Archive for November, 2015

Escape Tunnel of ‘The Great Escape’ fame …

Posted on November 30, 2015. Filed under: American Thinkers, Movies, Uncategorized |

Untouched for seven decades, the tunnel used in the Great Escape from a German POW Camp was finally been found this Aug..

The 111-yard passage nicknamed ‘Harry’ by Allied prisoners was sealed by the Germans after the audacious break-out from the POW camp Stalag Luft III in western Poland.

Despite huge interest in the subject, spurred by the film. ‘The Great Escape’ starring Steve McQueen, the tunnel remained undisturbed over the decades because it was initially behind the Iron Curtain and the Soviet authorities had no interest in its significance.

But now British archaeologists have excavated it, and discovered its remarkable secrets. Many of the bed boards which had been joined together to stop it collapsing were still in position.

And the ventilation shaft, ingeniously crafted from used powdered milk containers known as Klim Tins, remained in working order. Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets, hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route.

A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time. They were nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry and were just 2 ft square for most of their length.

It was on the night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied airmen escaped through Harry. Barely a third of the 200 prisoners – many in fake German uniforms and civilian outfits and carrying false identity papers – who were meant to slip away managed to leave before the alarm was raised when escapee number 77 was spotted.

Only three made it back to Britain . Another 50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Hitler, who was furious after learning of the daring escape.

In all, 90 boards from bunk beds, 62 tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches, as well as thousands of items including knives, spoons, forks, towels and blankets, were squirreled away by the Allied prisoners to aid the escape under the noses of their captors.

Although the Hollywood movie suggested otherwise, NO Americans were involved in the operation. Most were British, and the others were from Canada, Poland, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa (all the tunneling team were Canadian personnel with backgrounds in mining.

The latest dig located the entrance to Harry, which was originally concealed under a stove in Hut 104. The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted. It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps due to the approaching Red Army approached in January 1945.

Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, an RAF radio operator, who was 140th in line to use Harry and therefore missed out. Gordie King, made an emotional return to Stalag Luft III. ‘This brings back such bitter-sweet memories,’ he said as he wiped away tears. ‘I’m amazed by what they’ve found.’

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Khaled – Islam’s greatest General …

Posted on November 27, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities, Uncategorized |

Karl von Clausewitz has opined that, ‘Among the qualities of a great General, energy in the conduct of war, is the greatest”. In this context a Persian historian has written that like Hannibal, “Khaled neither slept and nor did he let others sleep. Nothing was hidden from him”.

Commanding the forces of the nascent Islamic State in the first half of the Seventh Century, Khalid won over a hundred battles and was never defeated. He was the first ever to conquer the whole of Arabia and then went onto conquer Iraq and Syria, which were parts of the Persian and Roman Empires.

From a clan that initially opposed and defeated Muhammad, Khaled converted and became a follower. Such was his ferocity in battle that in an early battle he is said to have broken half a dozen swords in the fighting when he assumed command after three superiors had been killed. Possibly the steel of the Arabs of that era was brittle!

Khaled was the architect of early Muslim military doctrine and a pioneer of every tactic that Muslims used during their conquests.

He utilized the individual skill of the Bedouin warrior on a large scale by forming them into regular units. He formed units of champions for personal challenges to enemy officers and to kill enemy commanders.

His greatest achievement was to convert Arab tactics into strategy. The Arabs had been mere raiders and skirmishers. He turned skirmishing tactics into a concentrated force by skirmishing a massed enemy to the death.

He engaged whole armies and made a large battle break up into separate and distinct skirmishing battles. After exhausting the enemy, he would launch his cavalry from either flank. His horse cavalry was a light force armed with 5 meter lances. They could charge at speed and hit-and-run. Their lightness made them very effective against the heavily armed Romans and Persians.

He used extreme methods and annihilated his enemies rather than merely defeating them. However he showed his humanity when he returned the daughter of the Persian Emperor – without ransom when it had been offered – after her husband had been killed in battle..

Ala Hannibal, he had exceptional eye for terrain and once he trapped an entire Byzantine army between three deep ravines having secretly captured the only escape route.

In his Persian campaigns, he never entered deep but always kept the Arabian desert behind him. Only after the strong Persians were routed did he penetrate deep and capture the regional capital.

In their mobility, Khalid’s armies were the forerunners of the Mongol hordes which ravaged some six centuries later. Tactics were identical though one used horses and the other camels. The difference was that the Arabs did not use mounted archers but gained surprise through maneuver.

In one night attack Khaled came from three directions and destroyed Persian camps in a 100 sq km area. Once he maneuvered around a Byzantine army appearing from four directions. This later became one of the classic maneuvers of the Mongols.

Six Centuries later a classic confrontation between the advancing Mongols, who by 1300 AD had established the greatest ever contiguous land empire, did not take place after their advance elements had been checkmated by the horse cavalry of the Arabs. Unfortunately before their main force could reach, the  Mongols were called back due to a succession issue. This happened a second time and then the Mongol Empire began to break up. 

Khalid never blundered into any battle. He relied on intelligence reports from spies that he would hire from local population and pay liberal rewards.

