Battle of Walong 2
Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Many Arunachalee veterans and old-timers recall the 1962 Indo-Chinese Conflict with fear and anger. It is a known fact that the Chinese forces entered deep into Arunachal Pradesh along many axes. The main axes of penetration by the Chinese forces were Tawang-Bomdila-Rupa axis, the Taksing-Limeking Axis, Mechuka/Manigong-Tato axis, the Gelling-Tuting axis, and the Kibithu-Walong axis. However, some fierce battles were fought in the Walong-Kibithu area of present Anjaw district.
This story is about the saga of bravery and battle craft of Lieutenant Bikram Singh in the Battle of Walong. Lt Bikram Singh commanded 120 men of the 6 Kumaon’s D Company. Two intense engagements with the enemy forces were significant, as they rebuffed and severely delayed the enemy assault, so much so that the enemy had to replace an entire regiment for failing to meet their objectives.
The first was at Namti Nallah in the intervening night of 22 and 23 October, 1962. The other was at West Ridge on 16 November, where he died while successfully delaying the enemy’s advance.
The company was holding the Ladders Post when the enemy struck in the early hours of 22 October on the MacMahon Ridge, 3 km south of Kibithu. He carried out a gradual withdrawal from the area and planned a classic ambush at a small hanging bridge over Namti Nallah. Lt Bikram removed the last few planks of the hanging bridge, resulting in the leading enemy soldiers falling into the river. Thereafter, with many enemy soldiers on the hanging bridge, Lt Bikram and his troops opened fire, leading to over 200 enemy casualties!
The rude shock at Namti and the fierce resistance offered by Indian troops over the next few days forced the enemy to reinforce its forces with additional troops.
The second major engagement was at West Ridge, overlooking Walong ALG. On 16 November, over 3000 enemy forces attacked the key position at West
Ridge, held by Bikram and his Company of 100 odd soldiers. Its fall would allow the Chinese to overrun Walong. He was ordered to hold the post for half an hour. However, showing tenacity and valour, his troops held off the enemy attack for more than 3 hours.
Despite being totally outnumbered, under his leadership, the men fought until all of their ammunition was exhausted and they were completely overrun. There appeared to be no survivors of the battle.
Interestingly, the resting place of Lt Bikram Singh itself was discovered 22 years later in 1986 by another army unit. In 1995, a memorial dedicated to ‘unknown soldiers’ was erected. Another memorial plaque was erected at the battle site at Namti Plains in 2011.
For displaying outstanding physical and mental courage, and determination with complete disregard for own safety, the saga of Lt Bikram Singh in the Battle of Walong has found its mention in the golden pages of history during the 1962 Indo-China conflict. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)