When the Regiment of Artillery celebrate their 186th Anniversary on 28 September, 2013, one of its regimental entities would be barely three days shy of their golden jubilee. This youngest of the onetime elite SP (Self Propelled) Artillery trinity, were barely 20 months old, but they seized the bit firmly between their teeth, deploying and redeploying in support of 1 Armored Division’s thrust for Sialkot in 1965. In the process and shortly before cease fire, Captain AK Kocher’s prompt actions to demands of the battle field, earned the Regiment’s first Vr C. It was natural that they took some casualties too, and in the process realized that soldiering is the profession of both the living and the dead. That is, we train and we motivate and finally we join battle, fearless of the odds in combat and unmindful of the consequences.
The deed on the battle-field accomplished, first and foremost we collectively honor our combat-dead and thence forth sing aloud, their deeds of valor for all times to come. So when the bugle for battle was re-sounded in 1971, not only were they professionally and moral wise adequately fortified but they had also been better equipped, with the latest, 105 mm ABBOT SP Guns and their adversary would learn the fact opposite our 1 Corps Sector when enemy defences were repeatedly subjected to precision salvos. During the Armor-Mechanized Infantry assault on HARHAR KALAN village, Captain SG Singh was grievously wounded on 11 December, 1971 but would not relent from directing fire of his guns and was honored with a posthumous VrC.
Shortly after I assumed Command of One-O-One, the Army Headquarters had appointed a Review Committee under the Chairmanship of Lieutenant General (Retired) KP Candeth, Padma Bhushan, PVSM, to finalize claims for Battle Honours for the Western Theater. The General was the best choice for that Committee as he had fielded the Western Army during that War, with consummate skill. The mandate of the Committee was notified through an Army Order sometime in 1975 which, among other things, also invited de novo claims, if any. By a strange coincidence, just as I had read and put aside that Army Order, in walked Captain Harpal Bakshi (officiating for Capt Shujan Chatterji, as the Adjutant) with a bundle of old documents recommended for destruction by a Board of Officers. As I leafed through the “to-be-destroyed” material, my eyes fell upon a detailed sketch based on the essentials of the “Execution Paragraph” for the Harhar Kalan battle, on the left flank of 1 Corps’ main thrust line, indicating the plan and phases of attack, the Gun Position, the FUP, the SL, code words for the H hr and so on. I confess we were amazed, that none of us had known or mentioned the presence of this sketch from the battlefield, ever.
One thing led to another including reading of the War Diaries of the Skinners Horse and I Dogra (Mechanised) Battalion till within the weak, we had reconstructed the script of the Battle (the “to-be-destroyed” sketch attached as an Appendix) for our claim to the HARHAR KALAN Battle Honour. However, the dilemma that surfaced was (a) that the Formation we fought the War under was different to the one we served under at this juncture, and (b) the last date for the de novo claims was just eight days away. So we decided to by-pass the intermediary channels and dispatched the case direct to the Army Headquarters, with a note of apology for jumping the prescribed route. About a year later, I was posted out and headed to the Military Operations Directorate at the AHQ. Among the first files that I handled at the MO-5 Desk, was the Report of The Review Committee. And naturally my cup of joy brimmed over, when I noticed the Committee’s affirmation to One-O-One’s claim to the Battle Honour!! And my first thoughts flashed back to the Late Capt SG Singh and all of our War Dead and wounded and decorated in both the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak Wars. Nations do honor the wars their Armed Forces fought, mostly by erecting memorials and through periodic ceremonials but for the Armed Forces’ individual entities, it is the Battle Honour alone which epitomize their deeds of valor to posterity. HARHAR KALAN would hence forth become One-O-One’s loadstone!
One-O-One Field Regiment (SP) had thus truly come of age, with Guns blazing, as it were. In moments given to banter, they could now cock-a-snook at their older siblings, as they alone among the SP fraternity had taken the field of battle both in 65 and 71, emerging with a Vr C from each War! Not just that, but they alone of the SP trio, post Independence, delivered with speed, precision and requisite lethality in every engagement and earned a much cherished Battle Honor, HARHAR KALAN!** And yes, on the occasion of our Golden Jubilee, on 01 October, 2013 it is natural that we recall all deeds of valor, on and off the battle-fields and more importantly, that we rededicate and entrust our martial legacy in the care of the serving all ranks of One-OOne, to carry it forward untarnished, to the Regiment’s Diamond Jubilee. And with that retrospective, let us enlarge our Regimental logo of exultation to: “ONE-O-ONE, THE ONLY ONE, THE GOLDEN ONE.”
And as One-O-One Band flags down the Golden Anniversary playing all the tunes of glory, from the incredibly inspiring repertoire of Indian Martial Music, let us pick on two as One-O-One Regimental Tunes, namely KADAM KADAM BADHAYE CHAL, and SARE JEHAN SE ACHCHA, HINDOOSTAN HAMARA!!
Post Script. @Lieutenant General (Retd) Kamaljit Singh, 7 Cavalry, as the Squadron Commander in support of the Infantry was an eye witness to the attack on Harhar Kalan, the counter attack by Pakistan, our attack to re-capture and the stellar fire support by the One-OOne SP Guns. ** The two elder siblings, almost twins of 1935 vintage, had Battle Honours from WW II. Captain Ranbir Bakshi of 1 Field Regiment was awarded MC during what FM Bill Slim called “the longest fighting withdrawal (1800 miles) in the history of warfare”, in 1941 and in 1945 he was instrumental for coordinating the fire support for the attack on Meiktilla and the deserving Battle Honour, MEIKTILLA. The other twin, 2 Field Regiment, first put up a grand stand against the Panzers (Libya) and Captain PP Kumaramangalam earned the Gunner’s only DSO and the Regiment the Battle Honour, Pt 171. After a refit, the Regiment supported the race for Rangoon, in 1945 and earned another Battle Honour, LETSE. Lt Gen Baljit Singh AVSM VSM ( Retd), an Artillery Officer served with distinction in the Indian army between 1956 &1992.