Introduction and the Early Years
The Rajputs have for long been known as the Prince of Warriors or the blue
blooded warriors of the Indian subcontinent. They have carried a long tradition of
chivalry, love of battle, fearlessness for the upkeep of their honour and that of their
womenfolk. The association of the Rajputs with the British Indian army started in 1778,
when the 3rd Battalion was raised as the 31st Regiment Bengal Native Infantry. Two other
battalions the 1st and 2nd were raised in 1798. The 3rd Battalion fought against Hyder Ali
and captured Cuddalore. It was after this battle that the crossed daggers (also known as
katars) as a badge was granted in recognition of gallantry, this since has been adopted as
the badge by the Rajput Regiment. The 1st Battalion fought at the battle of Delhi (1803),
which broke the power of the Marathas at the Imperial court. This battalion was in action
again at the siege of Bharatpur (1805), of the 400 men who went into the assault at least
50 percent became casualties.
The 1st and 4th Battalions participated in the British
campaign against the Gorkhas. All the Rajput Battalions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and the 5th)
fought against the Sikhs in the Sikh Wars. The 5th Battalion captured three Sikh standards
at the battle of Gujarat. The 1857 mutiny was mostly confined to the Bengal infantry
regiments, during which the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Rajputs were
temporarily disarmed. The 1st
Battalion was at Saugor and stood firm while guarding the treasury and the arsenal. For
its role it was awarded the title of Light Infantry. The Regiment of Lucknow, which later
became the 16th Battalion, then the 10th Battalion contributed to the successful defence
of the Lucknow Residency. It won two Victoria Crosses and every
Sepoy in the regiment was
also awarded a medal. The 1st Battalion in 1876 achieved a rare honour by becoming the
Queen's Own as well as the Royal regiment.
The Two World Wars
Most of the Rajput battalions saw action during World War 1. The 1st
Battalion fought at the Battle of Dujailah in Mesopatamia, where it was nearly
annihilated. The 3rd Battalion fought the Battles of Qurna and Kut-al-Amara against the
Turks. In one of the battles the Turks had invaded both the flanks of the 3rd Rajput,
during which Jemadar Sital Baksh was severely wounded. Sepoy Jhandu Singh rushed to his
rescue, the Jemadar ordered him to leave him behind but the sepoy lifted him on his back
and started moving through the marshlands. Soon both the rescuer and the
targets of the Turks and were riddled with bullets. Sepoy Jhandu Singh was awarded a
posthumous IOM and Medaille Militaire. A large number of other awards and battle honours
were won by the Rajputs and at the end of WW1, a total of 37 battle honours were on the
colours of the Rajputs, which exceeded that of any other regiment of the Indian
In 1922 the infantry regiments were reorganised and all the battalion
were renumbered. For the Rajputs, the renumbering was as follows:
2nd Rajput became 1st Battalion
4th Rajput became 2nd Battalion
7th Rajput became 3rd Battalion
8th Rajput became 4th Battalion
11th Rajput became 5th Battalion
16th Rajput (Regiment of Lucknow) became the 10th Battalion
Also the one class character of most of the infantry regiments were
changed and the Rajputs introduced a company each of Punjabi Musalmans and Hindustani
Musalmans in each of their battalions.
A number of Rajput regiments participated in World War 2. The 1st
Battalion was in the Arakan and then took over the defence of Andaman
& Nicobar Islands.
The 2nd Battalion was also in the Arakan area and a number of actions were fought by it.
The capture of Point 551, also called Rajput Hill was the most important. The Japanese
holding this feature had turned back repeated attacks by other battalions but the Rajputs
carried the day winning an IOM, five MC's and two MM's for this
action. The 3rd Battalion
was at Suez and Egypt and fought at the Battle of El Alamein. The 4th was also in the
Western Desert at Siddi Barrani and El Alamein and on its return to India was posted at
the Kohima front. The 5th Battalion was at Hongkong. The action against the invading
Japanese was short and swift with heavy casualties to the regiment. The regiment along with
the British garrison was forced to surrender and the men became
POWs and had to undergo
great hardships. 130 men of the 5th Rajput were either beaten or starved to death or just
died because lack of medical care. The Japanese wanted Captain M.A. Ansari of 5th Rajput
to turn on his fellow men, but he refused. For five months he was subjected to brutal
beatings and treatment, as a result of which he could not walk. He was then sent to live
with the other ranks instead of the officers. Captain Ansari remained true to the regiment
and organised a system for helping escapees. He was again put in jail and tortured but
refused to be broken. In the end the Japanese executed him. Captain M.A. Ansari was
awarded the George Cross for his heroism.
