THE GARHWAL RIFLES AND THE GARHWAL SCOUTS 1887-1987
LAMENT NOT THE DEATH OF A WARRIOR KILLED ON THE BATLLEFIELD FOR ONE KILLED IN WAR IS RESPECTED IN HEAVEN
The above priceless gem enshrined in the Garhwal Rifles Regimental War Memorial captures at once the spirit and credo of the Regiment which is celebrating its first centenary in May 1987.
Though Garhwalis had rich fighting traditions for several centuries, the raising of a separate Regiment consonant with their distinctive characteristics was a child of timely initiative by no less a military genius than Field Marshal FS Roberts, the then commander-in-chief.
In May, 1887, the Ist Battalion of the Regiment was raised at Almora in Kumaon by Lt Col. EP Mainwaring as 2nd Battalion the 3rd (The Kumaon) Gurkha Regiment. On 4th Nov. 1887, the Battalion moved to Lansdowne (then known as Kalundanda). In 1831, the Battalion was redesignated the 39th (The Garhwali) Regiment of Bengal Infantry. In 1901, 2nd Battalion, the 39th Garhwal Rifles was raised.
The First World War was a turning point in the history of the regiment. The Ist and 2nd Battalions which saw active service in France soon carved for themselves many a niche in the temple of fame. While Nk. Darwan Singh Negi won the second Victoria Cross ever awarded to an Indian soldier, Rfn Gobar Singh Negi of the second Battalion soon emulated the former by winning the Victoria Cross in the bloody battle of Nevue Chapelle. Before the carnage of the first world war ended, the Regiment had won 2 Victoria Crosses (VC), 6 Distinguished Service Orders (DSO), 25 Military Crosses (MC), 14 Indian Orders of Merit (IOM) and 21 Indian Distinguished Service Medals (IDSM) apart from such rare foreign awards as Legion D’Honneur and French Croix D’Guerre.
The 3rd and the 4th Battalions were raised in 1916 and 1918 respectively. The 4th Battalion added one more Victoria Cross to the Regiment when in Jan. 1920, Lt WD Kenny was posthumously honoured for his valour in Kotkai (NWFP).
On 2nd Feb, 1921, the entire Regiment was conferred the royal title- a unique honour which it shared with only one other Indian Infantry Group: 5 Royal Gurkha Rifles. In 1923, the Regimental War Memorial was unveiled in Lansdowne.
The sacred shrine of the Regimental Deity, Badrinath whose invocation is the essence of the battle cry, the Regimental War Memorial and the Scarlet Lanyard constitute the mystical trinity that arouse alike the officers and men to formidable feats, above and beyond the call of duty.
During world war 11, five more battalions 4th (Re raised) 5th, 6th, 7th and 25th (Garrison) battalion were raised. The Regiment saw active service in almost all of the theatres and won 6 DSOs, 25 MCs, 14 IOSM and 21 IDSMS. A rich tapestry of theatre honours ranging from France to Flanders, Macedonia to Afghanistan, Italy to Abyssinia and Burma to Malaya decorate the Regimental banners.
After Independence, a number of additional battalions have been raised. The Regiment has crowned itself with glory in all of the postwar conflicts and counter insurgency operations by winning 1 Ashoka Chakra, 4 MVCS, 9 KCs and 35 VrCs. 3rd Battalion rendered distinguished service as a part of the custodian force in Korea in 1953.
10th May 1987 will be a shining milestone along the path of glory. It has not been easy, nevertheless; the accomplishments have been characterised by great elan, verve and vigour.
It is a momentous occasion to review the outstanding achievements of the Regiment with pride and gratification.
Date of Issue: 10.5.1987