion,” which is symbolic of the name “Singh,” and all Sikhs have encircled it with a sharp-edged “chakra” or quoit.
The motto of the regiment is “Nischey Kar Apni Jeet Karon,” which loosely translates as “I Fight for Sure to Win.” Their battle cry comprises of the phrase “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal,” which translates to “He who cries God is Truth, is ever victorious.”
Despite the fact that the Regiment’s official history dates back to the year 1846, the actual heritage has its roots in the noble teachings and sacrifices made by the ten Sikh Gurus. Today’s Sikh regiment has imbibed the chivalry and culture of Sher-e-Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and his erstwhile Khalsa army. With a humble beginning of only two battalions in the year 1846, the Sikh fraternity today has 20 battalions.
The Battle of Saragarhi fought by the Sikhs is an epitome of courage, valour, bravery, and sacrifice. Havildar Issar Singh along with 21 other soldiers made the vital sacrifice, repulsing the 10,000 strong Mughal army.
Lance Naik Karam Singh was born on September 15, 1915 in Barnala, Punjab. He was enrolled in First Sikh on September 15, 1941. He had also earned an honorary military medal for his contributions during World War II.
The battle of Tithwal was a notable battle that went on for months.
To capture Punjab, the British were to fight two wars against the Sikh battalions. During the 1st Sikh War (1845-46) two extremely fierce battles coupled with treachery and treason within the Sikh high command were fought at Mudki and Ferozeshahr. The British suffered heavy casualties at the Ferozeshahr battle. Two more battles were fought as part of the 2nd Sikh war (1849) at Gujarat and Chillianwala. The British were defeated here, too.
During the First World War, Sikh battalions fought in France, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt. The 14th Ferozepore Sikhs were present in Gallipoli in April 1915, fighting numerous battles in the Gallipolli campaign. After Gallipoli, the battalion was present in the Persian Gulf engaged in some fierce fighting on the Tigris River.
To meet the heavy demand of soldiers, 6 new battalions of the Sikh Regiment were founded. Among the old battalions, the 1st and the 5th were involved in battle in Burma, and three others (2nd, 3rd, 4th) fought valiantly in the Middle East.
At the end of the Second World War, all newly raised battalions, except for the 7th Sikh, were disbanded and 5th Sikh was not re-raised, because of the soldiers joining the Indian National Army.
During the time of the independence, to accommodate Sikh soldiers entering India from regiments in Pakistan, three new battalions were raised. They are the 16th, 17th, and 18th Sikh.
With the division of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan, the princely states were provided the option of joining either country. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir delayed in making a decision, and whilst he was still contemplating to make his move, Pakistan decided to acquire the Princely State of Kashmir by sending tribals hailing from North West Frontier Province along with Pakistani regular army officers.
The Maharaja sought the help of the Indian Government; however, Indian politicians and senior British and Indian army officers conveyed to him that he would be receiving no help, unless Kashmir accedes to India. Both sides kept on procrastinating, and it was only when the tribals reached Baramulla that the Maharaja signed the accession draft.
The only way to bring troops into Srinagar was to airlift them. 1st Sikh was at Gurgaon, with its units evenly spread around the district helping civil authorities to maintain proper law and order. On 26th October 1947, the then commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai was summoned to the Army headquarters and was informed that his battalion would be the first to land in Srinagar. The orders that were given to Lieutenant Colonel Ranjit Rai were to deny the civil aviation radio and airfield at Srinagar to the raiders. The Colonel had two options: either deploy his meagre forces around the airfield and await the enemy or take the fight to the enemy, away from the airfield, and fight a wide range of delaying actions, thus buying more time for troops to reach Srinagar. The valiant Commander chose the second option.
The 1962 Indo-China War was fought at a time when the Indian National Army was suffering from the continuous efforts of politicians to reduce it to a stage of almost impotence. Lots of things have been written about the performance of the Indian Army during this period. The performance of formations up to Brigadier level in the war cannot be faulted at all. The thing that was lacking was able leadership at the divisional, corps levels, and a notch higher up in the Eastern Sector.
Two battalions of the Sikh Regiment participated in the war. 1 Sikh in the Towang sector and 4 Sikh in the Walong sector. However, India lost the war.
10 battalions of the Sikh Regiment went to war in 1965. In an attempt to seal off infiltration routes of Pakistanis in Jammu and Kashmir, 1 Sikh, who were in the Tithwal sector, attacked Pakistani positions. Indian troops could now oversee an extensive area that was under Pakistan control. Throughout September, Pakistani army troops tried very hard to recapture the Richhmar Ridge and Pir Sabha feature but were unsuccessful. Thus, India won the war.
Numerous Sikh battalions fought extensively during the 1971 war, mostly on the Western Front. 8 Sikh were present in the Uri Sector and 9 Sikh in the Tangdhar sector. Two companies of 9 Sikh fiercely attacked and captured Kaivan and Thanda Pani on the night of December 5th. At one stage, they advanced with such rapid force that they were beyond artillery range. On 14th December, 9 Sikh then cleared the heights that dominated Naukot. India won this war, too, liberating Bangladesh.
During the 1999 Kargil conflict, 2 battalions, 8 Sikh and 16 Sikh were put into operations. The task of 8 Sikh was to capture Tiger Hill. By 21st May, the 8 Sikh eventually isolated Tiger Hill from three directions: north, south, and east. The Indian army resorted to mortar fire and artillery to inflict casualties on the enemy. India won the Kargil conflict, too.
The Sikh Regimental March is a hymn that was written by Guru Gobind Singh in the midst of the battle of Chamkaur: “De shiva bar mohey ehai.”