Dewan Ranjit Rai
27 October Is celebrated as ' Infantry Day' by the Indian Army to commemorate the day when troops of 1st Sikh under command of Lt Col Dewan Ranjit Rai were airlifted from Gurgaon to Srinagar on 27 Oct 1947 at the start of the War.
Under to the bold and decisive Command of Col Rai, the glorious battalion of high repute fought with tremendous spirit and bravery and saved the valley of Kashmir from the invaders at the start of the 1947 war. Col Rai was killed in action on 28 Oct 1947 and was awarded the Mahavir Chakra ( Posthumously ).
Dewan was born in Gujranwala in a Panjabi Kshatriya family on 6 February 1913. He studied at the Bishop Cotton School (Shimla). He attended the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun and was in the 1st course of IMA.
He was commissioned on the 1 February 1935 . He was first course IMA and he is IC 12. On commissioning he was attached for a year to a British Army regiment, King Shropshire Light Infantry stationed in India. He was appointed to the Indian Army and posted to the 5th battalion, 11th Sikh Regiment on the 24 February 1936. He was promoted Lieutenant 4 May 1936 He was promoted Captain 4 February 1942 and by April 1944 he was serving as a temporary Major on the Recruiting Staff.
He was commanding 1st battalion of the Sikh Regiment in Gurgaon making arrangements for refugees, when Pakistan invaded Kashmir. Two companies of his troops were airlifted in 30 Dakota aircraft, one of which was flown by Biju Patnaik, to Srinagar. He led his troops to guard the Baramulla-Srinagar highway near Pattan against the numerically superior Pakistani tribal irregulars who were moving towards Srinagar after looting, raping and burning people of all religions in Baramulla. He successfully protected the Srinagar airfield, paving the way for more Indian troops to land who expelled the Pakistani tribal irregulars. He died leading and defending Pattan. He was the first officer of the Indian Army after independence to fight a battle on 27 October 1947. He was the first officer to be awarded the Mahavir Chakra. He died on 27 October 1947 in a paddy field near Pattan. Five generations of his family have served in the Indian Army, including his grandson Maj (retd) Shivjit Singh Shergill and great grandson Faridjit Singh Shergill.