The artillery takes pride in matching up to the requirements of the supported arms. 57 Mountain Division’s gunners (23, 59 and 65 Mountain Regiments, 82 Light Regiment, 28 Battery of 40 Medium Regiment and 124 Divisional Locating Battery) did just that in the Bangladesh Campaign, moving their guns with a great deal of innovation, sometimes over wide rivers to keep up with the infantry advancing towards Dhaka.
Brigadier Onkar Singh Goraya who as the artillery’s Brigade Major had the all-important role as the formation’s fire controller sheds light on these operations in his forthcoming book. Effective fire support was given for the preliminary operations aimed at nibbling territory. An efficient counter-bombardment organisation returned enemy artillery fire effectively neutralising their guns.
57 Division’s first major operation, the successful assault on the railway junction of Akhaura was supported by a Uniform Target fire plan bringing down shelling from all of the formation’s 78 guns and mortars onto a single target at one time for maximum effect.
Thereafter 65 Mountain Regiment’s guns were transported by country boats across the Titas Channel to support 311 Brigade’s advance towards the Meghna, Bangladeshi civilians helping in taking them forward.
The same unit’s guns as well as those of 59 Mountain Regiment were dismantled and lifted by helicopter across the Meghna to support what was now the race to get to Dhaka. Civilian trucks, buses and all other kinds of transport available, including even rickshaws, were used to keep the guns well up and in range to be able to provide fire support when needed.
A most innovative use was made of railway flats and bogies making up what was called a ‘59 Combat Special’ train, pushed by the troops and later by an engine, to move the artillery.
Improvised rafts were used to float four medium guns, along with two towing vehicles, down the Titas River to its junction with the Meghna and thence to Narsingdi. Using two commandeered Pakistani trucks also, these 5.5-inch British artillery pieces with their longer range and greater weight of shot (than the lighter 75/24 howitzers) were towed to the outskirts of Dhaka and used for shelling Pakistani positions, announcing our arrival.
Throughout the campaign the Division’s gunners went to extraordinary lengths of innovation, improvisation and professional excellence to maintain the artillery’s motto of Sarvatra. They were everywhere!
Working wives in the Services
Services wives contribute a great deal to their husbands’ careers. Not only are they expert homemakers, they are also expected to be part of their husbands’ units’ social life adding grace to raising and commemorative days, mess functions and club life.
In addition they’re required to attend the plethora of activities which come under the umbrella of welfare of personnel and their families. Services wives are increasingly pursuing careers of their own. Attendance at such activities can be problematic for wives with demanding careers.
However one learns that at the highest level in the Army guidelines have been issued which seek to undo any mandatory attendance at such functions. This is both welcome and a positive development.
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