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36 Infantry Division RAPID

The renovated Shahbaaz Sainik Institute (SSI) was dedicated in early 2008 to the PBOR and their families by Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna, GOC 21 Corps at Saugor in the presence of Maj Gen JS Kataria, GOC, 36 Infantry Division, PBOR and families. The institute has been tastefully furnished and equipped with a cyber caf, library cum reading room, crche with toys for tiny tots, TT table, a basketball court, badminton court and a cricket Pitch with all the cricket gear. The excellent ambience, diffused lighting and well-manicured lawn was appreciated by the GOC 21 Corps and the President Sudarshan Chakra AWWA and also lit up the faces of the families and children of Saugor Garrison. The Corps Commander complimented the team of 36 Infantry Division involved with the project. In a simple ceremony, he inaugurated the SSI. It was followed by release of balloons by children and tea with the families in the lawn.

The district of Sagar lies in the north central region of Madhya Pradesh. It was spelled as Saugar during the British period. It is situated between 2310' and 2427' north latitude and between 784' and 7921' east longitude, the district has a truly central location in the country. The origin of the name comes from the Hindi word SAGAR meaning lake or sea, apparently because of the large and once beautiful lake around which the town of Sagar has been built. Sagar was founded by Udan Singh in 1660 and was constituted a municipality in 1867, a major road and agricultural trade centre, it has industries such as oil and flour milling, saw-milling , ghee processing , handloom cotton weaving, bidi manufacture and railway and engineering works. It is known in all over India due to its University named as Dr. Harisingh Gaur University and Army Cantonment [Sagar Cantt].

36 Indian Division in World War II

During the 6 months between December, 1941 and May, 1942 the enemy had overrun the, Philippines, much of Oceania, all of the Netherlands East Indies, all of the Malay Peninsula, and almost all of Burma. In the Pacific Ocean his advance threatened communications between the United States and Australasia. On the Asiatic mainland his occupation of Burma menaced India, provided a bulwark against counterattack from the west, cut the last land route for supply of China, and added Burma's raw materials to the resources of an empire already rich.

America, keen to help China to remain in the World War II, had established a supply route along the Burma Road from Lashio to Kunming. This was cut when the Japanese captured Burma. The two Chinese Divisions, which had fought alongside the 17 Indian Division, also retreated to Ramgargh to re-equip. General Joe Stilwell used these Chinese Divisions, Merill's Marauders of the US Army and Corp of Engineer troops under General Pick, to build the Ledo Road. They did a remarkable job in not only making the road but also laying a pipeline along with. The laying and operation of the pipeline from Dum Dum to Ledo and other airfields was a remarkable achievement. The first 146 mile-long Chandranathpur to Dimapur petrol pipeline was started in April 1943 to relieve the railway traffic. The advance of General Stilwell columns down the Hukong Valley to work on the Ledo Road was at times a comical affair. It is said that to provoke the Chinese to advance, General Joe would himself go forward and set up camp well forward. Noting the move, the Chinese too would then move up their camp - to save face!

Merill's Marauders of the US Army, by a wide outflanking move, captured the Myitkyina Airfield on 17 May 1943. But they and the 30,000 Chinese could not dislodge a determined Japanese detachment holding the town. To push them out, a call was made for volunteers. Two hundred Chinese were offered a reward of Rs 30 each and double promotion. They attacked successfully; but the Japanese troops were allowed to withdraw through the gaps left. The trace was new all the way to Mogaung where it joined the old Burma Road from Lashio to Kunming in China.

The advance by General Stilwell's force was helped by the operations of the Chindits Special Force (3 Indian Division) in north Burma. They cut the lines of communications of Japan's 18 Division which was opposing him. The Chindits and, later, 36 Division both were on air-supply and were supported by No 1 Air Commando of the USAF, a unique force of 292 bombers, fighters, transport planes and 100 helicopters. By the time the Chindits reached Mogaung the tough Gorkhas were the only ones fit to fight. When the Japanese held up the advance at Mogaung railway junction, it was Tul Bhadur Pun of the 3/6th Gorkhas who broke their defence and lived to wear the Victoria Cross.

When the Chindits were withdrawn, 36 British Division under General Festing landed at Mogaung at the end of July. It was supported by two Indian Field Companies and an Indian Engineer Battalion. The support of US Air Commandos continued. The Division crossed the Irrawaddy at Katha, and went on to cross the Shewali River where it faced fierce opposition from the Japanese. Two of our officers, Lt RM Rau of the Bombay Sappers, and Lt Bhaya Rajwade of 58 Field Company Madras Sappers, played a significant role in crossing of the Shewali River by 36 Division. Rajwade crossed with the Buffs. When the British officers were killed in the repeated Banzai attacks, he organised their defence and withdrawal of the survirors. He was the last to swim across and was awarded an immediate Military Cross.

Lt Rau, then crossed with the Royal Sussex, was left across the river for the night. He learnt to gobble up Bully beef for sustenance! The greatest feat was achieved by 15 Engineer Battalion which, using hand tools, built a 752 feet-long timber bridge across the river. These heroes from the unknown annals of history are still in waiting for the bards to sing their deeds.

General Sultan replaced Stilwell in October; his troops reached Tonkwa in the second week of December as 36 Division was approaching Shewali. The engineers under General Pick proceeded to push the work on the road and the pipeline so that by November limited traffic could pass to Myitkyina which was connected with a Jeep railway. Finally General Sultan's force got in touch with the Chinese troops at the end of the old Burma Road, and the link was opened on January 27, 1945.



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