The Little-Known War Between Britain and India

Categories: Indian ArmyWar

Some battles and wars are well known in the United States, like the Vietnam War or the World Wars. However, some battles are more well known in other countries. The United Kingdom remembers much of the Battle of Saragarhi, and celebrates its anniversary to this day. It has shaped what the British Armed Forces are today and their values. So, why is this battle that is not very well known in America, so important to the United Kingdom, even though it occurred outside of their country?

Before looking at the battle, one must look back at what was happening with the British and India at that time.

The British had control over India in the 1800s, and according to the United Kingdom National Archives, this control that they had over India sparked much debate and controversy. In 1857 and 1858, a rebellion broke out. The rebellion lasted 18 months and was brutal, and sparked much distrust between Britain and India during the Raj, the time that the British ruled after the rebellion.

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During 1877-1878 and 1899-1900, famines affected India. In 1897, the Battle of Saragarhi commenced.

On September 12, 1897, 21 British Indian Army Sepoys (Indian soldiers serving in the British army; also known as Sikh Soldiers) defended the outpost, Saragarhi (in modern day Pakistan), against 10,000 Afghan tribesmen. They fought to the death for almost ten hours with nothing but ammunition and bayonets. The Sikh Soldiers lost; however, the Afghans reported 180 dead and many more injured. That is around 9 people (approximately 8.57) per Sikh Soldier.

Even though it was technically a loss in the battle, it is still celebrated today and has changed the way the British Armed Forces fights.

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After their death, the Sikh Soldiers were awarded the Indian Order of Merit. As of 2015, the British Armed Forces has commemorated the Battle of Saragarhi two years. The Sikh Soldiers from that day are an inspiration to many, and their courageousness, skill, and loyalty during the battle set an example for the British Armed Forces today. In 2014, a British Armed Forces Sikh Association was created, and the Sikh that are in the Armed Forces thrive and do well due to the similar beliefs and values of the Armed Forces and Sikhism. On September 12, 2017, the 120th anniversary of the Battle of Saragarhi was celebrated at the National Memorial Arboretum. September 12th of this year marks the 122nd anniversary of this battle. There are many television shows, movies, books, and documentaries based on the Battle of Saragarhi such as “21: Battle of Saragarhi”, “Sons of Sadaar: The Battle of Saragarhi”, “21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897”, and many more.

The Battle of Saragarhi has shaped how the British Armed Forces are today and is a very important battle. Though they lost the battle, they are still admired and beloved by many. The people find inspiration in the soldiers’ bravery, and their bravery will continue to affect many people in the future.

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The Little-Known War Between Britain and India. (2022, Jan 09). Retrieved from

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