Feel proud, the very first Hero was from us!

Major_Somnath_Sharma.jpgMajor Somnath Sharma, the very first recipient of Param Vir Chakra!

Major Som Nath Sharma was born on 31 January 1923 in Dadh, Kangara District in Himachal Pradesh. His father, Major-General Amar Nath Sharma, was also a military officer and his brother General V. N. Sharma was the Chief of Army Staff from 1988 to 1990. He was commissioned into the 4th Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army (then British-Indian Army) on 22 February 1942. He also saw combat during the second World War in the Arakan Operations. His younger brother Gen. V. N. Sharma retired as head of Indian army.

On 3rd Nov 1947, Major Somnath Sharma’s company was ordered on a fighting patrol to Badgam village in the Kashmir Valley. He reached his objective at first light on 3rd November and took up a position south of Badgam at 1100 hours.

The enemy, estimated at 700, attacked his company position with 3-inch mortars, LMGs and rifles. Completely outnumbered and with withering fire being brought to bear on its position from three sides, the company began to sustain heavy casualties.Sharma.jpg

Fully realising the gravity of the situation and the direct threat that would result to both Srinagar and the aerodrome if the enemy attack was not held until reinforcements could be rushed to close the gap leading to Srinagar via Hum Hom, Major Sharma urged his company to fight the enemy tenaciously, with extreme bravery, kept rushing across the open ground to his sections exposing himself to heavy and accurate fire to urge them to hold on.

Keeping his nerve, he skilfully directed the fire of his section into the ever-advancing enemy. He repeatedly exposed himself to the full fury of enemy fire and laid out cloth air strips to guide our aircraft onto their targets in full view of the enemy.Sharma.jpg Realising that casualties had affected the effectiveness of his light automatics, this officer, whose left hand was in plaster, personally commenced filling magazines and issuing them to light machine gunners. A mortar shell landing right in the middle of the ammunition resulted in an explosion that killed him. However, Major Sharma’s company held onto its position and the remnants withdrew only when almost completely surrounded.

His inspiring example had resulted in the enemy being delayed for six hours, thus gaining time for our reinforcements to get into position at Hum Hom to stem the tide of the enemy advance. His leadership, gallantry and tenacious defence were such that his men were inspired to fight the enemy outnumbering them by seven to one for six hours, one hour which was after this gallant officer had been killed. Major Sharma set an example of courage and qualities seldom equalled in the history of the Indian Army. His last message to Brigade HQ received a few moments before he was killed was : “The enemy are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to the last man and the last round.”

An IT professional for 17 years, based in the US since the last 12 years. Founded NGO My Himachal and then Himachal Media Pvt. Ltd.. A Himachali forever. Always trying to bring together people whose hearts beat for the state.

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  • The Rediff Special

    Lately many pleas have been made that Mohammed Afzal Guru\\\’s execution should be stayed because his death \’could fuel separatism in Jammu & Kashmir.\’ The state chief minister himself has been an ardent advocate for clemency for the terrorist who attacked the Indian Parliament in December 2001 (and nearly provoked a war between India and Pakistan).The \’secular\’ protagonists claim that his execution will make a martyr of Afzal. I will not enter into these fallacious arguments, but the time has perhaps come to remember a true martyr: Major Somnath Sharma who on November 3, 1947 saved Srinagar airport (and Kashmir) at the supreme cost of his life.

    Had he not sacrificed his life, Afzal\’s defenders would not today make front page news in the Indian press, for the simple reason that they would be Pakistani citizens living under a military dictatorship.

    Our story starts during in the early days of October 1947 when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru received a message from a former deputy commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan [one of the province\’s main districts] in the North West Frontier Province.The bureaucrat warned of \’a scheme to send armed tribals from Pakistan to the Pakistan-Kashmir border; some of them had already moved towards the area in transport provided by the Pakistan government. Arms confiscated from non-Muslims had been supplied to these tribals.\’As Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir was reluctant to sign the Instrument of Accession to India, Nehru refused to take any action. Two weeks later a large contingent of Afridis, Mahsuds, Wazirs, Swathis and regular soldiers of the Pakistan army \’in mufti\’ began to enter Kashmir.

    During the night of October 22, the \’raiders\’ burnt the town of Muzaffarabad. They then overran Uri and captured Mahura, the electric power station, fifty miles from Srinagar. The city of Srinagar was plunged in darkness.

