Darwan Singh Negi VC

b. 04/03/1883 India. d. 24/06/1950 India.

Darwan Singh Negi (1881-1950) was born on 4th March 1883 at Kafaditir Pauri, Badhan, Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh, India. His father was Kalam Singh Negi, a landowner and cultivator. Little more is known about his family. He was educated at a local Regimental School and became a goatherd and shepherd working for his father in the glacier valleys of northern India.

Darwan Singh Negi VC

Darwan enlisted on 4th March 1902. Mobilisation orders were received on 9th August 1914 and the unit left headquarters at Lansdowne, a hill station near Nagina, Bharat, Uttar Pradesh on 20th August, arriving at Karachi on 3rd September. The unit arrived in Marseilles, France as part of the Indian Expeditionary Force on 14th October 1914. It travelled to Orleans on 21st October and reached Lillers on 27th October and arrangements were made to take over trenches from British II Corps.

On the night of the 23rd-24th November 1914, near Festubert, France, when the regiment was engaged in retaking and clearing the enemy out of Allied trenches, and, although wounded in two places in the head, and also in the arm, Darwan Singh Negi was one of the first to push round each successive traverse, in the face of severe fire from bombs and rifles at the closest range.

He received his VC from King George V at General Headquarters, St Omer, France on 5th December 1914, two days before his citation was published in the London Gazette. Although not the first native-born Indian to be awarded the VC, he was the first to actually receive it; the first was awarded to Sepoy Khudadad Khan.

Darwan was commissioned Jemadar (Lieutenant), backdated to 23rd November 1914 and returned to India on recruiting duties from January 1915. He promoted to Subedar (Captain) on 9th August 1915. He transferred into the 1/18th Garhwal Rifles and saw active service in Iraq and Kurdistan. He retired with a pension on 1st February 1920 and was granted land by Lord Gort VC on 8th July 1920. In recognition for his work on behalf of wounded soldiers and war widows, he was honoured with the title Bahadur in 1926.

He married Chandpur Garhwal, daughter of Ratan Singh Rawat, a cultivator and landowner, and lived in Chamoli District, Lower Garhwal. They had a son, Balbir Singh Negi, who served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army. Darwan died at his home on 24th June 1950 and was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Ganges River. In addition to the VC, he received the 1914 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasps “Kurdistan” and “Iraq” and George VI Coronation Medal 1937. He presented his VC to his Regiment and wore a duplicate. The original medals are now held by 39th Garhwal Rifles Officers Mess, GRRC Lansdowne, India.