Indian-origin UK soldier gets first ‘field promotion’ in 60 years

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this to happen today when I got out of bed this morning. It is extremely unexpected and I couldn’t be more proud of this honour,” Lance Corporal Das said.

London | Published: January 29, 2014 12:36:54 am

AN INDIAN-origin soldier, helping in the fight against the al-Qaeda, has become the first in the British Army to get an on-the-spot “field promotion” in more than 60 years.

Rifleman Gigar Das, from 1st Battalion The Rifles, was presented with his Lance Corporal’s stripe in front of his colleagues for his service to Mali while serving as part of an European Union Training Team.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this to happen today when I got out of bed this morning. It is extremely unexpected and I couldn’t be more proud of this honour,” Lance Corporal Das said.

The Chief of the General Staff, General Peter Wall, accompanied head of the French Army General Bertrand Ract-Madoux to witness soldiers from 1 Rifles delivering infantry training to their Malian counterparts. Both generals were hugely impressed with Rifleman Das as they observed him conducting a lesson in marksmanship principles.

Astounded to see that the soldier was a rifleman, Gen Wall decided to promote him there and then.

“I am extremely proud of Lance Corporal Das, this is absolutely no more than he deserves. He has been one of the most outstanding riflemen I have ever had the privilege to command,” Major Sam Cates, the company commander, said.

The move from Rifleman — lowest level in his regiment — to Lance Corporal is the first sudden rise in rank on field since the Korean War in 1953.

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