Sikh Light Infantry

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Sikh Light Infantry
Sikh Light Infantry Insignia.gif
Sikh Light Infantry Regimental Insignia
Active

23 June 1944-Present

(Sikh Light Infantry)
Country

British India Indian Empire 1944-1947

India India 1947-Present
Branch Army
Type Light Infantry
Role

Primary

Additional roles

  • Direct Action
  • Amphibious warfare
  • Mountain warfare
  • Counter Terrorism
  • Internal Security

Regular Army
1st Battalion - Infantry
2nd Battalion - Infantry
3rd Battalion - Infantry
4th Battalion - Infantry
5th Battalion - Infantry
6th Battalion - Infantry
7th Battalion - Infantry
8th Battalion - Infantry
10th Battalion - Infantry
11th Battalion - Infantry
12th Battalion - Infantry\
13th Battalion - Infantry
14th Battalion - Infantry
15th Battalion - Infantry
16th Battalion - Infantry

Amphibious
9th Battalion - Infantry

Territorials
103rd Inf Bn - Territorial Army
158th Inf Bn - Territorial Army


163rd Inf Bn - Territorial Army
Size 19 battalions
Nickname Sikh LI
Motto

Deg Teg Fateh

(Prosperity in Peace and Victory in War).
Decorations

Post Independence 1947

1 Ashok Chakra, 5 Maha Vir Chakra, 6 Kirti Chakra, 23 Vir Chakra, 13 Shaurya Chakra, 82 Sena Medal, 4 Param Vishisht Seva Medal, 8 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, 3 Yudh Seva Medal, 17 Vishisht Seva Medal,49 Mention in Despatches and 122 COAS's Commendation Cards.
Battle honours

Post Independence 1947

OP Hill, Kalidhar, Fatehpur and Parbat Ali.
Commanders
Current
commander
General Bikram SinghUS-O10 insignia.svg
Insignia
War Cry Regimental song Gagan damama bajiyo paryo nishane ghao khet jo mandyo surma ab jujhan ko dhao,sura so pehchainye jo lare din ke het purja purja kat mare kabhun na chadde khet. Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (Blessed is the one who proclaims the Truth of God)

The Sikh Light Infantry previously known as The Mazabhi and Ramdasia Sikh Regiment is an elite[1] Regiment of the Indian Army. Its name was changed to the Sikh Light Infantry in 1944. The Sikh Light Infantry is the successor unit to the Mazhabi Sikh Pioneers 23rd, 32nd and 34th Sikh Pioneers. The Sikh Light Infantry inherited the battle honours, colours and traditions of the Mazhabi Sikh Pioneers on its merging with a few Ramdasia companies in 1941.[2]

The Sikh Light Infantry is famous for recruiting Mazhabi Sikh Soldiers; who are famous for their extraordinary courage and tenacity on the battlefield. In its life of nearly one century under the British Raj, the Sikh Light infantry and its predecessors the 23rd, 32nd and 34th Royal Sikh Pioneers distinguished themselves with loyalty to the British Crown and her Empire in numerous conflicts in and around the Indian Subcontinent including both the First World War and the Second World War. Since India's Independence from Britain in 1947, the regiment has gone from strength to strength and has continued to set exceptional standards. Today, the Sikh Light Infantry has expanded beyond its primary Infantry role and holds an elite regimental status.[1] Since Independence the Sikh Light Infantry has also established a very versatile reputation, with its soldiers expanding into Airborne, Marine commando Forces and Special Forces roles respectively. The 9th battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry conducts special Amphibious assaults similar in nature to the Royal Marines of the United Kingdom. The 11th battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry has earned the nickname "Steel Fist".[1] The exploits of the regiment know no bounds and its soldiers are able to engage all varieties of enemy combatants in virtually all environments. The versatility of the Sikh Light Infantry has seen the regiment conduct operations from the Siachen Glacier,[1] the highest battlefield in the world, to Counter-terrorism. The Sikh Light infantry conducts operations as part of the United Nations Emergency Force. The Regimental motto is Deg Tegh Fateh, meaning prosperity in peace and victory in war. The motto has great significance with the tenth and most martial Sikh guru; Guru Gobind Singh as the Mazhabis are very closely associated with him. The Sikh Light Infantry insignia is a Chakram or Quoit, with a mounted Kirpan. The insignia was designed to honour the Mazhabi Sikh community's Akali Nihang ancestry. The present Chief Of Army Staff General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC belongs to the Regiment. He is also the Colonel Of The Regiment The Sikh Light Infantry.

