THE SIKH LIGHT INFANTRY
Regimental Centre: Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh.
Regimental Insignia: A sharp-edged Quoit, or Chakra, used by the Sikhs in combat, mounted with a Kirpan, the
Motto: Deg Teh Fateh (Prosperity in Peace and Victory in War).
Battle Cry: Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (He who cries God is Truth, is ever Happy).
Regimental Battalions: 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 4th Battalion, 5th Battalion, 6th Battalion, 7th Battalion, 8th Battalion, 9th Battalion, 10th Battalion, 11th Battalion, 12th Battalion, 13th Battalion , 14th Battalion 15th Battalion, 16th Battalion, 17th Battalion, 18th Battalion
Battle Honours: OP Hill, Kalidhar, Fatehpur and Parbat Ali.
Honours & Awards: 1 Ashok Chakra, 5 Maha Vir Chakras, 6 Kirti Chakras, 23 Vir Chakras, 13 Shaurya Chakras, 82
Sena Medals, 4 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 8 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 3 Yudh Seva Medals, 17 Vishisht Seva Medals,
49 Mention-in-Despatches and 122 COAS’s Commendation Cards.
The Sikh Light Infantry finds its origins in the Sikh Pioneers raised in 1857. Sikh Pioneers were used in various military campaigns in India and abroad, and highly regarded for their determined resolve to complete the assigned tasks against all opposition. The Sikh Pioneers were later merged into the Sappers and Miners. World War II and its need for additional troops saw the rise of Mazhabi and Ramdasia Sikhs as a regiment in 1941. The designation was changed to the Sikh Light Infantry in 1944.
In view of its linkages with the Pioneers, the Sikh Light Infantry received its earlier seniority after the Sikh Regiment. The Sikh Light Infantry draws its man power from the Mazhabi and Ramdasia elements amongst the Sikhs. They had long formed part of the armies of the Sikhs’ Tenth Guru and in later Khalsa armies. The regiment has produced one Army Chief, General Ved Prakash Malik (10th Sikh LI).
Historical Regiment Battles
The 1 Sikh Light Infantry
Israeli attacks on the 1st Sikh Light Infantry, which was part of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war cost the battalion more casualties than it suffered in its bloodiest engagement in the 1965 Indian-Pakistan war, Indian officers have charged. A United Nations spokesman in New York said 14 Indians were killed and 16 were wounded. On the first day of the Israeli-Egyptian fighting, an Indian convoy was en route from Camp Rafah to Gaza flying the U.N. flag from each jeep and truck. The convoy met an Israeli tank column on the road.
On the September 28, 1965, 6 Sikh LI was ordered to take two important hill features as a preliminary to clearing a feature on Kalidhar in Jammu and Kashmir which Pakistani forces had, notwithstanding the cease-fire, encroached upon. With utter disregard for personal safety, the Battalion assaulted and captured both the preliminary objectives. The enemy brought down heavy artillery fire and counter-attacks three times. Two of the counter-attacks were beaten off with heavy casualties to the enemy. Due to heavy casualties and pressure of the enemy, our troops had to fall back from one of the two hill features. At this stage the Battalion halted the enemy’s advance and stabilized the situation.
The 5 Sikh Light Infantry
In 1965, 5 Sikh Light Infantry was holding picket in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani troops had occupied a complex of hills called “OP Hill” in Mendar Sector. The complex dominated Road Mender Balnoi, thus isolating one infantry battalion and its administrative base at Balnoi. Earlier attempts to dislodge the enemy having failed, 5 Sikh L.I. was selected and moved to Mendar Sector to take part in a bridge attack on OP Hill. The battalion was new and its officers were very young, only one company commander had more than three years’ service. The Commanding Officer decided to personally lead the assault. The approaches to the feature were heavily mined and, anticipating an attack, the enemy had ensured heavy concentration of artillery fire. The attack was launched before midnight on November 2, 1965. The morale of troops was very high and the Battalion captured its objective in a lightning move from a totally unexpected direction. Having surprised the enemy, the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Sant Singh (now Brig. Sant Singh, MVC, (Bar) (Retd.)) decided to exploit the advantage and ordered the capture of three more objectives which were assigned to another Battalion. The highest feature and the ground of tactical importance for the enemy was captured by midnight. The hills reverberated with the sound of the success signal- “Reveille on the bugle”. Subsequently, two more objectives were captured, thus completing four attacks in one night. The highlights of the attacks were the enthusiasm displayed by men and launching of additional attacks without waiting for orders from the Brigade Commander. Throughout, the enemy put up a very tough fight and each bunker had to be cleared after hand-to-hand fighting. For taking most spectacular initiative in launching three additional attacks and for displaying conspicuous gallantry and inspiring leadership, the Commanding Officer (Lt Col. Sant Singh) was awarded Maha Vir Chakra. One more Maha Vir Chakra was awarded to Naik Darshan Singh (Posthumous). Besides these; one Vir Chakra (Posthumous), four Sena Medals (2 Posthumous) and five Commendation Cards were awarded. The Regiment was bestowed Battle Honour “Chuh-i-Nar 1965”. In North East sector 5 Sikh L.I. was given a task of making new posts following Sino-India pact in 90s. Showing the valour, courage and great enthusiasm task was completed in most difficult terrain without the help of any engineering regiments. Four Commendation Cards were awarded and front post was named after Sohan Singh (Hony. Capt. Sohan Singh retd.)
