LT GENERAL NARESH CHAND (RETD)
HISTORICALLY ARTILLERY WAS FIRST employed by the Roman legions at Syracuse in 399 BC but until the introduction of gunpowder, artillery was solely dependent on mechanical means of lobbying a large object or a huge stone towards the enemy. The Roman army was very successful in employing artillery weapons like the ballistae which was more or less a giant catapult. Gunpowder was invented in China during the late Tang dynasty in 9th century but the earliest record of a written formula appeared in the Song dynasty during the 11th century. Since then the progress of artillery as a battle winning factor was relentless and inventive. Artillery became the most lethal land based armament and caused the majority of the combat casualties during World War I and II. In 1944, Joseph Stalin called artillery “the God of War”.
Artillery in India
Guns were first used on the Indian sub continent guns by Babur during the Battle of Paniput in 1526. However, there are records to show that guns were employed in battle earlier. The East India Company raised the first regular company of Artillery in 1748, with a small percentage of Indian Gunners called Gun Lashkars, Tindals and Serangs. Bombay Artillery was raised on September 28,1827 and was later on renamed 5 Bombay Mountain Battery. Thus September 28 is celebrated as the ‘Gunners Day’. The first Indian War of Independence started at Meerut on May 10, 1857 which resulted in total ban by the British on the Indian artillery units except mountain artillery batteries. A few Indian Mountain Batteries were raised in the 19th century and formed part of the Royal Artillery. These batteries were officered by the British. During the late 19th century, the Indian Gunners saw action in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Afghanistan, Aden, Burma, Somaliland (Somalia), Tibet, Persia (Iran) and the erstwhile North West Frontier Province. The advent of the First World War gave Indian Artillery an opportunity to show their real mettle. The Indian Mountain Batteries served with rare courage and enterprise on the battlefields of Mesopotamia (Iraq), East Africa, Gallipoli, Persia, Egypt and Palestine. The British Government reviewed their order of the banning native artillery, and thus on January 15, 1935, ‘A’ Field Brigade, comprising four batteries of horse-drawn guns, was raised at Bangalore. ‘A’ Field Brigade was the first Artillery unit to be officered by Indians. 2 Lt (later Lt General) P.S. Gyani was the first Indian officer to be commissioned into an Artillery unit. In 1937 the mountain batteries were transferred to the Indian Artillery, which later became 1st Indian Field Regiment. The generic title the Regiment of Indian Artillery was conferred upon the new Arm. B Field Brigade and the first unit of the anti-tank, anti-aircraft and coastal artillery were also raised.
World War II saw Indian Gunners in action in East and North Africa, Middle East and displayed valour and dedication. By the end of Second World War Indian gunners had won one Victoria Cross, One George Medal, 15 Military Crosses, two IOMs, 22 IDSMs, 18 Military Medals, five OBEs, One MBE, three British Empire Medals, 13 Burma Gallantry Medals and 467 “Jangi Inams”. During 1947 Indian Artillery was allotted eighteen and half of all types of artillery regiments while Pakistan was allotted the remaining nine and half units.
Jammu and Kashmir Operations
During the Jammu and Kashmir operations of 1947-48, 1 SIKH Battalion was transported to Srinagar by air and personnel of 2 Field Regiment (SP) and 13 Field Regiment were employed in infantry role under Capt R.L. Chauhan of 13 Field Regiment until the first week of November 1947 when four 3.7 inch howitzer reached the area. The artillery units then helped in driving out the infiltrators, successfully defended Srinagar airfield and subsequent rout of Pakistani tribesmen in Jammu region and Kashmir Valley. Artillery played a dominant role in recapture of Poonch, Rajauri, Thangdar, Tithwal, Dras and Kargil.
Against China in 1962
Chinese Army attacked Indian positions on October 10, 1962 in general area of Tawang in Kameng Frontier Division. On October 23 Chinese came through Bum La Pass and attacked 1 SIKH position. They were immediately engaged by the guns of 7 (Bengal) Mountain Battery directed by Capt Gosal which broke the attack. Artillery kept supporting the infantry till Tawang was abandoned. Subsequently guns of 116 Mortar Battery, 34 Heavy
Bofors Gun helped the Indian Army to win the Kargil War against Pakistan in 1999