A Ressaidar in the Imperial Service Troops who was born in the village of Dakha in the district of Ludhiana, East Punjab. He was selected to attend King Edward VII’s coronation in England in 1902 and later fought against the Germans during World War One. His story is told by his great-grandson, Citizen Historian Vic S. Shahid.
What We Know
1. Life Before The War
Mal Singh was born in Dakha, a village in the district of Ludhiana, East Punjab.
He was able to attend school and was possibly educated up to the 8th grade.
According to family tradition, Mal Singh was selected as a representative of the Imperial Service Troops to attend the coronation of King Edward VII in England in 1902.
He married Partap Kaur before the Great War began.
2. Life During The War
Not much is known about Mal Singh's life during the Great War.
We do know that he fought in Europe against the Germans and rose to become a senior-ranking cavalryman.
Although his regiment remains unknown, it is speculated that he may have been part of the Imperial Service Troops.
On the eve of war in 1914, twenty-nine Indian states were providing soldiers for the Imperial Service Troops scheme. These totalled 22,479 of whom 7,673 were cavalry, 10,298 infantry and 2,723 transport corps.
During the war, 18,000 Imperial Service soldiers saw service in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine and East Africa.
Mal Singh was fluent in English which helped with his promotion to Ressaidar.
3. Life After The War
Mal Singh survived the war and received a military pension.
He began a brick kiln business in his village, earning enough to build his own house.
He was well-known in his local community for veterinary medical knowledge, which he learnt during his military service.
Mal Singh died of natural causes sometime in the early 1960s when he was in his late 70s.
While Mal Singh was at war, his wife Partap Kaur, with the help of immediate family, sent their four children (two sons and two daughters) to a boarding school in Jaspalon, near Khanna, East Punjab.
Partap Kaur, who is remembered in the family as a brilliant and extremely capable woman, began her own business. She produced butter oil and milk products, which she sold in the village.
As a result, she was able to save almost the equivalent of Mal Singh’s earnings made during the war. They used this money to help build the family home.
Later, they were able to send one of their sons to England to study medicine - he decided to change course and returned home with a PhD in botany. He later served as Principal of Khalsa College, Amritsar, and at a college in Damdama Sahib.
Most of the remaining family continued to farm. Their descendants are currently spread throughout North America, the UK and the Middle East.
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