THE first South Asian soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross is remembered in an exhibition marking the centenary of Manningham War Memorial.

The memorial cross was unveiled in February 1921 at a ceremony attended by then Bishop of Bradford, Dr Arthur Perowne, and Colonel R Clough, of the 6th West Yorkshire Regiment. The centenary will be commemorated at the Little Community Gallery, at the corner of Victor Road and Leamington Street in Manningham, where the war memorial stands. The gallery has a display case bearing the names of 177 soldiers from Manningham who died in the First World War, and it also acknowledges Sepoy Khudadad Khan from Mirpur, the first Muslim to have the Victoria Cross.

“The names of the Manningham men were originally recorded on panels in neighbouring St Luke’s Church, then moved to their present location, St Paul’s Church in Manningham,” said gallery spokesman Bruce Barnes. “The Little Community Gallery display aims to renew the link between the soldiers and their memorial, as well as providing a reminder of Sepoy Khudadad Khan’s sacrifice.

“On Sunday there will be a Remembrance Service at 12noon and a short ceremony at Manningham War Memorial.”

Mr Barnes has led a team of volunteers from the Manningham community in preserving the First World War memorial cross. Sunday’s Remembrance ceremony will acknowledge the Commonwealth contribution in the 1914-18 conflict.

A stained glass window at St Luke’s Church depicts badges of the West Yorkshire Regiment, a wounded soldier at the foot of the cross and a soldier on his knees before angels. On the window is an inscription in memory of Lieutenant George Ambler of Heaton Mount who died aged 23 in August 1917. He served with 2/6th (Territorial) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. His older brother Ernest was a Captain with 1st Btn, West Yorks and survived.

George Ambler served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders. He died in a London hospital from gun shot wounds to the head and eye at Loos. He is buried in Undercliffe Cemetery.

Subedar Khudadad Khan served in the British Indian Army and was the first Muslim to receive the Victoria Cross. In October 1914, when the Germans launched the First Battle of Ypres, Khan, 26, was with the newly arrived 129th Baluchis, rushed to the frontline to support British troops. On October 31 two companies of the Baluchis bore the brunt of the main German attack near the village of Gheluvelt in Hollebeke. Sepoy Khudadad Khan’s machine-gun team prevented the Germans from making the final breakthrough. When his team was overrun all the men were killed by bullets or bayonets except Khudadad Khan who, despite being badly wounded, had continued working his gun. He was left for dead but managed to crawl back to his regiment. Thanks to his actions and those of his fellow Baluchis, the Germans were held up just long enough for Indian and British reinforcements to arrive, preventing the German Army from reaching vital ports. Khan died in 1971. A statue of him is at the entrance of the Pakistan Army Museum in Rawalpindi.