Rajindar Singh Dhatt, one of the last surviving Sikh soldiers who fought in the Second World War, has been honored by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with the prestigious Points of Light award. The recognition took place at a special UK-India Week reception held at 10 Downing Street.
At the age of 101, Mr. Dhatt received this distinguished accolade on June 28 in acknowledgment of his remarkable service during the war and his efforts in leading the “Undivided Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Association.” The organization aims to unite British Indian war veterans and provide them with support.
Having made Hounslow in southwest London his home since 1963, Mr. Dhatt was born in pre-Partition India in 1921. He valiantly fought alongside the Allied forces during the British colonial period.
Expressing his gratitude, Mr. Dhatt said, “It is an immense honor to receive this recognition from the Prime Minister, to whom I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for acknowledging the importance and impact of the ‘Undivided Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Association.’ The journey of establishing this organization was driven by a deep sense of duty as an ex-serviceman and the vision of fostering unity, support, and camaraderie. This award serves as a testament to the tireless efforts of countless individuals who have contributed to the success and growth of the association over the years.”
He further added, “Their unwavering commitment and selfless service have played a pivotal role in bringing about positive change in the lives of our ex-servicemen and their families.”
Joining the British Indian Army during the Second World War, Mr. Dhatt demonstrated exceptional dedication and quickly climbed the ranks, achieving the position of Havildar Major (Sergeant Major) in 1943. He was later deployed to the Far East campaign, where he fought in Kohima, northeast India, to support the Allied Forces and aid in breaking through the Japanese defenses, as informed by Downing Street. After the war, Mr. Dhatt returned to India briefly before settling in London with his family.
In recent times, the association led by Mr. Dhatt has created an online community for veterans, sharing personal stories and providing opportunities for connection. Additionally, Mr. Dhatt continues to speak at memorial events and collaborate with war veteran charities, including the Royal British Legion and the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. Through teaching packs and online resources, he ensures that stories of valor are passed down to future generations.
Mr. Dhatt considers this award a “momentous occasion” that inspires him to continue making meaningful contributions to society, even as he approaches his 102nd birthday.
The Points of Light award, according to Downing Street, is bestowed upon exceptional individuals whose service makes a significant difference in their communities. Their stories serve as inspiration for others, encouraging innovative solutions to social challenges both locally and globally.
Coinciding with a Downing Street reception celebrating the UK-India Week organized by the India Global Forum, Prime Minister Sunak praised Mr. Dhatt as an “incredible man” and thanked him for his service as a member of the Indian diaspora, referring to him as a “living bridge” between the two nations.
The Points of Light award recognizes the immeasurable contributions of Mr. Dhatt, honoring his valor and dedication during the Second World War and his ongoing commitment to supporting veterans. His remarkable journey continues to inspire and serve as a shining example of resilience, unity, and selflessness.