The 6 Sikh Light Infantry
6 Sikh L.I. operated in Chamb Sector against Pakistani infiltrators and regular forces. The Battalion resisted every attempt by the enemy to infiltrate/raid/lay ambushes in the Battalion Sector. The Battalion withstood worst ever shelling the 15 August 1965 and stood out valiantly in their posts on the cease-fire line to the admiration of all troops despite intensive enemy shelling, disruption of communications and increased casualties. The stand of the battalion enabled 191 Brigade Group to reorganize, regroup and take offensive action to reoccupy posts vacated on 15-17 August 1965. 6 Sikh L.I. were ordered to retake lost posts of Maira and Nathan, with one company 3 Mahar and one troop ‘C’ squadron 20 Lancers under command, reoccupied both posts on August 17, 1965. Vigorious offensive action by all ranks kept the enemy at bay and delayed his offensive till 1 September 1965, by the time he was able to concentrate his armour, infantry, artillery, RCL, and MMG mounted on jeeps and infantry in greater strength to pierce through wide gaps between posts, outnumbered, outshelled, outgunned and threatened own posts on cease-fire line with encirclement and annihilation in details.
On September 1, 1965, the battalions artillery and air support failed, any communication or reinforcement ultimately disintegrated and it was no longer possible to hold out. Devastated but undeterred by Pakistan airforce and artillery, Battalion Headquarters with remnants of one company and ‘C’ squadron 20 Lancers underwent continuous shelling, withdrew before midnight on September 1, 1965 on orders from Headquarters 191 Infantry Brigade Group. The battalion fought with its back against the wall against innumerable odds and stood up well. It was indeed a great satisfaction that the battalion carried out the duty to its best ability. It was this feeling in fact that made the Battalion to quickly absorb reinforcement, re-equip and be operational to take on any task assigned to it culminating in the capture of Trig point 3776 (Kalidhar) on 4 October 1965. In this battle all ranks showed tenacity of purpose, determination, courage, devotion to duty and a spirit of self-sacrifice.
On the night of October 3, 1965 the Battalion was given the task of clearing the same objective with the help of a Mahar battalion. In the morning on October 4, 1965, 6 Sikh L.I. secured it objectives in spite of treacherous cliffish terrain, heavy enemy opposition and shelling, the battalion continued to advance up a very steep slope in the face of intensive enemy artillery fire and opposition by Infantry. Despite casualties and strong opposition, our troops continued to press forward and successfully secured three other important features by evening of the same day. The enemy staged three counter-attacks in heavy strength supported by artillery fire but they were all repulsed with heavy casualties.
The Battalion re-organized itself for the next assault on Kalidhar Trig Point 3776 despite heavy casualties and fatigue. The feature was finally cleared of the Pakistani intruders by mid-day on October 5, 1965. In this action the Battalion displayed remarkable courage, determination and self sacrifice for which one Maha Vir Chakra (Lt Col. PK Nandagopal), two Vir Chakras, four Sena Medals (two Post-humous); five Mention in Despatches (three Posthumous) and one COAS’s Commendation Card were awarded. The Regiment was also awarded the Battle Honour “Kalidhar 1965”
The 8 Sikh Light Infantry
December 11, 1971 is a red letter day in the history of 8 Sikh L.I. Pak Fatehpur post, fortified on all four sides with high bunds, was a virtual fortress with innumerable automatic and anti-tank weapons deployed for its defence. Its diamond-like shape made it equally difficult to tackle from all side, on the night of December 11th the brave men of 8 Sikh Light Infantry discounted all difficulties and rushed forward on to this coveted objective, in the face of deadly small arms fire and devastating artillery shelling. Many a gallant soldier fell but others moved on undaunted. Not before long the enemy was either destroyed or in desperate flight, leaving behind large quantity of arms and ammunition. Apparently, the enemy had not accepted final defeat yet, he continued to plaster this position with accurate artillery and mortar fire from several directions. Two counter attacks attempted by the previously fleeing soldiers were disorganized and defeated by the 8 Sikh L.I.