Formation & Organisation[edit]

Impressed by the toughness, tenacity and bravery of Mazhabi Sikh soldiers during both the first and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars;[3] the British had come to notice this particular caste and openly recognized the great fighting qualities and prowess of these men-at-arms.[3] Consequently the recruitment of the Mazhabi Sikh caste into its own armed forces was proposed. Thus after the final defeat of the Sikh Army in 1849, Mazhabi Sikhs were recruited into its first corps in 1850.[3] Recruits were taken largely from soldiers who had served under the old Sikh army or Ranjit Singh.[3] In the year 1857, the decision was made to turn the first Mazhabi Sikh corps into a full regiment.

The first regular Regiment originally known as the 15th (Pioneer) Regiment of Punjab Infantry was raised at Lahore on 15 September 1857 by Lt R H Shebbeare, VC.[3] This was followed by the 32nd Sikh Pioneers in June 1857. The 23rd and the 32nd Regiments gave such an excellent account of themselves, establishing outstanding standards,[3] that it was decided to raise another Regiment of Sikh Pioneers. The 34th Fatehgarh Levy which had been disbanded, was reconstituted as the 34th Sikh Pioneers on 28 March 1887.[3]

By the First World War, the 23rd, 32nd and 34th Sikh Pioneer regiments were all developed into three battalions each, with an extra training battalion raised. By the end of the war no less than ten Mazhabi Sikh battalions were serving in the conflict. By 1933 the Mazhabi Sikh regiments were briefly disbanded for economical reasons, and Mazhabi Sikh personnel were transferred to other regiments in the army.[3] However with the Second World War, the Mazhabi Sikhs were brought back again as exclusive regiment, to meet the urgent and mounting demands of World War II. The Ist Battalion was raised at Jullundur on 1 October 1941. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were raised at Peshawar and Sialkot on 1 July 1942 and 15 August 1942 respectively.[3]

Post War formations[edit]

The Sikh light infantry is now a 19 Battalion strong elite force that is capable of rapid deployment in defense or attack. A further 16 Battalions have been raised since India's independence. When the Regiment was raised it had no training battalion of its own. The Training Battalion of the Regiment was finally raised at the Jat Regimental Centre, on 31 March 1944. This moved to Lahore on 15 October 1945 and then to Ferozepur in September 1947. From Ferozepur the Regimental Centre came to Meerut where it was amalgamated with the Punjab Regimental Centre in September 1951. Finally, after 11 years of this union the Sikh Light Infantry Regimental Centre was separated and came into its own as an independent centre in April 1963. In May 1976 the Regimental Centre moved to Fatehgarh (U.P.), the historic fort city.

Special forces support[edit]

As an elite and highly trained regiment, it has been called on in numerous occasions to provide support for India's Special forces. The Sikh light infantry has provided support for Parachute Regiment (India) with its 2nd Battalion as part of the 50th Parachute Brigade (India) in the 1961 Goa campaign. Here they formed the main thrust of the attack as part of its western column They moved rapidly across minefields, roadblocks and four riverine obstacles to be the first to reach Panjim.[4]