    In these dramatic circumstances, V P Menon, Sardar Patel\’s faithful collaborator, went to Jammu and got Hari Singh\’s signature on the printed Accession Form. He rushed back for the historic meeting in Delhi with India\’s governor general, Lord Mountbatten in the chair.A young army colonel named Sam Manekshaw, who attended the meeting, recalled: \’As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God Almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, \’Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away?\’ He [Nehru] said, \’Of course, I want Kashmir.\’ Then he [Patel] said: \’Please give your orders.\’Everything then moved very fast. Early the next morning, the first troops and equipment were airlifted from Palam airport [in Delhi] to Srinagar. A young major was sent on his first assignment to Kashmir. He was responsible for the logistic. His name was S K Sinha (today the governor of Jammu and Kashmir).

    He later wrote about the first Indian jawans reaching Srinagar: \’It was indeed inspiring to see grim determination writ large on their faces. They were all determined to do their best, no matter what handicap they had to contend with. I had never before seen such enthusiasm and fervour for duty.\’They knew that all eyes in India were focused on them. At Srinagar airfield, just before returning to Delhi, Sinha met an old friend, Major Somnath Sharma of 4 Kumaon. He had come a day earlier from Delhi with a broken arm.

    Sinha found him \’rather disgusted with life.\’ With his \’wretched hand in plaster,\’ no one would give him \’an active assignment in Delhi.\’

    His company had now been posted to Kashmir, but he was looking to be relieved soon from his present job and given \’something really active.\’ His company\’s duty was \’only\’ to protect the airport. Sinha tried to impress on Somnath \’the vital importance of the airfield to us and in that context the importance of the task assigned to him,\’ but says the governor this \’sermonising could do little to fulfill his desire for being sent further forward.\’ After spending an hour discussing and sipping a mug of tea reclining on his kitbag, Sinha left for Delhi. \’Little did I then know that within the next forty-eight hours, he was to die a hero\\\’s death and earn great renown, fighting most gallantly in very close proximity to where we then lay talking so leisurely.\’But let us spend a moment on Somnath Sharma\’s life.

    He was born as the eldest son of an army family. His father General A N Sharma, who retired as the first director general of the Armed Medical Services after Independence, was often in non-family postings.Som, as his friends and family called him, used to spend time with his maternal grandfather Pandit Daulat Ram in Srinagar. His favourite pastime was listening to his grandfather\’s on the Bhagavad Gita. This influence of Krishna\\\’s teachings to Arjun were to remain with Somnath till his last breath.At the age of 10, Som enrolled at the Prince of Wales Royal Military College in Dehra Dun and later joined the Royal Indian Military Academy. As a young lieutenant, he chose to join the 8/19 Hyderabad Infantry Regiment.His maternal uncle Captain Krishna Dutt Vasudeva who belonged to this regiment had died defending a bridge on the River Slim in Malaya against the Japanese. His bravery had made it possible for hundreds of his jawans to cross over to safety. The example of his uncle greatly influenced him during his career.

    Somnath fought in World War II under Colonel K S Thimmayya (later the army chief) in Burma with the British Army. An anecdote speaks tellingly about the character of the young officer.

    One day, Sharma\’s orderly Bahadur was badly wounded in action and was unable to return to the camp. Sharma lifted Bahadur on his shoulders and began walking. When Thimmayya found his officer lagging behind under the weight of his orderly, he ordered him — \’Leave this man, Som and rush back to the camp.\’ Somnath retorted, \’Sir, it is my own orderly that I am carrying; he is badly wounded and bleeding, l will not leave him behind.\’ He eventually managed to carry Bahadur back, saving his life. He was awarded a \’Mention in Dispatch\’ for this act of bravery.

    After the Japanese surrender in Kuala Lumpur in September 1945, Somnath returned from Malaya via Calcutta. Before landing, a small incident occurred when the British Military Police came aboard to check for contraband.Som had an unauthorised pistol unofficially presented to him by some Japanese officer in addition to a Samurai sword (officially allotted to each officer). Somnath refused to lie or invent a story to bluff the British officer, he immediately threw the pistol into the sea through a porthole. Such was his straightforwardness!Two years later, India became independent, but fell prey to mad communal fighting. With his Kumaonis, Somnath was dispatched to aid the civil administration. From his headquarters at Parliament Street police station, he spent his time extinguishing fires between the two communities — both well armed.To complicate the matter, streams of refugees were pouring in wave after wave to the capital. The Kumaon Regiment rose to the occasion, doing their duty honestly and impartially towards both communities. At that time, Somnath was moving around with his broken arm and a plaster from the wrist to the elbow.

