Service No : IC 5585

Place of birth : Kerala

Service : Army

Last Rank : Lt Col

Unit : 16 Madras

Arm/Regt : The Madras Regiment

Martyrdom : December 17, 1971

Lt Col A O Alexander

Lt Col AO Alexander hailed from the state of Kerala. He was commissioned in 1948 into the 2nd Travancore, part of the erstwhile Travancore State Forces. After the Independence, the Battalion was integrated into the Indian Army in April 1951 and designated as the 16th Battalion of the Madras Regiment (Travancore). As a consequence, on 01 April 1951, Lt Col AO Alexander was granted Regular Commission in the Indian Army. Later, as part of Army’s rationalization plan, he was moved to the 14th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment from where he qualified for the Staff College Course.

 

After graduating from the Staff College, he was posted to HQ 62 Infantry Brigade as the Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General (DAA & QMG). He fought the 1962 India-China war with the Brigade in the Eastern Sector at Sela Pass in Kameng Frontier Division of NEFA (Now Arunachal Pradesh). In March 1964 he was posted to 63 Infantry Brigade as the Brigade Major. After his tenure with the Brigade in October 1965, he was posted back to his Battalion, 14 Punjab as  the Second-in Command.

 

On being approved for Command, Lt Col AO Alexander moved back to his parent Battalion 16 Madras (Travancore), then located at Ranchi as part of 42 Infantry Brigade under 9 Infantry Division and took over command of the Battalion on 04 April 1966. From Ranchi, the Battalion moved to Gacham in Arunachal Pradesh as part of 192 (Independent) Infantry Brigade. Under the Brigade, the Battalion had an operational task of infiltrating deep into enemy territory self-contained a period of up to 7 days and undertaking offensive operations in adverse weather conditions. The standards of physical fitness and training achieved by the battalion under Lt Col AO Alexander paved the way for the Battalion’s outstanding performance in the 1971 Indo-Pak war in the ‘Battle of ‘Basantar’ which was fought in the Shakargarh Sector of the Western front two years after his departure from the Battalion.

 

Lt Col AO Alexander was posted out of the Battalion on 09 December 1969 as the Assistant Quarter Master General (AQMG) of 36 Infantry Division, responsible for planning and executing the logistic plan of the formation. After a tenure of one and a half years as the AQMG, Lt Col AO Alexander was specially chosen to raise 27 Madras and moved to Wellington (Nilgiris) where the Battalion commenced its raising on 01 June 1971, a second command tenure which was a rare honour. Raising an Infantry Battalion demanded taking action to fully equip the Battalion, integrating the men who had been made available from various units of the Regiment, training them and bringing into being an outfit which is fit for war which he did by early December 1971.

 

Indo-Pak War : Dec 1971

 

During Dec 1971, Lt Col AO Alexander was commanding 27 Madras which he had raised in June 1971 and happened to be its first 'Commanding Officer'. As the tension rose with Pakistan and the war became imminent, 27 Madras got deployed on the western border in Rajasthan. It joined action at Asutar in Jaisalmer Sector on 5 December, to reinforce 12 Infantry Division under attack at Longewala. Lt Col AO Alexander displaying his field-craft skills and leadership blunted the enemy thrust along with his troops.

 

After the situation stabilized, the Battalion was moved to Kutch to contain enemy intrusion which the Battalion successfully achieved. Though the ceasefire was declared on 16 Dec 1971, the situation was still tense along the IB and demanded suitable deployment of troops to deal with any misadventure by the enemy. Lt Col AO Alexander decided to lead a reconnaissance team himself to study the enemy deployment as the information was critical to to plan appropriate counter measures. On 17 Dec 1971 when the reconnaissance operation was underway, Lt Col AO Alexander and his troops were ambushed by the enemy troops. A fierce gun-battle followed thereafter with heavy exchange of fire. However Lt Col AO Alexander and his six other soldiers got seriously wounded and later succumbed to their injuries. Lt Col AO Alexander was a valiant soldier and determined commanding officer who led from the front and laid down his life in the line of his duty.

 

Lt. Col A.O Alexander is survived by his wife, Mrs Laltiha Alexander, son Santosh Alexander and daughter Talita Susan Abraham

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2 Comments
  • EZ Chacko

    2021at4:40 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Syloo matthai

    2021at7:14 pm Reply

    What a great tribute to one regarded as a hero.
    Lalitha, Arvind and Sameera how proud you must feel.

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