Thursday, 24 March 2011

Param Vir Chakra (PVC) Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore

Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore was born in Mumbai on August 18th 1923. He came from the family of General Ratanjiba. who led the armies  of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, He was awarded 100 villages. Among them Tarapore was the main village.  The name Tarapore came from there. Later his grandfather went to Hyderabad and started working under the Nizam of Hyderabad  in the excise department. After his death Ardeshir's father took up his job and became very successful with his hard work and dedication. Ardeshir demonstrated his courage at the young tender age when he saved his sister from a family cow that was broken loose. Ardeshir did his schooling from
Sardar Dastur Boys' Boarding School in Pune and completed his matriculation in 1940. He applied for army and got selected. He did his training at Golconda and upon completion he was sent to Bangalore. He was commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the 7th Hyderabad Infantry.
Ardeshir was popularly called as  "Adi". He was not happy joining the Infantry. He wanted to join an armored regiment. During a battalion inspection by the Commander-in-Chief of the state forces Major General El Edroos. Ardeshir impressed him with his exemplary courage when by accident a grenade fell into the bay area at the grenade throwing range and Ardeshir was quick to jump and throw it. The grenade exploded in the middle a flying shapnel hit his chest and left him injured. Major General Edroos was witness to the entire event. He summoned him to his office and congratulated him for his bravery. Ardeshir took this opportunity  to request a transfer to an armored regiment. The General accepted his request and transferred him to the 1st Hyderabad Imperial Service Lancers. He served in West Asia during the WWII.
After the Indian independence hyderabad was merged with India. Which eventually amalgamated the Indian Army. Ardeshir was transferred to The Poona Horse. On 1st April 1951 he was commissioned in Poona Horse. He rose to the position of regiment commandant. In  1965 Indo-Pak war he commanded his own regiment in Poona Horse.
The Poona Horse was raised on the 15th of July 1817. Amongst many of its earlier exploits was that at Koregaun ( near Poona) where 300 of its men along with a small detachment of infantry were surrounded by 28,000 troops of the Peshwa's army under command of the Peshwa himself. After a day's desperate hand to hand fighting in which the medical officer led the sepoy's in a bayonet charge, the small force so successfully resisted the enemy's attack that the Peshwa withdrew his forces in disgust.
In 1857 the regiment was ordered to Persia. The Shah of Persia had invaded Afghanistan in 1856 and captured Herat. This was contrary to the treaties and he was called upon to retire which he did not, so war was declared). In the battle of Kooshab they charged headlong into the square formed by the Persian 1st Khusgai Regiment of Fars whom they practically annihilated. In this charge a standard of great antiquity was captured from the Persian Regiment. The captured standard was surmounted by a silver hand, the palm of which is inscribed YAD ULLAL FAUK IDAHEEM which roughly translates THE HAND OF GOD IS ABOVE ALL THINGS. Two VC's were won in this action and a number of other awards. This hand was later to become the central device of the badge of Poona Horse. (note: The Commandants ie Colonel Tarapore's tank was named Kooshab, from this campaign)
In the first great war the regiment again distinguished itself and another VC was won.
In 1921-22 a reorganisation of the Indian Cavalry took place and 34th Prince Albert Victors Own Poona Horse and 33rd Queen Victoria's Own Cavalry were merged to form the 17th Queen Victoria's own Poona Horse, Five years later the title changed to The Poona Horse (17th QVO Cavalry).
At the Battle of Chawinda during 1965 Indo-Pak war the biggest tank battle took place at Phillora in Sialkot.
The Commander of 1st Indian Armoured Division had come to the conclusion that it was necessary to outflank Chawinda before attacking it with infantry and selected Jassoran-Buttar Dograndi area to the west of Chawinda for this purpose 84. The Indian plan for conduct of operations on 16th September was as following:– (1) Poona Horse with under command one infantry battalion to first capture Jassoran and then advance to Buttur Dograndi, (2) 4 Horse to cross the railway line and secure area Sodreke crossing covering roads Chawinda-Badiana and Badiana-Pasrur (3) The places captured by Poona Horse and 4 Horse were to serve as firm base from where 6 Mountain Division would mount a night attack on Chawinda on night 16/17 September85.
The Indian attack commenced at 0600 hours 16th September and Buttur Dograndi was captured by 1030 hours. After this the Indian Army did not make much headway and at 1615 hours abandoned Buttur Dograndi since Indian Army did not have sufficient infantry to hold it. Later an attack was made to recapture Buttur. It was counter attacked by enemy forces with heavy shelling from Wazirwali. Unmindful for his injuries  Lt. Col. Tarapore further led his regiment to capture Jassoran and Butur-Dograndi. In this battle his own tank was hit many times but in spite of all the odds he maintained his pivots at both these places, which helped the supporting infantry to attack Chawinda from behind.The soldiers were so Inspired by Lt. Col. Tarapore's leadership and bravery  that they fiercely attacked and destroyed many enemy tanks. Limiting their casualties to 9 tanks. However, Lt. Colonel Tarapore was enveloped in flames during this attack and died a hero's death. The valour displayed by him in this action, lasting 6 days, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore was awarded with the highest wartime gallantry medal, Param Vir Chakra, posthumously.
The Indian Armies failures in making any worthwhile progress on 15th and 16th September had a more intimate connection with poor higher leadership that pigheadedly insisted on a modern charge of heavy brigade of tanks, against Pakistani artillery, which off course took advantage of the errors of enemy leadership at brigade and divisional level in the employment of armour, which was unnecessarily sacrificed in a suicidal manner, rather than being employed in a dynamic war of movement.