The oldest regiment in the Indian Army is the Madras Regiment. Madras Regiment was set up in the former Madras Province. The British were ably assisted by this Regiment and they were able to capture Burma and the then Ceylon. The Madras Regiment carved a name for itself in the history of India. The Madras regiment's elephant-crest was won after the Madras army's daring action under Wellesley against the Peshwa's army at Assaye, a battle he once described as tougher than Waterloo. Its regimental headquarters is in Wellington, near Ooty (Udhaga-mandalam).
Situated on the south eastern side of the India peninsula, Tamil Nadu has an area of over 130,000sq.kms. and a population of over 48 million. The Tamil language is one of the oldest classical languages of the sub-continent. Most of the army's Madras Regiment personnel know the Tamil language. In the Indian Army, except for the Madras Regiment, no other regiment speaks Tamil. Chennai (formerly known as Madras), is the capital of Tamil Nadu and one of the four main cities of India. Coonoor is surrounded on all sides by hills and slopes of tea, with old colonial houses. It also has a lake, waterfalls, picnic spots, mountain trails and clubs. Its cantonment town of Wellington, named after the hero of Waterloo, is the home base of the Madras Regiment, the oldest unit int he Indian army.
In 1748 Major Stringer Lawrence, a veteran of action in Spain, Flanders and the Highlands, was hired by the East India Comp-any to take charge of the defence of Cuddalore. He laid the foundations of what was to become the Indian Army. Training the levies to become a militia, the Madras Levies were formed into "companies" and trained to become a disciplined and fine fighting force. In 1758 Lawrence raised the Madras Regiment, forming the several Companies of Madras Levies into two battalions. 2 Madras was raised in 1776 as 15 Carnatic Infantry at Thanjavur [and underwent many nomenclature changes thereafter]. The Madras Regiment, grown to 52 battalions by 1826, has a glorious record, interrupted between 1928 and 1941 when it was disbanded by local officials who favoured the Punjabi, Dogra and Gurkha troops of the northwest Raj. The needs of World War II caused the resurrection of the Regiment.
It was the courageous deeds of soldiers from the Jat Regiment, Rajputana Rifles, the Grenadiers, Madras Regiment, Sikh Regiment and Mahar Regiment at the icy heights of Kargil mountains that overwhelmed the enemy in 1999.
In November 1999 the second battalion of the Madras Regiment joined the five thousand strong UN Peace Keeping Force in Lebanon, comprising contingents from six nations. The battalion was been sent on a year-long deputation to Lebanon. 2 Madras is a cohesive peace-keeping unit comprising personnel from the infantry, engineers, signals, mechanised infantry, medical corps, remount and veterinary corps and provost unit. Goondas, as the battalion is known, has distinguished itself in operations like Pawan in Sri Lanka, Meghdoot in Siachen and Rhino in Assam, their last posting before they were chosen for the international assignment.
The Territorial Army is a citizen's army which comprises of civilians who are eager to contribute their might to the defence of the country, while pursuing their own vocation. Although it does not offer a regular career it provides an ideal opportunity to the youth of the country to receive military training in their spare time. The Territorial Army inherits all the magnificent traditions of the services.
The Territorial Army's 122 Infantry Battalion was initially raised as the 51 Light Armored Regiment at Ambala in 1949. In 1956 the Battalion was redesignated and initially affiliated to the Punjab Regiment. Consequent to its move to Malappuram in 1966, it was reaffiliated to the Madras Regiment. The unit saw active service during the Chinese aggression of 1962 and both the Indo-Pak Wars of '65 and '71. The Battalion was embodied for services from 10 September '89 to 25 February '90 in Sri Lanka as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. It was a successful shoulder-to-shoulder operation with the regular army at Kankesathurai, palai and Trincomalee. The contingent returned without suffering any casualties. This force was also drafted for Operation Rakshak during 1991-92 and it moved to Kashmir valley. The Battalion was adjudged both as the Best Infantry Battalion (T.A) in the country and has won the Chief of Army Staff Silver Trophy., consecutively thrice during 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1988-89.
In June 1996 the Coimbatore-based 110 Infantry Battalion of the Territorial Army, Madras Regiment, has been awarded the Southern Command Territorial Army banner for the best unit. Known as `Kovai Terriers', this is the tenth time the unit is bagging the honour.
