Buzzard Feast

( A sequel to ‘Summer-Moonshine’)

Main article on the raid is at Blooding of the Phor Thud GR

Lt. Col. A.K. ‘Sam’ Sharma (May 2003)

By the time we returned to our FDL’s,
the sun, simmering through the pine, had
irrevocably broken the deathly dawn;
this time in new light;
now without doubt showing signs
of the lightening visitation by the Fifth Horseman,
the night before.

the deathly silence was frequently
pierced by the swish of the high-decibel bullets of the enemy
Brownings, and the crumps of our three inch mortars,
in the clumps
of the rhododendron; fern
thicket and thorn
———- hope he makes it back ————————
through all this ——————–
safely……….. somehow.
during this transparently
hostile day
in May

Through the field glasses
i search the Western Re-entrant,
and all the spurs descending on post,
and by and by,
I spy,
the extirpation——————-
also, the Turkey buzzard, the crow and the vulture feast
on dead razaakars, Rangers
and carcasses of buffaloes
and other assorted beast.

————— days later.
the UN MOGIP slaps a formal cease- fire violation;
officially confirm the carnage.

that day in May,
the surviving sons-of-bitches
had been partying the carrion-scavengers
on slivers of
ole Kharke,
hacked by them with his very own khukuri;
bit by very bit
whilst he was kicking still.

Forty five years later ; the Battalion has established a trophy to commemorate the Penga raid action. This is indeed a lasting memorial to this valiant action.

Lt. Col A.K. ‘Sam’ Sharma

Sam Sharma is 4/3 Gorkha Officers, who was the original Bronco. This poem, as well as Buzzard Feast are based on exploits of the broncos in the 1965 war with Pakistan; actually a raid on a Pakistani post, on the Line of Control. He is a regular visitor to the site and a great supporter.

Summer Moonshine

(Read the sequel to Summer Moonshine – ‘Buzzard Feast)

Main article on the raid is at Blooding of the Phor Thud GR

Lt. Col. A.K. ‘Sam’ Sharma (May 2003)

Spooky summer moonshine
amidst the pines,
creating phantoms and signs
of the invisible adversary.
The pale yellow moon,
at play with young boys moonlighting in May…
Ninteen Sixty Five
‘Broncos’ and boys
try and stake a claim
for the paltan’s name
to baptism by fire,
with ire and rage.
Silver spring,
uneasy calm,
shattered, all of a sudden,
by crackling commands, and gun fire.
Purple-prose, profanities and oaths
tumble forth,
as young boy soldiers, hit the earth
amidst bullets
and near death.
“Follow me, you louts.
Get up. Lets give them a big clout”,
as this is it! “Despite the shit,
and ants in your pants,
make up for the loss of surprise
by frontal attack..
and succeed, or…
get the sack…?
Thank God, you all are up!
At them, lads!”
Carbines ablaze,
grenades and gunshot.
Enemy MMGs in depth blistering the objective
into a pepper-pot
with red hot tracer-shot!
I see a Pak Razaakar lunge
with rifle ‘on guard’..
My carbine’s jammed..(damn..!);
me ready to plunge
the cold steel
in his gut,
but the faithful buddy
knocks him cold
with his Sten gun’s butt!
Chanda’s whistle to RV……
I snatch the enemy’s weapon
( ..and only success..)
“Let’s get back”, I yell…
“What the hell..?..
….Where’s my buddy?”
Siddhiman bayoneted by Rik Bahadur,
Old Kharke missing, and
the dreaded dawn breaking,
our resolve to stay on
for yet another sortie,
to retrieve the missing,
even though single-handed
and with out weapon or friend,
but ordered to fall back
to 564 post… .

So this is war….!!

Oh! what an ordeal ( and eye-opener)
at nineteen!
Renowned braves go to ground
for good.
Only brazen leadership counts
when the pressure mounts
with devastatingly effective enemy fire;
and professional seasoned soldiers only offer
covering fire;
whilst you charge (and fumble)
Shock and disbelief!
Relieved only by the euphoria
brought about
by the General’s stout pat
on the CO’s back!
” Candidly”, he said “a plucky
and gallant action.
The UN informs
that your boys killed ten
and wounded forty!
Well done”.
But I wait
For my date
With Kharke———-declared ‘missing;
Believed killed in action’—–
Even as of date.

