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Anzac Day 2016

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Ex-servicemen of Indian origin join their Australian brothers and sisters to commemorate soldiers of WWI. PREETI JABBAL and RAJNI ANAND LUTHRA report

“Anzac is not merely about loss. It is about courage, and endurance, and duty, and love of country, and mateship, and good humour and the survival of a sense of self-worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds.”
Anzac Day.Indian Link
 
These words from Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia in 1999 sum up the sentiments behind the Indian participation at the Anzac Day ceremony.
Every year, officers spruce up, polish their treasured medals and iron their uniforms to join the proud group of servicemen and women and their families, to march in the Anzac Day parade.
This year some highly decorated servicemen of Indian origin took part in the march.

Lt Cdr KGN Menon (ret’d)

Anzac Day.Indian Link
Lt. Cdr.KGN Menon (ret’d)

94-year-old Lt Cdr KGN Menon (ret’d), who goes by the name KayGee, joined the Royal Indian Navy in July 1941, and took part in the Burma Operations in 1944/45 under the overall command of Lord Louis Mountbatten. The ship he was in, HMIS Kistna was the first ship to enter Rangoon Harbour, after liberation from Japanese troops.
He had the opportunity to visit the UK for training in 1948 and returned in one of the first 3 Destroyers bought from the UK, arriving in India on 26th January 1950, Republic Day. Various appointments later both in India and abroad, he found himself on board INS Vikrant for the liberation of Goa. He retired from the Indian Navy in March 1969 and has been living in Melbourne ever since.

Col Ashok Tara (ret’d)

Vir Chakra awardee Col Ashok Tara (ret’d) was one of the battle-hardened veterans who marched proudly this year with the Indian Contingent in Melbourne. “The regard and respect that we receive at the parade from the public is very high. Their josh (enthusiasm) and support gives us a great sense of pride, and I enjoy the opportunity to meet officers from other regiments as well as other communities,” he said when asked to share some highlights from the parade.

Anzac Day.Indian Link
Colonel Ashok Kumar Tara

This is the second time Col Tara joined veterans at the Anzac parade in Melbourne. Col Tara was commissioned in the Brigade of the Guards, a veteran of the 1965 (Battle of Gadra) and 1971 (Battle of Gangasagar) engagements. He was also a Commando Instructor at MHOW and a member of the elite 9 Para Commando Regiment. He was actively involved in specialised Counter Insurgency Operations in the Mizo Hills and was conferred the Vir Chakra for his valour in the Battle of Gangasagar.
Post retirement, in 1994, Col Tara was conferred the ‘Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War Honour,’ by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. He was recognised for saving Sheikh Hasina and her family from a house in Dhaka where they were held captive by the Pakistani military.

Wing Cdr Chakravarti Zorawar Singh Sandu (ret’d)

For highflying Wing Cdr Chakravarti Zorawar Singh Sandu (ret’d), also known as CeeZee, Anzac Parade 2016 was a unique experience. He has on many occasions, commanded aircrafts that flew over the Republic Day parade in India and also led an Independence Day parade in Jodhpur. However it was his first experience of parading in a foreign country. “I enjoyed being part of the parade and liked how the public turned out enmasse to cheer the veterans,” he said.

Anzac Day.Indian Link
Wing Cdr Chakravarti Zorawar Singh Sandu (ret’d)

During his 35 years as a fighter pilot, this highly qualified serviceman flew more than 3000 accident-free sorties for which he was awarded three stars of flying by the Indian Air Force which is equivalent to Vayu Sena Medal. He has flown many aircrafts right from World War I fighter aircraft Tiger Moth to the latest generation fighter aircrafts that includes MIG’s and Sukhoi (Russian aircrafts).
Anzac Day.Indian Link
CeeZee was posted to a fighter squadron during the Indo-Pak war in 1965. He took part in the 1971 Operations and carried out 14 missions on Sukhoi aircraft deep inside Pakistan. During the Iraq-Iran war he was sent to train Iraqi pilots for advanced fighter training.

