Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The December issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Subadar (equivalent to captain) Khudadad Khan, who was both the first Muslim and the first Indian to receive the VC.
Khan was born in the Punjab, India (now Pakistan). He was from a family of Pathans, who came originally from the North West Frontier, bordering Afghanistan. In 1906, he enlisted as a sepoy (equivalent to a private) in the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis, Indian Army.
He was awarded his VC for bravery during on October 31 1914 during fierce fighting at the first Battle of Ypres. One of the Baluchi regiment’s Maxim guns was destroyed by enemy fire. Khan, then 26, was one of six men tasked with manning the second Maxim gun, although he had already been seriously wounded.
Five of his comrades were killed as the enemy overran their position. Initially, Khan feigned death having already put the machine gun out of action. Later, he crawled back to his own line to receive medical treatment.
His VC was announced on December 7 1914 but he was initially too weak to receive his award from the King. Later he received his decoration rom George V at an investiture on January 26 1915. Khan survived the war and died in Pakistan on March 8 1971, aged 82.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past six years have been largely based on excerpts from his six books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes, Heroes of the Skies, Special Ops Heroes and Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II.
Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
- Lord Ashcroft’s latest article appears in the December issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.