|Subedar and Honorary Captain
15 September 1915|
Barnala, Punjab, India
|Died||20 January 1993(aged 77)|
|Allegiance|| British Indian Empire
|Service/branch|| British Indian Army
|Years of service||1941–|
|Battles/wars||World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
|Awards|| Param Vir Chakra
- For Sikh historian (1884–1930), see Karam Singh
Subedar and Honorary Captain Karam Singh PVC, MM (15 September 1915 – 20 January 1993) was an Indian soldier who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest wartime military award, in 1948. A Sikh, he was born in Barnala, Punjab. Singh retired from the Indian Army as an Honorary Captain. He was survived by his wife Gurdial Kaur, who died on 19 June 2010. He was the first non-posthumous and first Sikh PVC awardee. He received the award from the first president of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. He, along with four others, were selected by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister to hoist the national flag after Indian independence on 15 August 1947.
He enrolled in the 1st battalion of the Sikh Regiment (at the time part of the British Indian Army) on 15 September 1941. Karam Singh fought for India in World War II and was awarded the Military Medal on 14 March 1944.
Singh earned his Param Vir Chakra in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. In the war, India and Pakistan fought for control of the Tithwal sector in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. India captured Tithwal on 23 May 1948, but subsequently lost hold of the position because of strong Pakistani counter-attacks. Between May and October 1948, the two forces engaged in multiple battles over Tithwal. Company Havildar Major Piru Singh Shekhawat showed extreme bravery in a battle near the River Krishnaganga between 17 and 18 July 1948 and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra.
In October 1948, Pakistani troops launched an attack with the objective of capturing Richhmar Gali to the south of Tithwal and occupying Nastachur Pass to the east of Tithwalu. Singh was commanding a forward outpost in the Richhmar Gali area. During the initial attacks, all the bunkers in the platoon area were destroyed by heavy enemy shelling. Communications with his commander was also cut off, hence Karam Singh was unable to update his situation or ask for reinforcements. Although wounded, he brought back two injured comrades to the frontline with the help of another man to the main company position and defended Richhmar Gali.
Twice wounded by the fifth enemy attack, Singh refused evacuation and continued to hold on to the first-line trenches. When enemy soldiers secured a position close to the frontline, Singh jumped out of his trench and bayoneted the two intruders to death. This bold action so demoralised the enemy that they broke off the attack. In all, the outpost was attacked eight times that day and the Sikhs repulsed the enemy every time. For his role in the battle of Tithwal, Singh became the second recipient of the Param Vir Chakra.
War Office, 18th May, 1944.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards on recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma —
The Military Medal
No. 22356 Sepoy Karam Singh, 11th Sikh Regiment, Indian Army
Param Vir Chakra
The citation for the Param Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:
LANCE NAIK KARAM SINGH1 SIKH (NO 22356)
Tithwal in Jammu and Kashmir was captured on 23 May 1948. After that date, the enemy made numerous attempts to recapture Richmar Gali, and thence Tithwal. On 13 October 1948, coinciding with Id, the enemy decided to launch a brigade attack to retake Richmar Gali, and bypassing Tithwal, advance into the Srinagar Valley. Lance Naik Karam Singh was commanding a section at Richmar Gali.
The enemy commenced its attack with heavy shelling of guns and mortars. The fire was so accurate that not a single bunker in the platoon locality was left unscathed.
Communication trenches caved in. Bravely, Lance Naik Karam Singh went from bunker to bunker, giving succor to the wounded and urging the men to fight.
The enemy launched eight separate attacks that day. In one such attack, the enemy managed to obtain a foothold in the platoon locality. Immediately, Lance Naik Karam Singh, who was severely wounded by then, with a few men, hurled himself in a counter-attack and evicted the enemy after a close quarter encounter which accounted for many enemy dead, having been dispatched by the bayonet.
Lance Naik Karam Singh proved himself to be a dauntless leader of men in crisis. Nothing could subdue him and no amount of fire or hardship could break his spirit.
The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI), a Government of India Public Sector Enterprise under the aegis of Ministry of Shipping, named fifteen of their crude oil tankers in honour of the Param Vir Chakra recipients. The crude oil tanker named MT "Lance Naik Karam Singh, PVC" was delivered to SCI on 30 July 1984. Due to the provisions of the MARPOL Convention on single hull tankers, SCI phased out all her fifteen PVC series crude tankers on completion of their economic age of 25 years.
- Family of second Param Vir Chakra recipient to auction medal, The Hindu, retrieved 28 August 2014
- The Param Vir Chakra Winners (PVC), Official Website of the Indian Army, retrieved 28 August 2014 "Profile" and "Citation" tabs.
- "Army observes liberation of Tithwal Day". The Tribune. 24 May 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
- "Supplement No. 36518, p. 2271". The London Gazette. 18 May 1944. Retrieved 25 September 2016.