Quirks of Army

Chelu Ram

A few days back I visited friends in one of the army messes. Usually army messes are very nicely done up. Full of paintings, silver trophies, beautiful carpets. This mess was not different, its décor showed good taste and all the regalia which an army mess has. So while looking around I came across one painting, which had an old turbaned man, a Haryanvi woman and a child. At first glance it looked like just a scene of a village family. When I peered at it, I saw the word inspiration written underneath and the child in the painting was wearing a medal in the shape of cross. It being an infantry battalion mess, I asked my friend the significance of this painting. When her husband very reverentially told me the following story. 

This is a story of Second World War. The name of the man in the painting was Chelu Ram, who was a Sub Maj in the 4/6 Rajputana Rifles of the then British Army. For his daring act he was posthumously awarded with the Victoria Cross. The Victoria Cross is the highest gallantry award given to the armed forces personnel in the United Kingdoms and the British common wealth. After gaining Independence, as you know India has its own set of gallantry awards.

   The year was 1943, Chhelu Ram was Sub Maj in the British army of 4/6 Rajputana Rifles. He was in the leading company, which was going for an attack somewhere in Greece. Enemy machine guns which were sighted on the higher grounds were making it impossible to move ahead. Chhelu Ram took his Tommy gun and went single handedly ahead and silenced all the machine guns. Then the advance could resume. But by this time the company commander was wounded. Chhelu Ram gave first aid to the commander and evacuated him. He himself took command of the company. He also gathered the remnants of the badly mauled mohammaden company. To their great misfortune ammunition was exhausted, and the enemy had intensified their attack, Even Chhelu Ram was wounded. He, not relenting to the enemy attack, as if possessed with super human will and valour, ordered a bayonet attack. The soldiers were hesitant but Chhelu Ram set a personal example and engaged in hand to hand fight, and forced the enemy to run away from the post. With this exemplary example and service rendered to his battalion, he was posthumously awarded with the Victoria Cross.

He set at an example of valour, dedication, efficiency, dexterity and supreme will in front of his brother soldiers, his battalion and countrymen.  I hope God is still making men of these kinds these days!

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