Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Readers Remember Lt Gen Nathu Singh

References and earlier posts:
  • Gen Nathu Singh & AFSPA: Readers Views
  • Lt Gen Nathu Singh: Courage and Candour has few equals or parallels
  • Lt Gen Nathu Singh's short bio- data by Maj Gen VK Singh

    Dear Brigadier Kamboj,
    I am attaching two photos of Gen Nathu Singh
    VK Singh (Maj Gen VK Singh)

    From: Sureshwar Sinha
    Sent: 07 September 2010 10:40
    To: Kamboj Chander
    Subject: GEN NATHU SINGH … edited …
    Dear Brigadier Kamboj,
    Having read the above messages, I could not resist mentioning the interview General Thakur Nathu Singh gave me for my book, 'Sailing and Soldiering in Defence of India'. Earlier we had had many informal chats, as his son the late Rear Admiral R.V. Singh, {who was my course mate in the 2nd JSW now N.D.A. course}, along with another course mate, Captain R.N.Singh, had brought back a Land Rover from London for the General, by driving it all the way to Delhi. Though the vehicle was in pretty bad shape after the trip, the General did'nt bat an eye lid, and simply said that he was glad we had a nice and adventurous trip.
    Coming back to my formal interview with him. It is well known that he was favoured by Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck to be the first Indian Army Chief and had made his recommendation accordingly. But in converstions with the then DM, Sardar Baldev Singh and the PM Mr. Nehru, Gen. Nathu Singh had said that it might not be fair to supersede General Cariappa. He was still young and could have been a Chief later, but his frank and honestly argumentative nature was not liked by his political bosses.
    He recalled that at the time of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, he was the GOC-in-C of the Eastern Command, and had suggested that to the powers that be that one of his brigades could hold up the Chinese at the fort of Chamdo, whilst two more in reserve, could have prevented any breakthrough by them, as forces available to them then were far less in those days. But he was ignored. Our history and present security scenario would have been far different had he been listened to
    As regards Kashmir, we had a first hand account of events from General Thymayya, when after relinquishing command in Kashmir, he came as our Commandant of the integrated academy, composed of the Military Wing {IMA} and the JSW.
    But have we learnt the lessons even today?
    Cmdr SD Sinha {Retd)

    From: Yati Panwar
    Sent: 07 September 2010 01:51
    To: Kamboj Chander
    Subject: Re: ON GEN NATHU SINGH
    Dear Brig Kamboj,
    Many mails are coming in talking about Gen Nathu Singh. I have never met the gentleman in real life but gleaned a lot about his towering personality from his ACR's (dating back to 1920's) that are preserved in the Archives of the MS Branch. I glanced through those captivating accounts while reorganising the archives in 1995. I do not recollect the exact contents but the British Officers were rather piercing in their description of him - they were certainly as much in awe of him as they were unable to see him straight in the eye.
    Perhaps (...) one may be asked to revisit the MS Archive to retrieve the contents for the benefit of all of us- i am sure they would be as much revealing as they would be inspirational.
    Best regards,
    Yati Panwar
    Lt Gen YS Panwar, Former Commandant MCTE

    From: Krishan K Punchhi
    To: vinod pasricha
    Sent: Tue, September 7, 2010 10:13:05 PM
    Subject: Re: Gen Nathu Singh
    Dear Pasha,
    I'm glad you sent your mail to me. I was just wondering whether I should share my thoughts with others and now I will. This mail will eventually be copied to all my friends. I'm glad you want to include the reference to Lt Gen Thakur Nathu Singh in the book you are writing about Indian Navy's 300 Sqn.
    Yes, our friend and colleague, Ranvijay Singh, was the second son of Lt Gen Thakur Nathu Singh. This is the first time that I too have heard of their surname Rathore. RV or Ranu was 2 JSW and I belong to 7 JSW.
    I first came to know about Lt Gen Thakur Nathu Singh when we were told that he was going to take the salute at the passing out parade at JSW. I have taken part in four parades, 4JSW to my own 7JSW. Sh. Surjit Singh Majithia took our salute. So, Thakur Saheb must have taken the salute of 4th, 5th or 6th course. This happened in mid fifties and I hope my memory is not playing tricks with me. I also remember that he had a religious scripture ( Bhagvat Gita? ) in his hand and he read out and translated a shloka out of it. That is how he ended his lecture. This was most unusual. Here was a high ranking officer who was not fully anglicised, who valued and cherished Indian philosophy.
    When I joined the Seahawk Sqn in the UK, RV was already there and so was Kumud, his wife. Kumud Bhabhi was a very fine and gentle lady and it was a pleasure interacting with both of them. That is when I came to learn that RV's father was that famous Thakur Nathu Singh. Later on when RV became the Sqn Cdr and we all embarked on VIKRANT, Kumud Bhabi took all the wives under her wings and really looked after them. Indu, my newly married wife, received special attention.
    Years later, I think it was in Delhi that RV held a dinner party to which we were also invited. That is where I had the proud privilege of meeting the General. I think the elder son was also there. We all found him to be a grand old man, down to earth with no airs, very proud of his sons and very nice to all of their friends. During the talks, we learnt about Ranu's naval trg in the UK and his jeep trip back to India. Gen sahib wanted a brand new jeep and sent the money to his son. He bought the jeep and, as agreed to, he drove it back to India. Another friend and course mate ( Gokhale? ) was with him. Somewhere in the Middle East, the jeep went out of control and rolled over. Luckily, no one was hurt and the jeep was drive-able. So, they continued and entered Pakistan. There they were stopped and questioned. Once their identity was established, the MP pilot jeep and outriders were lined up. Thakur Nathu Singh had requested his old friend Gen Ayub (?) to look after RV and ensure he had no problems in Pakistan. So, a battered jeep was piloted and escorted like a VIP vehicle and came to Wagah in grand style. In that party, there was much lighthearted banter about RV's driving prowess.
    We had to leave the party early as our very small son was alone at home under ayah's supervision. The general made it a point to come to the main door and see us off with all the love and affection that you show to a son and bahu. That family was full of decent sanskars. It is a pity that Kumud bhabhi and RV are no more. edited...
    I close with best wishes and kind regards ...mac.
    Cdr KK Punchhi
    President Indian Navy Foundation, Canada

    From: MG Kapoor
    Sent: 07 September 2010 01:32
    To: Kamboj Chander
    Subject: Re: ON GEN NATHU SINGH
    Dear Brig Kamboj Sir,
    I have read with great attention officer's tributes to Gen Nathu Singh. It really fills one with pride that our great Indian Army can boast of having such great Generals. It was very satisfying.
    I have a suggestion. We do have many more great leaders of whom the present generation may know very little but nonetheless they need be remembered. Why not to start similar tributes to such great leaders? Amongst others, one such leader who comes to my mind is great Lt General Bikram Singh. Others are Lt General Kulwant Singh, Lt General PS Bhagat, Lt Gen Harbux Singh, Marshal of the Air Force Arjun Singh, and so on and so forth. Such like tributes to them would kindle the flame of patriotism amongst us all and in particular the present generation of the armed forces who are the pillars of our armed forces in times to come.
    With kind regards,
    MG Kapoor
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