SUBEDAR (CAPT) SALWANT SINGH - 9 SIKH.." We carry all to Victory"!!
General Choudhary Trophy (ARA Match 22)
1. The junior leadership in my regiment has always been inspiring, exceptions if any only prove the rule. In the past there have been discussions in the Army about the utility of the JCO rank, but thankfully they never progressed beyond that. Salwant singh was born into the farming family of Kundan Singh of Village Sarhali, Tarn Taran (Amritsar) on 07 Aug 1930. He joined 16 Sikh after his basic training in early 50's. A well built strapping young soldier his mental and physical endurance was phenomenal. In Apr 1964, 9 TH Battalion The Sikh Regt was raised at Meerut and Hav Salwant Singh side stepped on orders. After the 1962 Sino-Indian war measures were implemented to improve battle capabilities, one such measure was the introduction of "Gen Choudhry Trophy competition which tested the Mental and Physical endurance of the Infantry. The competition consisted of four components, a 26 mile Speed March with full battle loads including first line ammunition, a platoon level tactical task, assault course terminating in firing of all platoon weapons less 2 Inch mortar. In 1966 the platoon commanders were to be Junior Commissioned officers, which in 1967 was changed to Junior most officer posted in the Battalion. Gen Choudhry Trophy was a gruelling competition and winning it prestigious. Ironically, named after an armoured Corps COAS to test the endurance of Infantry.
2. In 1966, 9 Sikh, then in Amritsar, participated for the first time and won the prestigious competition after systematic training under Maj (Col) Baljit Singh Johal (ex-16 sikh), who aware of the skills of Subedar Salwant Singh used them gainfully. After winning the preliminary rounds 9 Sikh reached Infantry School Mhow. The others three teams were 8 Jat, 2 Madras & 3 Sikh. After the Speed March and Tactical task 9 Sikh had built up a sizeable lead. During the Assault course a jawan fractured his Fibula of the right leg, he was in visible agony. Subedar Salwant Singh immediately distributed the battle load on the injured person and was first to carry the Jawan. Gen PP Kumaramangalam, COAS who was witnessing the event at Bircha Lake advised the JCO that the Jawan should be put in the ambulance as his team has sizeable lead. Sub Salwant Singh's reply was " Saab Bahadur asi Sarayan nu nall lajay kay jitna hai"! (We will carry all to victory). This reply fired the team further and it won hands down, with 3 Sikh as runners up. The COAS narrated the conversation at the prize distribution with a 'Shabash' for Sub Salwant singh.
3. Subedar Salwant Singh remained the anchor, trainer and motivator for the competition in 1967 in which Lt KK Sharma replaced him as team leader. 9 Sikh again won the competition in 1967 where Gen Harbakhsh Singh,Vrc Goc-in-C, Western Comd gave away the prizes. In that year the finalists 9 Sikh were 2 Madras, 8 Jat & 2/5 GR, with 8 Jat as runners up. In the attached Photos Sub Salwant Singh can been seen on the Right of COAS Gen PP Kumaramangalam (1966)and again Kneeling on the extreme right in the 1967 winners photo. A close observer will also see the Jawan with his right leg strapped with a handkerchief, in one of the accompanying photos.
4. During the 1971 war with Pakistan Subedar Salwant singh was senior JCO 3 Training Coy at Meerut, responsible to train raw recruits into Sikh soldiers. He was also deputed to escort and guard Pakistani POWs between Bangladesh and Ramgarh while posted at SRC, Meerut. In early 1972 Sub Salwant singh returned to 9 Sikh as senior JCO Alfa Coy when the attacks on "Pocket' ( about which i have written earlier) and Pakistani counter attacks took place. Sub Salwant Singh was always in control of the situation irrespective of the circumstances. 9 Sikh moved to Pune for its peace tenure where col (Big Joe) Joshi found B Coy lagging in performance. On the 2Ics (Maj(Lt Gen) MS Bhullar;'s) advice Sub Salwant Singh was side stepped as senior JCO B Coy and soon the coy performance went past the par. The Go-getter Subedar Sahib had the wisdom, dedication and loyalty of a remarkable junior leader. He was promoted Subedar Major on ERE and earned the honorary rank of Captain while in service. Capt Salwant singh led a dignified retired life at Village Sarhali. At the gathering/reunion of 9 Sikh held at Ludhiana in 2018 he came meticulously dressed in tie and blazer with a contingent of 22 Jco/Jawans from Tarn Taran area. As a senior most JCO he addressed the gathering motivating all to keep the battalion bonds intact, despite the fact that it was no longer an active battalion.
On 12 Aug 2019 Capt Salwant Singh breathed his last, his pier was shouldered by his comrades from 9 Sikh. His Antim Ardas was attended by 22 comrades from Tarn Taran and the 23rd Col RP Singh from Noida, NCR Delhi. The final salute by comrades was the most important of all !!
The Army and Sikh Regt, in particular, prides itself in quality our junior leaders..