What is Shatrujeet Brigade of Indian Army (50th Parachute Brigade)
Shatrujeet Brigade : “The Parachute Regiment,” a name that strikes fear into the hearts of enemies and fills patriots with pride. This regiment is organized into multiple battalions, each of which has consistently demonstrated their courage and valor. The regiment’s roots can be traced back to the establishment of the 50th Parachute Brigade during the British colonial era in 1941, during the Second World War, under the leadership of Brigadier WGH Gough.
Following its formation, the brigade was deployed to the Battle of Sangshak, with the mission of slowing down the advancing Japanese forces as they made their way towards the Battle of Imphal.
What is Shatrujeet Brigade
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The name ‘Shatrujeet’ assigned to the brigade holds a unique and meaningful tale. It draws its inspiration from a character in Hindu mythology known as ‘Shatrujeet,’ who was renowned for his ability to conquer any adversary. This legendary warrior was often depicted as a figure fused with a horse, symbolizing his strength and agility in warfare.
When the brigade was established, it embodied the following characteristics:
- Remarkable Power
- Exceptional Agility
- Unyielding Determination
A Brigade Headquarters – The brigade headquarters had the crucial responsibility of efficiently mobilizing the brigade and its individual battalions whenever the need arose during the war. Despite being relatively new to the wartime environment, they showcased an unparalleled level of excellence, demonstrating their capabilities. The headquarters comprised a diverse composition of British, Indian, and Gorkha forces, working together to achieve their objectives.
A Brigade Signal Section – The brigade’s signal section consisted entirely of British personnel and was dedicated to information transfer and communication management. Captain E.J. Buirski was in charge of leading the signal section, overseeing their crucial role in maintaining communication within the brigade.
151th Parachute Battalion – This battalion initially served in maintaining internal security within the British Empire and played a significant role in handling the Delhi riots of 1942. Subsequently, the battalion was deployed to the Middle East and renumbered as the 156th battalion. Sadly, in 1944, the battalion faced its demise during the Battle of Arnhem. Throughout its history, Lieutenant Colonel M.A. Lindsay was the commanding officer of this brave battalion.
152nd Parachute Battalion – This battalion, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel B.E. Abbott, was comprised of volunteers from the 19th Indian Infantry regiments.
153rd & 154th Gorkha Parachute Battalion – This battalion consisted of the epitomes of bravery, renowned as the Gurkhas. It was formed from volunteers hailing from the 9th Gurkha regiments and was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel F.J. Loftus-Tottenham. The 154th battalion was a direct transfer from the 3rd battalion Gurkha Rifles, and it became part of the 50th brigade approximately in October 1943.
411th (Royal Bombay) Parachute Section – This unit served as the engineering division within the parachute brigade and was led by Captain M.J.J. Rolt.
In its early days, the brigade encountered a relatively slower pace in training and arming its forces. There was also a shortage of aircraft, parachutes, and gliders in March 1942, limiting the scope of airborne operations. In the same year, the brigade conducted an operation against the Hur tribesmen who were disrupting railway lines. Troops were airdropped in the Hyderabad-Sind region from aging Valencia biplanes. Additionally, the brigade was involved in intelligence-gathering missions in Burma.
The Battle of Sangshak stands as a shining example of valor, as soldiers from the brigade confronted two Japanese divisions and effectively halted their advance. In addition to this, a significant airborne assault was launched against Japanese defensive positions at Elephant Point, located at the mouth of the Rangoon River. This operation was carried out by the Gorkha Parachute Battalion on May 1, 1945. In 1945, the 50th Parachute Brigade was expanded, forming the 44th (Indian) Airborne Division.
Post – Independence Organizations
Following India’s independence, the 50th Parachute Brigade became an independent brigade and has been actively engaged in various operations. Some of the notable major operations conducted by this brigade include:
- Indo- Pak War of 1947 – 48 : The brigade, which had transformed into a regiment, immediately demonstrated its prowess following India’s independence in the Kashmir War. In this conflict, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalions of the regiment played pivotal roles. Unfortunately, Brigade Commander Mohd. Usman lost his life in action on July 3, 1948, and was posthumously awarded the MahaVir Chakra for his exceptional bravery.
2. Goa Annexation of 1961 : The regiment was engaged in its second significant action during the annexation of Goa in 1961. It was dispatched to support the 17th Infantry Division, and its units were the first to reach Panjim. They swiftly navigated through minefields, roadblocks, and four riverine obstacles. Upon their arrival in the city, the paratroopers replaced their steel helmets with maroon berets, a symbol of liberation, and were hailed as liberators.
3. Indo – Pak War of 1971 : The brigade conducted significant operations in both the eastern and western sectors. The second battalion of the regiment was airdropped at Tangail, significantly expediting the liberation of Bangladesh. The 2nd Paras were actively involved in airborne operations, followed by the 7th Paras serving as the advance guard. They were supported by the remaining units of the brigade in ground-based roles, contributing to the success of their missions.
4. Operation Cactus : The paratroopers from the brigade played a vital role in quelling the military coup that took place in the Maldives in 1988. Their exceptional efficiency and precision were instrumental in ensuring the success of the operation, which was completed in a matter of hours.
5. Kargil War : During the Kargil War, the battalions of the brigade were stationed in the Mushkoh Valley sector, with the mission of clearing intrusions from the area. The regiment’s outstanding performance in the region earned them the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) citation as recognition of their exemplary service.
Shatrujeet Brigade in 21st Century
In the present day, the 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade consists of two parachute battalions, one special forces battalion, 60 Parachute Field Ambulance, 411 (Independent) Parachute Field Company (Bombay Sappers), 622 Parachute Composite Company ASC, 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade OFP (Ordnance), 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company, 2 (Independent) Parachute Field Workshop Company, 1 Parachute Field Regiment (Artillery) (comprising the 9th and 17th Parachute Field Regiments), an air defense battery, and a provost section. Notably, the President’s Body Guard is also a part of this brigade and plays a role within the pathfinder company.
This brigade operates directly under the Director General of Military Operations and can be swiftly deployed within a two-hour timeframe as needed.
The three parachute battalions take turns serving in the parachute brigade, alternating their field tenures between counter-insurgency operations and high-altitude areas. One of the eight Special Forces (SF) battalions also joins the brigade on a rotational basis. Furthermore, one of the two field regiments, namely, the 9 Para Field Regiment and the 17 Para Field Regiment of the Regiment of Artillery, is a part of the brigade, while the other regiment serves its field tenure in rotation.