J P Singh
Innumerable gallant Dogras have made supreme sacrifices for the nation and their names have been inscribed in various memorials with suitable epithets in India and abroad. Jemadar (Jem) Parkash Singh Chib’s name is seen distinctly written in Rangoon War Memorial built by the British for the gallant Commonwealth martyrs. Today, on 75th Commemorative Ceremony of gallant Dogra Officer, I relate his martyrdom to the epithet of Kohima War Memorial, “when you go home, tell them of us, for your tomorrow, we gave our today”. This world famous verse, is attributed to American poet John Maxewell who is said to have been inspired to write it by the Simonides to honour few Spartans (Greeks) who fell at the battle of Thermopylae in 340 BC to save Europe. Jem Parkash Singh Chib is one such Viceroy Commissioned, British decorated Spartan (Dogra officer) who fought no less like Spartans to save the British rout. He was awarded Victoria Cross (VC), the highest and the most prestigious British & Commonwealth Award, awarded for the most conspicuous gallantry in war. Jem Chib is the first and the last recipient of this gallantry award from J&K. His gallantry is our proud heritage.
He was born on 1st April 1913 at Chibe-Chak, Hiranagar, Jammu. When 17, he joined British Army and was assigned to 14/13th Frontier Force. His unit took part in Burma Campaign during WW II. On the fateful night of 16th February 1945, at about 11 PM, the Japanese, in great strength, supported by Artillery, Mortars, Machine-Guns & Flame Throwers mounted series of fierce and bloody attacks on the British positions. Jem Chib’s Coy was in defensive position at Kanlan Ywathit. His Pl held Coy’s forward post. Hence the main weight of the prong was directed at Jem Parkash Singh’s Pl position. He took the main blow of the attack boldly. After about half an hour of fierce battle, he was hit by enemy Machine Gun burst wounding him in both the ankles. Thereafter he was unable to walk about in his area of operational responsibility. But that didn’t deter him from directing his sub-unit to fight on.
When his Coy Cdr came to know of his injury, he ordered him to be relieved and brought to a safer First Aid bunker in the Coy HQs. After getting the first aid and some relief from the severe pain, he crawled forward to his Pl and took over the command again. Dragging himself on hands and knees, from one trench to the other, he kept inspiring and encouraging men to keep on firing effectively to thwart Japanese assault. Soon, when the Coy Cdr, a British Officer, visited the forward Pl, he saw Jem Parkash Singh, propped up by his Batman, who was also wounded, firing his Pl 2 inch Mortar, the crew of which had been killed. He was also seen shouting and encouraging his men and directing the fire power of the Pl most effectively. British officer was nonplussed to see the courage of the Dogra Commander, which he later wrote in the ‘citation for valour’. Having expanded all the 2 inch Mortar ammunition, this gallant Officer crawled around the Pl Position collecting ammunition from the dead and wounded soldiers and distributing it to the surviving men himself and encouraging them to fight on. Afterwards he took over one the forward Section Bren Gun, the crew of which had died, and held out the Pl perimeter single-handed till the reinforcements were rushed in by the Coy Cdr. He was again wounded in both legs above his knees. Despite immense loss of blood and intense pain in the wounded legs, Jem Chib kept firing the Bren Gun. Later dragging himself from trench to trench with the help of his hands, as by now his legs were just hanging around lifeless, he ensured that at no stage the survivors give up. Despite being immobilized, he continued to regroup the surviving remnants so that they blunt the Japanese fierce attack by sheer determination. Soon he was wounded for the third time. Bleeding profusely and lying on his right side facing the enemy, he kept on directing men under his command to hold on to the their ground and be ready to fight with the bayonets. When he was almost dying, he took up the courage and shouted the last inspiring war cry, ‘Jai Jwala Mata’ at the top of his voice, which was loudly repeated by the rest of the Coy survivors who ventured into hand to hand fight with assaulting Japanese. This initiative at the crucial moment of Japanese entry into Coy defenses turned the tables. Having recued the post from the enemy occupation, Jem Paraksh Singh was wounded again, fourth time, this time in the chest. He died a few minutes later infront of his Coy Cdr telling him not to worry about him but to celebrate the victory and look after the other casualties. Fighting gallantly despite being wounded thrice is unparalleled. He kept fighting and inspiring men for hours together till fourth gun shot in the chest. His citation of valour initiated by his Coy Cdr describes his gallantry, comparing it with the Spartans of Thermopylae.
He was cremated in Burma. British make war memorials in almost all the theatres of war wherever they fought and lost their soldiers. In Rangoon War Memorial, Jem Parkash Singh Chib’s name is conspicuously inscribed amongst five Indian and seven other Commonwealth Victoria Cross awardees. In recognition of his gallantry, Maharaja Hari Singh awarded him a ‘War Jagir’ at Rajbagh where his descendents presently live.
In seventies, Chib Baradri took up the task of immortalizing their Victoria Cross ancestor. Late Thakur Raghunath Singh Chib, IAS, who had been Dy Commissioner Jammu, led the mission. A “Victoria Cross Charitable Society’ was formed by Chib Community. A life size statue of Jem Parkash Singh Chib was installed at their Devsthan in village Nud on Akhnoor-Chhamb road. To commemorate glory of their gallant ancestor, they organize a public function in his memory on 16th February every year. Family of Thakur Raghunath Singh Chib is intimately involved in this event. This year 75th Commemorative function is being held at 11 AM on 16th February 2020 (Sunday) at Nud. Maj Gen Gagendra Joshi, GOC 10 Inf Div, who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Charitable Society will be presiding over the function. Large public is expected to attend the platinum commemoration of the Chib Warrior. Army helps the Chib Charitable Society in conducting the commemorative function. Jem Parkash Singh Chib is not only the Chib Community icon but a role model for every Indian, particularly the Dogras.
J P Singh