Service No : IC10023
Service : Army
Last Rank : Captain
Arm/Regt : 8 Gorkha Rifles
Martyrdom : November 18, 1962
Capt BB Ghosh hailed from Delhi and did his schooling from Raisinha Bengali higher Secondary school, Gole Market, New Delhi. Subsequently he joined Hindu college (Delhi Univ) for further studies. Eldest among five siblings, he was inclined to join the Armed Forces since his younger days and consequently joined the Joint Services Wing (JSW, subsequently known as NDA) course. He passed out in the year 1959 and was commissioned as a second Lieutenant into 2/8 GR battalion of 8 Gorkha Rifles Regiment, an infantry Regiment well known for its gallant soldiers and numerous battle exploits. After Commissioning he served very briefly at Ramgarh and also served as an ADC to the then Bengal Governor, Ms Padmaja Naidu for a short period.
Later Capt Ghosh got posted to Nagaland, where he undertook operations against the Naga rebels just prior to the 1962 war. He got injured in one of the operations and was recuperating while on leave, when the war clouds were taking shape in NEFA(North Eastern Frontier Agency) the present day Arunachal Pradesh. He joined back his unit after leave and got involved into thick of operations in NEFA.
Indo-China War : Nov 1962
During the 1962 Indo-China war, Capt Ghosh’s unit 2/8 GR was deployed in Siang Frontier Division, south of Mc Mohan line along the border. By third week of Oct 1962, India had already faced many reverses in the war and many organisational changes were made to deal with the situation. Initially 5 Infantry Brigade was responsible for the Walong Sector. As a sequel to the reorganization, after the fall of Tawang, a new formation 2 Infantry Division was raised with Maj Gen MS Pathania as the GOC. The newly raised Division was assigned the responsibility of the whole of NEFA, less Kameng (Tawang) Sector. Consequently, 181 Infantry Brigade was allocated for Walong Sector. However, later on GOC’s insistence, entire 181 Infantry Brigade was moved out and 11 Infantry Brigade under Brigadier NC Rawlley was moved to Walong. Capt Ghosh’s unit 2/8 GR was then ordered to move to Walong, a small hamlet, situated in the vicinity of Tri Junction of Tibet, Myanmar and India.
Walong was about 30 km from the Tibetan border (McMahon Line) and approximately 200 km from the road-head (in 1962) at Teju on our side of the border. A track from Walong also led towards Kibithoo along the Western bank of Lohit River. Onward, it hit the McMahon Line; crossing into Tibet, culminating at Rima, an administrative base on the Chinese side of the border. The supply line and transportation of troops was only by air and Teju airfield was the nearest airlift point. There was an airstrip at Walong, capable of handling only light aircraft like Otters or Caribous. At 0015 hours on 22 Oct, the Chinese launched an attack on Kibithoo held by a company of 6 Kumaon, with a battalion size force, duly supported by mortars and machine guns. The battle lasted for almost four hours. The Chinese ultimately were able to breakthrough, by sheer weight of numbers. 6 Kumaon withdrew to occupy a defensive position at Walong. On 24 Oct morning, the Chinese contacted the main defences at Walong which by that time were being defended by two companies of 2/8 GR along with 4 SIKH battalion. However the higher command took a decision to withdraw 2/8 GR from Walong.
Consequently Capt Ghosh and his soldiers moved to the Garrison at Mechuka northwest of Walong. On 18 Nov 1962, the Garrison was asked to withdraw which included 2/8 GR and 11 Assam Rifles. Capt Ghosh as Adjutant of the battalion quickly made the operational plan for withdrawal along with his Commanding Officer Lt DA Taylor and put it into action. However during the withdrawal, Capt Ghosh and some of his comrades lost their lives while battling treacherous terrain and Chinese ambushes. Capt BB Ghosh was a valiant soldier and a fine officer, who laid down his life in the line of duty, following the highest traditions of Indian Army.