1947-48 Jammu & Kashmir Operations
At the time of partition in 1947 Punjabi Musalmans who formed
50% of the strength in most battalions were transferred to the Pakistan Army. The
gaps created by their departure were filled in by Gujars, who came over from the Punjab
Regiments which were allotted to Pakistan.
Four Rajput Regiments (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) participated in the
1947-48 operations in J&K. The 3 Rajput was the first to be inducted. Its original
task was for protection of Ramban and Jammu, but it quickly came under 50 Para Brigade for
its relief of Jhangar and Kotli. The advance from Jhangar to Kotli took five days, as the
column had to clear 47 road blocks. After the relief of Kotli the column
returned to Naushera. 1 Rajput was inducted next and it also formed a part of 50 Para
Brigade at Naushera. It had its share of fighting in clearing the raiders from some hill
features around Naushera. The raiders meanwhile kept heavy pressure on the Naushera
Jhangar road and both 1 and 3 Rajputs fought a number of engagements to keep the road
open. In December 1947, 4 Rajput were inducted and deployed in the Chammb- Akhnoor area. 2
Rajput came in next and were employed for L of C duties around Jammu.
Aggressive patrolling was done by 1 and 3 Rajputs around Naushera and
Kot. On 06 February 1948 a strong patrol was send out in the area east of Naushera. The
patrol was surrounded by an enemy force of approximately 1000 men. Soon a fierce fight
started which continued for seven hours. During this time Subedar Gopal Singh's platoon
came under heavy pressure. Gopal Singh wounded thrice kept reorganizing his men time and
again. At one time Gopal Singh got separated from his platoon and had only three men at
his side, one of them was Sepoy Sikdar Singh. When things got tough Subedar Gopal Singh
lead a bayonet charge during which he was seriously wounded. Sikdar Singh picked him up
and carried him back to the main patrol area. Havildar Mahadeo Singh was another hero. He
kept on supplying ammunition to the bren gunners of the platoon, couple of times he walked
through heavy enemy fire to get the ammunition through. In one of his attempts he was
wounded and fell down, when he scrambled to his feet he was riddled with bullets. In this
action the 3 Rajput won 3 VrCs - one each to Subedar Gopal Singh and Sepoy Sikdar Singh and
a posthumous one to Havildar Mahadeo Singh.
After the fall of Jhangar, Naushera became the enemy's next objective.
Brigadier Mohammad Usman, 50 Para Brigade commander closely watched the situation and drew
up defensive plans in which the Rajputs were holding tactical grounds around Naushera. C
Company, 1 Rajput was holding the vital Taindhar position, which was vital for the defence
of Naushera. Brig. Usman had directed C company to hold this
position at any cost in case
of an attack. On the early morning hours of 6 February, 1948 the enemy attacked the
Taindhar position. The enemy was about 1500 strong and consisted mostly of Pathans with
some Pakistani servicemen. The enemy attacked in waves of lines of 200-300 men. Six such
attacks were launched and there was heavy hand to hand fighting in some posts. Havildar
Daya Ram who was then manning the 3-inch mortar detachment realised that the
gotten very close to the defensive positions. He took the secondary charge out of the
mortar bombs, elevated the mortars to their maximum limit and fired the bombs. These bombs
landed within 30-50 yards of the Rajput defensive positions and caused havoc among the
enemy. Some of the enemy switched and attacked Daya Ram's section, but the position held,
Daya Ram was wounded and his bren gunner killed. He picked up the bren gun and started
firing at the enemy, for his courage and actions Daya Ram was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.
left flank of C Company gave an easy approach to the enemy. This sector was defended by
Naik Jadunath Singh and his section. The enemy after failing in the frontal attacks
switched the main effort on this sector. Jadunath Singh effectively directed the fire of
his bren gun, rifles and grenades. The enemy, however still continued to advance, Jadunath
rushed out of his defensive position throwing hand grenades and firing his sten gun, this
took the enemy by surprise and he withdrew to regroup. The enemy regrouped and charged
again, Jadunath Singh again stood firm and charged out. He was wounded this time but the
attack failed again. By this time his section had suffered heavy casualties. The enemy
attacked again and Jadunath Singh charged out the third time firing his sten gun and
hurling grenades. He was hit by two bullets, one in the head and another in the chest and
at last fell making the supreme sacrifice. The enemy had lost heart after this and
withdrew, leaving behind a large number of dead and wounded. Naik Jadunath Singh for his
gallantry was awarded the Param Vir Chakra.
