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To me, as one of the oldest Senior Officer’s of the Regiment and the oldest surviving Colonel of the Regiment, I consider it an honour and privilege to author "Valour To The Fore", the 200 years old History of the 4th Battalion, The Maratha Light Infantry, raised in Mangalore in 1800. Since I undertook the task in 1995, this Battalion has grown in my esteem when its exploits came to the fore.It has certainly lived up to its reputation gained in World War II during the Burma Campaign, as the "Corps Recovery Battalion". Wherever there was a problem in the 23 Divisional Sector, the 4th was called to remedy it. And it was not only in Burma but in the Barmer Sector as well and as far back as 1917 when it was moved to Bannu to disarm a Punjab Battalion now in Pakistan which had mutinied. Additionally, it has carved its name in sports, excelling in hockey, mountaineering and Army Rifle Association Shooting. And there lies a story. When I reported arrival at the Regimental Centre Belgaum on a rainy day on July 12, 1943, it did not take me long to establish my prowess on the hockey field, having played good hockey in Bombay and being awarded hockey colours at the Indian Military Academy. When the Centre Subedar Major the great Sardar Bahadur Sidhu Barge of the 4th noticed this, he very quietly got the Centre Commandant Colonel Cecil Strong to agree to post me to the 4th Battalion then in the Kohima-Imphal Sector on completion of my attachment. But fate decided otherwise and I landed up in the 1st Battalion of the Regiment. The compilation of this History has been a challenging task indeed but the many retired British Officers and serving and retired Indian Commissioned Officers, numerous visits to the UK and stations in India at which the battalion was located, this History has now become a reality, a reality which, one hopes will remind those who have retired of the memorable days spent in it, for those serving as an incentive to reach out further and attain greater heights, and to those who will one day join it of how lucky they are to have done so. May this great Battalion live for another 200 years adding to the large number of distinctions gained in the last 200 years.
"A Story that will live long in the Annals of 4 Mahrattas". Extracted from the "The Fighting Cock", the History of the 23rd Indian Division (1942 to 1947).
Major General Eustace D'Souza. PVSM *From: Valour to the Fore. Copyright 2000 by Eustace D'Souza . All Rights Reserved
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WORLD WAR II: MARCH 1944
Preamble Perhaps this Chapter, when the 4th Battalion Mahratta Light Infantry fought one of the most important battles of the Burma Campaign, illustrates succinctly, the soldierly characteristics of this 200 year old battalion in this critical operation, and so takes pride of place in this History. It will be presented in this piece from two angles: a short preamble taken from that of the Official history; and the personal descriptions of the Battle by the then Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Jackie Trim,OBE, the break-out from the Sangshak Box by Adjutant Major W.D. McConnel,MC, followed by a remembrance of the valorous exploits of Leutenant Colonel William Mackay,MC,DSO,MBE.
(The author has taken the liberty of abridging their stories by highlighting the efforts of the 4th Bn.)