Lt. Col A.K. ‘Sam’ Sharma

Sam Sharma is 4/3 Gorkha Officers, who was the original Bronco. This poem, as well as Buzzard Feast are based on exploits of the broncos in the 1965 war with Pakistan; actually a raid on a Pakistani post, on the Line of Control. He is a regular visitor to the site and a great supporter.

Do Not Stand By My Grave And Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow;

I am the sunlight on ripened grain;

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there. I did not die.

(Author Unknown.

But found by parents of

Steve Cummins, soldier killed on

active service in Northern Ireland,

in an envelope left for them

A poem with these lyrics was penned by Mary Frye in 1936, and a second with versus 1 and 2 altered was penned by Wilbur Skeels in 1996. The poems can be found on:

I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great

by Stephen Spender

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious is never to forget
The delight of the blood drawn from ancient springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth;
Never to deny its pleasure in the simple morning light,
Nor its grave evening demand for love;
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass,
And by the streamers of white cloud,
And whispers of wind in the listening sky;
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while
towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honor.

Recommended by Brigadier Randhir Sinh of the 4/3 Gorkha Rifles

The Forgotten Gift

by Shane Bellegarde

The purest love, untainted,
Is the courage and valour defined
By those who gave their lives
So freedom we might find.

Amidst the decaying bodies,
Claustrophobic in the trenches.
Now every fallen man
Is a soul God gently clenches.

This caused by childish greed,
And the lusting for almighty power.
Yet each and every man stood strong
Until the final hour.

They faced death with honour,
Fighting through the pain.
Then it seems they were forgotten,
Lying face down in the rain.

Our freedom’s wrapped in blood!
A gift from those now gone.
Leaving a heroic legacy,
For us to humbly carry on!

This poem was contributed by Vishwajeet, a regular visitor to the site

To all Parents

“I’ll lend you, for a little while, a child of mine, “ HE said,

“For you to love while he lives,

and mourn when he is dead.”

It may be six or seven years,

or twenty-two, or three,

But, will you, ‘til I call him back

take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you,

and shall his stay be brief,

you ‘ll have his lovely memories

as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,

as all from earth return,

But, there are lessons taught down there

I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over in my search

for teachers true,

And, from the throngs that crowds life’s lanes,

I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love?

Not think the labour vain,

Nor hate me when I come to call

to take him back again.”

I fancied that I heard them say,

“Dear Lord, thy will be done.

For all the joy this child shall bring,

the risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shower him with tenderness

and love him while we may,

And, for the happiness we’ve known,

forever grateful stay.

And, should the angels call for him

much sooner than we planned,

We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,

and try to understand.”

To a Conscript of 1940

To a Conscript of 1940

by Hebert Read

A soldier passed me in the freshly fallen snow,

His footsteps muffled, his face unearthly grey;

And my heart gave a sudden leap

As I gazed on a ghost of five and twenty years ago.

I shouted Halt! and my voice had the old accustomed ring

And he obeyed it as it was obeyed

In the shrouded days when I too was one

Of an army of young men marching

Into the unknown. He turned towards me and I said :

‘I am one of those who went before you

Five-and-Twenty years ago: one of the many who never returned,

Of the many who returned and yet were dead.

We went where you were going, into the rain and mud;

We fought as you will fight

With death and darkness and despair;

We gave what you will give – our brains and our blood.

We thing we gave in vain. The world was not renewed.

There was hope in the homestead and anger in the streets

But the old world was restored and we returned

To the dreary field and workshop, and the immemorial feud

Of the rich and poor. Our victory was our defeat.

Power was retained where power has been misused

And youth was left to sweep away

The ashes that the fire had strewn beneath our feet.

But one thing we learned: there is no glory in the deed

Until the soldier wears a badge of tarnished braid;

There are heroes who have heard the rally and have seen

The glitter of a garland round their head.

There is the hollow victory. They are deceived.

But you, my brother and my ghost, if you can go

Knowing that there is no reward, no certain use

In all your sacrifice, then honour is reprieved.

