Martyr's Diaries: PVC Major Shaitan Singh


How can a Man die Better than facing Fearful Odds,For the Ashes of His Fathers and the Temples of His Gods,To the sacred memory of the Heroes of Rezang La,114 Martyrs of 13 Kumaon who fought to the Last Man,Last Round, Against Hordes of Chinese on 18 November 1962.Built by All Ranks 13th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment.

Shaitan Singh was born on 1 December 1924 in Banasar village, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan. His father was Lieutenant Colonel Hem Singh. Lt. Col. Singh served in France with the Indian Army during World War I and was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the British government.

Singh studied in the Rajput High School in Jodhpur up to his matriculation. At school, he was known for his skills as a football player. After completing his schooling in 1943, Singh went to Jaswant College, and completed his graduation in 1947. On 1 August 1949, he joined the Jodhpur State Forces as an officer

After the princely state of Jodhpur was merged into India, Singh was transferred to the Kumaon Regiment. He took part in operations in Naga Hills and also in 1961 Indian annexation of Goa. On 11 June 1962, he was promoted to the rank of major.

Battle of Rezang La: 18 Nov 1962

In 1962, during the Sino-Indian War, the ‘C’ Company of the 13th Kumaon battalion, commanded by Maj Shaitan Singh, held a crucial position at Rezang La, a pass to the south-east of Chushul Valley in Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) at an altitude of a towering 5,000 metres. The area was defended by five platoons, however, the mountainous terrain isolated it from the rest of the battalion. They expected a Chinese attack on the Rezang La, which came on the 18th of November.

The climate was treacherous with a cold and biting wind, and the terrain was unfavorable. Another drawback of this area was that it was crested to Indian artillery because of an intervening feature, which meant that they had to make do without the protective cover of the big guns. The Chinese advanced to attack the platoons No.7 and No.8. Both of them opened fire on the enemy with rifles, light machine guns, grenades and mortars, however, the artillery could not be used. The enemy soldiers suffered heavy casualties and only the boulders offered cover to some of the survivors.

Soon after, about 350 Chinese troops commenced advancing to the position of platoon No.9 which then opened fire. Within minutes, the Chinese lost most of their men, resulting in an unsuccessful frontal attack. Following this, the Chinese engaged in a rear attack with 400 troops. They employed intense machine gun fire along with heavy artillery and mortar shelling. About 120 Chinese troops charged No.7 Platoon position, yet many of them were killed by Indian Army 3-inch mortar. The troops that did survive were met by an assault of a dozen Kumaoni soldiers.

Maj Shaitan Singh displayed exemplary leadership and bravery in the battle of Rezang La. He led his troops admirably and did not fear for his personal safety, moving from one platoon post to another and encouraging his men. While moving among the posts he was seriously wounded by a Chinese MMG, but that did not deter him. As two of his comrades were trying to evacuate him, the Chinese opened heavy machine gun fire on them. Maj Singh did not want to endanger their lives and ordered them to leave him. They placed him behind a boulder on the slopes of a hill, where he breathed his last, still gripping his weapon.

The body of Maj Shaitan Singh was found in the same place behind the boulder, after three months in that snow clad region. It was flown to Jodhpur and cremated with full military honours. Maj Shaitan Singh was awarded Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry medal, for his unfaltering courage, leadership and exemplary devotion to duty.




LEGACY

The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI), named fifteen of her Crude Oil Tankers in honour of the Param Vir Chakra recipients. There was a crude oil tanker named MT “Major Shaitan Singh, PVC”.

CITATION 

 MAJOR SHAITAN SINGH

Major Shaitan Singh was commanding a company of an infantry battalion deployed at Rezang La in the Chusul sector at a height of about 17,000 feet. The locality was isolated from the main defended sector and consisted of five platoon-defended position. On 18 November 1962, the Chinese forces subjected the company position to heavy artillery, mortar and small arms fire and attacked it in overwhelming strength in several successive waves. Against heavy odds, our troops beat back successive waves of enemy attack. During the action, Major Shaitan Singh dominated the scene of operations and moved at great personal risk from one platoon post to another sustaining the morale of his hard-pressed platoon posts. While doing so he was seriously wounded but continued to encourage and lead his men, who, following his brave example fought gallantly and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. For every man lost to us, the enemy lost four or five. When Major Shaitan Singh fell disabled by wounds in his arms and abdomen, his men tried to evacuate him but they came under heavy machine-gun fire. Major Shaitan Singh then ordered his men to leave him to his fate in order to save their lives. Major Shaitan Singh's supreme courage, leadership and exemplary devotion to duty inspired his company to fight almost to the last man.

Dead upon the field of glory, Hero fit for song and story. 

Sir, May your soul REST IN POWER.  

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