This battle of Sangshak, a much deserved Battle Honour, is described thus in "Fighting Cock":- "Sangshak, like the Gurkha struggle down the Tiddim Road, was one of the battles that turned the scales against the Jap, as the Mahrattas learnt when the General Officer Commanding( 'G. O. C' ) and the Corps Commader came on successive days to offer congratulations..... It is not surprising that so much depended on 4 Mahratta and their Corps Officer('C.O.') The resistance at Sangshak was sustained by Lieut.-Colonel Trim’s example and leadership and by the steadfastness and courage of his men in an action which gained precious time (10 days) for the concentration of 4 Corps and the fly-in of formations ( 5 and 7 Indian Infantry Divisions by Field Marshal Slim), which inflicted such losses on the Japanese as seriously to delay and weaken the attack on Kohima)
The Official Version As Recorded in the Unit Records : In early 1944, the Battalion ('Bn'), as part of 49 Brigade ('Bde'), moved up into the rugged Naga Hills to occupy various strategic positions in the vicinity of Ukhrul, the largest village near the Burma border from where several important tracks enter and emerge. There is a 15cwt road to Imphal via Litan, and a good mule track to Kohima. The approach from Homalin is poor but there is a good jeep track from the Kabaw Valley. The Japanese were in a position to use these land communications to interfere with the Line of Control ('L of C') from Dimapur via Kohima to Imphal. By so doing, the enemy could threaten the North flank of the British forces in Imphal itself. 49 Brigade’s task was to counter any such move. This part of the Assam-Burma border is difficult in the extreme with heights up to thousands of feet separated by steep ravines. The main tracks follow spiny ridges which means that a relieving or retiring force has to make wide detours up and down these ridges. And that is not all. The country is mostly thickly overgrown with tropical rain forest and undergrowth adding to the difficulty of movement and providing cover and hides to the enemy. But the mother of all problems was the total lack of water on these hill tops and spiny ridges.. It was appreciated that the Japanese thrust would be a deep penetration of about regimental strength (three battalions) to divert attention from the main thrust. A subsidiary role for this column would be to raid Imphal making the use of the airfield difficult to fly in reinforcements. The 4th was allotted the task of protecting the tracks from Homalin and the Kabaw Valley towards Kohima and Imphal. This meant that the Battalion would be the first to face the advancing Japanese. To add to the Mahratta involvement, the sister battalion the 6/5th was located at Ukrul itself to parry any infiltration through the 4th to head for Kohima. On the face of it, distances between positions were not great but the difficulty to negotiate tracks and the physical effort involved added to the woes of the Battalion. But these difficulties did not faze the 4th. Two strong positions were dug, one on the Pushing track on Point 7378, and the second on a feature named Gammon. The other two companies harboured on Point 7386 nicknamed Badger. Tracks were developed between companies to facilitate concealed movement of own troops to achieve surprise against an advancing enemy. The die was cast. (see Map below).
Sangshak Battle Campaign.1944
After continuous training the Bn was congratulating itself upon its achievements when it was ordered to hand over the defences to 152 Parachute ('Para') Bn of 51 Para Brigade. The Bn concentrated in Kidney Camp and with the rest of 49 Bde became a larger “swinger” force.
Having carried out the first practice maneuver, Officer Commanding('OC') 4 Mahratta received orders that the Bde Group less the 4th, was moving elsewhere for operations and that all troops remaining in the area would come under command of Lt Col Trim.The disposition of the force was: 152 Para Bn on Badger with a company ('coy') at Point 7378 and Gammon; 4 Mahrattas at Kidney Camp with a troop of mortars; two coys of the Kali Bahadur Regt at Sangshak; Bde dumps at milestone 36.5 on the Ukhrul Road; and the Bde base and animal transport (AT) at Litan. On 18 March 1944, the Bde Comdr arrived and established a small tactical HQ at mile 36.5 on the Ukhrul Road.
This deployment heralded the Battle of Sangshak. The 4 Corps Commander now called for a report from Lt Col Trim on the state of preparedness.
Lt Col Jackie Trim’s story relates to 4/5 MLI which was part of 49 Indian Infantry Brigade (Inf Bde) training in the Kabaw Valley, of the Red Cockerel 23 Infantry Division. In February 1944, 49 Bde was hurriedly moved to Ukhrul in a defensive role to counter the Japanese advance from Homalin towards the Line of Control (L of C) Dimapur-Imphal. 4/5 Mahratta was to block two routes from Homalin to Ukhrul. Captain(Capt.) Steele’s D Company (coy) near Gammon on the Kamjong-Sheldons Corner jeep track (see map) and B Coy under Capt. Bessell on the Chammy-Ukhrul track at Point 7378. Both coys got down to intensive digging, preparation of ambush sites and reconnoitering (recceing) delaying positions. The rest of the Bn was to lie up in the thick jungle on a hill christened Badger. B and D Coys began preparing earthworks which were concealed masterfully. Both these coys camped near the site. The remainder of the Bn went into temporary bivouac on the Sheldons Corner-Finches Corner 15 cwt road called Kidney Camp. The position was thoroughly recconoitered ('recced') as were counter attack routes which were cut through thick jungle. A track for men and animals was cut through the jungle so that the rest of the Bn could slip in unobserved by any advancing Jap force. This track proved of great value in retrospect. The principles of defence in the jungle called for a force to be usually divided into two parts. The smaller part held one or two firm bases; the larger was hidden in the vicinity as a mobile counter attack reserve and was termed a “swinger”. The idea was that while the enemy was concentrating on the firm base, the “swinger” force would swing into action and destroy the enemy force.
