25 Infantry Division / Ace of Spades Division
The Ace of Spades is the card of death. When the Apex or point of the Spade points up in the reading it means a conclusion, an ending. In Robert Louis Stevenson's story "The Suicide Club" (1878), the Ace of Spades is the "sign of death" in a secret society whose members submit to be killed if they draw the Ace of Spades from a pack of cards during a club meeting. The Ace of Spades has been employed on numerous occasions in the theatre of war. In the Second World War, the soldiers of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the American 101st Airborne Division were marked with the spades symbol painted on the sides of their helmets. In this capacity, it was used to represent good luck. The ace of spades was featured in many movies about the Vietnam War. The symbol is also depicted on various unit crests, special operations privately-made patches, collar insignia, and on flags and painted vignettes on military aircraft and gun trucks.
General Kulwant Singh, General Atma Singh, and Gen. Yadunath Singh were responsible for undertaking the operations in 1974, Poonch link-up and re-raising of 25 Infantry Division, respectively. Brave army-men of all ranks and civilians who have rendered valuable services and sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Rajouri and Poonch. Brave soldiers and civilians have proved their mettle in wars with Pakistan in the year 1947, 1965 and 1971. As many as 2 PVCs, 48 MVCs, 75 Vr Cs and 30 SMs have been awarded to the valiant heroes in this divisional sector of Rajouri and Poonch.
Defence Minister, Mr AK Antony during his early 2007 visit to J&K, visited the Poonch and Mendhar Sector situated in proximity to the Line of Control. He was accompanied by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister J&K, Gen JJ Singh, COAS, Lt Gen Deepak Kapoor, VCOAS, Lt Gen TK Sapru, GOC 16 Corps and Maj Gen R Roy, GOC, 25 Infantry Divison. During a visit to Key Defended Locality (KDL) 489, the dignitaries were shown arms and ammunition captured from the militants.
As a part of the ongoing military-civic actions program, in early 2007 the Bhimbar Gali Brigade of Ace of Spade Division organised an artificial limb fitment camp. The six-day camp benefited more than 300 disabled locals of Poonch, Thanamandi, Surankot, Krishna Ghati, Mendhar and Udhampur areas of the region. The camp was organised in coordination with Pritam Spiritual Trust, Poonch and an NGO from New Delhi. Maj Gen Rameshwar Roy, GOC 25 Infantry Division during his visit to the camp, said: "Over the past five decades people living near Line of Control have lost their limbs due to LC firing, mine accident and terrorist action. The camp provided artificial limbs, polio calipers and aluminium crutches to these under-privileged ones".
On 19 October 2007 Major General Vinod Bhatia took over the command of the prestigious 25 Infantry Division from Major General Rameshwar Roy. Major Gen Bhatia is an alumni of the National Defence College, New Delhi. The Ace of Spades Division under Maj Gen Roy, who was proceeding to New Delhi on appointment at the Army Headquarters, had achieved notable success in Counter Infiltration Operations. Maj Gen Roy was instrumental in facilitating and achieving synergy among all the components of military civil administration, police and the para-military forces in the Poonch, Rajouri, Naushera areas.
Army Major General Vinod Bhatias is not to be confused with IAF Air Marshal Vinod Bhatia, who was piloting an AN-32 transport aircraft that was hit by Pakistani fire after it accidentally crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. Bhatia's aircraft, on a flight from Delhi to the Kargil airstrip, made an emergency landing at Leh after it was hit by Pakistani fire on 19 February 2002.
In early 2008 the sixtieth anniversary of Naoshera Day was celebrated at Naoshera with grand fanfare by 80 Infantry Brigade. The chief guest for the celebrations was Brig Abhay Ranjan, officiating GOC 25 Infantry Brigade. The function commenced with wreath-laying by the chief guest and Commander 80 Infantry Brigade, Brig R R Nimbhorkar at the Yadunath Memorial to honour the memory of Naik Yadunath Singh, PVC (Posthumous) of 1 Rajput (now 4 Guards) who laid down his life while valiantly fighting and beating back ferocious attacks on his piquet on Naoshera, in 1948. A cultural program was also presented by the children of the schools of Naoshera Tehsil at Butalia Auditorium to commemorate the occasion. This was attended and appreciated by the residents of Naoshera and villages around. A painting and quiz competition was also held for the children of the local schools.
On 01 May 2008 Ace of Spades Division dedicated a School building, toilets and a computer training centre with five computers to Government Middle School, Tain located in remote border area which lies in the Mendhar tehsil. The project was inaugurated by Major General Vinod Bhatia, GOC Ace of Spades Division in the presence of Brigadier BN Singh, SM, Commander Krishna Ghati Brigade and a large gathering of civil dignitaries and government officials. After a gap of sixty years, the octogenarian J&K Governor SK Sinha, braved inclement weather and toured the border area of Rajouri, on 15 December 2007. He took stock of the LoC and army deployment to counter infiltration. At the forward post of Pir Badesar, covered by fresh snowfall, GOC 25 Inf Div, Maj General Vinod Bhatia gave him a briefing about the situation and army's deployment to the LoC. The Governor saw the fencing on the LoC and deployment to counter infiltration. He was happy with the high morale of the forward troops and told them that he was visiting Pir Badesar after a gap of sixty years.
The three-tier border fencing along the Line of Control in Poonch sector, which was damaged due to heavy snowfall, has been repaired by the army. "Now the border fencing is completely intact in every nook and corner. The repairs have been carried out at points damaged by heavy snowfall," General Officer Commanding, 25 infantry division, Maj Gen Vinod Bhatia told reporters during a visit to the forward areas. Gen Bhatia, who visited the remote LoC areas of Gagrian, Sawjiar and Gali Maidan, said troops were fully prepared to thwart any infiltration attempt by militants.
Under Op Sadbhavana the 'White Knight Corps' has organized several education and motivational tours for the children of far flung border areas affected by terrorism. In the Rajouri district a twin tour has been planned to the historical and famous places in the states of Mahrashtra, Goa and Rajasthan. These tours are being conducted by various units of Ace of Spade Division. The tour was flagged off by General Officer Commanding, Ace of Spade Division on 16 March 2009 at ALG, Rajouri. Prominent military and civilian dignitaries were present during the occasion. During interaction with the children, the guest of honour asked them to spread the message of peace at the places they visit and also witness the rapid development of these states in various fields.
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