Author: Sushil Talwar
Publisher: KW Publishers, New Delhi
(Pp 1292, ISBN: 9789386288707, Rs 7800)

Soon after the outbreak of the First World War, the Military Cross (MC) was instituted as a reward for junior army officers and warrant officers for gallantry in the field. It filled a gap that was particularly vacant in the British Army, which, other than the rarely awarded Victoria Cross, had no gallantry decoration to which a junior officer might aspire. Indian and Gurkha officers of the Indian Army were equally eligible for two other gallantry awards: the Indian Order for Merit and the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.

In spite of this substantial difference between the two honours systems, eligibility for the MC encompassed officers serving with both British and Indian Armies and the Colonial Forces, irrespective of creed or ethnicity, and by the close of the Second World War more than 50,000 awards had been granted.

Measured in terms of total MC recipients, the number of officers of Asian origin seems relatively modest – albeit compensated by their eligibility for two other highly prized decorations of at least equal standing. Nevertheless, a total of 1,056 awards were gazetted to 1,039 officers in this category, 17 being granted a second award.

A comprehensive record of all recipients of the MC and the circumstances of their awards has never been published. This entirely new ground breaking work goes a significant way towards filling the gap by providing comprehensive details of MC awards sanctioned for officers of South Asian origin who served with the Indian Army and the Indian States Forces in all conflicts up to August 1947. While almost all recipients were either Indians or Gurkhas, awards to Burmese, Malays and Siamese have not been overlooked.

For each entry, the rank, name and regiment or corps of the officer is provided, together with the date and page number of the London Gazette and/or Gazette of India announcing the MC award. The date and operational area of the gallantry action are also specified together with the full citation or recommendation that led to the award.

Each entry is supplemented by details of the officer’s military service and any other rewards received. Additional data of relevance to his services have been sourced from unit histories and contemporary narratives, and a considerable amount of time has been spent collecting photographs of MC recipients and these occupy nearly one hundred pages. Many of them have been found with families who have little or no knowledge of their ancestors’ gallant deeds.

- Vasu V