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Raising and Commanding

My Life and Times

Raising and Command of 4th Battalion, 3rd Gorkha Rifles

By Lt. Col. Duleep Sinh

Part 1 : Raising and Commanding

After serving with the First Battalion for an exceptionally long period, I had been promoted to Lt Col and posted to the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, as a battalion commander. Life was easy paced and quite enjoyable and I was in no mood to return to regimental duty. However, the Chinese aggressive posturing had galvanized the Army to carry out a major over haul, a part of which required the re-raising of the 4th Battalion of the 3rd Gorkha Rifles. This had commenced at Dehra Dun under the command of Major Raghunath Singh of the 2nd Battalion. I had always maintained that on reversion to regimental duty I would only return to command the 1st Battalion. Pat Dunn however, wanted one of his own people to command the 1st Battalion and he lobbied to ensure that I do not go to the 1st Battalion. Brigadier Sagat Singh, who commanded the Para Brigade in the Goa Operation, and had been earlier the CO of the 2nd Battalion, happened to be in Khadakvasla and was sitting with me with a Sikh Brigadier who was visiting him. Sagat had been a State Force officer and had served with his unit in the Middle East and had also done the Staff College course. While I was MS to Lt Gen Cariappa in Western Command as a Lt Col, I was in charge of postings of grade 3 officers within the Command. I pulled Sagat out of his battalion, where he was serving as a captain, and posted him as GSO 3 Delhi Sub Area. He visited me frequently and used to request me to get his state service recognized. At that time I had considerable influence in MS Branch of Army Headquarters and managed to get his service with the State Force recognized, which brought him at par with officers of 1942 batch. This made him eligible for promotion to Lt Col and he was posted as CO of 2nd Battalion 3rd Gorkha Rifles. Sagat told me that Dunn would never let me command 1/3 GR and he suggested that I opt for 2/3 GR, which was then without a CO and was in Jammu and Kashmir. He introduced me to the Sikh officer who came with him. He said that he had just been posted as Brigade Commander of the Brigade in which 2/3rd was serving and he would be happy to have me command the Battalion in his Brigade and looked forward to welcoming me.

One fine day however, without warning, orders were received posting me as CO of the 4th Battalion, which had started its raising on 21 May 62 at Birpur under Raghunath and Madhok, at the Regimental Centre at Ghangora, Dehra Dun. I protested on the grounds that I had not completed my tenure at NDA and also that I had served all along with 1/3rd and it was my right to command that Battalion. All these were ignored and I was asked to proceed to Dehra Dun. As suitable accommodation was not available at Ganghora, I hired a house in town belonging to an influential family who were related to Shanta.

I took over command on 28 July 62. Subedar Harka Bahadur Gurung came from 2/3 GR and took over as SM. To start with, Maj MB Gurung, Maj SDS Yadava, Capt Mohan Singh Gurung, Capt MD Thamiah, 2/Lt Padam Bahadur Thapa and 2/Lt J Chanda were posted. Then 2/Lts AS Nirodi, SS Khatri and OP Bhatia joined from I M A.

On 30 Oct I moved the Battalion to Ghangora and occupied the CO’s house there, which was the last house going up on the road from the Officers Mess along either side of which were the officers houses abutting into the forest. Every morning jungle fowl used to come out of the jungle and feed in the garden of the house on seeds and earth worms turned up by the gardener when attending to the flower beds. Bharat was about 6 years old and was the only one living with us as Randhir and Yashoraj were in Mayo College. He used to have a ball chasing the fowls all over the garden with Sattu Pun following him to ensure he did not hurt himself.