Personal info

  • Name: Premindra Singh BHAGAT
  • D.O.B: 14th Oct, 1918
  • D.O.A: 1st Feb, 1941
  • D.O.D: 23rd May, 1975
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Second Lieutenant, Corps of Indian Engineers, 21 Field Company, Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners, 5th Division, Indian Army
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 3
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Sources & Acknowledgements

The Metemma-Gondar Road, Abyssinia 31 January - 3 February 1941

31 January - 1 February 1941

More details about:
The Second World War 1941 

In July 1940 Italian forces in East Africa had crossed the Sudanese border and taken the strategically important town of Kassala and the border posts of Gallabat and Kurmuk to the south. A British attempt to retake Gallabat in November 1940 had, after early success, eventually been repulsed. Following the defeat of the Italian invasion of Egypt from Libya in December 1940, the Italians in East Africa felt increasingly vulnerable. In mid-January 1941 they evacuated Kassala. They put up more resistance at Gallabat but were driven out on 31 January 1941 and Metemma across the border in Abyssinia was also captured. The Italians then retreated east along the road to Gondar, mining it as they went. Second Lieutenant Bhagat, who had distinguished himself in the fighting at Gallabat in November, was with the column that pursued them. Over the next four days in the course of 55 miles he cleared 15 Italian mine-fields. His vehicle was twice blown up and one of his ear drums perforated. On 3 February, the Column Commander insisted he be sent back for medical treatment. The column itself reached Wahni before returning to Gallabat on 7 February.


 For most conspicuous gallantry on active service in the Middle East. During the pursuit of the enemy following the capture of Metemma on the night 31st January-1st February, 1941, Second-Lieutenant Bhagat was in command of a section of a Field Company, Sappers and Miners, detailed to accompany the leading mobile troops (Bren Carriers) to clear the road and adjacent areas of mines. For a period of four days and over a distance of 55 miles this officer in the leading carrier led the Column. He detected and supervised the clearing of fifteen minefields. Speed being essential he worked at high pressure from dawn to dusk each day. On two occasions when his carrier was blown up with casualties to others and on a third occasion when ambushed and under close enemy fire, he himself carried straight on with his task. He refused relief when worn out with strain and fatigue and with one eardrum punctured by an explosion, on the grounds that he was now better qualified to continue his task to the end. His coolness, persistence over a period of 96 hours and gallantry, not only in battle, but throughout the long period when the safety of the Column and the speed at which it could advance were dependent on his personal efforts, were of the highest order. 

(Third Supplement to The London Gazette of 6 June 1941. 10 June 1941, Numb. 35186, p. 3307)

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