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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

From Today's Papers - 03 Jun 2014

Saga of grit, guts and valour at Gallipoli
There is no dearth of stories of bravery by the Sikhs in war but the guts and bravery shown by 14 Sikh (Ferozepur) during attack on Turkish well prepared trenches at Gallipoli on June 4, 1915, remains unique
Major General Kulwant Singh (retd)
in the year when we are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, we need to pay a tribute to valiant 14 Sikh sacrifice, which is the only one of its kind. Before the attack, the Battalion strength was I5 British officers and 574 men and after the attack, there were only three officers and 134 men left.

At the end of October, Turkey entered the war on the side of Germany. The Turkish Empire stretched from the Balkans in the North to Mesopotamia in the South. The Allied strategy was to push through the Gallipoli Peninsula, the narrow strip of sea that joins the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, which separates Asia from Europe. This way they would be able to link up with the Russians and strike a blow that could drive Turkey out of the war. This also met the requirement of Russians since it enabled them to open a diversionary front against Turks to relieve pressure on them.

Tough terrain

Gen Sir Ian Hamilton was to command the forces responsible for the new front. Gen Hamilton’s assessment was that their strength was inferior and the terrain also favoured the Turks, who were well dug in on dominating ground. 14 Sikh, part of 29 Indian Brigade, formed part of Hamilton’s expeditionary force.

Up to the end of May, the process of inching forward by night and digging in was continued, until the British front line lay about 200 yards from Turks. The Brigade covered a frontage of approximately 800 yards; Sikhs trench line lay astride the Gully Ravine. The task of Sikhs was to capture two Turkish trench lines called J-10 and J-11, both on dominating positions. The ground between the opposing forces was mined, strengthened with wire obstacles; the enemy had dug several small trenches and the possibility of crossfire of machine guns was not ruled out.

For plan and actual battle we go to the authentic account by Second-Lieutenant R.A Savory (who later retired as Lt Gen in 1947). “On June 3, we received orders for general assault all along the line next day. The orders were short and clear. At 11 am on June 4, all the guns were to bombard the enemy’s frontline trenches for 20 minutes. Then for 10 minutes they were to stop while the infantry were to cheer and wave their bayonets. The object of this was to persuade the enemy to man their parapets. Then the bombardment was to come down again. At noon we were to advance. It all sounded simple enough. The 14 Sikh were to attack astride the Gully Ravine. June 4 was a beautiful summer day. Our guns started registering at 8 am and even before the bombardment began, it must have been clear to the enemy that something was to happen. It was now 11.30 am and time for cheering to start; but the noise was so great that we could hardly hear it even in our trench. And then — twelve noon — blow the whistle — and we were away. From that moment I lost all control of the fighting. The roar of musketry drowned every other sound, except that of guns. To try to give an order was useless. The nearest man was only a yard or two away but I could not see him. Soon I found myself running alone, except for my little bugler, a young handsome boy, just out of his teens, who came paddling along behind me to act as a runner. Poor little chap.”

“At 12 o’clock the first wave of 14 Sikh dashed forward to attack along with other two battalions of the Indian Brigade. To attack during day on well-coordinated defences lacks explanation, except for over reliance on artillery fire which was suppose to neutralise the Turk defences.

“Unfortunately, the artillery fire had little effect on the enemy in his strong defences with overhead cover. That did not deter the Sikhs; they did what they are best at — charged at the Turks with their bayonets. Despite many of them wounded, they continued to fight till they dropped dead.

“During the first few minutes, I was knocked down, lying on the parapet with two Turks using my body as a rest. Over which to shoot at our second line coming forward. When I fully recovered consciousness, the Turks had gone. I looked around and saw my little bugler lying dead, brutally mutilated. I could see no one else, stumbled back as best as I could, my head was bleeding and I was dazed and then, Udai Singh, a great burly Sikh with a fair beard who was one of our battalion wrestlers, came out of the reserve trenches, picked me up, slung me over his shoulder, and brought me to safety; and all the time we were being shot at.”

