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№ 132


17 September 2004

Hammer Price:

An extremely rare 2nd Class Order of Merit group of six awarded to Subadar-Major (Hony. Captain) Mit Singh, Sardar Bahadur, 53rd Sikhs (Frontier Force), formerly 3rd Sikh Infantry, for gallantry at Gumatti in 1902, promoted from the 3rd Class for his gallantry in Tirah 1898, later A.D.C. to His Excellency the Viceroy

Order of Merit, 2nd Class, silver, gold and enamels, the reverse with screw-nut fitting and officially inscribed on three lines ‘2nd Class Order of Merit’, lacking silver ribbon buckle
Afghanistan 1878-80, 2 clasps, Kabul, Kandahar (Sepoy Mitt Singh, 3rd Sikh Infy)
Kabul to Kandahar Star 1880 (Sepoy Mitt Singh, 3rd Sikh Infy)
India General Service 1854-94, 1 clasp, Waziristan 1894-95 (833 Havr. Mit Singh, 3d Sikh Infy.)
India General Service 1895-1902, 3 clasps, Punjab Frontier 1897-98, Samana 1897, Tirah 1897-98 (Jemdr. Mit Singh, 3rd Sikh Infy.)
China 1900, 1 clasp, Relief of Pekin (Jemdr. Mit Singh, 3d Sikh Infy.) contact wear but generally very fine or better £5000-6000

Order of Merit 3rd Class G.G.O. 430 of 1898: ‘Jemadar Mit Singh - For conspicuous gallantry in action near Bagh, in Tirah, on the 18th November 1897, in leading his men with great bravery and disregard of danger.’

Order of Merit, promotion to the 2nd Class,
G.G.O. 382 of 1903: ‘To the 2nd Class. Subadar Mit Singh, 3rd Sikhs. Jemadar Kamal Khan, 4th Sikhs. To the 3rd Class. No. 629, Lance-Naik Bhola Singh, 4th Sikhs. For conspicuous gallantry at Gumatti, on the 18th November 1902, when they were the foremost of the storming party in the final assault on the fort and displayed marked coolness and courage.’

In the period 1837-1910, a total of only 130 awards of the 2nd Class were made. When the Order was reduced to two classes upon Indians becoming eligible for the Victoria Cross, the old 2nd Class became the new 1st Class. In 1919 there were just 23 holders of the 1st Class, including Mit Singh, eleven of which were old 2nd Class awards won before the war.

Mit Singh joined the 3rd Sikhs on 19 May 1878. He was promoted to Jemadar on 17 November 1895, to Subadar on 1 October 1901, and became Subadar-Major of the regiment on 1 July 1906. Mitt Singh retired before the outbreak of the Great War and was still shown on the Pension Establishment after the war as an Honorary Captain and Aide de Camp to His Excellency the Viceroy. He was awarded the Order of British India, 1st Class, with title of ‘Sardar Bahadur’ on 16 July 1909. His lengthy record of war service is thus recorded in the Indian Army List of 1913:

Afghanistan 1879-80 - Medal with 2 clasps, Bronze star.
N.-W. Frontier of India, Waziristan 1894-95 - Medal with 2 clasps [surely an error].
Action at Wana, 3rd November 1894.
N.-W. Frontier of India 1897-98
- Operations on the Samana and in the Kurram Valley during August and September 1897. Medal with 2 clasps.
Tirah 1897-98 - Action of Dargai - Action of the Sampagha Pass - Action of the Arhanga Pass - Operations against Khani Khel Chamkanis - Operations in the Bazar Valley, 25th to 30th December 1897. Clasp.
China 1900 - Relief of Pekin. Medal with clasp.
N.-W. Frontier of India 1902 - Operations against the Darwesh Khel Waziris - Indian Order of Merit, 2nd Class.
N.-W. Frontier of India 19028 - Operations in the Zakka Khel country.
N.-W. Frontier of India 1908 - Operations in the Mohmand country. Engagement of Kargha, 24th May 1908. Medal with clasp.

From the above it should be noted that the medal for China and the relief of Pekin is highly unusual to this regiment and he was probably on detachment to the 1st Sikhs for this campaign. It would also appear that he is further entitled to the medal for the 1908 operations on the North West Frontier.

Refs: Deeds of Valour of the Indian Soldier (Hypher); The Tirah Campiagn (Mills); Indian Army Lists.