Parkash Singh (1913-1991) served in the Indian Army during the Second World War. He showed great courage under fire against the Japanese and was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

Parkash was born in the western Punjab in India (now in Pakistan). In 1936, he enlisted in the Indian Army. He joined the 5th Battalion, 8th Punjab Regiment and fought on India's North-West Frontier.


Major Parkash Singh

Portrait of Parkash Singh, awarded the Victoria Cross: Burma, January 1943.
© IWM (MH 2601)

Major Parkash Singh, awarded a VC for his courage under fire against the Japanese in the Second World War.

As the Second World War progressed the Japanese began to advance into Burma. By 1943 Parkash was a havildar (sergeant) of the 5th/8th Punjabis' Bren-gun carriers, small, lightly armored vehicles able to carry three or four soldiers. His battalion was involved in fighting an offensive against the Japanese on the coastal, Mayu Peninsula.  

On 18 and 19 January, the Bren-gun carriers made diversionary attacks against the Japanese. On the second day, Japanese guns put several carriers on the shore out of action. Parkash repeatedly risked intense Japanese fire to rescue their trapped crews, even towing a carrier and its wounded crew to safety.

He received the Victoria Cross for his bravery, and became an officer.

After the war, when India and Pakistan were divided in 1947, Parkash went on to serve in the Indian Army for over 20 years.

You can see Major Parkash Singh’s VC in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at IWM London.

This article was edited by Gemma Lawrence. Other IWM staff members contributed to writing an older version of this piece.

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