The Campaign seen throught the eyes of Lieutenant Colonel Jackie Trim
"It is a matter of some regret that the Battle of Sangshak has not been
given the importance that it deserved in the annals of World War II.
Were it not for the epic delay imposed on the Japanese 15 Division for 8
critical days, Field Marshal Slim would not have been successful in
landing 5 Indian Division by air at Imphal to stall the Japanese
In early March I ordered patrols. At about 1630 hours two of our aircraft arrived but instead of dropping food, dropped more ammunition which had to be destroyed. An attack developed at about 2015 hours but was held off. When we saw what appeared to be an attack on Sangshak and realized a possible cut off from the proposed Bde Box, I decided that instead of withdrawing to the Box we should try and concentrate at Kidney Camp. Capt Steele’s D Coy being unable to get in touch with me retired direct to Bde HQ at Mile 36.5.
On 18 March Brigadier Hope Thomson, 50 Para Bde, placed my Bn
under command until further orders. News filtered in that the Japanese, estimated strength 2,000, were
advancing on the Chammy-Pushing track and by evening were within 4
miles of Pushing .Troops in the vicinity were 152 Para Bn, my own force
and two coys of the Kali Bahadurs at Sangshak. I had a troop of mortars of 582 Regt RA under command.
22 March. We beat back a limited enemy attack and withdrew according to the timetable between 0200 and 0330 hours. By 1030 hours we had successfully withdrawn and assembled at Kidney Camp. By 1230 hours I managed to get in touch with Bde HQ and was ordered to “join me at all costs”. At 1630 hours we reached Sangshak and to my consternation an area some 50 yards containing four two men weapon pits was shown to me for my whole bn!! There was much confusion and none could give me any definite information as the battle in Sangshak progressed but my D Coy with two mortar sections were put into the attack. The same coy was ordered to lay an ambush near Finches Corner in which at least six Japanese were killed. The Coy was ordered to occupy the hill on which Sangshak Village stood, at the same time as the enemy. In the ensuing battle the enemy suffered heavy casualties.
After meeting the Bn, consequent on the withdrawal of the Japanese, a clearer picture emerged enabling me to locate a suitable defensive position for the Bn. D Coy rejoined me and was placed in reserve. Digging commenced immediately but was hampered by heavy rain and in the ensuing thunderstorm, Maj Scott received a severe electric shock. In this frenzy of activity the enemy attacked continuously during the night. I had no telephonic communications with Bde HQ and had to go to a gunner officer to use his. Both Mackay and I were subject to being hit by our own MMG fire while supervising the despatch of ammunition to Bde. The men were hungry and tired and as a result became trigger happy but we managed to calm them down. Heavy rain during the night helped us to assuage our thirst partially.
23 March. Enemy attacks ceased at daybreak except for desultory sniping throughout the day. We located some much needed water and used the source until it dried up. With darkness the enemy again attacked throughout the night but our mortars broke up the attacks. With dawn the attacks gave way to sniping, of nuisance value only.
24 March. A decision was taken by the Commander to pass from the defensive to the offensive to attack Sangshak Village but before doing so he needed to be assured that the Village was not being held in strength and that he had plenty of ammunition from an air drop. I was asked to send a patrol to Kidney Camp. On receiving reports of enemy movement I sent Lt Khurray to find out whether there were enemy at Kidney Camp and Lungehong. During the day the men rested, improved defences and collected air dropped stores. Water and food were in very short supply and the men were suffering from the lack of sleep. In the evening our mountain guns engaged the enemy around Sanging. Whereas there was heavy firing generally, we were subjected to small nuisance raids.
