Service No: IC-7990
Date of Birth : Jun 10, 1928
Birth Place: Shimla (HP)
Last Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Unit : 1/8 GR
Arm/Regt : 8 Gorkha Rifles
Operation: Op Leg Horn
Awards: Param Vir Chakra
Date of Demise : Sep 5, 2005
Lt Col Dhan Singh Thapa was born on 10th June 1928 in Shimla in Himachal Pradesh to Nepali parents. Son of Shri P.S. Thapa, Lt Col Thapa was commissioned into the 8th Gorkha Rifles on 28th August 1949. Like most Gorkhas, the soldiering came naturally to him and he did it very willingly and cheerfully.
INDO-CHINA WAR: 1962
During the Indo-Sino War of 1962, the Indian Army was determined to capture the Sirijap valley as it holds tremendous strategic value. Situated north of the Pangong Lake in Ladakh, it was vital for defending the Shushul airfield. The 1/8 Gorkha Rifles were posted there to prevent Chinese encroachment in the area. One of these outposts was held by a platoon of ‘C’ Company commanded by then Major Thapa.
In the wee hours of 20th October, the Chinese attacked. They charged the post with heavy artillery and mortar fire. The attack went on for more than two hours and by the end of the charge, the area had been set ablaze and communication lines had been damaged, following which the Chinese attacked in huge numbers. The Gorkha Rifles fought back fiercely under the leadership of Major Thapa and they inflicted heavy damage to the enemy. Subsequently, the Chinese launched another heavier attack after shelling them with artillery fire and mortar bombardment.
Once again, they managed to push back and cause huge casualties on the Chinese. But the Chinese were determined and they launched a third and final attack on the Indian troops, this time, the infantry was backed by tanks. Maj Thapa’s regiment had already been weakened by the previous waves of attacks. But they were not disheartened and fought on until the last bit of their ammunition. Maj Thapa even killed many enemy troops in hand to hand combat. Eventually, the numerical superiority of the Chinese won and the troops were overpowered.
For his gallant and heroic actions and his astute leadership, Lt Col Thapa was decorated with the Param Vir Chakra. He was believed to be dead and his wife received the medal in his name, but it was later discovered that he was taken as a prisoner of war. After he was taken a prisoner, he was treated very badly against all military conventions. He had to undergo a series of punishments for causing many casualties to Chinese forces and also not toeing the line of Chinese authorities in making statements against India. He was later released and resumed his duty and got promoted to the rank of Lt Col.
He retired as Lt Col and passed away due to natural causes at the age of 77 on 5th September 2005. He is survived by his wife Shukla and daughter Poornima.
The citation for the Param Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:
Major Dhan Singh Thapa was in command of a forward post in Ladakh. On 20 October it was attacked by the Chinese in overwhelming strength after being subjected to intensive artillery and mortar bombardment. Under his gallant command, the greatly outnumbered post repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the aggressors. The enemy attacked again in greater numbers after heavy shelling by artillery and mortar fire Under the leadership of Major Thapa, his men repulsed this attack also with heavy losses to the enemy.
The Chinese attacked for the third time, now with tanks to support the infantry. The post had already suffered large numbers of casualties in the earlier two attacks. Though considerably reduced in number it held out to the last. When it was finally overrun by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, Major Thapa got out of his trench and killed several of the enemy in hand-to-hand fighting before he was finally overpowered by Chinese soldiers.
Major Thapa’s cool courage, conspicuous fighting qualities and leadership were in the highest traditions of our Army.
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