No. 501 Lance Naik (later Jamedar) Lala was born on the 20April 1876 in village Parol, Tehsil Bhoranj, District Hamirpur (Himachal Pradesh). He had the distinction of being awarded the Victoria Cross—a rare honour indeed, for his role in the battle of Hanna, Mesopotamia in during the First World War (1914-1918).
At the time when Lala was awarded the highest military decoration for valour, he was 38 years old, and was a Lance Naik. At the battle of Hanna that was being fought, there was great death and destruction all around and Lance Naik Lala was in the thick of action. Even under those trying conditions, Lance Naik Lala had the foresight to make a temporary shelter, to which he had already evacuated four wounded Indian soldiers and had bandaged their wounds. It was then that that his eyes fell upon a British officer of another regiment who had been wounded and was who lying close to the enemy. Without a care for his own safety, Lance Naik Lala crawled up to the wounded British officer and dragged him back to safety and in his temporary shelter, he bandaged the wounded officer’s wounds. Then he heard a call for help from his own Adjutant, who lay wounded less than a 100 yards away. Lance Naik Lala crawled forward, unmindful of the firing that was continuing in full fury. He reached the wounded officer where he found four more Indian soldiers, all of whom were severely wounded.
Lala wanted to carry all of them back to safety, but his Adjutant forbade that, as the enemy was too close. He thus waited till dusk and stripped off his clothes to keep the men warm. When darkness set in, he carried the wounded officer back on his shoulders and then returned with a stretcher and evacuated all the other wounded men one by one. This truly was a magnificent example of courage and devotion to his officers and men.
For this act of bravery, Lance Naik Lala was awarded the Victoria Cross (the first in Himachal Pradesh), which was conferred on him on 21 January 1916 for the battle of Hanna (Mesopotamia). It was the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of enemy that could be awarded to British and Commonwealth soldiers.
His citation read: “His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on No. 501 Lance Naik Lala, 41st Dogra , Indian Army, for most conspicuous bravery”.
Lala later rose to the rank of Jamedar in the 41st Dogra, Bengal Infantry (now 3 DOGRA). Jamedar Lala died on 23March 1927 and his last words are said to be “ We Fought True”. We bow and pay homage to a great soldier whose act of valour will long be remembered.