I am writing historical fiction (setting is British Raj) and am researching the Victoria Cross, and List of Victoria Cross recipients by campaign

I know soldiers from North Indian villages were conscripted to fight in WW1.




Question is, how would the family of a soldier killed in WW1 receive the Victoria Cross on his behalf?

In my novel, the family of the soldier are simple villagers in the British Raj.

Is is possible that the officers of the regiment would break the bad news to the family, return the dead soldier's belongings, and present the Victoria Cross to the wailing Mother and Father?

1 Answer 1


The process would probably take some time, but how much depends on where the soldier was serving, and the circumstances of his death. Victoria Cross recommendations in the 20th century have been investigated rather carefully, which takes time.

The family are likely to be notified first that their son has been killed in action. That might be by post or telegram, or by a personal visit. The visit will only be from an officer of the regiment if the regiment has a depot or other establishment fairly close to the family home; if not, it may well be from an officer of another regiment, or the local police.

The belongings will have to be transported back from wherever the man was serving, and this will not be seen as a matter of great urgency, so there might be a wait of several weeks.

The man's commanding officer will have submitted a recommendation for a decoration, and this will take some time to be investigated, a decision made, and the award published in the London Gazette, which makes it official. The family will be notified once that has happened, through post or telegram. The medal will then have to be sent from London to India, and arrangements made for its presentation. For a Victoria Cross, I'd expect a senior official or Army officer to make the presentation to the family: this might happen in a city rather than the home village.

If you look through the List of First World War Victoria Cross recipients for Indian names and regiments, the pages on individuals will give you the date of the deed and of the publication in the London Gazette. You'll find the delay depends quite a lot on where the deed took place.

  • Good description. For a Victoria Cross, my expectation is that the regiment would consider it a dishonour to not manage the presentation itself, somehow. There are few enough WW1 winners from Indian regiments: Frank De Pass of 34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse; Gobar Negi, 38th Garwhal Rifles; Gobind Singh, 28th Light Cavalry; Eustace Jotham, 51st Sikhs; Karanbahadur Rana & Kulbir Thapa, 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles; Khudadad Khan, 128th Dike of Connaught's Own Baluchis; Shahamad khan, 89th Punjab regiment; Badiu Singh, 14th Murray's Jet lancers; ... Mar 14, 2020 at 3:09
  • ... Jogn Sinton, Indian Medical Service; John Smyth, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs; George Wheeler, 9th Gurkha Rifles; George Wheeler, 7th Hariana Lancers. WW1 Victoria Crosss Reccipients (all 627 of them). Imagine being George Wheeler - either of them - and not being the only person of that name in an Indian Regiment to win the VC. To top if off, they attended two different schools both named Bedford: Bedford School and Bedford Modern School. Mar 14, 2020 at 3:19

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