Jai Samota

Jai Samota



•The Gateway to Hell• 1962 Ops in Daulat Beg Oldie 1962 War Series The Indian Army was given responsibility for the Northern Borders in April 1960. This resulted in the induction of Brigadier Rawind Singh Grewal, MC, who commanded the 114 Infantry Brigade, (1/44)

which included 7 J&K Militia and 14 J&K Militia. The 1/8 Gorkha Rifles, led by Lt Col Hari Chand, MVC, became the force's third battalion in April 1961. These battalions were assigned to three different areas. (2/44)

The 14 J&K Militia were in charge of the area north of the Galwan River. The 1/8 Gorkhas were responsible for the area between Galwan and Chushul, while the 7 J&K Militia were looking after the southern territory, consisting of the Indus Valley. In April 1961, (3/44)

a platoon of 14 J&K Militia was given the responsibility to establish a post at Daulat Beg Oldie, also termed as the Gateway to Hell by old traders. It was 16 kilometres southeast of the Karakoram Pass. Survival in the terrain and severe weather was challenging here, (4/44)

and the enemy came after that. Ladakh's connectivity was also poor, with only a Jeepable road connecting Chushul and Leh. Air supply was the only way to keep posts operational. In the early stages of the fighting, Ladakh had only four battalions: 5 Jat, (5/44)

led by Lt Col Bakhtawar Singh, was inducted from Uri in April 1962, along with a company of 1 Mahar (MMG).. These four battalions covered a frontage of 480 KMs from DBO in the north to Demchok in the south. Brigadier Rawind Singh Grewal, MC (6/44)

was promoted and transferred for his new assignment in July 1962, and he was replaced by Brigadier Tapishwer Narain Raina, fondly known as Tappy Raina, a Kumaoni officer. In additament to 14 J&K Militia, C Company of 5 Jat are now in the DBO sector. (7/44)

On the north and south banks of the Chip Chap River, 9 posts were established, and 5 posts were established opposite Murgo and Sultan Chushku. Every post had only 5 to 25 men. Post 1 was named Chandani, and it had a platoon strength as well as a 3 inch mortar section. (8/44)

Posts 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 14 had platoon strength, while the remaining posts had sections. Average distance between each post was 2-3 Kilometers but Post 14 (Jyotish) was 12 kilometers away from any Indian post. (9/44)

All the posts were equipped with small arms and less ammunition in comparison to the enemy. On the eve of the war's first day, the Chinese began to gather and bring heavy weaponry. At Qizil-Jilga, they had a regiment with two units attacking and one reserved. (10/44)

Posts 5 and 9 were attacked at the same time on October 19th at 2300 hrs. Post 5, Pramodak, was the tinniest post in the sector, with only four men under Havildar Tulsi Ram of 5 Jat. It was attacked by two Chinese companies, but due to the post's altitude, (11/44)

the men of 5 Jat dominated and held the post until the Chinese began shelling. Except for the NCO who decided to continue to strike the machine gun, all four men died. His ammo was running out, (12/44)

so Havildar Tulsi Ram slipped out of the way with his gun and went downwards to DBO. He was later awarded the Vir Chakra. Pramodak fell down. Post 9 was manned by 11 men from the 14 J&K Militia under the command of CHM Anant Ram and was under heavy mortar and MMG fire. (13/44)

The Chinese remained outside the range of the Indian weapons and were causing damage because of their long range. The Chinese shelled this post for nearly an hour, killing 4 men, before the infantry surrounded it. With his remaining men, (14/44)

Havildar Anant Ram found an opening and managed to extract his men, while the Chinese suffered heavy casualties. Havildar Anant Ram was awarded the VrC for his bravery. On October 20th, both posts 5 and 9 fought until first light. (15/44)

The Chinese occupied Post 5 and cut off other posts' withdrawal and supply routes. Around 0230 hrs Chinese attacked post 2 and 3 manned by the Jats on the north bank of Chip Chap after giving a good fight to the Chinese, men of these posts withdrew to post 4. (16/44)

Post 1, Chandani, a high ground post that was difficult to fight, was now isolated; every post around it had been abandoned or occupied by the enemy. The post was manned by Subedar Sonam Stopdhan, who had 25 ORs from the 14 J&K Militia. On October 20th, (17/44)

Chandani was heavily shelled and subjected to a large infantry assault; the Officiating Commander of DBO, Major Shardul Singh Randhawa, attempted to send reinforcements, but Chinese at other posts made it impossible. (18/44)

The Indian troops put up a heroic defence and stymied three attacks, but the Chinese outmanned them and overran the post, killing everyone on it. (19/44)

Chandani fell down and when Major Randhawa got this information his message to Brigade Major Jagjit Singh in a very emotional voice was Chandani Khatam ho gayi Chandani Jal gayi. Subedar Stopdhan was awarded the MVC and Sepoys Chiring, (20/44)