In 1987 The 13th Battalion Sikh Light Infantry was formed into Delta Company, to provide direct support for the special forces Para Commandos (India) in a daring helicopter raid on an enemy command centre. However due to poor planning and intelligence failures in high command the Jaffna University Helidrop resulted in tragedy. The helidropped force suffered significant casualties, with nearly the entire Sikh LI detachment of twenty-nine troops, along with six paracommandos, falling in battle. Despite this, the toughness and tenacity of the Sikh Light Infantry was on display. They landed at midnight and despite being out gunned and out manned taking fire from all sides on open ground, 29 men of 13th Sikh Light Infantry held out and fought throughout the night for eleven and a half hours, sniper fire had picked off the Sikh LI radio man and all communication with the 29 men had been lost. By 11:30 the next morning only three Sikh light infantry men were left alive and still continued fighting. When they ran out of ammunition, the last three men bayonet charged the enemy command center. Two were killed and one taken prisoner. 29 Sikh Light Infantry men put up a fight on open ground for eleven and a half hours until they ran out of ammunition.

History[edit]

The Sikh Light Infantry comprises the Mazhabi and Ramdasia Sikh soldiers; well known for their dauntless daring, courage, loyalty and tenacity,[5] is one of the oldest Regiments of the Army. It traces its origin to the middle of the 19th century when the first Mazhabi soldiers were recruited into the British Indian Army. The first Corps of Mazhabi Sikh Pioneers, the fore bearer of the Sikh Light Infantry, was formed in 1850. The British had recognised the great fighting qualities and prowess of these soldiers in the Anglo-Sikh Wars.[5] The stubborn and sustained resistance offered by them and their ability to maintain themselves frugally amazed them. The British had admiration for the Mazhabi as they made capital soldiers.[6][7] Maharaja Ranjit Singh also had a great admiration for their bravery and enlisted the Mazhabis freely into the khalsa army; Which he nurtured into an excellent instrument of war.[8] Being afraid, however, to form the Mazhabis into a separate corps, he attached a Mazhabi company to existing battalions.

Soldiering has been a way of life for the Sikhs of Punjab for centuries. After the Indian rebellion of 1857 the Bengal army regiments were replaced by the Punjabis as the major source of manpower for the British Army in India, but their loyalty had to be carefully nurtured. The British made many mistakes, at first failing even to recognize the religious significance of the Sikhs' beards and long hair.[9] Performing well in World War I, the 23rd Sikh Pioneers, 32nd Sikh Pioneers and 34th Sikh Pioneers were then disbanded in 1933, a traumatic experience for the community.[9] However, the Sikh Pioneers were re-raised for the Second World War, becoming the Mazhabi and Ramdasia Sikh Regiment before being renamed the Sikh Light Infantry in 1944. The reconquest of Burma was essentially an Indian Army campaign. It was here that the Sikh Light Infantry was deployed. The fledgling regiment tasted blood and earned its first battle honours.[9] Most of the Sikhs in the Light Infantry consist of Mazhabi, and some Ramdasia Sikhs.

The two homogeneous Sikh regiments are the Sikh Light Infantry and the Sikh Regiment, the former with 18 regular battalions and together totalling 36 battalions that account for a significant proportion of Indian Army's infantry.[9]

Sikh Light Infantry personnel march past during the Republic day parade in New Delhi, India

The raising[edit]

Indian soldier

In June 1857 a Regiment of Sikh Pioneers from the Mazhabi Sikh soldiers drawn mainly from the Punjab and the adjacent areas was raised by Lt DC Home, VC. The regular Regiment 15th (Pioneer), was raised at Lahore on September 15, 1857 by Lt RH Shebbeare, VC. After a number of changes this 15th (Pioneer) Regiment came to be known as the 23rd Sikh Pioneers in 1908. (The 32nd Sikh Pioneers followed this). The 23rd and 32nd Regiments gave such an excellent account of themselves, establishing outstanding standards, that it was decided to raise another Regiment of Sikh Pioneers from the 34th Fatehgarh Levy, which had been raised from Mazbhi Sikh Pioneers on March 28, 1887. Thus, the well-known trio of Sikh Pioneers that won fame through their deeds of glory was complete. Lt Gen Sir George Mac Munn, Commended the Regt for their memorable service, he wrote "The sikh Pioneers were, for three quarters of a century, in the forefront of almost every campaign from the China Wall to the Flanders Rats."[10]

