Richhpal Ram VC

b. 20/08/1899 Barda, India. d. 12/02/1941 Keren, Eritrea.

Richhpal Ram (1899-1941) was born on 20th August 1899 in the village of Barda, in the Satnali District of Haryana, India. He belonged to a Jat family of Lamba. He enlisted on his 21st birthday on 20th August 1920 into the 4th/6th Rajputana Rifles. He then married and had two sons.

Richhpal Ram VC

By the time of the outbreak of World War II, he had risen to the rank of Subedar, and was now nearly 40 years old. By February 1941, the 6th Rajputana Rifles were serving in Eritrea, when they became involved in the Battle of Keren.

On the night of 7th – 8th February 1941, at Keren, Eritrea, Subadar Richpal Ram, who was second-in-command of a leading company, insisted on accompanying the forward platoon and led its attack on the first objective with great dash and gallantry. His company commander being then wounded, he assumed command of the company, and led the attack of the remaining two platoons to the final objective. In face of heavy fire, some thirty men with this officer at their head rushed the objective with the bayonet and captured it. The party was completely isolated, but under the inspiring leadership of Subadar Richpal Ram, it beat back six enemy counter-attacks between midnight and 0430 hours. By now, ammunition had run out, and this officer extricated his command and fought his way back to his battalion with a handful of survivors through the surrounding enemy.

Five days later, on the 12th February, he led the attack of his company. He pressed on fearlessly and determinedly in the face of heavy and accurate fire, and by his personal example inspired his company with his resolute spirit until his right foot was blown off. He then suffered further wounds from which he died. While lying wounded he continued to wave his men on, and his final words were ” We’ll capture the objective “.

He was cremated following his death, and is commemorated on the Keren Cremation Memorial, Senafe, Eritrea. His medal was presented to his family in 1942 by the Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow. The medal was later donated to, and displayed at the Delhi Cantonment Raj Rifles Officer Mess Museum.