In this battle, three officers, one JCO and 32 Ors sacrificed their life and approximately 100 others were wounded. A young battalion, within five years of its raising, had fought its maiden battle in masterly style and had come of age. The number of officers killed, wounded is tribute to the quality of glowing leadership provided by them.
8 Sikh L.I was awarded the Battle Honour “Fathepur” for this heroic action. Medals awarded for the battle include, one Mahavir Chakra, five Vir Chakras (2 posthumous), four Sena Medals (2 posthumous) and two Mention-in Despatches (Posthumous).
The 10 Sikh Light Infantry
10 Sikh L.I. spearheaded the advance of 85 Infantry Brigade Northward through the Sind Desert along the railway line Munabao-Naya Chor completing all the operational tasks given to it with distinction, right up to the day of cease fire, during the Indo-Pak operations in 1971. Kajlor the first objective, was overrun on December 4, 1971 and the second phase of the attack became redundant as the enemy flew helter-skelter without any loss to our troops. Next day advance was resumed and Khokh-Ropar Railway station saw the enemies blood turn to water with the battle cry of ‘Bole so Nihal’ the advance coming to a temporary halt at Bhitala as the administrative echelons had failed to negotiate the treacherous sand of the Sind desert.
The advance was maintained along Vasarbha railway station through December 5-7, 1971. By 1700 hrs on December 7, 10 Sikh L.I. reached Parche Jiveri station (now called Bahadur Nagar). The enemy strafed the battalion, wherein Sep. Kulwant Singh was killed while bringing down an enemy Sabre by his LMG fire and was awarded the Sena Medal for this brave deed. The Battalion firmed in on December 8 on approaching Naya Chor enemy defence. The key to the enemy defences was a dominating feature, Parbat Ali. The enemy brought down heavy artillery fire and country attacked twice but were beaten back and decided wisely to withdraw. The battalion firmed in and remained there till last light on 12 December.
10 Sikh L.I. was ordered to capture Village Parche Jiveri (Bahadur Nagar) and on the night of December 14th the battalion launched its attack. The assaulting companies ran into a mine-field and Maj Arora was severally wounded. Seeing the situation Commanding Officer Lt Col. Basant Singh left his post and himself moved up along with his Intelligence Officer, late Capt Bahadur Singh, Vir Chakra. While the Commanding Officer, was inspiring his troops, Capt Bahadur Singh, went up to the Artillery officer’s post and continued to direct artillery fire until hit by an enemy bullet in the head, and died on the spot. The attack went in through the minefields and heavy enemy fire. The enemy fled leaving behind 20 dead, two recoilless guns and a Jeep, besides vast quantities of ammunition. The battalion acquitted itself in an exemplary manner throughout this brief war and was awarded Battle Honour “Parbat Ali” and theater honour “Sind 1971”. Besides gallantry awards; five Vir Chakra, seven Sena Medals and three Mention-in-Despatches were awarded.
The 13 Sikh Light Infantry
13 Sikh Light Infantry battle at Kokkuvil, Sri Lanka, and the saga of the heroic fight put in by twenty-nine men have embedded themselves into the realms of history without an iota of doubt. The Battalion (less two companies) at Palali air fields in Sri Lanka, was tasked to capture Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) military headquarters at Jaffna University. At midnight the first Mi-8 helicopter of the 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment, Delta Company, took off for the landing zone, soon followed by the second Mi-8 helicopter. The platoon for Delta company led by late Maj. Birendra Singh, had to face tough resistance landing amidst heavy and accurate enemy machine gun fire. The LTTE had intercepted radio communications allowing them advanced knowledge of the planned raid. The follow-up helicopters which were airborne were ordered to return to Palali, as three of the five helicopters having been hit resulted in no further landing behind the enemy lines in the LTTE strongest foothold. Amidst the confusing situation the remaining members of the Battalion was ordered to advance on vehicles to establish link with the beleaguered platoon of Delta Company. All communication had snapped, the last transmission from late Maj Birendra Singh of 13th Battalion, The Sikh Light Infantry Regiment, stating; “Not to worry, We’ll hold on…”
Courtesy: Bharat Rakshak.com