A32 tHe 1965 WAr, 50 YeArs ON India Abroad September 25, 2015
In a cemetery in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, quietly rests a war hero that many may not know of — a man born in Ireland, who led India in its bloodiest, yet finest,
infantry battle in the 1965 Indo-Pak War.
It was an epic battle where 86 Indian soldiers died fighting a better fortified Pakistan army before the Indian flag
could be raised in Dograi, on the outskirts of lahore.
led by lieutenant Colonel Desmond E Hayde, whose
Haryanavi was better than his clipped Hindi, the 3 Jat battalion of 550 men defeated an enemy which had double the
number of soldiers.
They fought with guns, grenades, bayonets and bare
hands, clearing every gulley, street, house and pill box (a
concrete above-the-ground bunker) in an assault so courageous that it found its way into Haryanvi folklore.
For his personal courage and exemplary leadership,
lieutenant Colonel Hayde was awarded the Mahavir
Chakra, the second highest honour in battle.
He is also perhaps the only soldier to be painted by the
famed M F Husain on the battlefield. And it was during an
address to his battalion, that Prime Minister lal Bahadur
Shastri, gave India one of its best known slogans ‘Jai Jawan!
The colonel, who retired as a brigadier after 30 years serving the Indian Army, bequeathed the Husain painting,
along with his medal, citation and typewriter to the Jat
Regiment that he loved so dearly.
When he died two years ago at 87, he was buried in a
cemetery near the regiment’s headquarters in Bareilly.
Alongside him rests his wife Sheela, a Garhwali girl he had
met in Bareilly as a young officer.
“He got a hero’s farewell with full military honours. His
regiment worshipped him,” says Colonel Kunwar Ajay
Singh, who knew him for more than thirty years.
“He was a maverick. One of those old style army officers
who was in a different league. He felt that he had to work
with his men and be with his men to be a leader of men.”
‘Dead or alive, we have to
meet in Dograi!’
On the night of September 21, 1965 before his small battalion marched 8 kilometres from their trenches to Dograi,
where the Pakistan army had entrenched itself, lieutenant
Colonel Hayde made only two demands of his men.
‘Ek bhi aadmi pichhe nahin hatega! (Not a single man
will turn back!)’
The second: ‘Zinda ya murda, Dograi mein milna hai!
(Dead or alive, we have to meet in Dograi!)
He warned his men against retreating. ‘Even if all of you
run away, I shall continue to stand on the battlefield alone,’
Rachna Bisht Rawat writes in her must read book on the
men and battles of the war — 1965, Stories from the Second
With just a single battalion, the daring commanding officer defeated the enemy battalion, which was supported by a
tank squadron and one more battalion.
For what they accomplished that night, 3 Jat received
three Mahavir Chakras, four Vir Chakras and seven Sena
“Brigadier Hayde never spoke about the Maha Vir Chakra
or the Battle of Dograi. He thought of it as a job he had to
do and he did it,” says Colonel Singh, the managing director
of a school which is run on the property bequeathed for the
purpose by the brigadier in Kotdwar, Uttarakhand.
“He never even travelled on a free ticket that the government grants ( for winners of gallantry medals). He was a
lieutenant Colonel Desmond Hayde was awarded the Mahavir Chakra,
the second highest honor in battle,for winning one of the toughest battle battles ever fought by the
Indian Army. In a brilliant and gruesome assault, what he and his men achieved that September
50 years ago had never been seen before.
Archana Masih/India Abroad salutes the maverick soldier’s soldier.
the Hero of the Battle of Dograi
Prime minister lal Bahadur Shastri greets lieutenant colonel Desmond hayde in Dograi.
KIn D coURteSy, the InDIan a Rmy
lieutenant colonel hayde was the commanding officer of 3 Jat, one of the highest decorated regiments of the 1965 War.