In October 2000, one of the most decorated battalion of the Indian Army celebrated its silver jubilee today somewhere in the western sector. A large number of retired and serving officers, Jcos and Jawans of the battalion participated. The battalion honored war widows and next of kin of martyrs and held a memorial parade to honour martyrs. The battalion has had a checkered history having seen service overseas during pre-Independence and has distinguished itself in terrorist infested areas of the North East as well as Jammu and Kashmir. The 28 Battalion of the Madras Regiment was raised in 1942 by Lieutenant Colonel NC Jackson of the 3/15 Punjab Regiment (now in Pakistan) as the 3rd Coastal Defence Battalion at Yeravada in Pune and saw overseas service at Bahrain and Kuramshahr before disbandment in 1946 during the general demobilisation of the Royal Indian Army. The battalion was raised again on July 1, 1976 at Guava Hills, Wellington under the command of Lieutenent Colonel (now colonel retired) Shanti Swaroop. During its tenure in Nagaland the battalion was honoured by the visit of the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi.
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.
In January 2002 the 8th battalion of the Madras Regiment known as ''Gallant Guerrillas'', now based in Chennai, celebrated its victory in the battle of Ramnagar during 1971 Indo-Pak war at the Pallavaram Army Camp. Col Krishan Kumar, Commanding Officer of the battalion and his officers and men laid wreaths at the unit's war memorial as a mark of respect to the war heroes of the battalion. Prayers were offered at the Sarv-dharmsthal, by the soldiers of the unit who belong to southern states and various religions. The 8th Madras was raised on August 20, 1948 and since then it had participated in various operations. It was awarded 'Theatre Honour East Pakistan - 1971' and 'Unit Appreciation - 1997-99' for its professional excellence.
In February 2002, at a solemn but impressive ceremony, a battalion of the Madras Regiment observed Remembrance Day at Golconda, Hyderabad in memory of martyrs. The occasion saw a large number of retired and serving personnel paying their respects to the martyrs. The function began with the laying of wreaths at the war memorial by Brig G.M. Nair and other senior officers. This was followed by distribution of gifts and monetary assistance to war widows by Brig R. Rangarajan(Retd), an ex-Commanding Officer of the unit.
9th Battalion, Madras Regiment (Travancore)
The 9th battalion of the Madras Regiment (Travancore) has completed 300 years in the service of the motherland. The battalion was raised in 1704 at Padmanabhapuram in Kalkulam taluk of Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu. Padmanabhapuram was the erstwhile capital of Travancore State. Raised as personal bodyguards to the Maharaja of Travancore, the unit, though redesigned through the ages, continues to retain its individual identity with no history of disbandment or reraising.
The Travancore Army completely exterminated the superior and better equipped Dutch Forces which landed at Colachal in July 1741 during the reign of Anizham Thirunal Veer Bala Marthand Varma. In the battle of Colachal, Capt Eustace De Lanoy, the Dutch Naval Forces Commander, was captured who was asked later to train the Travancore Army. From 1741 to 1758, Capt De Lanoy remained in command of the Travancore Forces and was involved in annexation of small principalities.
In 1935, the Travancore State joined the Indian State Forces Scheme and the battalion was named 1st Travancore Nayar Infantry, Travancore State Forces. The unit was reorganised as an Indian State Infantry Battalion by Lt Col HS Steward who was appointed Commandant of the Travancore State Forces. In 1940, the battalion left for Padmanabhapuram and arrived at Military Station, Cannanore.
The battalion served overseas in 1940s. In 1945, Maj Gen Parameshwaran Pillai was appointed GOC, Travancore State Forces. In the same year, the unit was asked to move to South East Asian Command. Embarked on At Taima, the unit sailed to Hong Kong. Disembarked at Kowloon Harbour, it was placed under the command of 150 Independent Infantry Brigade. While at Kowloon, the unit was assigned the task of guarding Japanese prisoners of war, airfields and docks. It also looked after the repatriation of PoWs to Japan. The unit left Hong Kong, disembarked at Madras and arrived at Trivandrum on January 31, 1947.
In April, 1951 the battalion was integrated with Indian Army and on May 1, 1954, it was merged with the Madras Regiment and was redesignated 9th Battalion of the Madras Regiment (Travancore). After the integration of Travancore State Force with the Indian Army, the State Forces Colours were ceremonially laid up at Chetwode Hall, Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun in 1956.
The then President, Mr VV Giri, presented new Colours to the battalion on May 23, 1970 at Barrack square, Wellington at a solemn ceremony. Over the years, everybody was impressed with the valiant deeds of the battalion. In fond recognition of their bravery, people started calling them terrors.
Post Independence, the battalion served from Siachen to Andaman and Nicobar Islands and from Nagaland to Rajasthan. The battalion actively participated in the Hyderabad Police Action during 1948 and was instrumental in restoring peace and tranquility in the riot-torn region. For the first time, the unit was deployed in high altitude area in Sugar Sector in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and occupied forward posts in inhospitable terrain during 1962 war.
During Indo-Pak war in 1965, the battalion located at Ferozpur under 65 Infantry Brigade fought the famous Battle of Barki and played a leading role in the capture of Barka-Kalan and Ichogil Bund. In this heroic action, twentyseven personnel made supreme sacrifice. The battalion was honoured with one Vir Chakra, two Sena Medals, twelve mention-in-despatches and the theatre honour Punjab. In Nagaland, the battalion conducted operations against Naga hostiles. The unit performed extremely well and was awarded one Sena Medal and two COAS commendation cards.
