Shahamad Khan

For British and commonwealth forces,being awarded with the Victoria Cross is regarded very highly. Shahamad khan is one such recipient and therefore he has still been regarded as one of the best machine gunners. He was a Punjabi and belonged to Rajput family. In Punjab the Rajputs are synonymous for their bravery and valor, therefore this Punjabi tribe has got the guts to ensure that the enemy is engaged. He was 36 years of age when he fought the war which earned him the Victoria Cross. He was born in Rawalpindi now one of the major cities of Pakistan on 1st July 1879. Khan was Naik when he was sent to Mesopotamia now Iraq as a part of Tigris front defensive team. The complete encounter was one of the best and was still remembered by the British force that accompanied him. The officers also praised his bravery and it was due to him that many lives were saved.

It was the time of World War II; Khan was a part of 89th Punjabis, which was a part of British Indian Armed Forces at the time. Now it has been changed to 1st battalion Baloch Regiment in Pakistan Army. The company to which Khan belonged to, was known as 89th Punjabis as it comprised of the best soldiers of British Indian Army at the time. He was a machine gunner and showed exceptional valor to ensure that the best outcome for the Army is generated. It was 12/13th April 1916 when he was appointed as a machine gunner of the same company he was with. He was just 150 yards away from the nearest enemy check post. Khan covered the gap that was left by the British forces in the Beit Ayeesa in a very brave manner. While filling the gaps within belts the other soldiers suffered heavy causalities. It is said that at one time it seemed that Khan was alone with the machine gun and nobody dared to cross the deep natural trenches. 

Khan took the post and at that time he was really alone. He managed to counter three large-scale offenses that were opened by the enemy. The firing was too heavy and therefore it just meant death for anyone at that position but Khan was determined and single handedly launched a counter offense while holding the gap as well. At the time when he was holding the belt, two other gunners also joined him in the fight and all three of them halted the enemy advance to such an extent that they began to suffer heavy causalities. The enemy fire eventually damaged khan’s Machine gun but still he continued to fight with a rifle. For three straight hours he and his two men did not allow the enemy to advance even an inch. He received the orders from the central command to retire. He along with his three men came back from the post and the enemy also suffered heavy causalities. He once again came back to the post and made sure that all the arms and ammunition were removed from there and brought back to the base. It was just Khan’s will and power that allowed the enemy forces not to penetrate that strong line of defense. It is also narrated by several, that without Khan the enemy would surely have penetrated the defense. 

 

He was eventually promoted to the rank of Subedar and died on 28 July 1947. His grave is still visited by many in his ancestral village of Takhti in Pakistan. It is people like him who make sure that Muslims are always regarded throughout the world. He is still praised by the British Armed forces for saving lives of thousands and also to make sure that the defense line is never penetrated. Shahamad Khan also made sure that the Muslim community in the UK still remembers him as one of the best soldiers. It is due to his valor that the defense line management took a new turn and new terminologies were introduced. Khan being a Muslim also made sure that Islamic teachings are preserved. 

It is not only the British Armed forces that remember Khan for his bravery but it is also to be noted that Pakistan Army Museum has a portrait of him hanging with the complete VC inscription. The type of defense that he provided was the one that is still practiced by the Pak Army and therefore the new force of black commandos has been created for offense on the enemy posts. The formation is also the same i.e. 4 men go forward to counter the attack and also to destroy the front lines as much as possible. The formation of Khan learnt was of three men and one has been added just to ensure that the enemy suffers more casualties.  


Khan also made it clear to the world that the British armed forces at that time were the best in the world. It has also been said that even after the retirement he kept very low profile and therefore not many people know what Khan has done in the First World War. This has also been one of the reasons that even the ancestral village of this hero is unknown of the complete facts and figures. 

The need of the hour is to make sure that the new generation is taught about the facts and figures and therefore it is to be done with the help of awareness campaigns. Though the ancestral village of this hero is in Pakistan but to commemorate him a crowd funding campaigns are to be launched to collect funds. The young British as well as British Muslims should be taught that it is not only the British Armed forces that have won the First World War but also about 400,000 Muslims who also fought side by side. Whatever happened with the enemy at the Tigris point is a history that British share and they should be proud of it.  

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