World War I[edit]

During the First World War, the 23rd, 32nd and 34th Sikh Pioneers, which were originally one battalion regiments were developed into three battalions each. Soon these battalions were tramping over the battlefields of Egypt, Europe, Palestine and Mesopotamia leaving indelible imprints wherever they went. Once again a number of Battle Honours -"Egypt 1916-17"; "Gaza"; "Megiddo"; "Sharon"; "Nablus"; "Palestine 1917-18"; and "Aden" emblazoned the glorious record[5] of the Sikh Pioneers. There were ten battalions of Sikh Pioneers (including the Training Battalion) when the armistice was declared in 1919.

The 1/34th Sikh Pioneers won the title of "Royal" during the Great War. They made a bronze screen from the driving bands of enemy shells. The unit armourer and blacksmith made this highly burnished screen, proudly displaying the magnificent achievements of the Sikh Pioneers as epitomized in their Battle Honors. The 34th Royal Sikh Pioneers presented this screen to King George V in 1933. It was through the personal intervention of Brig. F.R.L. Goadby (32nd Sikh Pioneers) and Lt Gen. Sir RA Savory, the first Colonel of the Regiment, that Queen Elizabeth II presented the historic screen back to the Regiment on October 4, 1975. The screen was unveiled by Brig AK Chatterjee, VSM, Colonel of the Regiment, at a special Durbar on April 9, 1977.

Another remarkable victory was registered on December 21, 1919, when two companies of the 3/34th Sikh Pioneers, alone on a hill top (Black Hill) with no more than a knee-high wall and a few strands of barbed wire in front, gallantly faced and repelled waves of attacks on them by hordes of Mahsuds.[5] There was grim hand-to-hand fighting with Capt. B. L. Gupta (he was awarded the Military Cross), the Indian Medical Officer with the Battalion, tending the wounded under constant enemy fire. The Battalion was awarded one DSO, two Military Crosses and a Bar to Military Cross. Twelve Indian Viceroy's Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks received well-merited decorations.

That night General Skeen published a complimentary Column Order announcing that in honor of the gallant action of the 3/34th Sikh Pioneers, a stone from the unfinished Black Hill Picquet be brought to the camp and formed as the base for the pioneer picuet memorial silverMess trophy. This trophy was presented by the 3/34th on their disbandment in June 1921, to the 1st Battalion of the 34th Royal Sikh Pioneers. When the Sikh Pioneers were disbanded in 1933, the curator of the British War Museum took this famous trophy. It was later given on a permanent loan to the SIKH LI and is housed in the Regimental Museum. As a result of the post-war reorganization of 1923, the battalions of the Sikh Pioneers were in 1929, reduced to a Corps HQ with one battalion from each of the three regiments.

Disbandment[edit]

Four years later, February 10, 1933, was a sad day for the Regiment as the Sikh Pioneers were disbanded after 75 years of glorious service.[5] This was essentially a measure of economy especially as the Sappers and Miners were to be augmented with an increased number of Mazhabi Companies. A farewell parade was held at Sialkot on December 8, 1932, when the Sikh Pioneers paraded for the last time. Drawn up in line 1,600 strong were the 1st and 2nd Battalions, once the 23rd, 32nd and 34th, with the Corps Headquarters and the massed bands. At the saluting point was a crowd of spectators including many old bemedalled pensioners of the Sikh Pioneer regiments.