The Bde Cmdrs plans to attack and harass were not accepted. On orders from him I sent a small patrol under Jem Shankar Dhumal and three men to report on the number and location of enemy vehicles between Sangshak and Kidney Camp. Sniping from the jungle increased. Lt Khurray’s patrol returned with he and one OR wounded and one killed. A Coy carried one more sortie and reported considerable enemy troop movement on the road from Sheldon’s Corner. The enemy fired at us with 70 mm infantry guns two of which we located in the Sanging and Pushing areas. These were destroyed by a fighter air strafe which, in doing so, attacked us andwounded one of my escorts. The proposed attack did not take place because of the non arrival of supporting arms and ammunition. Air dropping had been far from satisfactory. As a result we lost many drops. The enemy's strength kept increasing so much so that it was decided not to make the proposed attack. During the morning I was asked by the Comdr. to go down to the Kali Bahadurs and do what I could do to cheer them up. They stated that the enemy had penetrated their positions but it eventually turned out to be only five Japs. I was able to smoothen the situation as best I could. There was very heavy shelling that night. 26th March. At first light I was ordered to place two reserve patrols ('pls') at the disposal of the Bde for a counter attack. As I had to make another coy available, I shortened my perimeter. On the way to Bde HQ I discovered Maj.Smith lying by the path with his intestines spilled out. There was much confusion as wounded and the artillery mortars were moved into my perimeter. I gathered that 152 Para Bn had been over run and that 153 Bn was trying to restore the situation. My own reserve had been thrown in piecemeal by single pls and obviously had failed. There was some confusion about what to do, compounded by enemy shelling. After much soul searching the Bde Comdr agreed to let me use my own troops for the defense of my perimeter rather than induct sub units of the Para Bn. What surprised me was that I was unaware that my C Coy, designated as a reserve, had been used to stiffen up the defences of 153 Para Bn. It would appear that 4/5th was being used to plug gaps! At about 1830 hours I was shown a signal that we were to fight our way out to Imphal. This caused a lot of wavering as I was reluctant to lose any of my wounded but informed the Bde Comdr that given an order we would fight our way out. A haphazard withdrawal was out of the question and that some sort of recce was essential if we were to succeed.This was accepted and the time was fixed for 2230 hours. It was recognized that once clear, we would break out into small groups. The wounded were given a ‘friend’each to assist them. During this period Capt Bessel of my B Coy reported that he was having problems with 50 men of 152 Bn who were impeding his movement and he had ordered them to move back.
27 March. Groups of 30 to 40 men moving westward through various routes found their way to Imphal. My own group of about 300 reached Guenthabi in about 3 days. The men were cheerful and in good spirits though the march was arduous and exhausting, including two climbs of about 4000 ft. The climb to Phalang was via nullahs but this meant availability of plenty of water. We surprised and killed a Japanese Officer and a small party. We found much
evidence of Japanese patrols along our route but there was no interference. We met a patrol of tanks and Bren Carriers from Imphal near Yangangpokpi where arrangements were made to convey our troops while my Adjutant and I were taken to 123 Bde HQ.