    When his company was ordered to move to Srinagar, Somnath, though technically \’unfit for active duty in war\’ insisted that he had to lead his company.

    Before leaving for Srinagar, he spent his last night in Delhi with Major K K Tewari, his best friend and Burma companion, at the Queen Victoria Road bachelor Officers\’ Mess in Delhi.

    They chatted late into the night. Somnath remarked at one point that he was going to war again but alone this time (without his friend). Having probably some premonition, he asked for a memento from Tewari who told him that he could take whatever he wanted from the room. Somnath went straight to the cupboard and took his automatic pistol, a German Luger. Quite upset, Tewari had no choice but to honour his promise.The next morning Somnath Sharma landed in Srinagar (where he met S K Sinha). The situation was fast deteriorating.Two days later on November 3, the \’raiders\’ reached Badgam a few miles away from the Srinagar airfield. Brigadier \’Bogey\’ Sen, the commander in Srinagar, immediately dispatched Sharma and his company to Badgam.At 2:30 pm, supported by 3-inch and 2-inch mortars, a 700-strong tribal force attacked the Indian jawans. Being outnumbered by 7 to 1, Sharma immediately sent a request to Brigadier Sen for reinforcements.

    He knew that if the enemy advanced any further, the airport would be lost and Kashmir would become a province of Pakistan; the airfield was the only lifeline between the Valley and the rest of India.His last wireless message to the headquarters stated: \’The enemy are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to the last man and the last round.\\\’Soon after, Somnath Sharma was killed by a mortar.

    By the evening, when reinforcement reached Badgam; it was too late. The Kumaonis had suffered over 50 per cent casualties though they had inflicted much heavier losses to the \’raiders\’ who lost 200 men and the airport and Kashmir.

    Major Somnath Sharma was awarded the first Param Vir Chakra, the highest Indian gallantry award (the Indian equivalent of the Victoria Cross).The citation read: \’Keeping his nerve, he skillfully directed the fire of his section into the ever-advancing enemy. He repeatedly exposed himself to the full fury of enemy fire and laid out cloth airstrips to guide our aircraft onto their targets in full view of the enemy. His leadership, gallantry and tenacious defence were such that his men were inspired to fight the enemy outnumbering them. Major Sharma set an example of courage and qualities seldom equaled in the history of the Indian Army.\’Three days later, Sharma\’s body was recovered. Though mutilated beyond recognition, a few pages of the Gita that he always kept in his breast pocket and the empty leather holster of Tewari\’s pistol helped to identify the body. The pistol was gone.

    During the last chat with his friend before flying to Kashmir, Somnath had joked that either he would die and win the Victoria Cross or become the army chief. It is his younger brother V N Sharma who in 1988 became chief of army staff.

    Today, the world has gone topsy-turvy: true heroes are forgotten and terrorists become martyrs.

    • “Feel Proud, The Very First Hero ….”
      As a teenager going to Hindu College in 1947, I clearly remember reading in Hindustan Times a news item about how “a company of soldiers” defended a key bridge from invading Paki forces. Without that heroic effort, Kashmir would have been lost to India.
      I often pictured the jawans (wrongfully I thought they were Gurkhas) in my imagination as no details were available.

      I thank you from the bottom of my heart for completing this picture. I didn’t know who to address my gratitude and prayers for the once-in-history act of heroism.
      Thank God for braves like Somnath. His name shall forever remain alive.

      Re your comment “world having gone topsy-turvy” a quote comes to mind:

      “Just look at us. Everything is backwards; everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the major media destroy information and religions destroy spirituality. ”
      – Michael Ellner

      As mankind when we shift our focus from spiritual priority to material priority, the civilization will slowly descend into a chaos.
      Unfortunately these days a material priority is a must for survival. So the prognosis for mankind is not too good.
      Let us do something positive; even a puja will help.

      Eventually Vedic wisdom will return.

      Ravi Sadana
      Born In Shimla and lived there until 1945. Himachal Writer
      Please don’t let BHARAT go the way of USA

  • While Somnath’s family is proud to be Himachali, we are so only after partition!

