Archive for August, 2013

1962 War – Sardar Patel anticipates it in 1950

Posted on August 24, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Indian Thought, Personalities |

Here are extracts from the letter dated, 4 Nov 1950, from Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai of the External Affairs Ministry. Sadly when Zhou visited India – and took the Salute at the NDA Passing out Parade in Dec ’56 – the gullible Nehru had coined the Hindi Chinni Bhai Bhai puerilty!

Dear Girja,

“The Chinese advance into Tibet upsets all our security calculations. Hitherto, the danger to India on its land frontiers has always come from the North-West. For the first time, a serious danger is now developing on the North and North-East side; at the same time, our danger from the West or North-West is in no way lessened. This creates most embarrassing defense problems and I entirely agree with you that a reconsideration of our military position and redeployment of our forces are inescapable.

Unfortunately Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and the tribal areas in Assam are weak spots both from the point of view of communications and police protection and also established loyalty to India.  Nepal (we all know too well, a weak oligarchic regime based almost entirely on force) is in conflict with an enlightened section of the people as well as enlightened ideas of the modern age.

Added to this weak position, there is the irredentism of the Chinese. The political ambitions of the Chinese by themselves might not have mattered so much; but when they are combined with discontent in these areas, absence of close contact with Indians and Communist ideology the difficulty of the position increases manifold.

We have also to bear in mind that boundary disputes, which have many times in history been the cause of international conflicts, can be exploited by Communist China. We have also so take note of a thoroughly unscrupulous, unreliable and determined power practically at our doors.

In your very illuminating survey of what has passed between us and the Chinese Government through our Ambassador, you have made out an unanswerable case for treating the Chinese with the greatest suspicion. What I have said above, in my judgment, entitles us to treat them with a certain amount of hostility, let alone a great deal of circumspection.

In these circumstances, one thing, to my mind, is quite clear; and, that is, that we cannot be friendly with China and must think in terms of defense against a determined, calculating, unscrupulous, ruthless, unprincipled and prejudiced combination of powers, of which the Chinese will be the spearhead.

There might be from them outward offers or protestations of friendship, but in that will be concealed an ultimate hideous design of ideological and even political conquest into their bloc. It is equally obvious to me that any friendly or appeasing approaches from us would either be mistaken for weakness or would be exploited in furtherance of their ultimate aim”.





Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

1962 War – Sardar Patel warns Nehru in 1950

Posted on August 24, 2013. Filed under: Personalities |

In these excerpts from his all encompassing letter we see Sardar Patel prophesy the cold calculations and machinations of the Chinese. Nehru was never at ease with the Sardar; perhaps because sub consciously, he perceived him as the ‘better’ man! 

New Delhi 7 November 1950

My dear Jawaharlal,

I have carefully gone through the correspondence between the External Affairs Ministry and our Ambassador in Peking and through him the Chinese Government. I have tried to peruse this correspondence as favourably to our Ambassador and the Chinese Government as possible, but I regret to say that neither of them comes out well as a result of this study. The Chinese Government has tried to delude us by professions of peaceful intention. My own feeling is that at a crucial period they managed to instill into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so-called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means.

There can be no doubt that during the period covered by this correspondence the Chinese must have been concentrating for an onslaught on Tibet. The final action of the Chinese, in my judgement, is little short of perfidy.

The tragedy of it is that the Tibetans put faith in us. Our Ambassador has been at great pains to find an explanation or justification for Chinese policy and actions. As the External Affairs Ministry remarked in one of their telegrams, there was a lack of firmness and unnecessary apology in one or two representations that he made to the Chinese Government on our behalf. 

Their last telegram to us is an act of gross discourtesy not only in the summary way it disposes of our protest against the entry of Chinese forces into Tibet but also in the wild insinuation that our attitude is determined by foreign influences. It looks as though it is not a friend speaking in that language but a potential enemy.

While our western and north-western threat to security is still as prominent as before, a new threat has developed from the north and north-east. Thus, for the first time, after centuries, India’s defence has to concentrate itself on two fronts simultaneously.

Communist China in the north has definite ambitions and aims and which does not, in any way, seem friendly disposed towards us.