To fight without hope is to fight with grace,

The self reconstructed, the false heart repaired

Then I turned with a smile, and he answered my salute

As he stood against the fretted hedge, which was like white lace.

Recommended by Brigadier Randhir Sinh of the 4/3 Gorkha Rifles

The Mother

The poem was written in 1915 during the Irish rising against British rule in the second decade of the 20th century.

The Mother

by Padraic Pearse

I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of among their people,
The generations shall remember them,
And call them blessed;
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers:
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho’ I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow—And yet I have my joy:
My sons were faithful, and they fought.

Recommended by Janet Rizvi, a friend of the family

Poem for the Brother

From Dilip D’souza

A couple of years ago I came across a poem written by the ancient Roman poet Catullus. The writer Chris Hedges, who was a war correspondent for years and later wrote a wonderful book about his experiences called “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning”, read out the poem as a tribute to a friend of his who died in Sierra Leone in 2000, Kurt Schork. I can hardly do better than to paste below what Hedges said that day. Sad as it is, I thought this poem might capture for you a little of what Nawang’s passing must have meant.

all good wishes, and please stay in touch. dilip.

Kurt Schork — brilliant, courageous and driven — could not let go. He died in an ambush in May 2000 in Sierra Leone along with another friend, Miguel Gil Morano. His entrapment — his embrace of Thanatos, of the death instinct — was never mentioned at the sterile and antiseptic memorial service staged for him in Washington. Everyone tiptoed around it. But for those of us who knew him, we understood that he had been consumed.

I had worked with Kurt for 10 years, starting in northern Iraq. Literate, funny — it seems the brave are often funny. He and I passed books back and forth in our struggle to make sense of the madness around us. His loss is a hole that will never be filled. His ashes were placed in the Lion’s Cemetery in Sarajevo for the victims of the war. I flew to Sarajevo and met the British filmmaker Dan Reed. It was an overcast November day. We stood over the grave and downed a pint of whiskey. Dan lit a candle. I recited a poem the Roman lyric poet, Catullus, had written to honor his dead brother, killed near Troy.

“By strangers’ coasts and waters,

many days at sea,

I came here for the rites of your unworlding,

Bringing for you, the dead,

these last gifts of the living

And my words — vain sounds for the man of dust.

Alas, my brother, You have been taken from me.

You have been taken from me

And by cold hands turned to shadow and my pain.

Here are the foods of the old ceremony appointed Long ago for the starvelings under the earth. .

Take them.

Your brother’s tears have made them wet.

And take Into eternity my hail and my farewell. “

Dicing and Death

(Read the sequel to Dicing and Death – ‘Buzzard Feast)
Main article on the raid is at Blooding of the Phor Thud GR
Lt. Col. A.K. ‘Sam’ Sharma (May 2010)

even four point five decades on
to the day,…
and every 18th of May ,
I dice time, ….
and tear it to tatters..,
scour in my mind’s eye despite the cobwebs…. .

Dilating time for seven and half hours, through dilated irises,
I scour every nook and corner;
nook and cranny, the rhododendron, fern, bramble bush and the stunted pine, the cobwebs in the corners, the enemy Penga Post reverse slopes, the rock and the broken ground to Chanda’s RV;
for you…Kharke;
…till the deathly dawn broke our resolve at first light; amidst enemy Browning- bursts…., and the crackle of the wireless from the CO,…
…. for yet another sortie….
…like it was on that peppery-hot night in the May of Nineteen Sixty-five.

I dribble with death repeatedly, and dodge the racing Fourth Horseman, with hollow eyes, all covered from head to toe in a dark- black hooded cape, galloping towards me;
lunging repeatedly at me with his swinging scythe on the night of 17/18 May 1965…
armed only with my brazen brashness,
… and a naked khukri, and your wooden visage;….
…dicing death, and dicing time,
every time,
(when I reminiscence the turkey buzzards feasting
on killed razakaars,
…….. and you too ?)

Lt. Col A.K. ‘Sam’ Sharma

Sam Sharma is 4/3 Gorkha Officers, who was the original Bronco. This poem, as well as Buzzard Feast are based on exploits of the broncos in the 1965 war with Pakistan; actually a raid on a Pakistani post, on the Line of Control. He is a regular visitor to the site and a great supporter.