Much-decorated Gorkha battalion turns 125

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Defcon 1, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. Defcon 1

    Defcon 1 Senior Member Senior Member

    Nov 10, 2011
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    It is a red letter day for India’s highly-decorated Gorkha battalion, which is the Second Battalion of the Fifth Gorkha Rifles Frontier Force, as it celebrates its 125th anniversary at Almora on November 10 (today). Born in Abbottabad it returned to Almora after 40 years after completing a UN Peacekeeping Mission in Congo. Second Five Gorkhas has won three Victoria Crosses in World War II, making it the only Gorkha unit to have won three out of 12 VCs awarded to Gorkhas. The Victoria Cross is the British equivalent of India’s highest military award, the Param Vir Chakra.
    Sometimes called global warriors, Gorkhas have made a name in military prowess and soldierly skills. From the Gorkhas you cannot take away three things: his khukri (Gorkha knife), madal (drum) and rakshi(intoxicant). And his indelible smile. This is the stuff that makes him a legendary fighter. So courageous, loyal and reliable are Gorkhas that they are found in three Armies — UK, India and Nepal and the police in Singapore, Hong Kong and Brunei, not to mention several private armies, attracting the tag of mercenaries. The Cuban Army was at one time called the Gorkhas of the Soviet Empire.
    For Nepal, mercenary or soldier of fortune, the Gorkhas constitute the second largest source of remittances after tourism. Indian Army Gorkhas alone account for more than Rs 1000 crore annually.
    Think of valour — and you think of Second Five Gorkhas. It won three of the 12 VCs awarded to the Gorkhas of the Indian Army earning the title of VC Paltan. Two of the three VCs were won in a single action over 24 hours in 1944 at Mortar Bluff near Imphal, one posthumously by Subedar Netra Bahadur Thapa. The Viceroy, Field Marshal Viscount Wavell came to Nowshera’s Polo Ground on the edge of the Kabul river to present Namsari Thapini, Netra Bahadur’s widow from Kolma in central Nepal, the coveted red-ribboned bronze medal made from Russian guns captured in Sevastapol.
    The other proud recipient of the VC was Naik Agan Singh Rai, a master mimic and a one man reenactment of the battle of Mortar Bluff, the strategic picket he won back from the Japanese. The third VC, the first to be won in World War II by the Battalion, was by Havaldar Gaje Ghale and presented by the present Queen Elizabeth. King Tribhuvan of Nepal awarded him the Nepal Tara and the Nepalese, their love: Hamro veer Gaje Ghale.
    Both Agan and Gaje were in the Battalion in 1962 when it was chosen as part of the Indian Brigade in Congo. The two VCs were last together in the Battalion in 1996, this time as ‘budhos’ (veterans) at Dharamsala when the BBC captured them live in its serial: ‘Indian Army: 50 years after the Raj’.
    The other greats of Second Five are: Subedar Major Giri Prasad Burathoki, who became in the 1960s Nepal’s first Defence Minister; two decades later, his son, Col Sri Prasad Burathoki became the Tourism Minister. And at least a dozen others performed important government assignments.
    The Battalion has not rested on its VC laurels. It played key roles in the Hyderabad police action in 1949 led by Gen JN Chaudhry, the 1965 and 1971 wars, and numerous counter-insurgency operations including Kashmir, bagging two Maha Vir Chakras, three Vir Chakras, one Shaurya Chakra, 14 Sena Medals and several other awards.
    The Indians who joined the Gorkhas after the Partition were equal if not better than the British. Leading the Gorkha Brigade were Field Marshal Sam (Bahadur) Manekshaw; Gen Gopal Bewoor (who took over the Army from Sam); Lt Gen Srinivas Sinha who missed the Chief by a whisker but was appointed Ambassador to Nepal and later Governor of Assam and J&K.
    At 86, Lt Gen Zorawar (Zoru) Bakshi, who commanded the Battalion in Congo and later won the MVC at Hajipir Pass in 1965 is the most highly decorated soldier of the Indian Army.There is the second generation epitome of bravery-he is Col KK Sharma with a Shaurya Chakra bar to Sena Medal and the Chief’s commendation for gallantry…and the list goes on.
    After 40 years, the Battalion is back in Almora’s Alexander Lines. This week there will be a flurry of helicopters, Innovas and Travellers carrying guests to the birthday party. The most prized guests will be Gorkhas from all over Nepal, bringing their families to showcase the Battalion they once served in. There will be loud backslapping, louder laughs and great amount of merrymaking, doing the Nepali dance, the jhamre. They will not forget to tell stories about the ambushes they fell in or the encounters with Japanese and Pakistanis. One great Gorkha actually tied himself to a tree to avoid a Japanese patrol.
    A First Day Cover depicting the glorious occasion of 125 years will be released today by Lt Gen Dalbir Singh, Colonel of the Regiment. At a Durbar to be addressed by him and veterans, the contribution of Gorkhas to India’s defence and security will be recalled. Central Army Commander based at Lucknow, Lt Gen Vijay Ahluwalia along with other senior officers -- both serving and retired -- will address troops at a Battalion Durbar on November 10. Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri will also be present on the occasion.
    When God made the Gorkha he must have had in mind, his ideal sort of human being and elite among mankind. No wonder the motto of Second Five is: Kafir hono bhanda marno jati (it is better to die than to be a coward).

    Much-decorated Gorkha battalion turns 125
    maomao and Kunal Biswas like this.
  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    Jolly good!
  4. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

    Sep 15, 2010
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    New England, USA
    Another thread exists - can the Mods merge this one with that one?

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