Shri Abhijit Ghosh recounts and pays tribute to his brother Capt BB Ghosh :
” I was 12 years old then and my brother was 26 years old, unmarried when he was killed in the battlefield. Earlier, he was adjutant in 2/8 Gorkha Regiment and that time Brig. Manekshaw (subsequently Field Marshall) was the boss of Gorkha Regiment. He also served as an ADC to the then Bengal Governor, Ms. Sarojini Naidu for a short period. Just prior to the 1962 war, he was posted in Nagaland and was injured fighting the rebel Nagas and subsequently was on leave due to the injury. Perhaps Lal Dauz (his orderly was killed in that fight). Till date, I remember fondly Mr.Lal Dhauz who visited our house once and when offered an Ice cream he ate the whole lot in one go without removing the wrapper. The Gorkhas were honest, simple by heart and knew no fear.
But nothing could deter Capt. Ghosh from going to the front to fight the Chinese. I think his passion to fight for India’s honor led to his death. I can even now recall the names of some of my brother’s colleagues in Gorkha Regiment, Cardozo, Kalkat, Atri, Gurung (he ate 12 pieces of fish in one go) Joshi, Chauhan, Chibber. I vividly remember these incidents as these army officers then Capt/major were all unique and very helpful, to say the least. A few of them even offered my father pecuniary help to our family of 5 children fed solely on my father’s meager salary. It is another matter that my father never accepted a single penny from any of them and struggled along with my mother all their life, sacrificed all comfort, led a life with bare necessity just for our sake and gave us the best of education by virtue of which we all are well established today in the society. I pray to God to give me the same parents, brother and sisters for the innumerable times if I were ever to be re-born.”
“Late capt. Ghosh was loved, adored and admired by neighbors’, friends besides family members was clearly visible even after his death. The entire neighborhood literally plunged into darkness where we lived. A family of Ahluwalias (our next door neighbor that time-Late Amar and Kanwar Singh) took care of our daily meals for nearly a month as our mother went into depression and couldn’t do cooking.”
Capt BB Ghosh’s transcribed last letter (written on 14 Nov 1962) to his best friend Mr Samir:
My Dear Samir,
All your letters along with many mails were dropped to me along with food yesterday. Since I wrote to you the world seems to have changed too much and that includes all those in the front now. My memory goes obscure of the 10 days from 20th to 30th of last month. So far the most bleak days were the 27th and the 28th. We never thought we shall go back home again. Encircled from all sides – there was no hope but the miracles does happen. As it grew dark few if us got out in a desperate attempt and now we are heading from where we fell back. Samir, never before have I had such faith in God and always feel that to a soldier it is his hand guiding over destiny. Some of my most gallant men are no more but for each one of us killed we took 5 times the toll. They came in hordes in waves after waves. Get slaughtered but still come till we are left with no supplies. I have never seem pigs in human form. It appears that communism has been deeply indoctrinated into them and that they have been told to die for its cause.
We have read Mao Tse Tungs book on “Guerrilla Warfare” – It begins “if you wish for peace, understand & know war”. What is happening today is not just the events of the past few days but something for which political and military preparations were carried out for over 12 years. We in the army never thought Pakistan to be a potential enemy. It was always China and now perhaps others have also been enlightened. For a modern state not to prepare itself for war is suicidal as it endangers your own safety. Whose will the industries go if your own house is not safe against aggression. Look at the points where they have launched this massive offensive – it is the Tri Jn (junction) of India – China & Bhutan on the west and the India – China – Burma on the east. It clearly shows that if they are successful, Burma & Bhutan will automatically be subjugated to their will. That I am sure we shall not let happen. Who so ever dominates the massive Himalaya dominates the plains of India. We are to stay here and none of us would let it go except over our dead bodies. We have all got used to the shelling and firing of automatics – the blood boils with a spirit of revenge, of hate. We hall paint the snow red with blood that shall never melt.
