The true story of how 120 Indian soldiers faced 5000 Chinese soldiers
‘When Rezang La was later revisited, dead jawans were found in the trenches still holding on to their weapons . . . every single man of this company was found dead in his trench with several bullets or splinter wounds. The 2-inch mortar man died with a bomb still in his hand. The medical orderly had a syringe and bandage in his hands when the Chinese bullet hit him . . . Of the thousand mortar bombs with the defenders, all but seven had been fired and the rest were ready to be fired when the (mortar) section was overrun.’
—Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo (Retd)
On 18 November 1962, the Charlie Company of the 13 Kumaon Battalion, Kumaon Regiment, fought a Chinese attack at Rezang La Pass in Ladakh, India. The company comprised 120 soldiers and was led by Maj. Shaitan Singh. Of these soldiers, 110 were martyred in the attack.
The Indian search party, which visited the battlefield on 10 February 1963, made a startling discovery-the frozen bodies of the men who had died were still holding guns in their hands, having taken bullets on their chests. One PVC (Param Vir Chakra), eight VCs (Vir Chakras), four SMs (Sena Medals) and one M-in-D (Mentioned-in-Dispatches) were awarded to the soldiers of the Charlie Company, making it one of the highest decorated companies of the Indian Army to this day. The valour of the Charlie Company not only successfully stopped China’s advance, but it also resulted in the Chushul airport being saved, thereby preventing a possible Chinese occupation of the entire Ladakh region in 1962. According to reports, a total of 1300 Chinese soldiers were killed trying to capture Rezang La. The Charlie Company was an all-Ahir company, and most of the soldiers who fought the battle at 18,000 feet came from the plains of Haryana. The Battle of Rezang La is their story.
From The Heart of the Heroes:
You rarely come across such examples in the annals of world military history when braving such heavy odds, the men fought till the last bullet and the last man. Certainly, the Battle of Rezang La is such a shining example.’
—Gen. T.N. Raina, former Chief of Army Staff
(Gen. T.N. Raina was the Brigade Commander of the 114 Brigade under whose operational command 13 Kumaon’s Charlie Company fought the battle of Rezang La in 1962.)
‘The supreme sacrifice of the Charlie Company has fulfilled my expectations. I hope a suitable memorial will be built in Haryana so that the generations to come may seek inspiration from the immense courage and valour of their forefathers.’
—Gen. K.S. Thimayya, former Chief of Army Staff
About the Author
A product of the Naval Officers’ Academy, Kulpreet Yadav has spent two decades as an officer in uniform and has successfully commanded three ships in his career. Since his retirement as Commandant from the Indian Coast Guard in 2014, he has authored several books in diverse genres, including espionage, true crime and romance. Winner of the Best Fiction Author Award for Murder in Paharganj, an espionage novel, at the Gurgaon Literary Festival in 2018, Kulpreet is also an actor and a film-maker. He lives with his family in Delhi.