    Somnath was NOT born at Dadh, in Kangra District, but in Jammu.

    Perhaps you could make the correction

    • It is a pity that the article you consulted reported his birthplace incorrectly (how were you to know?). Wikepedia has the correct information:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Som_Nath_Sharma.

      We have no “birth certificate” to photocopy, but the his school, Sherwood College Nainital; the Royal Military Academy & the Kumaon Regiment at Ranikhet will all confirm this.

      The family LOVES Himachal & his deeply connected to Dadh, but the facts are that he was NOT born there.

      Himachal was called so only after his death when new states were organized post-partition, large parts of the north were still called “Punjab” before that.

      That his birth-place was Jammu changes nothing of who he was.
      He was INDIAN & fought for the ideals of his homeland.

  • I salute the brave soldier,The Himachal Dev Bhoomi has produced so many great sepoyies.We are proud of Gen B.N.Sharma younger brother of great Som Nath Sharma for his valueable services to this great Army and becoming a General of Indian Army,this make us all proud .I shall be happy to see a perticular Himachal Regiment in the Indian Army that will give the real identity to all serving and retired bravemen.
    Jai Hind ,Jai Himachal

  • Pawan Kumar
    National School Graduate
    To read about our hero. I want to make decumentery on Major Som Nath Sharma. I dont know whoom I contect to to start this project. If any body help me in this project about permission and sport from Major family please write me.

    ABOUT MY SELF
    Pawan Kumar

    Pawan Kumar Sharma: He hails from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India and he graduated from National School of Drama (NSD) in 1989 with a specialization in Acting and won the best actor award…. he has also done the Film appreciation course from FTII, Pune. Since then he has contributed substantially to the theatre, television and films. He has worked as visiting Faculty member in the various Theatre workshops conducted by NSD in the various regions of India.
    Later he joined the film and television industry to expand the horizon of his creativity and he ventured into Screen writing, direction and producing content and has successfully directed number of TV shows, documentary films, and music videos. During the course of his career he has worked with the eminent Theatre and Film personalities such as Pankaj Kapur, Nassirudeen Shah, Siddharth Basu, John Rotalic (Australia), Habib Tanvir, Fritz Banfit (Germany), Ratan Thayam etc.

    PAWAN KUMAR SHARMA
    B-15 Sai Niwas, Saibaba complex,Mohan Gokhale Road Goregaon (E) Mumbai 400063
    Contact No.022-28403121 / 9819283121
    E-Mail: pawanvision@yahoo.co.in
    E-Mail: pawanvision@gmail.com
    E-Mail: pawan@studiosankalan.com

    Professional Qualifications :
    (a) Three year full time Post Graduate Diploma course from NATIONAL SCHOOL OF DRAMA, Ministry of Culture Government of India. New Delhi in the 1986-89

    (b) Film appreciation course from FTII, Pune.

    Award : Best Actor Award in the Year 1989 batch- National School of Drama, Ministry of Culture Government of India. New Delhi in the 1986-89

    Memberships:
    -Association of Motion Pictures & TV. Programme Producers. Membership no. 4407
    – Indian Film Directors’ Association, Membership no. DP/49

  • i respect in somnath sharma he is a very betar leadar in indian army i want to join in indian army

      • Glad to see this website and detailed information.

        I think someone from the family should ask Indian Army to fix records.


        As per Indian Army records:

        http://indianarmy.nic.in/Site/FormTemplete/frmPhotoGallery.aspx?MnId=XmBoUCX8R2jdbwbdEutA5Q%3d%3d&ParentID=9gqQhACKXT4c8DgTVQ5ORQ%3d%3d


        Major Somnath Sharma
        , son of Major General Amarnath Sharma, was born on 31 January 1923, in Himachal Pradesh. He was commissioned in the Kumaon Regiment on 22 February 1942. During the Second World War, he had fought in the Arakan Operations. His brother, General V.N. Sharma, served as the Chief of Army Staff during 1988 to 1990. On 22 October 1947, Pakistan launched the tribal invasion of Jammu & Kashmir. The intention was to grab the Kashmir valley by force. As the State became a part of the Union on October 26th, her protection became the responsibility of India . To save the State from a tribal invasion, which was approaching the valley at a very fast pace, India dispatched troops to Srinagar . The first batch of Indian troops reached just in time on October 27th morning to stop the enemy on the outskirts of Srinagar .

