At the age of 21, when boys enroll their names in college and enjoy their bachelorhood, Gabar Singh Negi was serving as a Rifleman in the 2nd Battalion of the 39th Garhwal Rifles. This brave soldier of the Garhwal Rifles was awarded Victoria Cross for his dauntless service to the British Indian Army during World War I.
Gabar Singh Negi born on April 21, 1895, at Manjood Village near Chamba in Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, served as a soldier in the British Indian Army, during World War I. He was the recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest gallantry award in the face of the enemy. This award is only rewarded to the British and Commonwealth forces.
Gabar Singh Negi joined the Garhwal Rifles on October 1913. He was barely 21 years old when he was serving as a Rifleman in the 2nd Battalion of the 39th Garhwal Rifles. It was the outcome of his exemplary performance on March 10, 1915, at Neuve Chapelle in France, that he was awarded the Victoria Cross. His Majesty the King was pleased to grant him Victoria Cross for his conspicuous heroic act and devotion to his duty, whilst serving with the Expeditionary Force.
During an attack on the German position, Negi who was armed with a bayonet drove the enemies from their main trench and chased them until they surrendered. Unfortunately, he was killed during this engagement. To felicitate this valiant soldier, his name has been engraved on the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial in France.
In the memory of this brave heart, “The Gabar Singh Negi Fair” is held annually at Chamba. The Garhwal Rifles adopted the fair in the year 1971, to inspire the young generation to join the armed forces. Soon, the fair started attracting the villagers from faraway places to pay homage to the brave soldier. Every year, around 20 or 21 April (depending on the Hindu calendar) the area near the Negi Memorial in Chamba, becomes lively as many stalls are set up there. The other interesting feature of the fair is the recruitment rally conducted by the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre. The villagers, especially the youths attend this fair because of the recruitment rally.
Gabar Singh Memorial was built in 1925, to honour Gabar Singh Negi who served as a Rifleman in the Garhwal Rifles. The memorial is a popular tourist attraction of Chamba. During World War I, Singh and his battalion won the battle at Flanders in Germany. After his death, he was rewarded with the highest gallantry award, the Victory Cross. The Garhwal Regiment, on every April 21, pays tribute to this brave warrior. The saga of Negi’s bravery continues to inspire the hill folk of Uttarakhand to join Indian Army.