Re-raising for World War II[edit]

After suspended animation of a little over eight years, the Sikh Pioneers were re-raised to meet the urgent and mounting demands of World War II. The 1st Battalion was raised at Jullundur on October 1, 1941. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were raised at Peshawar and Sialkot on July 1, 1942 and August 15, 1942 respectively. Recruitment had been opened up to the Ramdasia Sikhs.

The re-raised Regiment was known as the "Mazhbi and Ramdasia Sikhs"[11] a nomenclature, which was found uninspiring. The Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Claude 'Auchinleck, wanted this changed and the Director General of Infantry, Maj Gen (later Lt Gen) Reginald Arthur Savory was tasked to find a suitable name for the Regiment. A committee was constituted at Army HQ, after some alternatives like the Sikh Fusiliers, the Sikh Rifles and the Sikh Grenadiers had been considered and examined, the Sikh Light Infantry was chosen. This became prevalent from June 23, 1944.

The newly raised 1st Battalion joined the battlefronts of the 14th Army just a little after three years of being raised. The Battalion was flown to Meiktila (Burma) in February 1945 and became part of the 17th Division(Black Cat). The soldiers of the Battalion gave ample proof of, their valour, fighting in the jungles of Burma for eight months,[12] they won the Battle Honours. "Defence of Meiktila": " Burma 1942-45; "Rangoon Road"; "Pyabwe" and "Sittang 1945".

Post-Independence Operational History[edit]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and Post-War operations[edit]

On night 5/6 Sep 1965, 1 Sikh L I led the Divisional attack onto Kundanpur through a bulge and surprised the enemy along the Jammu-Sialkot Axis. By first light the battalion in a daring attack had captured Kundanpur, Unche Wains and consolidated the area to open Suchetgarh Sialkot axis. The Battalion was led by Col E W Carvelho. With its young Company Commanders (CaptV K Talwar Capt Rajinder Singh Capt Tirath Singh )the Battalion rushed the well-entrenched enemy positions which were supported by recce and support elements. Managed to capture number of Jeep mounted R C L GUNS and M M G s. Capt V P Singh was awarded VrC. The C O, the R M O were also awarded and the unit earned 3 Sena Medals and 7 Mention in Dispatches. The battalion was awarded Theatre Honour KUNDANPUR for this heroic attack.

On 28 September 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.

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 2 November 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.)

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 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 17 August 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 1 September 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 air force and artillery, Battalion Headquarters with remnants of one company and 'C' squadron 20 Lancers underwent continuous shelling, withdrew before midnight on 1 September 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 3 October 1965 the Battalion was given the task of clearing the same objective with the help of a Mahar battalion. In the morning on 4 October 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 5 October 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 posthumous); five Mention in Despatches (three Posthumous) and one COAS's Commendation Card were awarded. The Regiment was also awarded the Battle Honour "Kalidhar 1965"

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971[edit]

11 December 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 11 December 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).

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 4 December 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 8 December 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 14 December 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.

IPKF and Sri Lanka[edit]

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 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...."[citation needed]

Regimental battalions[edit]

Indian Soldiers assigned to the 9th Battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry (Special Forces) arrive aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) to participate in Malabar 2006. Malabar 2006 is a multinational exercise between the U.S., Indian and Canadian armed forces to increase interoperability between the three nations and support international security cooperation missions
Indian Soldiers assigned to the 9th Battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry (Special Forces) arrive aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) to participate in Malabar 2006. Malabar 2006 is a multinational exercise between the U.S., Indian and Canadian armed forces to increase interoperability between the three nations and support international security cooperation missions
  • 1st Battalion
  • 2nd Battalion
  • 3rd Battalion
  • 4th Battalion
  • 5th Battalion
  • 6th Battalion
  • 7th Battalion
  • 8th Battalion Fatehpur, Raised 1 June 1966 at Dhana, Sagar, by Lt Col B B Sharan
  • 9th Battalion (Marine)
  • 10th Battalion
  • 11th Battalion (Steel Fist)[1]
  • 12th Battalion
  • 13th Battalion
  • 14th Battalion
  • 15th Battalion
  • 16th Battalion
  • 103 Inf Bn (Territorial Army) Sikh LI
  • 158 Inf Bn (Territorial Army) (H&H) Sikh LI
  • 163 Inf Bn (Territorial Army) (H&H) Sikh LI

