In the picture, soldiers of 13 Kumaon days before the Battle of Rezang La, a rare example in the annals of world military history, when the Chinese attacked in total seven waves and death was writ all over, the men fought till the last bullet and the last man.+
On 18 November 1962, the Charlie Company of 13 Kumaon Battalion fought a Chinese attack at Rezang La pass in Ladakh. 110 out of 120 soldiers of the company led by Major Shaitan Singh Bhati were martyred in the attack. One PVC, eight VCs, four SMs and one M-in-D were awarded.
It was in the seventh wave that the Chinese despite of their huge numbers and advanced weapon could affect the Indian resistance in -24 degrees temperature. In three hours and five minutes, the mortar section had fired at a speed of 300 rounds per mortar.+
This amounted to 100 rounds per mortar gun per hour. Considering the fact that seven out of ten soldiers manning the mortar guns had been martyred during this period and the guns had been hit by bombs on three occasions, this was an incredible firing rate by any account.+
The Indian Army had lost platoons 7 and 8 in the six waves. But the brave men refused to leave the ground although they were advised to. But Major Shaitan Singh Bhati still had platoon 9 and 3-inch mortar section intact.+
Major Shaitan Singh knew that while he had less than fifty soldiers with him and very limited ammunition and bombs and no artillery support, the Chinese had thousands of soldiers to attack the Indian positions in human waves after waves with unlimited arms and ammunition.+
While the Chinese seemed to have an unlimited supply of arms, ammunition and soldiers, all the Charlie Company had was raw courage and an indomitable spirit. Major Shaitan Singh was fatally wounded as they tried to retake platoon 7’s position. +
Realising he would not survive he said “I want you to leave me here and go to the battalion headquarters. Report to the CO how bravely our company fought.” The jawans persisted but Major Shaitan Singh urged them to follow his last order.+
When this handful of jawans reached the battalion headquarters the first thing Sep. Memchand did was to safely deposit Major Shaitan Singh’s pistol. They were heard patiently but the accounts of the brave jawans who survived were not accepted by the officers.+
The final order of Major Shaitan Singh were received with a lot of circumspection and were rejected. Sep. Ram Chander says that when he insisted to the officers that what he and others were saying was the truth and the Charlie Company had indeed fought a brave battle, he was+
asked to shut up or face a court martial for being a liar. Consequently, the last stand of the Charlie Company was forgotten but gods had other plans. What happened three months later silenced everyone.+
In the first week of February 1963, a Ladakhi shepherd visited Rezang La. he was the first Indian to witness the closing stage of the battle turned into a frozen tableau. Right in front of his eyes were the frozen bodies of the Indian jawans still standing in their trenches,+
with their weapon pointed towards the east. When he informed the Indian Army unit at Chushul and then to Army HQ, in no time a search party was organised. Several officers and jawans including Brig. T. N. Raina and Red Cross representatives trekked to Rezang La from the+
the base of Rezang La Pass where once the Charlie Company’s administrative base was located. Every single man of this company was found dead in his trench with several bullets or splinter wounds. The 2-inch mortar man died with a bomb in his hand.+
Sep. Dharampal Dahiya, the company’s lone medical assistant had a syringe and bandage in his hands when the Chinese bullet hit him. He died nursing the wounded. +
One of the members of this search party was Capt. Kishori Lal. In an essay published in ‘The Gods of Valour’, he records his first impression on the arrival at Rezang La as follows:
We reached Rezang La on 10 February 1963. There we saw the brave sons of mother Bharat sleeping in eternal sleep. We saw there was a heavy bombardment that the Chinese had done to wipe them out. There were deep pits all around. We picked up blind bombs and weighed them.+
Most of them were over 80 pounds. Each body of our valiant soldiers there had over 30-35 bullet wounds. As many as 47 had sunk into Jemadar(Naib Subedar) Hari Ram’s body. On one bunker shield, we counted 759 bullet holes. +
The following excerpt from the official account of the Kumaon Regiment provides more details:

No bunker in Rezang La was found intact, corrugated iron sheets were found in bits, the ballies (wooden poles/logs used for making temporary shelters) had been reduced to+
matchwood sticks, and the sandbags were just shreds. But there was no sign of panic or withdrawal. Every single jawan was found dead in his trench; each had several bullets or splinter wounds, still holding their weapons; broken LMGs/rifles bore witness to the intensity of the+
enemy fire. Jemadar (Naib Subedar) Hari Ram was found with a bandage on his head. He had apparently tied it in a hurry while rushing from one of his sections to another and was killed there; the body, when received, was still in crouching position.
Major Shaitan Singh’s body was found at the same spot where his loyal soldiers had left him. He was still resting against the boulder, his entire body except his face covered in snow. Hir remains was sent to Jodhpur in a special IAF aircraft the next day. He was awarded the PVC.+
The Army had initially refused to accept the account of the survivors, who were merely following the last order of their company commander, Maj. Shaitan Singh. But the mother nature had preserved the last stand of the brave soldiers as it is.There were no more doubts in the mind+
of the senior officers now. There were no more threats about court maritals. They had seen it for themselves and realised that every word that the survivors had spoken was true. +
(Apologies for the typos.)
The rescuers who visited Rezang La on 10 February 1963 were speechless. Brig T. N. Raina called his subordinate from the search party and said:

‘I want everything to be photographed. After that, make a list of the martyred jawans you can identify.’

‘Yes, sir.’+
‘We will cremate these bahadur jawans today itself.’

‘Sir, here?’

‘Yes, right here. This land belongs to us because of these brave patriots. And there should he a memorial here for every Indian to visit and pay his respects.’+
That evening, bodies of 96 soldiers of the Charlie Company recovered from Rezang La and they were cremated with full military honours amid the chanting of Vedic mantras.+
Brig. T. N. Raina lit the combined funeral pyre of the soldiers with his own hands. Those present recall that everyone had tears in their eyes. Brig. Raina, who would later rise to become the Army Chief, got so emotional that he had to remove his prosthetic eye for relief.
13 Kumaon Battalion was awarded the battle honour Rezang La and theatre honour Ladakh. Today, 13 Kumaon’s Charlie Company is officially called the Rezang La Company.+
Again apologies for the typos. Too many! Typing is tough!
(Sources: Excerpted from The Battle of Rezang La by Kulpreet Yadav
Himalayan Blunder by Brig. J. P. Dalvi
Pictures by 13 Kumaon
Henderson Brooks report(P 1)
Unsung Heroes of 1962 by Lt. Col. G. S. Kler
Valour Triumphs: A History of Kumaon Regiment by Maj. K. C. Praval)

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