As regards his tenacity, the great Gibbon narrates that once he had not been able to capture a fort even after several attempts. Crest fallen, he had ordered a retreat when he espied an eagles nest high on a wall. This made him pause and think that if an eagle could reach there, so could he and went on to make another serious attempt and his tenacity was rewarded.

At the zenith of his career in 636 AD, he was suddenly and abruptly dismissed seemingly without cause and without murmur – sharing the fate of the Hannibals, Scipios, Rommels, Guderians and Pattons of the world.

The Pakistani Main Battle Tank is named KHALED

 

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1965 War – Comment by Gen Bhimaya …

Posted on November 24, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career, Uncategorized |

In view of my close personal ties with three of the dramatis personae alluded in Brig Jogi Bhullar’s blog, I cannot help offering some comments.
 .
Let me first disclose that in 1965, I was on ERE, and did not participate in the  War. My claim to offer comments stems from my subsequent posting as a member of the Interservice  Study Team, headed by the late Dr.S.N. Prasad, an erudite historian, who brought in his profound knowledge and analytical skills to the team. We had been tasked to compile the “Official History of the 1965 War.”
 

Unfortunately, all of the operational plans/instructions at the Army HQ had been destroyed, under the orders of the highest authority. We had to rely on published material, such as journal articles and books and interviews. 

It was the considered opinion of the Study Team that the Indian Army failed to exploit the most precious principle of war: Surprise.
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The plans (later modified to match our gains) appeared to be bold, but the execution woefully inadequate. Why would Desmond  Hayde, my guru, capture the Bata Shoe Factory on the outskirts of Lahore, if there were no orders to this effect?
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Why should 26 Inf Div capture Rasulpur, barely 4 miles from Sialkot, and sit tight, without even probing toward the city?
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In the I Corps Zone, surprise was not exploited. In one of the articles, a Pakistan defense analyst, facetiously attributed the limited success, or a lack thereof, of the Indian Army to three factors: Allah, Artillery and the Indian Army! 
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Som Jhingon is my course mate, and we passed out from Sangro Coy. He has the distinction of holding the battalion together under the most adverse circumstances both in 1965 and 1971 wars- a rare honor which he richly deserves. He is a combat leader to the core. From our course, he was the first to be promoted in command of a battalion during combat operations, and I, at the MS Branch, had the privilege of signing his promotion orders!

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When Jogi Bhullor appeared sans his beard on the parade ground, an amused Jack Dias (of Everest fame) jocularly remarked ” You look like Bert Lancaster.” From that time on wards, Jogi came to be known as “Bert”.
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We did the weapons and the SC course together. So I know him pretty well. Jogi was wounded twice (a  second time, when he was awaiting evacuation). He was also the chief architect of our very successful Centenary Celebrations in 1987. In sum, a very courageous and unflappable officer.
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Reverting to the 1965 war, I am afraid I have to agree with Shekar Gupta’s succint summarization (even when I deplore his partisan attitude toward OROP): “A war which Pakistan lost, and India did not win.”

 

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OROP – the Finance Minister of India eats Crow …

Posted on November 12, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career |

From Veteral Air Cmde MS Duggal

I am a veteran – ex-30th Course NDA. I am working in GoAir and my boss is a retired Maj from the German Air Force. He was quite puzzled about the OROP controversy. He gets OROP and it is equalized every year.

I have attached three of his pension slips. On each, Fig No 1 is salary in that rank. Fig 2 is %age of salary they get as pension. and No 3 is net pension.

Net pension in his case was as follows:
Feb 2012 Euro 2797
Apr 2013 Euro 2867
Mar 2015 Euro 2994

Clearly shows yearly revision. Also, percentage of salary as pension is 68%.

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Three Words that Improve our World ….

Posted on November 5, 2015. Filed under: Guide Posts, Searching for Success |

These Three Words have Everything – Culture, Care, Courtesy, Consideration, Courage!

I will help ……… I am here …………. Count on Me;

Things are alright ……. Nothing to worry ……..  I thank you;

Forgive me please…………  You are right ……..  I am wrong;

I understand you ……  I respect you;I miss you …………….  I love you;

Life is based on thoughtfulness. Culture shows consideration. It has quality and style. It exhibits gentleness, sweetness, politeness and kindness.

Anticipation is the Soul of Happiness. Everybody – specially wives and husbands – like attention. Neglect any and they will seek it elsewhere. Errors, mistakes, stupidity cannot be corrected by scolding and offensive action.

Charms are embellishments of manner, method, thought and feeling. They give power and advantage to those that possess them.

Charms enforce evenness of action and freedom from friction. They make one appear cool and free from embarrassment. When charm is strong, brain is strong.

Practice politeness as an art before the the high and low. Talk to the least of your fellow humans as if you believed them worthy. Become skilled in the art of etiquette and polished in good breeding.

Sympathy is a Quality of the Heart. Politeness is a Quality of the Mind and Muscles. Polish is the fairest of all accomplishments.

Alone or in company, take exacting care to behave and speak with the best culture. Diction should be free from coarseness and slang. Private refinement enriches the character.

Observe yourself and note the faults that will lesson the respect others may have for you.

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