SP's LandForces - - LEAD STORY -

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

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: In­dian Army

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