In this battle, 14 Sikh lost 371 officers and men killed or wounded. Out of 15 British officers, only three were left unwounded. The next day, the Battalion was ordered to pull back due to excessive causalities. The situation was so acute that Second Lieutenant Savory was the only officer not seriously wounded; he took over the command of the battalion, when Commanding Officer Colonel Palin was moved out to command a brigade.

General Hamilton wrote to the Commander-in-Chief in India paying noble tribute to the heroism of soldiers of 14 Sikh: “In the highest sense of the word extreme gallantry has been shown by this fine battalion….In spite of the tremendous losses there was not a sign of wavering all day. Not an inch of ground was given up and not a single straggler came back. The ends of the enemy’s trenches were found to be blocked with the bodies of Sikhs and of the enemy who died fighting a close quarters, and the glacis slopes was thickly dotted with the bodies of these fine soldiers all lying on their faces as they fell in their steady advance on the enemy.”

Glowing tributes

Later in 1945 Martial India F. Yeats-Brown, paid glowing tributes to 14 Sikh — “The history of Sikhs affords many instances of their value as soldiers, but it may be safely asserted that nothing finer than the grim valour and steady discipline displayed by them on the June 4 has ever been done by soldiers of the Khalsa.Their devotion to duty and their splendid loyalty to their orders and to their leaders make a record their nation should look back upon with pride for many generations. Yet another passage from Yeats-Brown.... “Put them (Sikhs) in a hot corner, and they live up to their title of Singh, which means lion. In Mesopotamia in the last war, The Arabs called them Black Lions.” What inspired Sikhs to fight so doggedly and willingness to die at alien land for the British Empire? Whether it is Gallipoli or Saragarhi, when in the battlefield, Sikh soldiers follow the Gurus’ edict: “Sura So Pehchaniye, Jo Lare Din Ke Het; Purza Purza Kat Mare, Kabhun Na Chhade Khet.”

Profile in courage

    Sikhs (under the British Indian Army) fought alongside the Anzacs at Gallipoli
    At least 10 Sikhs fought for the Australian Imperial Force in World War I
    In World War I and II, 83,005 Sikhs were killed with 109,045 wounded fighting for the allied forces.
    Approximately 1 million Indian troops went to World War I (the largest volunteer army ever raised) with approximately a third of these being Sikh troops

Factfile Gallipoli

    In the Battle of Gallipoli, British Commonwealth and French troops struggled to take the peninsula between February 19, 1915 and January 9, 1916.
    The British were commanded by Gen Sir Ian Hamilton, Admiral Sir John de Robeck. There were 5 divisions, building to 16.
    The Turks were commanded by Lt Gen Otto Liman von Sanders and Mustafa Kemal Pasha. There were 6 divisions building to 16.

The aftermath of the campaign

    The Gallipoli Campaign cost the Allies 141,113 killed and wounded and the Turks 195,000. Gallipoli proved to be the Turks' greatest victory of the war.
    The campaign's failure led to the demotion of Winston Churchill and contributed to the collapse of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith's government. The fighting at Gallipoli proved a galvanising national experience for Australia and New Zealand, which had not previously fought in a major conflict.
    The anniversary of the landings, April 25, is celebrated as ANZAC Day and is both nations' most significant day of military remembrance.

Heroism in the face of death

In the Gallipoli campaign, the 14 Sikh regiment was virtually wiped out, losing 379 officers and men in one day’s fighting on June 4, 1915. Writing of the Third Battle of Krithia during the campaign, General Sir Ian Hamilton paid noble tribute to the heroism of all ranks of the 14 Sikhs.

During this battle, the 14 Sikh (as part of the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade), composed entirely of seasoned Sikh soldiers from the Punjab, launched repeated attacks, in the face of murderous machine gun fire, against the Turkish positions astride Gully Ravine. Held up by the barbed wire that was unaffected by the allied artillery bombardment, a section of men leapt the barbed wire and charged the Turks with their bayonets. However, human valour was unavailing against modern weapons of war, and on that day the battalion’s casualties amounted to 82 per cent of the men actually engaged in the battle. Only three British officers were left unwounded.

How the campaign began

British Commonwealth and French troops struggled to take the peninsula between Feb 19, 1915 & Jan 9, 1916.

