2nd Lieutenant Premindra Singh Bhaghat served in the Royal Bombay Sappers & Miners in Gondar, Ethopia. By the end of February 1941 the Italian Army in Eritrea was in retreat and fleeing southward toward the fortress of Gondar with the Indian Army in hot pursuit. The terrain limited movement to the existing roads and the Italians had sown these with thousands of anti-tank mines effectively stalling the Indian Army advance. 2nd Lt. P.S. Bhaghat and a platoon of Indian engineers under his command were given the job of clearing these mines. For 48 hours, he and his men pushed forward. Leading from the front, he had two vehicles blown from under him and both of his eardrums were burst from concussion. Without sleep he and his men cleared 15 mine fields and opened 55 miles of road, clearing the way for the British advance.
A portrait of 2nd Lt. P.S. Bhaghat
For this achievement, 2nd Lt. Bhaghat became the first Indian Commissioned Officer (ICO) to win the Victoria Cross with a citation which described his actions as a continous feat of sheercold courage. Not only was 2nd Lt. Bhaghat the first ICO to win the Victoria Cross, he was also one of the new breed of Indian soldiers who had crossed the caste barrier of the old Army. 2nd Lt. Bhaghat rose rapidly during the war and chose the Army as his career. And, in an outcome impossible at the time of his commissioning, ended his distinguished military career as a Lieutenant General of the Army of the Republic of India. Jai Hind!! Jai Jawan!!
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