The British referred to all those who enlisted from Rajput hill states as Dogras, and the first regiment of Dogras was added to the Bengal Army on April 20, 1887, at Sialkot. After partition, Dogra companies were absorbed from Baluch and Punjab Regiment and the Frontier Force to raise Dogra battalions to its present day strength.
A large number of people from Kangra had joined the defence forces and spent their lives in the army. Their regiment is known as Dogra Regiment. Most of the soldiers of this regiment belonged to Una, Hamirpur, Mandi, Kullu, etc. But today, their number has lessened due to the withdrawal of the quota fixed for their recruitment. This has caused unemployment in the said areas. They are patriotic people, so their political representatives have requested that this quota should be restored, so that the Dogra Regiment can have the maximum benefit of their services.
Under the British the Dogra Regiment was recruited entirely of Dogra Rajputs, who are high caste Hindus descended from the original Aryan invaders of India. They inhabit the foothills of the Himalayas between the Jhelum and Sutlej rivers in the Punjab. It was one of the few regiments which was composed of a single class, the majority being made up of class squadrons or companies.
The Dogras earned laurels for valour during World War I and II as well as in all major operations after Independence. In the pre-Independence era, the Dogras had to their credit three Victoria Cross and 44 Military Cross awards besides 312 other awards. Post-Independence, the regiment has won an Ashok Chakra, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shree and nine Maha Vir Chakra besides numerous other decorations, including five unit citations.
Six Army battalions raised especially for Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) counter insurgency operations underwent special training, and started deployment in the state by 01 September 2001. With the entire state barring Ladakh under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Army began deploying additional forces to tighten the security net, with 7,200 soldiers of six newly-raised battalions. The battalions are assigned to the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), but parent Regiments raised them at their respective regimental centres. One of the six battalions was raised in New Delhi (Rajputana Rifles). The Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) RR battalion was raised at Belgaum, the Madras Regiment at Tiruchi, the Assam Regiment RR battalion at Shillong, the Punjab RR at Ramgarh, Grenadiers at Jabalpur and the Dogra Regiment RR battalion at Faizabad. The newly-raised battalions underwent special training at the Army's counter insurgency warfare school near Jammu. The Army had six months to raise and train the soldiers for the highly specialised operations. After that there was a four-week-long capsule course in laying ambushes in hills and mountains, detecting and disarming IEDs, carrying out cordon and search operations and carrying out operations to neutralise terrorists in heavily populated neighbourhoods.
Third battalion of the Dogra Regiment was raised by Lt Col ET Gastrell on October 12, 1900 at Jalandhar. The colours to the battalion were bestowed upon for the first time by the then Force Commander, Punjab, Lt Gen Sir Bindon Blood on February 19, 1902 and in post independence period by the then President, Dr Zakir Hussain on November 8, 1968. Immediately after its raising, the battalion formed part of the Allied Forces, which went to China to quell the Boxer Rebellion. The Allied Flag, a prized souvenir reminiscent of the association of allied nations in China, were presented to the battalion.
During World War I in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), the 35th Composite Brigade as part of British Indian Army was to attack the Turkish lines. It was to be covered by a strong bombardment. The assault was to start at 7.45 am on January 21, 1916, with 41st Dogras leading. The 41st Dogras followed by the 37th Dogras were to be in the centre. On the right was the 9th Brigade in three echelons.
On the evening of January 20, the 41st Dogras advanced to the trenches held by the 37th Dogras. This was the first time the two Dogra regiments had met and a certain natural curiosity was apparent on both sides. The outstanding performance of the 41st Dogras in France was a common knowledge in the Tigris Corps. During the night, the 41st Dogras took up position ahead of the 37th Dogras. The Turks fired heavily though ineffectively. In the morning, the 41st Dogras was within 350 meters of the Turkish position.
The artillery commenced an intense bombardment for ten minutes at 7.45 am on January 21. The bombardment lifted to the second line trenches ten minutes later. Under its cover, the 41st Dogras advanced 150 meters closely followed by the 37th Dogras. As the 41st Dogras rose to the final assault, Capt Nicholson of 37th Dogras and Lt Lindop of 41st Dogras were wounded. At this moment, L/Nk Lala of Medical Platoon of 41st Dogras found Capt Nicholson lying wounded. He dragged the officer into a temporary trench (made by himself) where he had already dressed four wounded men. Having bandaged Capt Nicholson's wound, he found Lt Lindop of 41st Dogras lying severely wounded in the open. Disregarding all protests, he went out, bandaged Lt Lindop and offered to carry the officer back at once. This, however, Lt Lindop forbade. L/Nk Lala then remained with Lt Lindop. He carried Capt Nicholson to the main trenches, returning later with a stretcher for Lt Lindop. This act of splendid gallantry under extreme battle conditions was duly recognised and L/Nk Lala was awarded the highest British award, the Victoria Cross.