        The D Company of 4 Kumaon, led by Major Somnath Sharma, was airlifted to Srinagar on October 31st. When his company was asked to move to Srinagar , Major Sharma’s arm was in plaster. He had suffered a fracture on the hockey ground and was advised rest till the plaster was removed. But he insisted on being with his company at this crucial hour and was allowed to go. Meanwhile, the 1 Sikh at Patan had blunted the main thrust of the tribal invasion of Srinagar . The enemy now resorted to guerilla tactics to sneak into the valley. But the induction of more troops into Srinagar enables the Army to take care of the surrounding areas better. On November 3rd, a strong fighting patrol compromising 3 companies was dispatched to reconnoiter the Bagdam area to look for raiders approaching Srinagar from the northern direction. By 0930 hrs the troops had established a firm base at Bagdam.

        As no enemy was seen during patrolling, two companies moved back to Srinagar by 1400 hrs. D Coy led by Major Sharma, which had taken up position south of Bagdam, was, however, asked to stay on in the area till 1500 hours. At 1435 hours, D Coy was subjected to firing from some houses of Bagdam village. The Coy did not return fire for fear of killing innocent people of the village. While Major Sharma was discussing this threat with the Brigade Commander, a large force of the enemy, about 700 strong, appeared from a depression to the west of his position. It attacked the coy with small arms, mortars and heavy automatics. The accurate and devastating fire of the enemy inflicted heavy casualties on D Coy. Major Somnath Sharma understood the gravity of the situation and the imminent threat to both Srinagar town and the airfield was looming large before his eyes. He rushed across the open ground to his sections, exposing himself to enemy fire. He also laid out panels to guide IAF aircraft to their targets in the face of enemy fire. The company held on for six hours against heavy odds.

        When heavy casualties adversely affected the firing power of the company, Major Sharma, with his right hand in plaster, took upon himself the task of filling the magazines and issuing them to men, operating light machine guns. While he was busy fighting the enemy, a mortar shell exploded on the ammunition near him. His last message to Brigade HQ, received a few moments before he was killed was, “The enemy are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and our last round.” His answer is now part of the Army lore. In the battle of Bagdam, Major Sharma, one JCO and 20 other ranks were killed. But their sacrifices did not go in vain. He and his men stemmed the tide of the enemy advance on Srinagar and the airfield for some very crucial hours. He has set an example of courage and qualities, seldom equaled in the history of the Indian Army. Major General Amarnath Sharma received India ‘s first and highest wartime gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra, on behalf of his brave son.

        CITATION

        Maj Somnath Sharma

        4 KUMANON (IC-521)

        On 3 November 1947, Major Somnath Sharma’s company was ordered on a fighting patrol to Badgam in the Kashmir Valley . He reached his objective at first light on 3 November and took up a position south of Badgam at 1100hours. The enemy, estimated at about 500 attacked his company position from three sides; the company began to sustain heavy casualties.

        Fully realizing the gravity of the situation and the direct threat that would result to both the aerodrome and Srinagar via Hum Hom, Major Somnath Sharma urged his company to fight the enemy tenaciously. With extreme bravery he kept rushing across the open ground to his sections exposing himself to heavy and accurate fire to urge them to hold on.

        Keeping his nerve, he skillfully directed the fire of his sections into the ever-advancing enemy. He repeatedly exposed himself to the full fury of enemy fire and laid out cloth strips to guide our aircraft onto their targets in full view of the enemy.

        Realising that casualties had affected the effectiveness of his light automatics, this officer whose left hand was in plaster, personally commenced filling magazines and issuing them to the light machine gunners. A mortar shell landed right in the middle of the ammunition resulting in an explosion that killed him.

        Major Sharma’s company held on to list position and the remnants withdrew only when almost completely surrounded. His inspiring example resulted in the enemy being delayed for six hours, thus gaining time for our reinforcements to get into position at Hum Hom to stem the tide of the enemy advance.

        His leadership, gallantry and tenacious defence were such that his men were inspired to fight the enemy by seven to one, six hours after this gallant officer had been killed.

        He has set an example of courage and qualities seldom equalled in the history of the Indian Army. His last message to the Brigade Headquarters a few moments before he was killed was, ‘the enemy are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to the last man and the last round.’

  • I am doing a video on Maj. Somnath Sharma and looking for image of his ancestral house at Dadh in Kangra Dist. I am not getting it.Can you help ?

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