b. 10/05/1905 India. d. 20/04/1943 Djebel Garci, Tunisia.
Chhelu Ram (1905-1943) was born on 10th May 1905 in the village of Dhenod, in the Punjab District of India. Little is known of his early life in a rural area of India, before he enlisted in the 6th Rajputana Rifles Regiment of the Indian Army before the outbreak of World War II. He rose to the rank of Company Havildar Major (Company Sergeant Major) by the time of his VC action.
On the night of 19th/20th April 1943, he was part of an attack by the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade on the Djebel Garci, Tunisia. He was with one of the two leading Companies, and during the advance to the Battalion’s second objective, the forward troops were held up by an enemy machinegun position on some high ground. Company Havildar-Major Chhelu Ram armed with a ” Tommy” gun immediately rushed forward through the intense machine-gun and mortar fire and single-handed silenced the post, killing its three or four occupants and thus enabling the advance to continue.
When the leading Companies were approaching their third objective the enemy brought down intense machine-gun and mortar fire on them which mortally wounded the Company Commander. Company Havildar-Major Chhelu Ram went to the officer’s assistance in a completely exposed position and attended to’ him, during which he himself was seriously wounded. He then took command of his own Company and elements of the other leading Company and quickly reorganized them.
Almost immediately the enemy put in a heavy counter-attack and our troops began to run short of ammunition. During the fierce hand-to-hand fighting which followed, this N.C.O.’s bravery and determination were beyond praise. Rushing from point to point, wherever the fighting was heaviest, he rallied the men and drove back the enemy with the cry of “Jats and Mohammedans, there must be no withdrawal! We will advance! .Advance! ” He then advanced ahead of the two Companies. Inspired by his fine example, the counter attack on this vital ground was driven back with bayonets, stones and rocks.
During this fighting Company Havildar-Major Chhelu Ram was again wounded, this time mortally. He refused, however, to be-carried back and continued to command and inspire his men until finally losing consciousness. A few minutes later he died from the effects of his wounds. His body was recovered from the battlefield and he was buried with full military honours in Sfax War Cemetery. His VC was presented in India to his widow following the announcement of his posthumous award. The medals are not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: SFAX WAR CEMETERY, SFAX, TUNISIA.
PLOT H, ROW C, GRAVE 5,
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.