Following the entry of the Ottoman Empire into World War I, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill developed a plan for attacking the Dardanelles. Using ships of the Royal Navy, Churchill believed that the straits could be used for a direct assault on Constantinople.

Operations against the Dardanelles began on February 19, 1915, with British ships under Admiral Sir Sackville Carden bombarding Turkish defences with little effect.

A second attack on February 25 forced the Turks to fall back to their second line of defence. Entering the straits, British warships engaged the Turks again on March 1, however their minesweepers were prevented from clearing the channel due to heavy fire. Another attempt to remove the mines failed on March 13. With the failure of the naval campaign, it became clear to Allied leaders that a ground force was going to be needed to eliminate the Turkish artillery on the Gallipoli Peninsula which commanded the straits. This mission was delegated to General Sir Ian Hamilton and the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. This command included the newly formed Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), the 29th Division.

Beginning on December 7, troop levels were drawn down with those at Sulva Bay and Anzac Cove departing first. The last Allied forces departed Gallipoli on January 9, 1916, when the final troops embarked at Helles.
Rajnath seeks road map on internal security
New Delhi, June 2
Taking note of concerns voiced over the government’s development projects being affected by the internal security situation, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today asked chiefs of security agencies and paramilitary forces to prepare a roadmap to strengthen the security architecture.

At a meeting attended by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, chiefs of Intelligence Bureau (IB), RAW and others, Singh reviewed the security situation and asked them to prepare a blueprint to ensure a good security environment for faster development.

“Development requires good security environment. Government is committed to it,” Singh said at the hour-long meeting.

Besides Doval, the meeting was attended by IB Chief Asif Ibrahim, Chief of Research and Analysis Wing Alok Joshi and heads of paramilitary forces. While taking over as the Home Minister, Rajnath had asked his officials to come up with out-of-the box ideas for internal security and for coordination between the Centre and states.

He had said the blueprint should also contain ideas to resolve border disputes with neighbouring countries without compromising national interests. Crucial divisions dealing with internal security, Naxal management, Centre-State, Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast have also been directed to give their inputs in the next few days for this exercise.

Singh has already been briefed about the problems along the international border and ways to resolve them. — PTI
 Veterans take up OROP issue with PM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Following the change of guard at the Centre, ex-servicemen have taken up the issue of one rank—one pension (OROP) scheme and other welfare measures with the new political leadership.

In memorandum submitted today to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prashad and other members of Parliament, the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) has drawn the government’s attention to their pensing demands and other issues that were included in the BJP’s election manifesto.

Besides the OROP issues, IESM has also sought immediate withdrawal of all pending appeals filed by the defence ministry against disabled soldiers and widows in the Supreme Court, formation of a military veteran’s commission and job employment up to the age of 60 years.
Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh Briefs Narendra Modi on Security Situation
Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is believed to have briefed him on the prevailing security situation in the country.

The Army Chief, who is also the Chairman, Chiefs of Staffs Committee, met the Prime Minister for around 15 minutes and is understood to have discussed the security scenario in the region as well.

The Army chief and the IAF chief also held separate meetings with Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and briefed him on the various issues faced by them.

The Army chief made a 40-minute presentation to the Defence Minister on various issues including the situation along the borders with China and Pakistan, the militancy situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, Defence Ministry officials said.

He is also understood to have briefed Mr Jaitley on the critical requirements of the force in terms of equipment and its priority areas in the present scenario.

The status of the new 17 Strike Corps being raised along the border with China is also understood to have come up during the presentation given by the outgoing Army chief.

The Army is facing shortage of critical equipment such as artillery guns and its procurement cases including acquisition of 145 Ultra-Light Howitzers, 197 light utility helicopters and several types of air defence weaponry are stuck due to one reason or the other.

IAF Chief Arup Raha briefed the Defence Minister on the operational preparedness of the force and the support required by it from the Government for strengthening its capabilities.

The 126 Rafale combat aircraft deal is also understood to have come up for discussion during the briefing. The deal has been stuck for the last two years and in view of the delays in getting new planes, the IAF has been forced to continue operating its vintage MiG-series aircraft, which have been frequently meeting with accidents.

Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan is expected to brief the Minister next week.
Pak army chief visiting China
Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif today left for China on an official visit.