The break-out from the Sangshak Box is now described by the Adjutant Maj. W D McConnel:- “Orders were received from Col Trim that the whole force would break
out of the Box at 2230 hours and march south till dawn, then turn west
until the Litan-Imphal road in the vicinity of Yangangpokpi. C Coy was
at that time under 153 Bde and took its orders from that unit. We were
ordered to keep in formed bodies and not break up into groups smaller
than platoons. I recall ordering Hav Bhargavrao Dalvi the Int Havildar,
and Nk Dinkar Gaode i/c the CO’s escort NOT to be separated from the
Colonel. We left our trenches at 2230 hours but to our consternation we
found that Para Bde personnel had beaten the gun. When we crossed
the wire we came across a 10-12 ft drop. The Colonel was carried down
the drop. Behind him we were all holding hands to keep together. On
reaching the road we discovered that we were separated from Maj
Mackay. We decided to carry on the long descent down the Valley. The
going was difficult through the long elephant grass but we did not join other groups. At dawn, 0550 hours, there were 9 of us; the Colonel, myself, the escort and some other ranks ('ORs'). We could see other parties coming into view and turning west but we decided to strike south. After an hour we ran into Sub Ganpat Patil and Jem B Khanvilkar at the bottom of the valley below Phalang. We were all tired and hungry and existed on some biscuits and emergency rations. While climbing up a hill through a water course we met two Nagas who told us that a large number of Japs were expected from Phalang and so we hurried on. On getting near the top we ran into a Jap Officer. We put our drill into action and though the Jap called out in Hindi not to fire (‘fire mut karo’) Capt Steele shot him. The LMG gunner fired a burst and that was the end of the Jap. At 1730 hours, as we were not being followed, we moved to a hide for the night after marching continuously for 19 hours. The men had not eaten for 8 days and so were permitted to eat half their emergency rations. Though there had been no order to do so, they had not touched them. After taking the usual precautions we slept for 3 to 4 hours until awakened by the cold. We moved at 0600 hours on the 28th until 1000 hours when we met Capt Bessell and about 20 men. After a 400 ft descent and another appalling climb in the heat, the lack of food began to tell. After crossing the highest hill we came across some villagers who gave us water and information. A little later we met Majors Mackay and Holland and Capt Hutton with a further 16 men. We camped for the night but it was uncomfortably cold. At 0530 hours on the 29th we encountered many signs of Jap patrols but eventually came out on the Imphal-Litan road where 800 yards north of Yangangpokpi we met 2 Lee tanks of 7 Cav.. They said that they were the forward elements of 123 Bde and that Litan had been evacuated. Funny that we should run into 123 Bde again-our old bde. The Bde made arrangements to transport our men to Waithou-6 British Officers(BOs), 2 Viceroy's Commissioned Indian Officers (VCOs) and 102 Indian Other Ranks (IORs) who were our own. Colonel Trim and I were taken in a carrier to 123 Bde where we met many old friends including the Comdr, Brig G Evans. We were then sent to Maj Gen Brigs, GOC 5 Div where the Colonel explained the battle of Sangshak. After lunch we were taken to our own 23 Div. Everyone was extraordinarily pleased to see the Colonel and said how well the bn had done. After a welcome bath and a change of clothes we finally got back to join the others in the Waithou Box”. The Remaining Valorous:
There are not many survivors now. The few that readily come to mind are Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Doyle, MC, Major Rae Steele, MC and Bar now a very ill man, the irrepresible Major Pudlo Thapa, MC, now slowed down to what he was leading when his company during the operations, Major Deo who later joined the Indian Administrative Service since retired in Pune, Subedar Major Sadu Jagdale, MC, and that grand old man and favourite of the late Lieutenant Colonel Bill MacKay, Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Baburao Kale, IDSM, a familiar figure in Belgaum. There may be others. Who, among the survivors will ever forget places and battles like Sangshak, Shenam, Tengnoupal, Shuganu, Imphal, Ukhrul, Sigmai Turel, Battle Hill and Scott’s Folly, Mawlaik, assisting the launching of the Chindits, assisting 17 Division on the Tiddim Road, Yaingangpokpi, Mitlong Khonou, Maibi, Lokchao et al. Except for a short respite of about five months, the Battalion was continuously in the line against an enemy who was unyielding in defence, resolute and spirited in attack and masters of approach. The casualties suffered, the enormous physical difficulties experienced compounded by the terrain, weather, rain, slush, mud, malaria, intestinal borne diseases, lack of water, lack of supplies and difficulty in movement pale into comparison at the achievements. Above all, together with the sister battalion the 6/5th, both in the same 49 Brigade, it proved beyond doubt of the fighting qualities of the Mahratta in the most adverse circumstances. ****----**** LIEUTENANT-COLONEL WILLIAM MACKAY Officer who in blazing sun encouraged a battalion short of water to hold
off a Japanese attack for eight days.
