On Sunday, the 17th of September, the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, hosted by Fiona Bruce, marked a significant moment. It appraised a Victoria Cross medal, bestowed upon a Sikh soldier for his valiant actions while fighting alongside Allied forces in the Far East campaign of 1945.
The accompanying citation for the medal recounts a tale of exceptional bravery. “The enemy were well concealed in foxholes along cactus hedges, and Naik Gian Singh soon spotted them, some twenty yards ahead. Directing his Light Machine Gunner to provide cover, he bravely charged the enemy foxholes alone, Tommy Gun in hand. He was met with a barrage of fire and suffered an arm wound. Undeterred, he pressed on, hurling grenades… By this point, a troop of tanks came under fire from a cleverly concealed enemy antitank gun. Naik Gian Singh swiftly recognised the peril and, disregarding his own safety and despite his wounds, once more surged forward, neutralised the crew, and single-handedly captured the gun.
Naik Gian Singh was directed to the Regimental Aid Post, but despite his wounds, he sought permission to lead his section until the entire operation was concluded. This request was granted. There is no doubt that these acts of extraordinary valour spared Naik Gian Singh’s platoon numerous casualties and facilitated the successful execution of the entire operation, inflicting severe losses upon the enemy.”
In October 1945, Naik (Corporal) Gian Singh was bestowed with the highest honour for gallantry, the Victoria Cross, by King George VI. Every two years, he journeyed to London to partake in the Victoria and George Cross Reunion. He passed away in 1996.
This marks the inaugural occasion that the Antiques Roadshow has presented a Victoria Cross awarded to a Sikh Soldier. Expert valuer Mark Smith has assessed the medal’s value at £250,000. Mark had previously appraised a WWI Victoria Cross at the Portchester Castle Roadshow in 2021.
Mark Smith said: “It is always an immense honour to see, let alone hold, a Victoria Cross. The humble bronze Cross represents the highest traditions of courage, sacrifice and honour, how can one not be moved to be in its presence? Always a moment to remember.”
Mr Singh’s son Charanjit, who contributed the medal, said: “It was a wonderful day to hear Mark Smith talk about my father, I was so proud and emotional. We have never been minded to sell the medal and have not thought about its value so it was a great surprise (to learn what it is now valued at).”
The medal will be exhibited from November for a period of two years at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow.
Fiona Bruce will present the Antiques Roadshow on BBC One this Sunday, the 17th of September 2023, at 8pm, from Pollok Country Park, Glasgow. Subsequent episodes will be filmed at Alexandra Gardens in Cardiff, Ebrington Square in Londonderry, and Roundhay Park in Leeds.
The series is produced by BBC Studios Factual Entertainment, with Robert Murphy as the Series Editor. Clare Mottershead, BBC Factual Entertainment and Events Commissioner commissioned the show.
The episode can be previewed on BBC Previews and watched on BBC iPlayer after airing.