XXXIII Corps (India)
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|Part of||Army Eastern Command|
|Lt Gen Govind Singh Chandel|
The Corps is based in Sukna, North Bengal near the city of Siliguri. Its area of responsibility includes North Bengal, Sikkim and if needed, Bhutan, It comprises three mountain divisions, 17th (Gangtok), 20th (Binnaguri), and 27th (Kalimpong).
|Indian Army Corps (1947 - Present)|
|XXI Corps||XXXIV Corps|
The coat of arms consists of a white horizontal band between two red bands (the standard formation sign background for corps in the Indian Army) with two crossed spears with wings in the foreground.The Corps HQ has an Indian Air Force air control unit attached to it, 3 TAC, commanded by a Group Captain. The Corps has an organic Army Aviation Helicopter Squadron based at Sevoke flying the HAL Chetak. It is commanded by a full Colonel.
It currently consists of:
- 17th Mountain Division headquartered at Gangtok. It was raised in 1959 and converted to a mountain division in 1963. It is assigned to the Sikkim sector.
- 20th Mountain Division headquartered at Binnaguri. Raised in 1963 and assigned to the Sikkim sector. Composed of 66, 165, and 202 Mountain Brigades in 1971.
- 27th Mountain Division. Converted to a mountain division in 1963. Headquartered at Kalimpong
- Artillery brigade
XXXIII Corps in the India Pakistan War 1971
The Siliguri-based XXXIII Corps handled the sensitive Indo-Tibetan border. XXXIII Corps, the formation that was responsible for the defence of the Macmahon line. The 33 Corps Operating Signal Regiment was a part of 14 Army during World War-II. The regiment moved to its present location along with the Corps HQ in 1962. It participated in the 1962 India-China war and captured some Chinese communication equipment. These equipment are kept in Corps of Signals Museum at Jabalpur to enable the future generations of soldiers know about the bravery and dedication shown by their predecessors.
The XXXIII Corps under Lieutenant General Mohan L. Thapan controlled 6 and 20 Mountain Divisions and 71 Mountain Brigade. While fighting the war to the south, however, the corps also had to look north and retained command of 17 and 27 Mountain Divisions on the Tibetan frontier. Furthermore, Thapan could not commit 6 Mountain Division without permission from New Delhi as it was to be held ready to move to the Bhutanese border in case China intervened in the war.
As elsewhere along the border, Indian forces in support of the Mukti Bahini made significant in roads into East Pakistan prior to 3 December. Most notable was Brigadier Pran Nath Kathpalia’s 71 Mountain Brigade, which had pushed to the outskirts of Thakurgaon by the eve of war. Efforts to capture the heavily fortified border village of Hilli, however, failed repeatedly in a struggle that raged off and on from 24 November to 11 December. Resolutely defended by Pakistani 4 Frontier Force, Hilli blocked the proposed advance of 20 Division across the narrow “waist” of this sector.
After heavy losses in front of Hilli, the Indian division solved this problem by swinging around to the north and unleashing 340 Brigade under Brigadier Joginder Singh Bakshi. Bakshi moved swiftly to control the main north-south road, unhinging the defense of Hilli, splitting Pakistani 16 Division, and opening the way to Bogra, which town he effectively controlled by war’s end. The Pakistani division, despite continued resistance by isolated units, had ceased to exist as a coherent combat formation. Indicative of the chaotic situation, General Shah and the commander of 205 Brigade, Brigadier Tajammul Hussain Malik, were almost captured when Indian forces ambushed their convoy on 7 December. On the other hand, a last-minute Indian moves north by 66 and 202 Brigades to capture Rangpur proved unsuccessful.
In secondary actions, 9 Mountain Brigade secured most of the area north of the Tista River and an ad hoc command of Indian BSF and Mukti Bahini under Brigadier Prem Singh pushed out of Malda to capture Nawabganj in the extreme southeastern corner of the sector. Despite Bakshi’s performance and the generally successful advance of 71 Brigade, much of XXXIII Corps’ offensive power was allowed to lie idle far too long and Pakistani troops still held the major towns of the sector (Rangpur, Saidpur, Dinajpur, Nator, Rajshahi) when the cease-fire was announced. Likewise, the cease-fire intervened before the Indians could implement a hastily conceived plan to transfer 340 Brigade, a tank squadron, and an artillery battery across the Jamuna via the Phulchari ferry to take part in the advance on Dacca. With the exception of this squadron, all the armour was preparing to transfer to the west by the end of the war.
- Kenneth Conboy, Elite Forces of India and Pakistan, Osprey
- Conboy et al, p.8
- Jane's World Armies, Issue 19, 2006