War Heroes

Maj Dhan Singh Thapa

Major Dhan Singh Thapa, born on 10 April 1928 in Simla, Himachal Pradesh, was commissioned in the 8 Gorkha Rifles on 28 August 1949. The Sirijap valley, north of the Pangong lake in Ladakh, was considered vital for the defence of Chushul airfield. The 1/8 Gorka Rifles had outposts there to thwart any enemy encroachment in the area. One of these outposts named Sirijap-1 was held by a platoon of 'C' Company under the command of Major Dhan Singh Thapa when the Chinese attack came on 21 October 1962. At 0600 hours on 21 October 1962, the Chinese opened a barrage of artillery and mortar fire over Sirijap-1 post. The shelling continued till 0830 hours and the whole area was set ablaze. Some shells fell on the command post and damaged the wireless set. This put the post out of commission. The Chinese then attacked the outpost in overwhelming numbers. Major Thapa and his men repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. But the Chinese were not dismayed by the defeat. They mounted another attack in greater number after shelling the area with artillery and mortar fire.

Major Thapa again rose to the occasion and repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. He encouraged his men to be prepared for a third assault, which came after a short while indeed. The third Chinese attack was, however, more powerful and intense. The enemy now came with tanks in support of the infantry. The platoon post was now in a much depleted strength owing to the casualties suffered in earlier attacks. But the post held out till the ammunition lasted. When it was finally overrun by the Chinese, he jumped out of his trench and killed many intruders in hand-to-hand fighting. He was eventually overpowered and killed. His cool courage, conspicuous fighting qualities and leadership were in the highest traditions of the Army. Major Thapa was believed to have been killed in this engagement, and the original citation given above reflects this. He was later discovered to have been taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers and after his release from the POW camp, he resumed his military career. For his gallantry act, Major Dhan Singh Thapa was honoured with the highest wartime gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra.