Ratan Chand Mehra a New Zealand Anzac
Ratan Chand Mehra, a Hindu, was born on the 29th November 1884 in the Lahore, Punjab, India (this is now Pakistan). He married his wife Musammat Lal Devi at Jalandhar in the Punjab in 1900 the ceremony was conducted by Brahman Priest. Ratan and Musammat had one child, Sohan Devi born on the 23rd of January 1901 in Lahore. Their address in Lahore was care of L. Nanah Chand, Patwari, Jolotian Street, Bhati Gate, Lahore, India.
He migrated to Taumarumui not far from Lake Taupo, New Zealand, where he worked as a labourer and Indian Interpreter for John Maher. He enlisted in the New Zealand Army as a Rifleman in the 4th Battalion, B Company at Trentham on the 12th of October 1915. His service number was 26/123. He was only five foot four and a half inches tall. He embarked from Wellington on the 5th February 1916 for Suez, Egypt.
He reached Suez on the 15th March 1916 and embarked at Alexandria for France on the “Alaunia”. On the 10th July, in France, he was appointed the Battalion Cook and was transferred to 1st Battalion “A” Company on 4th of September where in late November he was attached to the Divisional School. In early December Ratan was admitted to the No. 3 New Zealand Field Ambulance Hospital and a week later to the No. 2 Field Ambulance Hospital. He was discharged on the 20th of December and then rejoined his Battalion. He was appointed as a Cook for the New Zealand Reinforcement Camp for three months from the 12th of April 1917 then transferred to the 4th Battalion “A” Company New Zealand Rifle Brigade. On the 8th of August he went to the United Kingdom on leave and returned to France on the 20th of August. One week later Ratan was admitted to the No. 4 New Zealand Field Ambulance Hospital and then transferred to the No. 8 Division Rest Station. He rejoined the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 1st Battalion “A” Company on the 20th October. He was killed in action in the field in Ypres, Belgium on the 3rd of December 1917. Ratan was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was survived by his wife and child and his Medals were sent to his widow Musammat Lal Devi, of Suten Mandi, Kacha Pir, Bhole in 1922. His name is recorded at Buttes New British Cemetery, New Zealand Memorial, Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
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© Len Kenna & Crystal Jordan 2015 edited Dec. 2016 & June 2017.
“Are Indians an Ethnic Minority?” Vols. 1-5 2008-2013