Col Samir Roychowdhury (ret’d)

Col Roychowdhury joined the Indian army in 1964 and his postings included a challenging stint at the Lipulekh Himalayan pass and tenures at Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest combat zone, and a peace posting in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. He also completed two tenures as instructor at the prestigious National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune. Roychowdhury migrated to Australia after retiring from the Indian army in 1994.

Anzac Day.Indian Link
Col.Samir Roychowdhury

 

Vikram Singh Grewal

Canberra’s Vikram Grewal landed in Sydney after a trip to London on the morning of 25 April this year.
“I changed at the army barracks and rushed to join the parade,” he told Indian Link.
Anzac Day.Indian Link
Vikram has been participating in the parade since 2007 when the Indian contingent was first granted permission. He was part of the committee that lobbied for this permission. He marches in memory of his grandfather who was a soldier in the British army from the days of undivided India, and in memory of his dad who was an officer in the Indian Air Force and who saw action in the Pakistan and Bangladesh wars, even winning a President’s honour for his service.
Vikram himself works in the Australian government’s Defence Department currently in a civilian capacity, as vice chief of the Joint Forces Information Management. He is nominated as a liaison officer for the Sikh community.

Cdr Subroto Ghosh (ret’d)

Cdr Subroto Ghish served the Indian Navy for 26 years. As an avionics engineer, he worked on board aircraft carriers. He saw action in two of the most important military campaigns in India’s recent history, at Sri Lanka and at Kargil.
Anzac Day.Indian Link
“The Indian Peace Keeping Force at Sri Lanka was the first time I was involved in action. My ship patrolled off the coast of Sri Lanka as we guarded the area. We also helped transport Indian army personnel. During Kargil, my vessel was deployed off the coast of Karnataka, as there were reports that terrorists would be landing weapons there and smuggle them north to Kashmir.”
Another stand-out memory for Cdr Ghosh is from peace time, during a routine patrol off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands. “After a brief skirmish we were able to intercept and neutralise smugglers who were carrying silver. We confiscated their boat and goods.”
Cdr. Moved to Adelaide six years ago and marched at his second Anzac Day parade this year, wearing his navy beret and medals.

Cpt Pradeep Bharadwaj

Adelaide’s Cpt Pradeep Bharadwaj has some interesting observations about the Anzac Day parade.
“The march is a wonderful hark back to the good old days for me,” he told Indian Link. “I enjoy it also because it is friendly and inclusive, unlike in India where our parades are highly regimented and very ceremonial. The security concerns over there have changed the texture and complexion of our large-scale parades.”
Anzac Day.Indian Link
Of course the Anzac day parade includes segments and contingents that are not or have not been in active service such as families and descendants, and this perhaps adds to the informality of it all.
Pradeep moved to Australia in 2008 and is currently an education provider.
From his active military service, Cpt Bharadwaj recalls a particularly harrowing time in the Rajouri-Poonch area very close to the Line of Control along the India-Pak border. In a devastating accident while on the move, many members of his unit were left severely injured or dead. “A senior officer walked towards me looking like a ghost, all bloodied, and collapsed in my arms.” In the next few minutes, as he rushed the injured to medical care, “many of them puking blood”, he would realise he was in charge of the unit. He was but 22 years old.

Jung Bahadur Singh Grewal

Adelaide’s Jung Bahadur Singh Grewal marches in memory of his father and uncle, long-serving army men who both fought in World War II. His dad is no more, but his uncle, 93 this year, lives in Canada.
Anzac Day.Indian Link
He remembers fondly the time in 2010 he flew his uncle down to Australia to participate in an Anzac Day ceremony. “He was very proud to participate in a plaque ceremony. To him, to my dad, and to all the others like them both in the war, I am thankful and grateful.”

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