From the point of view of communication, there are weak spots. Continuous defensive lines do not exist. There is almost an unlimited scope for infiltration. Police protection is limited to a very small number of passes. There, too, our outposts do not seem to be fully manned. The contact of these areas with us is by no means close and intimate. The people inhabiting these portions have no established loyalty or devotion to India. Even Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas are not free from pro-Mongoloid prejudices.

We cannot afford either to be complacent or to be vacillating. We must have a clear idea of what we wish to achieve and also of the methods by which we should achieve it. Any faltering or lack of decisiveness in formulating our objectives or in pursuing our policies to attain those objectives is bound to weaken us and increase the threats which are so evident.

We need a Military and Intelligence appreciation of the Chinese threat to India both on the frontier and internal security. Also –

  • An examination of military position and such redisposition of our forces as might be necessary, particularly with the idea of guarding important routes or areas which are likely to be the subject of dispute.
  • An appraisement of strength of our forces and, if necessary, reconsideration of our retrenchment plans to the Army in the light of the new threat.
  • A long-term consideration of our defense needs. My own feeling is that, unless we assure our supplies of arms, ammunition and armour, we should be making a defense position perpetually weak and we would not be able to stand up to the double threat of difficulties both from the West and North-West and North and North-East.
  • Improvement of our communication, road, rail, air and wireless with these areas and with the frontier outposts.
  • xxxx  Long All Encompassing with Exhaustive Detail ,,,

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Further brilliant Analysis ….

I suggest that we meet early to have a general discussion on these problems and decide on such steps as we might think to be immediately necessary and direct, quick examination of other problems with a view of taking early measure to deal with them.

Vallabhbhai Patel


The 1967 Armed Clash At Nathu La …

This is a Story that is all about Leadership provided by then Col Rai Singh, and that Great Battle Field Commander, Gen Sagat Singh.

This was lacking at Jelep La in Sikkim in 1965 under 17 Mtn Div and hence this was given to the Chinese on a Platter even though the Div Commander rose to the next rank while Sagat went onto cool his heels in an Area HQ!

While 1962 stands as the seminal year for Sino – Indian relations, it was in 1967 that Indian and Chinese troops seriously clashed at Nathu La with major casualties on both sides. 

Nathu La at 14200 feet is an important pass on the Tibet-Sikkim border and the route taken by the Younghusband Expedition from Gangtok to Lhasa on 3 December 1903.

Although the Sikkim-Tibet boundary is well defined by the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 17 March 1890, the Jelep La pass also on the Sikkim -Tibet border was inexplicably vacated by 17 Mountain Division on the Chinese giving an ultimatum during the 1965 War and promptly occupied by the Chinese. Nathu La was not vacated and thus remained in Indian hands.

At the time of the 1967 clash, 2 Grenadiers was holding Nathu La and was under the command of Lt Col (later Brigadier) Rai Singh MVC, a most gallant officer.

This by a young officer who was present –

“The daily routine at Nathu La used to start with patrolling by both sides along the perceived border which almost always resulted in arguments. The only one on the Chinese side who could converse in broken English was the Political Commissar who could be recognized by a red patch on his cap’.

“Sentries of both the forces used to stand barely one meter apart in the center of the Pass. Arguments between the two sides soon changed to push changing into shove and on 6 September 1967 a scuffle took place’.

“To de-escalate the situation the Indian Command ordered that barbed wire be laid in the center of the Pass from Nathu La to Sebu La as it would  demarcate the perceived border. This task was to be carried out by 70 Field Company of Engineers assisted by a company of 18 Rajput deployed at Yak La pass further north of Nathu La. The wire laying was to commence at first light on the fateful morning of 11 September 1967′.

“That morning dawned bright and sunny unlike the normal foggy day. The engineers and jawans started erecting long iron pickets from Nathu La to Sebu La along the perceived border while 2 Grenadiers and Artillery Observation Post Officers at Sebu La and Camel’s Back were on alert’.

“Immediately, the Chinese Political Commissar, with a section of Infantry came to the center of the Pass where Lt. Col Rai Singh was standing with his commando platoon. The Commissar asked Lt Col Rai Singh to stop laying the wire’.

