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The Last Stand

“Do not come up, I will handle them”, these were probably the last words which Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan told his men as he was hit by bullets while engaging terrorists inside the Taj. He and fellow NSG commando Havildar Gajender Singh lost their lives as did Hemant Karkare, the celebrated head of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, while fighting the terrrorists. I feel so sad for their families and may God give them the strength to bear the loss.

India has always been the home of the brave and the strong. Allow me share with you three historic battle, in recent recorded history, that we can all take inspiration from:-

Year 1897 – The Battle of Saragarhi

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the outpost at saragarhi :20 sikhs and 600 afgan tribesmen dead

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought during the Tirah Campaign on 12 September 1897 between twenty one Sikhs of the 4th Battalion (then 36th Sikhs) of the Sikh Regiment of British India, defending an army post, and 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen in a last stand. The battle occurred in the North-West Frontier Province, now a part of Pakistan, which then formed part of British India.

Around 9.00am, around 10,000 Afghans reach the signaling post at Saragarhi. Sardar Gurmukh Singh (British Indian Army) signals to Col. Haughton, situated in Fort Lockhart, that they are under attack. Colonel Haughton states he cannot send immediate help to Saragarhi. The soldiers decide to fight to the last to prevent the enemy reaching the forts. In an act of outstanding bravery, Ishar Singh orders his men to fall back into the inner layer, whilst he remains to fight. However, this is breached and all but one of the defending soldiers are killed, along with many of the Pashtuns. Gurmukh Singh, who communicated the battle with Col. Haughton, was the last Sikh defender. He is stated to have killed 20 Afghans, the Pashtuns having to set fire to the post to kill him. As he was dying he was said to have yelled repeatedly the regimental battle-cry “Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (He who cries God is Truth, is ever victorious).

The Afghans later stated that they had lost about 180 killed and many more wounded during the engagement against the 21 Sikh soldiers, but some 600 bodies are said to have been seen around the ruined post when the relief party arrived.

When the gallantry of Saragarhi was recounted to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the recitation drew a standing ovation from the members. The saga of Saragarhi was also brought to the notice of Queen Victoria.

“The British, as well as the Indians, are proud of the 36th Sikh Regiments. It is no exaggeration to record that the armies which possess the valiant Sikhs cannot face defeat in war”– Parliament of the United Kingdom

Year 1971 – Battle of Longewala

Odds 1 against 20 (20 Indian soldiers against a Pakistani Armoured Tank Brigade)
a destroyed Pakistani tank after the battle of longewala

The Battle of Longewala (December 4, 1971 – December 5, 1971) was one of the first major engagements in the Western Sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, fought between assaulting Pakistani forces and Indian defenders at the Indian border post of Longewala, in the Thar Desert of the Rajasthan state in India. The Indian infantry company (reinforced) was left with the choices of either attempting to hold out until reinforced, or fleeing on foot from a mechanised infantry Pakistani force, choosing the former.

The Pakistani forces begun their attack at 12:30 am. As the offensive approached the lone outpost, Pakistani artillery opened up across the border with medium artillery guns, killing five of the ten camels from the BSF detachment. As the column of 65 tanks neared the post, Indian defences, lacking the time to lay a prepared minefield, laid a hasty anti-tank minefield as the enemy advanced, one infantryman being killed in the process. The Indian infantry held fire until the leading Pakistani tanks had approached to 15-30 metres before firing their PIATs. They accounted for the first two tanks on the track with their Jeep-mounted 106mm M40 recoilless rifle, with one of its crew being killed during the combat. This weapon proved quite effective because it was able to engage the thinner top armour of the Pakistani tanks from its elevated position, firing at often stationary bogged down vehicles. In all the post defenders claimed 12 tanks destroyed or damaged. Although massively outnumbering the Indian defenders, and having surrounded them, the Pakistani troops were unable to advance over open terrain on a full-moon night, under small arms and mortar fire from the outpost. This encouraged the Indians not to give up their strong defensive position, frustrating the Pakistani commanders.

As dawn arrived, the Pakistan forces had still not taken the post, and were now having to do so in full daylight. The Indian aircraft, which lacked the ability to operate in the night, now attacked the Pakistani ground troops with the 16 Matra T-10 rockets and 30 mm cannon fire on each aircraft. Without support from the Pakistan Air Force, which was busy elsewhere, the tanks and other armoured vehicles were easy targets for the IAF’s Hunters…..

Year 1962 – Rezang La

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It was the site of the famous last stand of the of the ‘C’ Company of 13 Kumaon during the Sino-Indian War in 1962. The C Company was led by Major Shaitan Singh, who later won a Param Vir Chakra, for his actions, posthumously.

Rezang La had a very serious drawback from the Indian point of view. It was crested to Indian artillery because of an intervening feature, which meant that the Indian infantry had to make without the protective comfort of the big guns. In this action, 109 Kumaonis out of a total of 123 were killed.

On this horrific battle, Major-General Ian Cardozo, in his book “Param Vir, Our Heroes In Battle” writes………“When Rezang La was later revisited dead jawans were found in the trenches still holding on to their weapons… every single man of this company was found dead in his trench with several bullet or splinter wounds. The 2-inch mortar man died with a bomb still in his hand. The medical orderly had a syringe and bandage in his hands when the Chinese bullet hit him… Of the thousand mortar bombs with the defenders all but seven had been fired and the rest were ready to be fired when the (mortar) section was overrun.”

(Article courtesy Wikipedia)

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