Wangchuk and Phunchol were awarded VrCs. Post Bhujan, held by 15 men of the 14 J&K Militia under Naib Subedar Rigzin Phunphok, had a similar story to other posts in that it was subjected to heavy shelling before being attacked by infantry. The post fought valiantly, (21/44)

but it was vastly outnumbered. Few of the 15 men survived and fell back to Sultan Chushku. Havildar Saroop Singh, who was killed in action at the post, was later awarded the MVC. Every post was heavily mortar-bombarded by the Chinese. Until now, (22/44)

the Chinese had eliminated all of the posts on Chip Chap's northern bank. Only post 4 managed to resist. The Chinese were posing a direct threat to the DBO and track junction with post 5 in their hands. At 1900 hrs on October 20th, the Chinese began shelling Post 4, (23/44)

which had nearly 40 men and was in communication with the DBO OC, Major Randhawa, who asked men of 5 Jat to return to DBO, but due to the pitch black night, only 1 JCO and 9 ORs were found by the patrol sent from DBO garrison. (24/44)

Only Post DBO which had 125 All ranks was up until now. It was constantly in contact with the 114 Brigade. Post 10 was attacked in large numbers, and they requested a withdrawal to Burtse, which was located north of Murgo; the post was now occupied by the enemy. (25/44)

Post Jodha, east of Murgo, was manned by a platoon of 14 J&K Militia when it was attacked from the north on October 21st. The post fought effectively but was surrounded by nearly two companies of Chinese. The men on the post were asked to return to Burtse. (26/44)

Three men were killed in action, four were wounded, and two were taken prisoner. Except for isolated post 14, Jyotish, all isolated posts were ordered to fall back to Burtse on the night of October 21st. (27/44)

The post commander reported heavy enemy concentration opposite the post at 1300hrs on October 21st. Until now, Lt Col Nihal Singh, CO 14 J&K Militia, flew in from Thoise to DBO following his conversation with the Brigade he ordered Jyotish to fallback to Sultan Chushku. (28/44)

DBO was surrounded, and 18 posts had fallen on the 20th and 21st. On October 22nd, the Battalion Commander asked for a withdrawal from the Brigade; later, the Corps issued an order to withdraw to a better defensive position. (29/44)

Major Randhawa also conveyed a message via the pilot of the helicopter that the Chinese concentration could pose a serious threat to Leh. At 1800 hrs, the Brigade ordered the withdrawal of 14 J&K Militia. The operation began at 2100 hrs. (30/44)

The only route now left was a difficult western route through Gapshan-Shyok-Saser Brangsa. To distract the Chinese who were intercepting the radio communication, the Battalion Commander also sent a false message to the Brigade. Weapons such as 3"mortars, Recoilless guns, (31/44)

radio sets, and supplies were destroyed by retreating troops. Men were now given personal weapons and 100 rounds each. (32/44)

A platoon of 1 Mahar (MMG) attached to the battalion under the command of Naib Subedar Bhimu Kamble refused to decimate their guns and carried them with them. It was a challenging retreat. When Nb Sub Kamble learned that a gun from his platoon had been lost, (33/44)

he returned with his six men, despite the Chinese threat, and entered the abandoned post, grabbed the gun, and escaped back. There were only a few vehicles, including a few jeeps and one tonne trucks loaded with sick and injured soldiers. (34/44)

These vehicles were using the river's frozen surface, but the surface soon gave away due to the weight, and the vehicles had to be abandoned. The retreat was divided into three parties, with the Advance party led by Major Shardul Singh Randhawa, (35/44)

who was well acquainted with the routes and the men of his battalion. The main body was led by CO Lt Col Nihal Singh, and the rear party was led by Captain SP Rigzin. The rear party Platoon occupied the one dominant post and withdrew on the first light of 23 October, (36/44)

while other troops were on their way to Saser Brangsa, tired and heavily loaded, it was a test of their endurance and training. After reaching Saser Brangsa, casualties were evacuated by helicopter, and much-needed supplies were air dropped. After the 23rd of October, (37/44)

there was no fighting in the DBO sector until the official ceasefire on the 21st of November. The troops fought with grit and determination and bravery. Major Shardul Singh Randhawa, who was also awarded the MVC, (38/44)

deserves much of the credit for the successful retreat and operations in the DBO sector. On October 24, all forward posts were withdrawn. DBO, the gateway to hell, was also abandoned. Troops kept control of the Saser Brangsa, Murgo, Sultan Chushku, (39/44)

and Galwan-Shyok junction. Those men survived hell. In words of the Brigade Major the Operations in DBO were defined as, The Himalayas had been rudely woken up from their long, deep slumber. (40/44)

This hitherto impenetrable barrier had been pierced by the lustful designs of man for power and supremacy. (41/44)

"This one's for the unsung warriors of DBO" ~ Jai Samota (42/44)

Major (Later Lt Col) Shardul Singh Randhawa, MVC of 14 J&K Militia (43/44)

Subedar Sonam Stopdhan, MVC (P) and Havildar Saroop Singh, MVC (P) (44/44)

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