“An argument started which became a scuffle and  the commissar got roughed up. The Chinese went back to their bunkers and our engineers resumed laying the wire’.

“Within a few minutes, a whistle was heard on the Chinese side followed by murderous machine gun fire from North Shoulder. The pass is completely devoid of cover and 70 Field Company and 18 Rajput were caught in the open and suffered heavy casualties with Col Rai Singh being wounded’.

“Capt Dagar, 2 Grenadiers and Major Harbhajan Singh, 18 Rajput rallied a few troops and tried to assault the Chinese MMG but both died a heroic death and were posthumously awarded Vir Chakra and MVC respectively’.

“2 Grenadier opened small arms fire on North shoulder but it was not very effective. Within the first ten minutes, there were nearly seventy dead and scores wounded lying in the open on the pass. Within half an hour, Chinese artillery opened up on the pass as well as in the depth areas but it was mostly prophylactic fire due to lack of observation and thus failed to do much damage’.

“Meanwhile our artillery observation post officers asked for permission to fire and it was granted. The excellent domination and observation from Sebu La and Camel’s back, made our fire most effective. Most Chinese bunkers on North shoulder and in depth were completely destroyed resulting in very heavy casualties that by their own estimates were over 400′.

“The artillery duel thereafter carried on day and night and over the next three days, the Chinese were given a severe lesson. On 14 September, they threatened bringing in their Air Force if shelling did not stop’.

“As a result an uneasy ceasefire came about. The Chinese, true to form, had pulled their dead bodies to their side of the perceived border at night and accused us of violating the border’.

“Dead bodies were exchanged on 15 September in the presence of Maj. Gen. Sagat Singh, GOC 17 Mountain Division in Sikkim and Lt.Gen. Sam Maneckshaw, the Eastern Army Commander’.

“On October 1, 1967 this event repeated itself at Cho La when 7/11 Gurkha Rifles and 10 JAK Rifles were tested by the PLA and similarly not found wanting”.

The lesson of 1967 may have been learnt by China, just as the lesson of 1962 has been absorbed by India. Not a single shot has been fired across the border since then and even today the Indian Army and the Peoples Liberation Army stand eye-ball to eye-ball.

Currently both countries are well settled on the actual positions held. In Ladskh, China is pretty much close to what it desired pre-1962, which is along the old McCartney-MacDonald Line, which British India hastily abandoned in favor of the Johnson Line which encompassed the Aksai Chin after being spooked by reports of Soviet Russian presence in Xinjiang.

The McCartney-MacDonald Line, long favored by Whitehall, was dispensed with and in 1942 British India reverted back to the more forward Johnson Line that encompassed the Aksai Chin as Indian territory.

In the eastern sector, India pretty much holds on to the alignment along the McMahon Line. Thrice in the past the Chinese offered to settle this vexatious issue on this as is where is basis, but India baulked because the dynamics of its domestic politics did not allow it.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

1971 War – Of Glory and Heroes: Boyra Affair …

Posted on August 19, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

An edited account of the BOYRA AFFAIR of 22nd NOVEMBER 1971 –  By BJAGAN PILLARISETTI

In 1971, the air defence of Calcutta sector was the responsibility of No.22 Squadron equipped with the HAL built Gnat. The detachment at Dum Dum started operating from 22 September onwards.

The first fighting broke out at Boyra peninsula on 21st November, when a group of Muktibahini assisted by Indian Army elements established a foothold in Pakistani territory in the Battle of Garibpur. The Pakistani army bought in a squadron of M-36 Chaffee tanks. These were promptly taken on by a Squadron of PT-76 tanks from 45 Cavalry. In the ensuing battle, 13 of the Pakistani tanks were knocked out for a loss of four of our tanks.