The 9th battalion took part in operation Cactus Lily during 1971 war. The battalion, deployed under 330 Infantry Brigade at Barmer, captured Mahendro Ro Par and Fateh Ro Par on Gadra City-Umraokot axis. It remained deployed at Naya Chor till the announcement of ceasefire on December 17, 1971. During this operation, it suffered ten casualties. In another operation, during 1971 war, Capt Gopa Kumar Raman Pillai was awarded Vir Chakra.
The battalion served in Andaman and Nicobar Islands from 1990 to 1994 where it had the opportunity to undertake anti-poaching operations in conjunction with Navy and the Air Force. The unit was awarded one Vishisht Seva Medal and four GOC-in-C Southern Command commendation cards during these operations. The battalion served in Andaman and Nicobar Islands from 1990 to 1994 where it had the opportunity to undertake anti-poaching operations in conjunction with Navy and the Air Force. The unit was awarded one Vishisht Seva Medal and four GOC-in-C Southern Command commendation cards during these operations.
During operation Rakshak, the battalion conducted counter-insurgency operations in Bhadarwah and Rajouri Sectors. It neutralised more than 35 militants and captured a large quantity of weapons, ammunition and explosives including SAM missiles, UMGs and a sniper rifle. Maj Sajjan Singh Gahalawat and three ORs made supreme sacrifice during these operations. The unit was awarded two Shaurya Chakra, three Sena Medals, two COAS commendation cards and two GOC-in-C commendation cards.
While participating in operation Meghdoot, the unit served at the world's highest battlefield from 2000 to 2002. It occupied Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in Siachen. During this operation, the battalion suffered two casualties due to adverse weather conditions. During operation Parakram, the unit was operationally deployed at Turtuk, Baramulla, Handanbrog, Dras and Kargil.
Widely known as the Terrors in the regiment, 9 Madras (Travancore) concluded their tercentenary celebrations "somewhere in the Western Sector" in June 2004. With 300 glorious years of service to the nation, the regiment has travelled a long way from being the Personal Bodyguards of the Maharaja of Travancore to one of the finest units of Indian Army. They have the rare distinction of retaining their identity throughout as they have never been disbanded.
The martyrs of the paltan were paid homage during the solemn ceremonial parade led by Maj Gen VDI Devavaram, Colonel of the Madras Regiment. The wreath laying was followed by a special sainik sammelan where all ranks were addressed by the Colonel of the Regiment, previous Commanding Officers and the present Commanding Officer. The Colonel of the Regiment emphasised that the troops have to work two hundred per cent more than other units to maintain the present standards. He presented to the unit a silver replica of the war memorial at Colachal. The unit had defeated Dutch in 1741 at the famous Battle of Colachal. A personal representative of the Maharaja of Travancore also presented the unit with mementos from the Maharaja.
The Department of Posts and Telegraph released a commemorative stamp and a First Day cover on the occasion. Eklingarh Cantonment wore a festive look throughout the three-day celebrations which included variety entertainment programmes and exhibition of various art forms of South India.
The 27th battalion of the Madras Regiment celebrated its 33rd raising day in 2003 with enthusiasm somewhere in the south-western sector. The celebrations began with a solemn memorial service at the War Memorial for the brave soldiers of the paltan who laid down their lives to keep the regimental flag flying high. The wreath-laying ceremony was led by Brig Kharbanda, Parbat Ali Brigade Commander. A special sainik sammelan was also organised wherein all ranks took pledge to follow the footsteps of the valiant thambis in the true traditions of the regiment. The highlights of the celebrations included felicitation of war widows, a special cultural show by the troops depicting the south Indian culture and a badakhana which was attended by retired and serving regimental officers, senior Army commanders and civil dignitaries.
The battalion was first raised in 1798 as the first extra battalion of Madras Native Infantry at Trichirapally and participated in operations earning battle honours in Maheidpur and Lucknow in 1857. It was reconstituted as 27th Madras Infantry in 1885, 5/2 Punjab in 1922 and was demobilised in 1946.
The battalion was re-raised on June 1, 1971 by late Lt Col AO Alexander and comprised South Indian soldiers. It has served at various field and peace stations. The battalion actively took part in 1971 War and its first Commanding Officer, Col AO Alexander, laid down his life in the war. The battalion, while deployed in Kashmir Valley, displayed indomitable courage earning two Sena Medals, four Mention-in-Despatches, four Chief of Army Staff Commendation Cards and ten GOC-in-C Commendation Cards. It also rendered invaluable service during earthquake in Gujarat in 2001.
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