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Sergeant Major Gandhi: When Gandhiji Donned The Uniform

It’s the birthday of none other than the “ Father Of Nation” Mahatma Gandhi and we can’t miss to remember our national hero on this auspicious day. The occasion is even more special as its the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma.


We all know Gandhiji as the leader of masses and a staunch follower of non-violence. He took the fight against Britishers and aroused the spirit of nationalism among masses.


But do you know that Gandhiji was once part of British Forces? Yes, Gandhiji once played the role of Sergeant Major in British armed forces. Not only that he served in the position for around 3 years.

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Let’s take a trip down the history lane and unfold this lesser-known chapter from the life of our beloved Father of the Nation.

Second Boer War

It was the time when Gandhiji was in South Africa and was learning from his experiences of facing a tyrannical administration. In the year 1899, the British entered a war against the two independent Boer States. Known as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War the confrontation went on for around 3 years.


The devastation of the war moved Gandhi and he was inspired to do something that can help those who got affected by the war.

Indian Ambulance Corps

Moved by the sight of war Gandhiji created a corps of stretcher-bearers for the British army. This was known as the Indian Ambulance Corps and was funded by local Indians.


The corps served in the Battle of Spion Kop (fought as part of Boer War) and comprised of around 1100 local Indians including a major share of indentured labours. Gandhiji served as the Sergeant Major of the British Army leading the corps.


Gandhiji inspired many Indians to join the corps who later went to serve in hospitals in Southampton and Brighton were Indians affected by war were getting treatments. Gandhiji’s wife Kasturba and Nightingale of India Sarojini Naidu helped Gandhi in his efforts.

Awarded For His Effort

Gandhiji is regarded as the icon of the Indian Military Medicine till today. His picture in Military uniform is still kept in the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune.


For his efforts, Gandhiji was awarded the title of ‘kaiser-i-Hind’. He gave up the title later on in expressing his agitation in response to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.

So, did you got an extra dose of knowledge about the father of the nation? Don’t restrict it to yourself and rather spread the word.

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