Kali Panchwin

The 2nd battalion of the Maratha Light Infantry regiment of the Indian Army known as Kali Panchwin was raised by the British on 4th August 1768. It is one of the oldest battalions of the Indian Army. It consists of troops known as Ganpats from Maharashtra and Karnataka in Western India. Their fore-fathers were part of Shivaji's army that defeated Aurangzeb in the Deccan.

Pre-Independence

The battalion participated in almost all theatres of action in India and overseas, starting with the famous siege of Seringapatnam defeating Tipu Sultan. They have seen action in Mysore, Seedaser, Baghdad, Afghanistan, Dadar, Baroda, Burma, China, Palestine and many other places.

In the First World War it fought heroically and won the battle honours of Sharon, Nablus in Palestine. In the second world war the battalion distinguished itself in the battle of Keren (North Africa) against Mussolini's Italian troops and native Eritreans.

The battalion made legendary history as part of the 4 Indian Division against [Rommel] 's Afrika Corps. It continued with victories at Kut-El-Amara and Tobruk under Montgomery. The Battalion was re-raised back in India as it had lost most of its men in battle of Tobruk.

Post-Independence

It was deployed along the ATARI border in Punjab during partition; it was also based in the Govindgarh Fort near Amritsar. By now the British had left. It moved to Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir and then Yol camp and Dagshai in Himachal. It was among the first units to be moved for the Naga Hills operations where it capitulated the hostiles in many a successful operations. In an ambush Captain E.J. Tucker lost his life along with several men; for his bravery he was awarded the Ashoka Chakra Class-I, the highest peace time gallantry award. The Bn moved to peace station in Secunderabad.

In 1961-62, it was suddenly moved to Darjeeling along the LAC with China. In 1962 it moved to Gaza strip as part of the United Nations Emergency Force under the command of Lt Col J.D Stanley. It had an eventful tenure here, winning in almost all the sports and drill competitions, and receiving accolades from the Force Commander. On its return it participated in rescue operations following an air crash near Pune.

The KALI PANCHWIN was based in Mathura when it received warning orders to move to Hussainiwala in the Ferozpore sector of Punjab. It defended the Hussainiwala headworks against an attack by an infantry brigade supported by Armoured columns of Pakistan Army.the enemy also used artillery fire and air support. 2 enemy tanks were destroyed and 2 captured among several enemy killed. But, the CO, Col. Nolan was killed in enemy artillery shelling the next morning while supervising operations. It was a major loss to the battalion. The battalion was visited by then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Defence Minister Kamraj, COAS among other senior officers. Kali Panchwin was awarded the battle honour "HUSSAINIWALA" for its role in the 1965 War.

After spending time in Ferozpore and Fazilka, the Unit move to Sikkim. It celebrated its bi-centenary in Pune in 1974 with Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw as chief guest. Then, it moved to Gulmarg heights along the Line of Control. After a peace tenure in Dehradun, it was deployed in counter-insurgency operations in Manipur and Mizoram. In 1987 it once again moved to Pune only to be air-lifted to Sri Lanka as part of IPKF. Here, the Bn won 22 individual awards including One Vir Chakra. The LTTE in Batticoloa was on the run with the capture of 4 top leaders by the battalion. On return, it was based in Gandhinagar before moving to the Uri sector in Jammu and Kahmir. Here it foiled many infiltration attempts by militants. It moved to a peace station in North Bengal in 1993. In 1995, it moved to the Sunderbani part of Jammu Sect, where it spent 3 years and 5 months, as part of Op Rakshak III and was involved in numerous small teams ops in Rajauri, LuniDarman and Sunderbani. The battalion became involved in ghatak team based ops and eliminated many militants.

The battalion moved to Jamnagar in a well earned peace tenure. The unit excelled as part of Op Vijay in Barmer Sect, and did a laudable job in Op Sahayata in Anjar during the killer earthquake of 2001. The unit moved to lower Assam under OP Rhino-II. Here it completely dominated its AOR. Lt. JP Singh lost his life in an encounter but not before his party had eliminated 5 hardcore NDFB militants; 2 militants were injured. It then move to heights of 18000-21000 ft in North Sikkim along the LAC with China. A team scaled MT. Chommo Yummo, becoming the first team to do so. In December 2004, it moved to Chandimandir where it participated in many exercises and war manoeuvres along the western border. The unit is again on its prowl in its favourite hunting grounds.

Battle / Theatre Honours

*MYSORE
*SEEDASER
*SERINGPATNAM
*BENI-BOO-ALI
*KAHUN
*CHINA
*AFGHANISTAN
*BURMA
*MESOPOTAMIA
*KUT-EL-AMARA
*DEFENCE OF KUT-EL-AMARA
*BAGHDAD
*PALESTINE
*NABLUS
*SHARON
*ABYSSINIA
*KEREN
*NORTH AFRICA
*TOBRUK
*TOBRUK-II
*GUBI

POST-INDEPENDENCE

*HUSSAINIWALA

Awards & Recognisions

Distinctions

* FIRST LIGHT INFANTRY OF INDIAN ARMY
* FIRST INDIAN BATTALION TO PARTICIPATE IN WORLD WAR II
* FIRST MARATHA BATTALION TO PARTICIPATE IN UN MISSION
* FIRST BATTALION TO HAVE LOST ITS CO IN ACTION-COL CHITTY-1917.
* FIRST ASHOKA CHAKRA IN THE NORTH-EAST.

ources

*Official battalion history: ministry of defence.
*library archives on Maratha light infantry, Mumbai.


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