Military spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement that during the visit, the COAS will call on China's political and military leadership.

"The interaction will encompass Pak-China relations with particular emphasis on defence and security cooperation," he said.

Sharif was seen off at Nur Khan Air Base in Rawalpindi by senior military officials.

Pakistan and China enjoy close defence cooperation and regularly interact with each other.
Lt Gen Hooda Takes Over As Northern Command Chief
Lt Gen D S Hooda today took over as the Northern Army Commander where he would be in-charge of counter terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir as well as of the boundaries with Pakistan and China.

Hooda took over the new charge in the Udhampur-based Northern Command. Prior to this, he was heading the 16 Corps in Nagrota near Jammu under the same command formation.

The General was commissioned into the 4th Gorkha Rifles in 1976 and has extensive staff and command exposure, a Defence spokesperson said today.

Hooda Commanded an Infantry Brigade in Kashmir and a Division in North East, he said.

His staff appointments include tenures at the Military Operations and Operational Logistics Directorates at the Army HQ and Chief Logistics Officer at a United Nations mission. He is an alumnus of the Canadian Forces Command and Staff college, Higher command and NDC, he said.
Soldiers to salute Kolhapur's royal family
KOLHAPUR: Retired soldiers and officers of the Indian defence services will express their gratitude to the decedents of erstwhile royal family of Kolhapur on Monday for offering land in the city.

As many as 18,000 retired soldiers, officers and families of 7,000 servicemen will felicitate Shrimant Shahu Chhatrapati Maharaj, decedent of erstwhile royal family of Kolhapur.

The function will be held at the Maha Sainik Darbar Hall, one of the finest community centre of working and retired servicemen, at 10.30 am on Monday.

The land over which the district Sainik Welfare Board office and other facilities exist belonged to the Shahu Maharaj family. Six decades back, the land was donated to the Indian Army. Despite having the land, the board office used to operate from small rooms at district collectorate until last year.

"We have started utilizing the land available at prime location, which is convenient for our beneficiaries. They travel to Kolhapur from rural places to seek our help. The new office and the entire facility was established because of the erstwhile royal family and we are expressing our gratitude for their help," said Colonel (retd) Suhas Naik, district Sainik Welfare officer.

Till the time, the board has come up with couple of facilities such as multipurpose hall, office and mulling for a sports complex and a lodging facility in near future.

"We have already submitted a proposal to the state government to create a sport training institute in the premises. The facility will be useful for all citizens. We are also using the land to set up three-four rooms for the families of armymen, who come to Kolhapur for various reasons and find it costly to get accommodation in hotels. These projects are expected to start in next financial year," Naik added.

What is Rajaram Rifles?

- According to Kolhapur Gazetteers, The Chattrapati of Kolhapur had his own army before the British came. The British maintained their infantry and it was quartered at Infantry Lines near Line Bazar, but when the British units withdrew and the Maharaja was allowed to have his own army, the Rajaram Rifles were formed, some 150 years ago.

- They were quartered in barracks specially built on a hillock near the Temblai Hill. It was headquarter of the Rajaram Rifles until the merger of the Kolhapur State when this infantry was disbanded. Now a Territorial Army unit is stationed at Kolhapur and it uses the barracks built for the Rajaram Rifles, says the Gazetteer.

- The merger of battalion of around 1000 armymen of Rajaram Rifles took place in 1951. It merged with Maratha Regiment.

Maha Sainik Darbar Hall

One of the finest community centres is established near circuit house which consists of District Sainik Welfare Board office, other offices related to retired servicemen and a multipurpose hall of around 2,500 sq ft, named as Maha Sainik Darbar hall. The office has streamlined the processes for families of armymen to seek various forms so that nobody needs to stand in long queues. The hall can accommodate 2000 people and at a time and since its opening, it has received continuous demand for various events. It has a parking space for 1,000 vehicles.

Flag Funds

- Annually, district collects Rs 1.25 crore flag-day funds.

- As many as 110 state and central government offices in the district participate in the fund collection

- Out of the total collection, over 55 lakhs were utilized for the armymen last year

- Board distributed health assistance of Rs 9.50 lakh for the families

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