Naik Jadunath Singh
Another Maha Vir Chakra was awarded to Lt.
Kishan Singh Rathore, the acting C Company commander. During the thick of the battle he
continuously visited the company positions and encouraged the men to fight in the Rajput
tradition. The battle of Taindhar was vital for holding Naushera. After this battle, the
Indian army consolidated its position and in March 1948 undertook the operation to
recapture Jhangar. Both 1 and 3 Rajputs were in the column which captured Jhangar.
In September 1948, 4 Rajput were moved to Zoji La as part of the 77
Para Brigade. The Rajputs along with tanks of 7th Cavalry cleared the way through the
pass, they then went ahead and retook Dras.
In 1950 there was another change among the infantry regiments. On
raising of the Brigade of Guards, the 1st Rajput was transferred to them and became 4th
Battalion Brigade of Guards. Also at this time Bengalis and Muslims started coming into
the regiment. When the princely states were amalgamated with the Indian Union, the Bikaner
Sadul Light Infantry and the Jodhpur Sardar Infantry joined the Rajput Regiment and became
19th and 20th Rajput respectively. The Bikaner Sadul Light Infantry traces its origin back
to 1464. They fought under the legendary Rana Sanga at the Battle of Kanwa (1527) against
Babur. During World War 1, this unit was organized as Camel Corps, called Ganga Risala. It
won many gallantry awards including 1 DSO, 1 IOM, 11 IDSMs, 9
MMs and 16 Mentioned-in-Despatches. Jodhpur Sardar Infantry was raised in 1922. During World War 2 it was in
Eritrea and then it was part of the American 5th Army when it landed at Salerno in Sept.
1943. Afterwards as part of the 10th Indian Division it operated along the Adriatic coast. During these operations it won 1 DSO, 1 MC,
3 MMs and 17 Mentioned-in-Despatches.
17 Rajputs was in Nagaland during the insurgency operations of 1955 and 1956. It carried
forward the high traditions and won seven Kirti Chakras and two Shaurya Chakras.
1962 Indo-China War
Two Rajput battalions witnessed some heavy fighting in NEFA in
1962. The 2nd Rajput under the command of Lt. Col. M.S. Rikh were at Walong in early 1962
and were moved to the banks of the Namka Chu river by October 10th as a part of 7 Infantry
Brigade. The brigade was stretched on a twelve mile front along the
Namka Chu, with the
marching time from one end to the other being five days. The site chosen for their
defences was forced upon them by the corps commander, who was working directly with the
political authorities instead of the military chain of command. The battalion took up
hastily erected defensive positions along the Namka Chu. The battalion was deployed in a
trackless wilderness, where no mules could go and no civilian population lived which could
help logistically. Lack of winter clothing added to the hardships of the men on these
snowy heights. By the time the fighting commenced, the Chinese had occupied all the
dominating heights in the area. A massive assault came on the Rajput front and in the
fierce fighting that ensured, the battalion repulsed a number of determined attacks. The
positions were soon enveloped from both sides and the battalion was cut off. In spite of
heavy old against them the Rajputs did not give in and fought until the end.
Progress of the
battle at Namka Chu (Click on image for a full sized map)
The story of gallantry beyond the call of duty was re-enacted in many
platoons and companies. At the temporary bridge, Naik Roshan Singh's section clung
doggedly to its position till every man was killed. Subedar Dasrath Singh's platoon was
reduced to seven men and had exhausted its ammunition in repulsing three Chinese attacks.
When the fourth Chinese attack came the Rajputs fixed bayonets and charged. In the ensuing
hand to hand fighting four men were killed and the three survivors all seriously wounded
were captured. Jemadar Bose's platoon was left with only 10 men after halting three
Chinese attacks. He too fixed bayonets and charged. He along with most of his platoon were
killed. For those interested in more details there is an excellent article in the
section of Bharat Rakshak on this battle.
