India's first Param vir chakra (PVC) recipient Maj somnath sharma
"The enemies 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."
— Major Somnath Sharma, Battle of Badgam
The legacy of Indian Army’s heroes is as vast who laid down their lives to protect our motherland from the invasion of the enemy. This post is dedicated to one such brave hero maj Somnath Sharma, the first recipient of highest gallantry award the Param Vir Chakra(PVC).
Early life of maj somnath sharma
- Major Somnath Sharma was born on 31 January 1923 at Dadh in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
- His father, Amar Nath Sharma, was a Major General in the Indian Army.
- Maj Sharma completed his schooling at Sherwood College, Nainital, before enrolling at the Prince of Wales Royal Military College in He later studied at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
- On 22 February 1942, Sharma was commissioned into the 8th Battalion, 19th Hyderabad Regiment, of the British Indian Army (later to become the Indian Army's 4th Battalion, Kumaon Regiment) During World War II.
Military life of maj somnath sharma
- During his early career, he served under Colonel S Thimmaiya during the Arakan Operations in Burma.
- In one such incident, Sharma’s orderly Bahadur was severely 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 under the weight of his orderly, he ordered him to leave the man and rush 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.’
- Sharma eventually managed to carry Bahadur back, saving his life.
- He was awarded a ‘Mention in Dispatch’ for this act of bravery. For meritorious action in the face of the enemy, Somnath Sharma was awarded a ‘Mention-in-Despatches.’
Battle of badgam
- The battle was a small defensive encounter which took place at Badgam in the Kashmir valley on 3 November 1947.
- The strength of Indian army troops was just 50 and tribal raiders from Pakistan who were 500 in number.
- Somnath Sharma was serving as a Major in the Delta Company of 4th Kumaon regiment when the Pakistani invasion of Jammu and Kashmir began on October 22, 1947.
- By the next morning, the first troops and equipment had begun being airlifted from Delhi’s Palam airport to Srinagar. Major Sharma’s company was airlifted to Srinagar.
- At that time, Major Sharma’s right hand was in a plaster cast due to a fracture he had suffered while playing hockey.
- He was advised to rest due to his injury, major insisted on commanding his company on the battlefield and was given permission.
- Major Somnath Sharma reached Badgam at first light on November 3 and ensured that his troops took up a fighting position immediately.
- Movement of tribals was spotted, Sharma knew the movement in Badgam village was to divert attention while the attack would come in from the west.
- As expected The Lashkar attacked from the West. Sharma's company was soon surrounded by the enemy from three sides and sustained heavy casualties from the ensuing mortar bombardment.
Tale of valour
- Sharma realized the importance of holding onto his position as the city of Srinagar and the airport would be vulnerable if it were lost.
- Under heavy fire and outnumbered seven to one, he urged his company to fight bravely, often exposing himself to danger. Despite the forward two platoons falling, Sharma desperately clung to his position with the depth platoon.
- Major Sharma, with his right hand in plaster, took upon himself the task of filling the magazines and issuing them to his men. While he was busy fighting the enemy, a mortar shell exploded on the ammunition near him.
- Three days later, Major Sharma’s body was recovered mutilated beyond recognition.
- His last message to Brigade HQ received a few moments before he was killed: "The enemies 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."
- Despite the fact that 4th Kumaon had suffered over 20 casualties, it had inflicted massive losses to the enemy.
- The Raiders had lost over 200 men, and their leader was injured.
- For his courageous "last man, last round" stand, Maj Sharma was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, Independent India's newly instituted highest award for gallantry.
Major Somnath Sharma gave up his life on the battlefield but did not yield an inch to the enemy setting a strong example in Indian military history and inspiring millions.