In December 1940, the battalion under the command of Lt Col ML Hayne moved to Kota Bharu in Malaya From Singapore. It was allotted the task of the protection of the aerodrome and the beaches along with it. The battalion sector was divided into three sub sectors, which were handed over to one coy each. Each coy had an area of 527 kms to defend with well-dug defences. In November 1941, Lt Col GA Preston took over the command with around 1300 Dogras under him.
On December 6, 1941, the air force reported the presence of a large Japanese convoy in the Gulf of Siam heading for Singora, north-west of Kota Bharu. On December 7, the high tide was two hours before the daylight and was considered a possible danger period. About midnight 'A' and 'B' coys reported that five Japanese ships had anchored about two kilometers off shore opposite No 13 and 14 Posts. No 13 Post was on the right bank of the Penkalon river and No 14 on the left bank. In the early hours of December 8, the Japanese landed and attacked on a narrow front astride the river mouth, which was the nearest point on the coast to the aerodrome and the main road inland.
By daylight the Japanese advance was halted. They were confined to the island where they suffered all day bombing by the Allied air force and shelling from medium artillery. The Japanese continued to pour in more troops and just before dark made a strong attack on the reserve company position. This attack was driven off by valiant Dogras.
On January 1, the battalion was moved to Kuala Lumpur and later to Batu Arang. Here at the end of the first week the battalion once again came face to face with the enemy. The battalion gave an inimitable fight to the Japanese who were pouring in like waves from all directions and failed many attacks. On January 7, 1942, the battalion launched a successful counter attack to capture an important bridge already occupied by the Japanese. On January 10, the contact with enemy was again established. 3 Dogra decided to cut off the advancing enemy from both sides. The Dogras fought like true warriors and kept on pressing further ahead. The battle honour of Kota Bharu bestowed upon the battalion commemorates the fight, which was put up by the Dogras.
The end of the Korea War was imminent when 3 Dogra received orders to move to Korea. Lt Col MG Hazari and his officers had hardly any time to make the necessary preparations for a long sea voyage. The men had to be recalled from leave and explained the implications of the new role. Maj Dhonkal Singh left for Madras, the port of embarkation. 3 Dogra departed from Madras on August 19, 1953. In Korea, the US Army had established a camp known as Hind Nagar in the demilitarised zone. 3 Dogra was made responsible for enclosures E (3,500), F (2,000) and G (4,000) where a total of 8,052 North Korean prisoners were housed. Each enclosure was looked after by a rifle company, which provided guards and other administrative personnel. At times the prisoners became rude and unruly, and created many a problem. They would refuse to see the delegates of other countries and would not reply to questions from the interrogators. Frequently they threatened to break out. In spite of bitter cold, the difficult nature of their duties and the worsening attitude of the Chinese and Korean prisoners, the morale of the Dogras was high. The battalion went through a unique experience in Korea. It witnessed a new aspect of psychological warefare, which completely indoctrinated men thus becoming the first battalion of Indian Army having participated in a UN mission abroad after independence.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the cease-fire line crossed Batar Nullah about seven km north of Poonch and ran from west to east. Immediately north of this line were two Pakistani picquets called Raja and point 7702 (later name Chand Tekri). These two posts dominated the Punch-Kahuta road and had to be caputured if the roads were to be opened. The posts were mined, wired and protected by machine guns firing from bunkers, and communication trenches joining the bunkers. They had been prepared for suctioned defence and well stocked with rations and ammunition.
On September 1/2, 1965, the glorious 3 Dogra commanded by Lt Col RB Nair was given the task to capture the point 7702. The brigade then planned two battalion attack with 2 Sikh on the left to clear the Raja picket and 3 Dogra on the right to capture point 7702. The battalion left late in the evening on September 5, and successfully sneaked past Raja picquet. The two leading companies were to assault from the left flank and cross the start line at 4 am on September 6 under the able leadership of Maj Greesh Chandra Verma and Capt Gurdev Singh Bawa. 'B' and 'C' companies stormed point 7702 at 0500 hrs on September 6. After a fierce hand-to-hand and bunker-to-bunker fight, the enemy was uprooted from the strongly built defences and the post was captured by 0545 hrs.