We have tools and not slogans, xxxx or protests. I think we have seen enough of this during the past 15 yrs. The most essential of all – we need an enlightened public opinion. How many of our countrymen know what really the army is, how it lives. I do not imply professionalism but an awareness of the needs. The USA & the UK relies only on its own strength which is the crux of international politics. That is why ussr withdrew from Cuba – fast because he knew if New York is wiped out so will Moscow in a matter of seconds. This is not the correct philosophy to adopt but this is inescapable. If I were to propound on the blunders of the past I shall file pages, besides I cannot write these now. I hope I survive to speak to you- I first met a Chinese patrol in the Nathula Pass in Sikkim in Nov 59 and I wrote an article. I predicted many things there as did other comrades – now this it is all coming to shape. I fancied to think of China the biggest land army in the world and the 3rd largest air force invading India with its troops occupied in Kashmir, in the Naga hills and many other places. The situation is just the same as I see now. We have been outnumbered, outweaponed but not out spirited or out moralled. The Indian soldier proves once again to be the finest in the world. They xxx are the same that fought the Germans, the Japanese in both the wars and added to this list honours many a name. Today they show the same spirited display of valour in bitter snow and sub zero temp, fighting at heights where no one has ever fought before. We have stopped them everywhere and we shall push them back but it will take time, how long is anybody’s guess. To carry the food to the various posts after drop, takes days and by itself the Himalaya is so difficult to sustain. They have roads coming up to them, we are all out in the blue where no comn (communication) with the rest exist. There is that feeling of isolation. I am writing to you from my bench and I have not had much sleep except for 2, 3 hrs a day. Every one goes through unpredictable mood of behavior which happens at heights but as officers we have to be calm, cool, collected. I have no hair on my head – the worst, more on my part I have lost many of my belonging during the course of the past few days. Before I am carried away further by drifting emotions let me tell you something important. I shall be very grateful if you go to Ramgarh and meet Sub Lal xxx of my unit. Please collect my boxes (5 or 6 don’t remember) and take it to your place. This is giving you lot of trouble for which I shall be ever grateful. I am sending a signal to him in this regard. We are not going back but god willing I shall come some day to you to collect my boxes. In case that doesn’t happen – my father can take it to Delhi – which I don’t hope. It is very true when an old soldier said that unless your name is written on a bullet you will never die. Had it not being so I would not have been here today. The odds are heavy and overwhelming but that victory in the end will be ours. It will be suicidal if the conflict enlarges in the air. The air field at Chushul must be held and it will be.
The biggest sarcasm of Panch Sheel – the Chinese attack us with slogans “Hindu Chini Bhai Bhai”. If you are non-aligned, you should be strong enough to defend yourself both militarily and economically. Call it alignment, call it non-alignment – the aim is to protect your freedom, sovereignty and dignity – xxxx. Writing to xxx to xxx academic interest. The army is merely an extension of society, its rise and fall corresponds to the rise and decline of the nation. The progress and achievement in military affairs shows only the scientific, technological and industrial potential of the nation. There was so much cry about so many crores being spent on defense – what about now ? An Indian is basically a penny wise pound foolish man. He sleeps so much as he can but wakes up to find himself in crisis – resolves – thank god to rises to the occasion. We all deeply appreciate the sympathies of our brothers and sisters at home. More than any need is the need to cast of ignorance. Unless you know your country, it power, its potential you can be easily fooled and carried away. Some one asked why don’t we bomb with our Air force, I told him that brilliant idea did not dawn on us and thanked him for it. I added that if we did so, he may not find himself there any longer. Let the world be full of xxx, yet human affairs in their xxx aspect will always be included by a policy of blood & iron. I don’t know when my xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx comes to pick up mails. Letters can be received but not sent. My best regards to Mashima. Love to you all. Life is so uncertain. We all think like this – maximum that can happen is that we shall die –