Not a single man from B, C or D Companies was awarded any gallantry
medal as there was no one left to write the citations because there was no officer or JCO
who was not killed or seriously wounded and taken POW. When the CO, Lt. Col. M.S. Rikh was
released from the POW camp, he wrote up the citations but
GoI and MoD made lame excuses
and did not pay any attention to them. There is a memorial erected to those who fought at
Namka Chu, which is a ricktey tin shed with names still missing from it and names of
persons who were not there have been put up. Major B.K. Pant's company of 112 men had 82
killed and wounded. What more does a country want from its brave sons and not honour them
properly? 2 Rajput, out of 513 all ranks in battle, 282 were killed, 81 were wounded and
captured. 90 others were taken prisoners when they tried to break out. Only 60 other
ranks, mostly from the administrative elements got back.
4 Rajput under Lt. Col. B. Avasthi was in the Sela-Bomdila area and it
too had to face heavy odds. There was conflicting views among the senior commanders. The
brigade commander wanted to hold Sela, but the divisional commander wanted to fall back.
The divisional commander and the corps commander both agreed to withdraw. This led to
total chaos during the retreat as the Chinese had bypassed many positions and ambushed
parties of the soldiers withdrawing in a number of places. The battalion broke up into a
number of parties, one led by Lt. Col. Avasti was ambushed and he was killed along with
1965 Indo-Pak War
After the Rann of Kutch affair, Pakistan switched its attempts towards
Kargil and in May 1965 it attacked one of the Indian posts there. 4 Rajput as a part of
121 Infantry Brigade were ordered to capture Point 13620 and Black Rock (15000) also known
as Kargil heights to remove any threat to the Srinagar-Leh highway. Both posts consisted
of three parts and each of these features was held by a platoon plus of the enemy in
addition to a section of 3" mortars and MMGs on Point 13620. On
17 May 1965, B
Company under Major Baljit Singh Randhawa, infiltrated deep behind the enemy held posts
and attacked them. A grim battles was the fought and the Rajputs were sucessful in
evicting the enemy. The Rajputs were awarded a MVC to Maj. B.S. Randhawa (posthumous) and
3 VrCs, one each to Captain Ranbir Singh, Sepoy Budh Singh and a posthumous one to
Havildar Girghari Lal. Black Rocks was captured by A Company in the second phase of the
attack. As an act of goodwill by GOI these posts were handed back to the Pakistanis some
weeks later. These were again recaptured by another battalion in August 1965.
In August, 4 Rajput were moved to the Hajipir area and Bisali feature
was captured by them on the night of 4/5 September. This assault was carried out in face
of heavy MMG, mortar and artillery fire. The Pakistanis launched five counterattacks and
all these were beaten back. By this time the Rajputs had nearly exhausted all of their
ammunition and with no hope of reinforcements, they had to withdraw to other defensive
6 Rajput were in and around Srinagar dealing with the Pakistani
infiltrators. A number of raids and ambushes were systematically carried out by them.
After the infiltrator menace had died down, 6 Rajput moved to Ahknur area and came under
191 Infantry Brigade, which in turn was directly under HQ 15 corps. The battalion was
supplied with RCL guns but without sights. When asking for the sights they were told to
"see through the barrels and engage the Pakistani armour.'" The battalion held on to a
number of forward posts in the area in face of repeated counterattacks and heavy shelling.
Some time after the cease fire a Brigadier came around to see the 6 Rajput defences. He
asked Naik Nanak Singh, who was in charge of an LMG position as to where his range card
was, and how could he fire properly without knowing the primary and secondary arcs. The
Naik replied that he would fire from where ever the enemy came. This annoyed the Brigadier
and he said that the Naik was not a good NCO. Nanak Singh faced the Brigadier and said,
"Sahib, jab golian chal rahi theen to dikhai nahin diye. Ab range card poochh rahe
ho." (Sir, when the bullets were flying you were not to be seen and now you are asking for the
range card!). That ended the matter.
14 and 20 Rajput were at the Phillora-Chawinda front and after the
capture of Charwa on the border, 20 Rajput led the advance for the next 10 days. 17 Rajput
were in the southern Lahore sector in the Bedian area.
In 1967, 18 Rajput were carrying out a project of erecting wire fences
on the North Shoulder of Nathula. On September 11th, they broadcast taped messages in
Chinese to inform the Chinese troops of the intention. When the wire laying party was in
the open and laying the fences, the Chinese opened up with machine guns. Major Harbhajan
Singh the company commander ordered his men to charge the
Chinese. He single handedly rushed
forward and bayoneted three Chinese soldiers and then silenced one of the machine guns by
throwing a hand grenade. In doing so he made the supreme sacrifice. The Rajputs inspired
by their company commander's courage, led by Naib Subedar Raghav Prasad Pandey charged the
other machine gun and silenced it. There was firing between the Rajputs and Chinese for
the next five days. 61 casualties (22 killed and the rest wounded) were the suffered by
the Rajputs. Major Harbhajan Singh was awarded a MVC (posthumous) and Naib Subedar Pandey
a VrC (posthumous) for their gallant actions.