“Lieutenant-Colonel William Mackay, who died at the age of 80, was
awarded an MC and an immediate DSO during the Burma campaign in
1944, and a bar to his MC during the Korean war he was also mentioned in despatches. He won his MC while serving with the 4th/5th Mahratta Light Infantry. During the action at Sangshak in March 1944, Mackay was second-in-command of his battalion which, with less than 3,000 men, stood in the way of the Japanese thrust to India. For eight vital days they held the position. During these days the battalion was almost continuously attacked by a superior force of Japanese. Until finally ordered to withdraw, Mackay set an excellent example under extremely difficult circumstances. His courage and clear-headedness under heavy fire were outstanding. His leadership had already been proved over a long period of successful patrolling in the Kabaw Valley in 1943. The battle of Sangshak was typical of the desperate Japanese attempts
to over-come the dogged resistance of British and Indian regiments in
appalling conditions. The Mahrattas, short of water, rationed first to a
bottle a day and then half a bottle, fought surrounded by corpses
decomposing under the blazing sun. Constant attacks by superior
numbers of fanatical Japanese meant that every-one was desperately
short of sleep. They were also perpetually pestered by flies and other
insects, and the wounded had to lie drugged with morphia in trenches
until they could be given the attention needed. During the action
Japanese documents were captured which revealed priceless
information about the direction and strength of the Japanese threat to Kohima. In later operations Mackay, then 28 years old, suddenly found himself in command of the battalion after a direct hit on the command post had killed the CO. The Japanese, after their first attempt to thrust into India had been frustrated, were retreating in order to regroup. Mackay was ordered to establish a road-block behind the Japanese lines. In order to do this he had to make a sweeping approach through thick jungle and rough terrain, a formidable feat in itself, and having done so, launch a sudden attack on the high ground which commanded the road on the southern side. The battalion then blocked the road and laid anti-tank mines. However the Japanese in the area were being strengthened both by those retreating and those coming up as reinforcements, and were then able to launch counter-attacks from three sides at once and force the Mahrattas off the high ground. Directing operations from a forward and exposed position under heavy fire, Mackay managed to extract his battalion and take up a defensive position on the small ridge north of the road. But this new position became untenable, being swept by machine gun and mortar fire from the higher ground, while snipers working through the jungle on each side of the ridge hampered all attempts to dig in. Mackay was wounded by a burst of machine gun fire. He was forced to withdraw 600 yards to another ridge. Although wounded and under heavy fire he personally directed the withdrawal, showing utter disregard for his own safety. He was then ordered to rejoin the rest of the brigade (if possible) which he achieved by a difficult night march. Throughout the action he directed the operations with calm; his troops nicknamed him “The Brave” (Bahadur). In 1945, Mackay became Chief Instructor at the Technical (Tactical) School Dehra Dun, but returned to command his battalion when it moved to Java to disarm the Japanese and help the Dutch internees, many of them women and children, who had been brutally treated and were now in danger of being massacred by hostile Javanese. His next posting was to the School of Infantry, Warminster, but with the partition of the India in 1947 he transferred from the Indian Army to the Royal Artillery, and became commander of 45 Battery in 20 Field Regiment. In 1952, 20th Field joined the Commonwealth Division in Korea and in May 1953 was supporting the Duke of Wellington’s regiment, who were holding a vital ridge known as the Hook, on the west coast. In late May the Chinese made a desperate attempt to capture the Hook, and in spite of their complete disregard for the fearsome losses they sustained, failed to do so. Mackay was awarded a Bar to his MC for his leadership and his effective handling of the artillery. William Miller Mackay was born on Nov 22 1916 and was educated at Melville College, Edinburgh and Sandhurst before being commissioned into the Indian Army. After a 12-month attachment to a British regiment serving in India (The Buffs at Lucknow) he was gazetted into the 5th Mahratta Light Infantry. After his wartime service and a home appointment, he returned to Hong Kong to command 49 Field Regiment, RA. This was followed by staff appointments, first in the Ministry of Defence, then in SHAPE at Paris. He retired from the Army in 1971, and was appointed Adjutant at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where he served until 1982. He was appointed MBE that year. A useful hockey player and a skilled horseman William Mackay was essentially a fighting soldier with no aspirations for the staff or higher command. Quietly spoken and unassuming in manner, he had a deep Christian faith and was a devoted and hospitable family man. He married in 1947, Norah Hallet: they had a son and daughter.” ****----**** Obituary Note by Maj.General Eustace D'Souza,Retd.
