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Ablaze in a Blizzard

Ablaze in a Blizzard - Col.(Retd.) P. Ganesan





Pride and Honour



Serve with Pride

I understood the language of the Army and started developing that. The initiation at UP-Tibet border created an indelible mark in my mind and throughout my service I kept up that till my retirement.


Imbibing Leadership qualities

This auto suggestion paved the way for self-motivation and as years passed by I became a name to be recognized.

From UP-Tibet border I was sent for a short training course "Earth Moving Plants Instructor Course" to CME (College of Military Engineering). Engineers of the Army were equipped with all types of construction machineries and some of the officers were trained to be good at it. After that training I was sent on 2 months annual leave.

I came home, packed my luggage and rushed to Madras Central Station. It was a sight unbelievable, lakhs and lakhs of men in uniform were laid in all the platforms waiting for their turn to board the train. There I mixed with the crowd and vanished from sight.


The War

The Indian Army had the biggest defeat in 1962 war and hardly tough on its conduct not because of their incapability but because of poor and stupid political handling of the situation.

I mixed with the crowd at the central station and moved where my destiny dragged me. 12 persons travelled in a 4 person's first class cabin and reached Tanakpur a terminal to UP-Tibet border. Very heavy military movements were seen everywhere. As I was moving with Military convoy, I met en-route my Commanding Officer. The CO told that their camp had been vacated and ordered me to come with him. We reached Bareilly, where thousands of military personnel were grouped into military trains and moved to western border. I met all my unit personnel and got into the military special train at about 02.00 hrs. When the train was about to leave I was ordered to get down and stay there itself to gather other rear elements and would come after a day or two. As I got down a thundering voice echoed "Bharath Matha Ki Jai" and the train moved slowly. I was emotionally excited while tears rolling down stood there with hands waving to my colleagues.

I stood there looking at the moving military special and hearing the thundering voice "Bharath Matha Ki Jai". As time passed military stores and left over personnel reached at Bareilly and we finally reached Kapurthala, a town in Punjab near Jullundur. Though front line soldiers were in position immediately, my formation was Army HQ reserve and hence awaiting for the situation to stabilize and in the meantime large scale defence stores were being collected.

To be an Army HQ reserve in war was a great honour as it would be an important striking force to turn the fortune of war. Though we miss the initial thrill of going into battle, our performance would be the deciding factor at the final outcome of war.

By the time the Army was ready to be launched, news came that the border at Kutch had stabilised and there would be no war. The Troops were withdrawn from the front line and my formation reverted to Bareilly. But it was only a deceptive move of Pakistan. Their spies, who were caught at J & K on 05th Aug 1965 had revealed that the outline of their plan. 6 Mountain Div. immediately ordered for an offensive action.

The Division was on wheel again and moved to Ambala on 28th Aug 1965.

It was 01 September 1965, Pakistan attacked India.


Reflections



The Officer-Men relationship in the Army is beyond expression and is bonded as a homogenic block, especially when the officer is physically strong, mentally alert, psychologically understanding and professionally competent and sincerely interested to uphold Honour and Pride of the Army through motivating and inspiring his men.

The impact of the events during the recce created a strong feeling in my mind that an Officer worth of his salt, should always take care of his men first by becoming a master of his profession and at the same time physically and mentally fit to face any challenges.


It was in April 1965 I was enjoying my leave with friends near Rameswaram. It was shocking to hear the news that Pakistan attacked India from "All India" Radio on one fine evening at about 19.30 hours. Further Indian Army was mobilised and all rank's leaves were cancelled, and further informed that all army personnel to report immediately to their respective units.


The death of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru released the political hand cuffs of the Army and not only Army was expanded many fold but also excellent training was imbibed to the young ones. The Indian soldiers of World War 1 and 2 had the greatest appreciations of world Field Marshals and Generals and that breed could not be so weak in short time. So the Pakistan's ambitious plan was squarely met by the Indian Army.

  • The mobilisation of the Army of our country to defend her territorial interest was a great task and a well-disciplined Army reacted to orders implicitly.
  • For soldiers it would be their life time fortune to participate in war.

General S.K. Kurla a veteran of World War II, who led 85 attacks successfully, and was introduced to Field Marshal Slim as the best Company Commander in South East Asia was commanding 6 Mountain Division to which I belonged.