b. 01/07/1921 Hoshiarpur, India. d. 02/03/1945 Meiktila, Burma.
Fazal Din (1921-1945) was born into an agricultural family in the village of Hussainpur, Hoshiarpur, India on 1st July 1921. A Punjabi Muslim, he was the son of Nur Bakhsh, although little is known about his early life or education. However, in early 1939 or 1940, Din enlisted into the 7th Battalion of the 10th Baluch Regiment and he later served in the Burma Campaign.
On 1st March 1945, the British launched an attack on the town of Meiktila, east of the Irrawaddy River in Burma (now Myanmar). In a carefully co-ordinated attack, the 63rd Brigade advanced from the west, the 48th Brigade from the north and the 255th Indian Tank Brigade swung around to advance from the east in order to capture the enemy airfield. Heavy fighting continued throughout the day and the next as the British tried to force the last of the Japanese to leave Meiktila.
on 2nd March 1945, Naik Fazal Din was commanding a section during a Company attack on a Japanese bunkered position. During this attack, the section found itself in an area flanked by three bunkers on one side and a house and one bunker on the other side. This was the key of the enemy position and had held up a Company attack made earlier. Naik Fazal Din’s section was accompanied by a tank but, at the time of entering the area, it had gone on ahead.
On reaching the area, the section was held up by Light Machine Gun fire and grenades from the bunkers. Unhesitatingly Naik Fazal Din personally attacked the nearest bunker with grenades and silenced it. He then led his section under heavy fire against the other bunkers. Suddenly six Japanese, led by two officers wielding swords, rushed from the house. The Bren gunner shot one officer and a Japanese other rank but by then had expended the magazine of the gun. He was almost simultaneously attacked by the second Japanese officer who killed him with his sword.
Naik Fazal Din went to the Bren gunner’s assistance immediately but, in doing so, was run through the chest by the officer, the sword point appearing through his back. On the Japanese officer withdrawing his sword, Naik Fazal Din, despite his terrible wound, tore the sword from the officer and killed him with it. He then attacked by a Japanese other rank and also killed him. He then went to the assistance of a Sepoy of his section who was struggling with another Japanese and killed the latter with the sword. Then, waving the sword, he continued to encourage his men. He staggered to Platoon Headquarters, about 25 yards away, to make a report and collapsed. He died soon after reaching the Regimental Aid Post.
Sadly, his body was not recovered after the battle subsided, and he is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial, Burma. The family of Fazal Din were invested with his Victoria Cross by Viceroy Lord Wavell at the Red Fort, New Delhi, India, on the 19th December 1945. His medals were privately purchased on 22nd July 2016 by Michael Ashcroft and are now displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE – ON RANGOON MEMORIAL, BURMA. FACE 39
Thomas Stewart – Fazal Din VC’s Medal Group in the Imperial War Museum, London.