When the Berlin Wall collapsed, there were only 16 border fences around the world. Now, 65 countries have put up border fences, trying to keep at bay cross-border movement, terrorism, smuggling, drug racket, etc.
The date September 28th has a special significance in the annals of the history of the Regiment of Artillery as the first Indian Artillery Unit, 5 (Bombay) Mountain Battery equipped with 2.5 inch RML gun, was raised on this momentous day in 1827. The Regiment celebrates the occassion every year as Gunners Day.
Artillery was first used in India in the 14th Century by the Bahmani Kings during the Deccan War against Vijaynagar Kingdom. Guns were also employed on the Indian sub continent by Babur during the Battle of Panipat in 1526. A force multiplier throughout the Mughal Period, and later during the reign of the Marathas, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, artillery has eternally been an arm to reckon with.
The East India Company raised the first regular company of Artillery in 1748, with a small percentage of Indian Gunners called Gun Lashkars, Tindals and Serangs. Bombay Artillery was raised on September 28, 1827, and was later on renamed 5 Bombay Mountain Battery. Thus September 28 is celebrated as the ‘Gunners Day’. Since then gunners have taken part in all operations including the First and the Second World War. The Indian Gunners performed with valour and dedication and by the end of World War II, Indian gunners had won one Victoria Cross, one George Medal, 15 Military Crosses, two IOMs, 22 IDSMs, 18 Military Medals, five OBEs, one MBE, three British Empire Medals, 13 Burma Gallantry Medals and 467 ‘Jangi Inams’.
With Independence came greater challenges and the Regiment proved its mettle during the operations of 1947-48, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999. After the Kargil conflict, Artillery has acquired further prominence with its vast array of weapons. In addition, since the mid 1980s, gunners have been fighting shoulder to shoulder with the infantry in Counter Insurgency operations in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern States.
Amongst the present inventory of the Artillery are the 120mm mortars, the indigenously manufactured 105mm Indian Field Gun (IFG) and its lighter version for employment in mountains called Light Field Gun (LFG). The 155mm FH 77B Bofors, which created havoc during the Kargil War, and the 130mm Medium Gun of Russian origin are two of the most versatile and effective gun systems employed in all types of terrain and climatic conditions, ranging from the Siachen Glacier to the deserts of Rajasthan. Over the ages, Artillery has proven to be the arm of decision, a battle wining factor and will continue to be a pivotal arm in all future Battles. The Regiment of Artillery today has embarked itself on a path of modernisation, both in terms of equipment and support systems under “Make in India” initiative of the Government of India.
Modernisation of Firepower
The Indian Artillery is modernising rapidly with acquisition of 155 mm calibre gun systems in the towed, self-propelled and air portable versions. New multiple rocket launchers, with very high TNT content, having ranges longer than 60-70 kms have been acquired to achieve greater lethality. In order to address destruction of full array of targets in the battlefield, advanced ammunition systems such terminally guided munitions, sensor fuzed ammunition, precision guided munitions and a variety of cargo ammunitions are being introduced into the Artillery. The introduction of long range weapon locating and surveillance radars, and UAVs have increased the reach and enhanced the ambit of battle field transparency. The BrahMos is a supersonic land cruising missile capable of destroying pin point targets deep inside the enemy territory. The efforts of all generations of illustrious gunners and the introduction of new generation missiles, rockets, surveillance equipment and ammunition are paving the way for the Regiment of Artillery to be the arm of the future that can destroy targets with greater lethality than ever before. Till date the Regiment of Artillery has won the following Gallantry Awards:
|• Ashok Chakra||1|
|• Mahavir Chakra||7|
|• Kirti Chakra||8|
|• Vir Chakra||92|
|• Yudh Sewa Medal||3|
|• Shaurya Chakra||56|
|• Sena Medal (Gallantry)||441|
The Regiment has also been awarded 40 Honour Titles.
The main theme of celebrations is to remember the martyrs and the glorious past of the Gunners. All Gunners then rededicate their resolve to follow the example of martyrs in the ‘service of the nation’. A Sainik Sammelan is also held for all ranks of the station/regiment which is addressed by the senior most gunner. This is followed by a get together of the retired and serving personnel. Gunners Day is celebrated all over India and abroad (on UN missions) by all gunners.
Celebrations at some important stations Delhi. At the level of Army Head Quarters, a wreath laying ceremony was held on the auspicious occasion of 190th Gunners’ Day at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. Wreath was laid by General Deepak Kapoor (Retd), former COAS and Lt General P.K. Srivastava, Director General Artillery and Colonel Commandant Regiment of Artillery to remember the sacrifices of our fallen heroes. A gettogether of serving officers veterans was held in the evening.
School of Artillery, Devlali. It is the ‘Alma Mater’ of Gunners where the celebrations started by flagging off the Cycling Expedition of Gunners from September 28 to October 3, by Lt General R.S. Salaria, Commandant School of Artillery and Col Commandant Regiment of Artillery. The Cycling Expedition consisting of two Officers and 10 Other Rank covered a distance of approximately 500 kms over a period of five days. The route of the expedition was Devlali-Yeola-Aurangabad-Ahmednagar-Shirdi-Devlali. The Commandant addressed a Sainik Sammelan on the occasion, attended by all the Gunners of the station. Devlali has a special historical value as it was in September 1867 that the British started functioning from this location. This was followed by a wreath laying ceremony to pay homage to the fallen Gunner martyrs. A get together of serving and veterans officers was held in the evening.
Hyderabad. The Regiment of Artillery celebrated its 190th Raising Day across the Telangana and Andhra Sub Area (TASA). Hyderabad has special significance as the Artillery Centre is located at Golconda. The senior most Gunner in the station Major General N. Srinivas Rao, General Officer Commanding (TASA) called upon all the Gunners to rededicate themselves to uphold the ethos and spirit enshrined in the motto of the Regiment of Artillery, ‘Everywhere with Honour and Glory’. A wreath laying ceremony was held at Artillery Centre, Golconda. The wreath laying was a fitting tribute to the valour of all the Gunners who have made supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation. Veer Naris (War Widows) were felicitated with financial assistance on this occasion. Finally a get together was organised on the occasion attended by senior officers from other arms and services, serving Gunner officers and veterans.