Pir Khan GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 1897 Makeen, Waziristan, India. d. 01/01/1960 Makeen, Waziristan, India.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 03/02/1940 Bannu, India.

Pir Khan (1897-1957) was born it is believed in 1897 in Makeen, Waziristan, India. His father was Jan Muhammad Khan and his mother died when he was just three months old. When Pir was just 10 years old he travelled to Jandullah in search of employment. Family legend says that whilst he was there he met a British lady whom he told that he was an orphan. She took pity on him and looked after him well. He joined the Royal Corps of Engineers, Indian Army and was initially posted to Basra in Iraq.

George Cross

Pir married Shakena, the daughter of an injured Turkish Colonel whom he helped whilst in service, and the couple had seven children (five boys, two girls). On 3rd February 1940, he was part of a convoy travelling towards Bannu, India, along the Tochi Road when it was ambushed.

After the first volley of fire, Colonel Hasted, Major Cator and Pir Khan managed to obtain cover behind a low irrigation wall at the side of the road. Pir Khan took up a firing position round the edge of the wall and immediately opened fire on the tribesmen, who were less than 40 yards away, thereby forcing most of them to take cover. He continued to fire and frustrated any attempt to outflank the officers along the road in spite of a hail of bullets being aimed in his direction. When the tribesmen decided to withdraw, he had just 3 rounds out of 50 left. He then helped the wounded and dying before assistance arrived.

On 28th June 1940 it was announced in the London Gazette that Pir Khan was to be awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Military Division. He never actually received the EGM as less than three months after the announcement of his award, the George Cross was created. As a result all EGMs were exchanged for the new medal.

Little else is known about Pir’s life following the award of the EGM/GC, and it is believed that he died in 1957 in Makeen. He was buried in the Makeen Graveyard in accordance with Muslim belief. His GC is held proudly within the Khan family.