Monday, October 5, 2015

General Jean Francois Allard: Great General of the Sik

In two Anglo-Sikh wars the East India company were badly shaken. They won by the skin of their teeth, aided  by a bunch of traitors led by Raja  Gulab Singh, who was the Prime Minster at the Lahore Court of Maharajah Ranjit Singh. His consipracies bore fruit and as a reward  was made the Maharajah of Jummu and Kashmir by the English.
The reason for the excellent showing of the Khalsa Fauj was in main due to a string of officers from France and Italy who had  joined for service in the Sikh empire. The most famous of them was Jean-Francois Allard, who was made a general bancois y Ranjit Singh.

General Allard early life
Allard was born in 1785 at Saint Tropez in France.  He joined the army of Napoleon in 1803, where he distinguished himself in all the wars the French army fought. He was awarded the French Cross d Honor by Napoleon for bravery.  In 1810 Allard had been promoted as Captain, but after Napoleon was made to resign in 1814, he absconded. He rejoined the French army after Napoleon escaped from Elbe. He was not however at Waterloo as he had been detailed as an aide de camp.

Allard and Sikh Army
After the defeat of Napoleon Allard escaped to Iran, where he served for 2 years. However the British brought pressure on the Pasha  and Allard was to be arrested and sent back to France. However Allard escaped again and in 1822 reached the court of  Maharajah Ranjit Singh at Lahore. He offered his services to the Maharajah.
Ranjit Singh carried out a verification of the past of Allard, to be sure he was not an English spy. After Ranjit Singh was convinced he was an officer of Napoleon, he was given the task of organizing the Sikh army on modern Europeon lines.

In Service of Ranjit Singh
Allard set about his task in earnest and trained and raised the Sikh army. He also incorporated the latest gunnery tactics and the Sikh soldiers greatly benefitted. One allard joined the Sikh army a string of army generals from France and Italy also joined Ranjit Singh and began to modernize the Sikh army.  Allard raised the first Gurkha Palton of the Sikh empire. He also raised the dragoons on horseback , similar to the French army.
Allard raised the Sikh army to a high degree of professionalism. He took part in all wars of the Sikh army and was like the commander in chief. For his services he was paid a salary Rs 30000( A princely sum at that time) per year with a palatial house and sevants.

Allard fell in love with a Sikh girl named   Bannau Pan, who was the daughter of the chief of Chamba and he married her in 1826. He had 2 daughters from her.
Sikh Army Commander
Allard along with General Ventura now became permanent fixtures in the Sikh army. He was present during the battle of Multan and Battle of Khyber. He subdued the restive Muslim tribes with an iron hand in the North West Frontier.
The British were alarmed and offered Ranjit Singh British officers to replace Allard, but he gained the confidence of the Maharajah and became his closest advisor on military matters. He accompanied Ranjit Singh in his meeting with the Governor General Lord Bentick in 1831 at Ropar.
Last Days
In 1835 Allard took leave for 2 years and went back to France. He returned in 1837 and  brought a letter from King Louis Philip of France for the Maharajah. Allard was happy at the court of Ranjit Singh , but he died of a heart ailment in 1839. As  per his wish he was burried at Lahore. His mausoleum along with his daughters, who also died is a site to visit in Lahore. They are located inside the Lahore fort. His greatest contribution was to raise the efficacy of the Khalsa Fauj, which distuingished itself in battles with the English and won the tag of a martial race.
Last word
Allard was a great general and its about time such men who were burried in the history written by the English are resurrected.