Tag Archives: Waziristan uprising

100 Years Ago Today: Ishar Singh, VC

Via Under Every Leaf:

War Office, 25th November 1921.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: —

No. 1012 Sepoy Ishar Singh, 28th Punjabis, Indian Army

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 10th April, 1921, near Haidari Kach (Waziristan). When the convoy protection troops were attacked, this Sepoy was No. l of a Lewis Gun- Section. Early in the action he received a very severe gunshot wound in the chest, and fell beside his Lewis gun. Hand-to-hand fighting having commenced, the British officer, Indian officer, and all the Havildars of his company were either killed or wounded, and his Lewis gun was seized by the enemy.

Calling up two other men he got up, charged the enemy, recovered the Lewis gun, and, although, bleeding profusely, again got the gun into action.

When his Jemadar arrived he took the gun from Sepoy Ishar Singh, and ordered him to go back and have his wound dressed.

Instead of doing this the Sepoy went to the medical officer, and was of great assistance in pointing out where the wounded were, and in carrying water to them. He made innumerable journeys to the river and back for this purpose. On one occasion, when the enemy fire was very heavy, he took the rifle of a wounded man and helped to keep down the fire. On another occasion he stood in front of the medical officer who was dressing, a wounded man, thus shielding him with his body. It was over three hours before he finally submitted to be evacuated, being then too weak from loss of blood to object.

His gallantry and devotion to duty were beyond praise. His conduct inspired all who saw him.

Protecting HMs frontiers, via Vickers

While the sun may have never set on the British Empire (until 1956, anyway), the Brits were big fans of using technology to their advantage to allow units with small footprints to control large areas.

From 1912 through the 1950s, the water-cooled .303 caliber sustained fire Maxim machine gun variant produced by Vickers Limited, best known just as the Vickers, filled the bill.

Manchester Regiment sit with their wwi era Vickers gun during a demonstration of preparedness for jungle warfare in Malaya, circa August 1941

1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment gunners sit with their WWI era Vickers gun during a demonstration of preparedness for jungle warfare in Malaya, circa August 1941. They would become POWs in just a few months.

Weighing in at over 40-pounds (sans bullets and water) old Mr. Vick was a beast, but by nature of its water jacket could fire almost forever or until your ammo supply ran out, making a static defense point able to control everything in a 360 degree arc out to 1,000 yards with accuracy, with grazing fire a death sentence for infantry trying to move on the emplacement.

When using plunging fire, especially when sited from elevated positions, the Vickers could reach out and produce a beaten zone over 4,000 yards away. As such, these guns were equipped with pretty effective and advanced for their time clinometers on which trained crews could calculate angles of slope (or tilt), elevation or depression of their target and match their gun to make an intersection of brass and body.

It was simple, the machine gun in its truest form.

A Vickers machine gun post, June 1919. Of the 13 British infantry battalions that served during the 3rd Afghan War and the Waziristan uprising (1919-1920), nine were Regular and the rest Territorial. Photo: National Army Museum via Under Every Leaf.

A Vickers machine gun post, June 1919. Of the 13 British infantry battalions that served during the 3rd Afghan War and the Waziristan uprising (1919-1920), nine were Regular and the rest Territorial. Photo: National Army Museum via Under Every Leaf.

Vickers machine gun emplacement in a sangar, North West Frontier Province between the wars. The pouches on the back on the No. 2 (with his hand up) are for clinometer and the foresight bar deflector - seldom seen in the field. The headdress of British Indian troops was normally the khaki puggaree which varied by the soldier's religion--Muslims with a pointed kullah skullcap inside the puggaree and Sikhs with a more open version that allowed their uncut hair to remain in a bun atop their head, while most Hindu troops wore a simple turban. Photo via British Empire Uniforms 1939-45.

Vickers machine gun emplacement in a sangar, North West Frontier Province between the wars. The pouches on the back on the No. 2 (with his hand up) are for clinometer and the foresight bar deflector – seldom seen in the field. The headdress of British Indian troops was normally the khaki puggaree which varied by the soldier’s religion–Muslims with a pointed kullah skullcap inside the puggaree and Sikhs with a more open version that allowed their uncut hair to remain in a bun atop their head, while most Hindu troops wore a simple turban. Photo via British Empire Uniforms 1939-45.

Sepoys manning a Vickers Machine Gun, Spinwam, south west of Peshawar. The sepoy manning the gun has a .455 Webley in a holster on his belt and a tin mug fastened to the 08 haversack on his back.

Sepoys manning a Vickers Machine Gun, Spinwam, south west of Peshawar. The sepoy manning the gun has a .455 Webley in a holster on his belt and a tin mug fastened to the 08 haversack on his back.

Vickers machine gunners of the Manchester Regiment lay down suppressing fire for attacking infantry near Hotton in Belgium, 7 January 1945 note clinometer

The Vickers was only replaced in the 1960s by the FN MAG 58, termed the L7 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), which has been affectionately nicknamed the “gimpy” by generations of British troops.

Mr. Vick, however, endures in the armories of many former British colonies. While no longer actively used, the 100+ year old design is still an effective defensive machine gun if needed as long you bring the water and .303.