To counter his reversals on the ground, the Pakistani Army commander called for Air support. This materialised on the second day of the battle. The first intrusion of four F-86 Sabres was picked up in the Jessore area by our radar at 0811 hours. These were the Canadian Sabres operated by No.14 PAF Squadron. These were a more powerful version of the Sabre powered by the Orenda engine – most of which were smuggled into Pakistan through a clandestine deal organised between Germany and Iran.
No.22 Squadron scrambled four Gnats from Dum Dum. However the Sabres had flown back to thier territory by the time the Gnats could make it to Boyra. A second raid by the Pakistanis followed at 1028 hours. An interception could not again be carried out in time and the Sabres went off unscathed. However their third strike was not to have the same luck for the Pakistanis.
At around 1448 hours, the radar picked up the four Sabres as they pulled up in a north westerly direction to about 2000′ AGL. Within a minute, the ORP at Dum Dum was scrambled. Four Gnats took off by 1451 hours.
The Fighter controller in the sector was Fg Offr KB Bagchi. He told the formation leader, Flt Lt Roy Andrew Massey – “One O’Clock , 10 Nautical Miles”. Massey Replied “Contact , I can see them pull up”. 
The Sabres seemed to have already carried out several passes in the eight minutes it took the Gnats to reach the Boyra Sailent. They were commencing to start another dive from about 1800 feet altitude and diving down to 500′ in an attack run. 
“Right wing over attack”. shouted Bagchi, “half twelve, thousand yards” “Contact” replied Massey.”Request type,” said Bagchi “Sabres” “Shoot” was the command from the Fighter Controller. 
It was 1459 hours. The four Gnats dived into the attack. The first section was of Massey and Fg Offr SF Soarez as No.2. The second section consisted of Flt Lt MA Ganapathy and Fg Offr D Lazarus.
As the Gnats dived in, a section of two Sabres pulled out of the attack and placed themselves in an awkward position, just in front of Ganapathy and Lazarus. Ganapathy called out on the R/T ‘Murder Murder Murder’  and both pilots did not waste this perfect opportunity.
Cannon shells slammed into the pair of Sabres and both the Sabres were badly damaged. The Pakistani pilots ejected and drifted down to Boyra by parachute. The wreckage fell near Bongaon village/
Massey in the meantime pulled up over Ganapathy and Lazarus to latch onto another Sabre. The Sabre broke into Massey’s attack forcing him to take a high angle-off burst. The burst missed the target. Massey took another well aimed burst at 700 yards and hit him in the port wing. By that time, Massey’s starboard cannon had stopped firing.
The Sabre streaked back into Pakistani territory trailing smoke and fire. Massey realised that he himself was well into East Pakistani airspace. He turned around and flew back with the rest of his formation.
The pilots were greeted by a joyous group of officers and technicians.
It was time for writing down combat reports and swapping stories. News came after some time that two Pakistani Pilots were captured by our troops when they landed near Indian positions. They were Flt Lt Parvez Mehdi Qureshi and Fg Offr Khalil Ahmed.
The gun camera film clearly showed the damage and destruction of three Sabres. Overnight all the three pilots became National Heroes.
Reconstructing the exact details of the air combat and super imposing it with the version released by the Pakistanis, it was deduced that Khalil Ahmed was Ganapathy’s victim while Lazarus had brought down Qureshi’s Sabre. The third Sabre which reached Pakistani territory was being flown by Wg Cdr Choudhary


Roy Andrew Massey was killed during a routine sortie over Tilpat on 28th November 1983 when his MiG-23 had a bird hit over the range. Earlier most tragically Mandapadu Appachu Ganapathy had committed suicide due domestic issues.
Donald Lazarus had a distinguished career and was destined for higher Rank. He chucked it all and opted for premature retirement — a decision that shocked his colleagues. He said he had done his bit for career andjCountry and was now answering the Call of God. He settled down in Connoor – working for the Christian Mission Service, which cares for destitute and orphaned children.
In 1996, Air Chief Marshal Parvez Mehdi Qureshi became Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force. Lazarus wrote him a letter congratulating him for his achievement and mentioning that Qureshi may not, perhaps, recall their earlier meeting in the air.
To his surprise, a letter came from the Pakistani CAS himself. Air Chief Marshal Qureshi expressed his thanks to Lazarus for his good wishes and complimented him on the ‘fight’ shown by the Indian Pilots on the occasion.
It is a reminder that even now chivalry prevails among fighter pilots!


Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...