========================================== With deep regrets, I must report that: Major Rae Steele, MC, Major Pudlo Thapa, MC, and Major M V Deo are all no more. ==========================================
: Acknowledgments in regimental histories can be a tedious affair, as long as the long lists of credits on the TV screen. Be that as it may, I am deeply conscious and touched by the willingness of so many regimental officers serving and retired who spared their valuable time and wisdom to walk down memory lane, to supply valuable inputs to this History spanning 200 years, of a Battalion which showed exemplary determination at Sangshak in 1944 as it did on the Northern Siachen Glacier in Ladakh in 1992. I recall with special gratitude the unqualified and willing assistance given to me ever since this project was launched, by its oldest living Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Doyle, MC, who, despite his years, never ever failed me in my constant requests for information pre 1947. Not a single one ever went unheeded. I can only hope and pray that though in his advanced years he will be able to be present for the Bicentenary when it is hoped to release this work.
Or, for that matter, to Lieutenant Colonel Bal Moghe, long since retired, but a 4th Maratha to the core, whose unfailing and sustained interest and a constant supply of valuable ‘tid-bits’, has added spice to this History of ‘Gore Ki Paltan’. He has sat with me on numerous occasions, discussing drafts, translating for me from Marathi, snippets and reminiscences offered by ex J C Os, and accompanying me to Bhuj and Bolarum. I cannot forget the old Commanding Officers of the 4th-Balwant Sahore, Ranbir Singh, Gopal Krishan Duggal now a Lieutenant General, O P Singh, Harshi Gill, and Shishir Mahajan who took pains to reduce to writing valuable insights into the problems confronting them when in command. As a result, some very ‘human’ incidents have been thrown up.
To the initiator of this History Colonel Shishir Mahajan who was in the drivers seat in Bhuj, and later in J & K for being the initiator of this project, and Colonel L C Patnaik while in J & K and Bolarum who helped me complete this honourable task. They gave me the stimulation and resources to carry on through thick and thin.
To the many others from the Regiment-Colonel H S Chauhan the mountaineer, Girdhari Kaul, Subedar Majors and Honorary Captains Maruti Jadhav and Ganpat Kale, and so many others, for their inputs. To my Grandson Neil who lives with me and who on countless occasions has bailed me out when I faced problems with the computer, when I thought that Chapters painstakingly keyed in were lost. Finally my son Vikram who sat with Colonel Patnaik and myself to give technical advice on its production. And last but not least to all those who contributed financially to the cost of production, especially Shukla, the late Majr M V Deo, Colonel O P Singh and Major Mathews, for the very generous contributions made and solicited for. I hope that I have not failed them.
Major General Eustace D’Souza,Retd. Mumbai,India. 2007.
------****------- Editor's Note: After reading parts of his book 'Valour to the Fore' I meant to comment at length about the task this general set for himself, namely, to record the 200 year history of the British Indian Army's4th Battalion Mahratta Light Infantry,(which, at Sangshak,Assam in 1944 was an integral part of the juggernaut of Field Marshal Slim's Indian 14th. Army) a task which was accomplished, in my humble view, with comsummate skill and respect which only a general could give the minutaeof placement, strategy and logistics, and never stinting in his acknowledging the consummate courage of the British officers and tommies, the Indian officers and ganapats, and never leaving out the sakutai of the fanatical enemy, which each campaign required. In closing, I must say that I've had a favorite saying (whether it's mine or someone elses, I don't know) and that is: "Courage recognizes itself in others." That, I'm convinced, is true. After learning ( but NOT from him!)that the author was awarded the PVSM "Param Vishsht Seva Medal" which translates from the Sanskrit asIndia's equivalent of Great Britain's CB/DSO for outstanding services rendered in the 1965 war with Pakistan, I have now another insight : "Humilityis an essential ingredient in Courage." and dedicate that saying to this Bahadur Sahib. Joseph Valu, Editor WorldWar2BurmaDiaries.com ****----****
Copyright 2008 by Joseph Alwyn Valu. All Rights Reserved.