Maj GC Verma was wounded in the head and refused to be evacuated. He breathed his last on seeing the success signal being fired from his pistol by Sub Rattan Singh. Capt GS Bawa, the other assaulting company commander was also wounded fatally while silencing an enemy MMG. The battalion lost two officers, one JCO and 14 ORs while 3 officers, 2 JCOs and 60 ORs were wounded in the battle. 39 men of enemy were killed and 5 were taken as POWs.
In recognition of this valour the battalion was awarded the battle honour Chand Tekri and theatre honour of Jammu and Kashmir-1965.
During the night of December 4/5, 1971, 'A' and 'D' companies had reached Dhaltara and established road blocks on the Chauddagram-Laksham road. Maj Anup Singh Gahlaut tapped two Pakistani telephone lines and intercepted their conversation. The Pakistani 23rd Punjab was opposing 3 Dogra. The enemy had realised that they had been surrounded and there was no route of escape for them unless they overran one of the Dogra campanies. A few tried to escape in groups of five or six. But two companies took position about 500 meters in front of Maj Anup Singh's and Maj Ashok Bhan's companies and decided to break out.
The enemy first turned its attention to Maj Ashok Bhan's 'D' Company who held them back with effective fire. Maj Anup Singh Gahlaut rushed forward with a platoon to reinforce 'D' company. On his way he had to open fire on the enemy. Seeing Maj Anup Singh Gahlaut had only one platoon with him and that it was deployed in the open, the enemy brought their entire fire to bear upon Maj Anup Singh Gahlaut and his platoon.
Maj Anup Singh Gahlaut had commanded 'A' company in the 1965 conflict also. He was a brave soldier and displayed cool nerve in battle. He decided that his only hope of forcing a withdrawal on the enemy was to charge them with a handful of his men. Firing his sten gun from the hip, he shot four of his opponents. In the exchange of fire, he was seriously wounded. Yet he encouraged his men to put up a determined fight and finally broke the ring around him. Within minutes of this battle, young Maj Anup Singh Gahlaut succumbed to his injuries. Maj Anup Singh Gahlaut was honoured with Maha Vir Chakra.
"The total collapse of the Pakistan Army's resistance is one of the most intriguing puzzles of the war in the East" wrote the Sunday Times on December 7, 1971 as Pakistan surrendered. The credit for the fall of Suadih, a small village but a strong bastion of Pak army's most fortified position in Bangladesh, went to 9 Dogra. This led to the ultimate liberation of East Pakistan and the proud triumph of the Indian Army. For this herculean task, the battalion was awarded the battle honour of Suadih. Almost 29 years later, the young soldiers of the same battalion embarked on a mountaineering expedition to the peaks of Chhamsher Kangri and Lungser Kangri in the remote Zaskar ranges of Eastern Ladakh. It is pertinent to mention that this is the only expedition sponsored by the Army during 2000 to attempt two challenging peaks. The expedition was organised under the aegis of the Pine Division. The 11-member expedition was flagged off at Jalandhar Cantt by Lt Gen Kamal Davar, General Officer Commanding Vajra Corps. Speaking on the occasion, Maj Gen AJB Jaini, General Officer Commanding Pine Division, reaffirmed the commitment of his division towards greater thrust in adventure activities with a view to spread the message of peace, harmony, national integration, esprit de corps and spirit of adventure in the youth.
The 13th Battalion of the Dogra Regiment celebrated its 56th raising day at Lachung (North Sikkim) in April 2004. The battalion was raised at Jalandhar on April 6, 1948 by Lt Col Dilbag Singh. The battalion has distinguished itself in all the major wars fought by the Indian Army against its adversaries after Independence and also contributed immensely towards fighting insurgency in Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir. It created history in 1971 by capturing a battalion-defended area of enemy at Siramani. The battalion has to its credit 98 gallantry awards, one battle honour "Siramani" and one theatre honour of East Pakistan, 1971. In the field of sports and games, it produced six national-level players and twelve service-level players.
The day-long celebrations began with a mandir parade. The Quarter Guard was inspected by Col AK Narula, Commanding Officer. A special sainik sammelan for all ranks of the battalion was held where the Commanding Officer exhorted all to excel in all fields and live upto the expectations of the regiment and the Army. Troops in forward posts of high altitude area also participated in the celebrations. A special badakhana was organised for the troops and GREF workers at a height of 15,000 ft. A cricket match was also organised on the occasion.
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