1971 Indo-Pak War
Rajput battalions played an active part in liberation of Bangladesh.
Starting in West Bengal, near Calcutta and going about in a clockwise direction around
Bangladesh the battalions were deployed as follows.
22 Rajput captured Akandabaria and cleared the way to capture Darsana.
The Rajputs then led the brigade attack on Kushtia. The Pakistanis had built up the area
around Kushtia and they let the Rajputs and the supporting tanks come forward into the
area. They then opened up with heavy fire, the leading company of the Rajputs suffered
16 Rajput participated in the battle of Hilli and then led the brigade
advance to Ghoraghat and on to Rangpur. 21 Rajput spearheaded the move to Saidpur and
fought in the battle of Khansama during which there was fierce hand to hand fighting. 4
Rajput were in the area Kurigram-Kaligunj-Jaipurhat. 6 Rajput fought in the Sylhet area
and led the advance towards Fenchunganj and Kola Bils. Heavy fighting took place at Kola
Bils and the battalion suffered 100 casualties, but it obtained the surrender of 22nd
Baluch Regiment. The battalion was awarded 1 VrC (posthumous) and 2
SMs for the action at
18 Rajput were on the Akhaura-Ashuganj axis. Akhaura proved a tough nut
to crack, fighting for it took nearly three days. After this the Rajputs rushed forward
and captured the Titas bridge intact. They then attacked Ashuganj, which was cleared after
a tough fight and moved on to Narsingdi and entered Dacca on the 16th December. 20 Rajput
operated in the Belonia bulge and captured Chaudagram and later moved to Chittagong.
On the western front, 20 Rajput (Jodhpur Sardar) were in their elements
in the sands of Rajasthan. Covering a distance of 70 km in the first five days of the war
the Rajputs reached Chachro. 15 Rajput was in the Fazilka area. It was involved in heavy
fighting for the capture of Beriwala bridge and Ghazi post. It suffered heavy casualties
during the attacks. Lance Naik Drigpal Singh received a posthumous MVC for his gallant
actions. 14 Rajput saw action in the Khalra sector and 5 and 9 Rajputs were in the Chammb
area. 9 Rajput operated in the Ratnu Chak area and carried out a number of raids, they
also captured a couple of enemy posts.
Since the 1980s a number of Rajput battalions have been involved
involved in CI operations in the North East, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. 4, 5 and 25
Rajputs formed a part of IPKF in Sri Lanka. In 1980, 18 Rajput transferred to the newly
raised Mechanised Infantry Regiment as its 13th battalion. More recently, 27 Rajput were
involved in the fighting in the Kargil sector in 1999.
The Rajput Regimental center is in Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh. The
regiment now a days recruits Rajputs, Gujars, Bengalis, Brahmins, Muslims, Jats, Ahirs,
Mazhabi & Ramdasia Sikhs and Dogras. A war memorial was erected at Fetehgarh in 1932. It
is in a form of a chattri, with its dome resting on six pillars, each representing a
battalion at that time and bearing its crest. The regimental motto is
which means Victory Everywhere and the war cry is Bajrang Bali Ki
The honours and awards tally for the Rajputs is as follows (from
Infantry in India):
Pre-Independence: 1 VC, 1 GC, 10 DSO, 33 MC, 10 IOM, 27 MM and 46 IDSM.
Post-Independence: 1 PVC, 1 AC, 7 MVC, 12 KC, 58 VrC, 20 SC, 67 SM, 4
 Lt. Col. Mustasad Ahmad, Living Up To Heritage: The Rajputs 1947
to 1970, Lancer.
 Maj. Gen. A.K. Verma, Rivers of Silence, Lancer.
 Major K.C. Praval, Indian Army After Independence, Lancer.
 Amarinder Singh, Lest We Forget, Regiment of Ludhiana
 Bharat Rakshak, Battle of Namka Chu 10 Oct - 16 Nov. 1962.
 Lt. Col. Gautam Sharma, Valour and Sacrifice, Allied.
 Lt. Gen. V.R. Raghavan, Infantry in India,