Culture and Ethos of the regiment[edit]

Akalis. The Chakram and Kirpan are traditional and iconic weapons of the Akali Nihang order. The Mazhabi Sikhs dominated this order throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.[13] The Chakram and Kirpan were combined to make the Sikh Light Infantry Insignia.

Due to the cultural origin of its recruits, the Regiment maintains not only a strong Sikh culture but also a Punjabi culture. The Sikh faith plays a strong role in the day-to-day life and functioning of the regiment and its soldiers. The Sikh Light Infantry maintains its own regimental gurdwara for the daily worship for its soldiers. The Sikh recruits of the regiment have a long and strong standing history with the Sikh religion. The Mazhabi Sikhs had long stood in the armies of the Sikhs' Tenth Guru and in the later Khalsa Army raised by Ranjit Singh.[14] which forged and established the Sikh Empire.

The religious life of the soldiers sees them conduct shabad kirtan and all other aspects of Sikh worship. The Sikh religion also plays a large role in their life as active soldiers, through the teachings of the tenth Sikh guru and the notion of "Sant-Sipahie" - Saint soldier. Sikhs embody the qualities of a "Sant-Sipahie"—a saint-soldier. One must have control over one's internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib. A Sikh must also have the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of their colour, caste or creed.

The regimental motto is derived from the tenth Guru of the Sikhs; Deg Tegh Fateh, meaning Prosperity in peace and victory in war. It incorporates Guru Gobind Singh's teachings of peace tolerance and community spirit, but to unsheathe the sword when a tyrant or oppressor threatens those ethos and refuses peaceful co-existence.

The battle cry of the regiment is "Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal!" meaning "He who recites the name of the lord, shall forever be victorious!" The regimental Insignia is a combination of the Chackram and Kirpan, traditional weapons of the Akali Nihangs; a religious warrior monk order started by Guru Gobind Singh in the 18th century. Chakrams are still worn on the turban by the regiments soldiers, however its use is ornamental and for occasioned uniformed display or parades. It is not used in battle neither is it part of or incorporated in combat attire.

In addition to their religious lives, Soldiers in their free time also engage in traditional Punjabi culture. Bhangra a folk dance of the Punjab is a regular pastime of the soldiers.

Recruits[edit]

Recruits must be Mazhabi Sikhs, and since 1941 Ramdasia Sikhs are also officially recruited alongside them. Mazhabi Sikhs must provide identification certificates showing their status as Mazhabi Sikhs for eligibility to join the regiment as well as meeting the minimum standards required to join.

There is no caste or Religion bar on appointed officers in the regiment. They can come from any caste or religious background as long as they are educated through the internal commissioned officers program.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Anniversary Celebrations of Sikh LI
  2. ^ Full text of "The Sikhs of the Punjab"
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i http://www.sikhreview.org/november1995/chivalry.htm
  4. ^ BHARAT RAKSHAK MONITOR: Volume 4(3)
  5. ^ a b c d e [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Untitled Document
  7. ^ Glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and NWFP, H A Rose
  8. ^ *Glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and NWFP, H A Rose
  9. ^ a b c d Sikh Light Infantry
  10. ^ History of the sikh pioneers - Lt-Gen Sir George Mac Munn
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ [3][dead link]
  13. ^ McQueen. Sir. J.W and Baaghaa. A.S (1994) Unseen faces and untold cases, heroes and villains of Sikh rule, Volume 8 of Series in Sikh history and culture. Bahri Publications p106
  14. ^ Sikh army regiments infantry valour war

External links[edit]