India Abroad September 25, 2015 A33 tHe 1965 WAr, 50 YeArs ON
made of sugar or salt. I
am not going to melt. I
can do whatever my
men can do.’”
Zarine Boyce’s moth-
er, Perin Tarapore, was
only 40 when her hus-
band died. Mrs Boyce
herself lost her hus-
band when she was 32.
She has two daughters,
one of whom will
accompany her to the
rative function next
received Rs 10,000 and
a transistor set from
Indira Gandhi, then the
information and broadcasting minister.
When P V Cherian,
then the governor of
Maharashtra, discovered this when he visited Mrs Tarapore in
Pune, he intervened
with the defence minister until she was given a
plot of land in Koregaon
Park with the stipulation that she should
build a house in two years.
Since Colonel Tarapore’s last
pay was Rs 3,000 and his pension hardly amounted to around
Rs 1,000, the Parsi community
stepped in and built a house at
no profit. Mrs Tarapore rented
out this house and that’s where
her main income came from.
“We managed because her
my father, the Param vir chakra hero
father was comfortably off but
we always wonder about people
who aren’t,” says Mrs Boyce.
“But now things have
“I don’t feel bitter. My father
had a job to do and he did it. As
much as he died, somebody else
may have died too.”
“Students at the school he
went to and was head boy don’t
know about him. The road out-
side the school is named after
him, but once when I was there,
I asked the students about him,
and they didn’t know.”
“What he did was for the
country. In the north of India,
people appreciate sacrifice and
valour because they have been at
the receiving end for a long
“In Maharashtra and South
India not so much because they
have never had to face threats to
their homes because the enemy
has never come down that far.”
“I do not expect people to
appreciate it (a soldier’s sacri-
fice) when they themselves have
not been through it. But aware-
ness is creeping in now.”
“Anywhere in Punjab, the
name Tarapore or the name
Abdul Hamid means a lot
because they themselves have
been through this trauma of
“My mother was in this house
when we got news of his pass-
ing. Those days after his passing
were terrible. My mother’s
younger brother became like a
surrogate dad. Nothing can tide
over for your loss.”
“Not only was my father an
astounding soldier, he was also a
kind human being. He did not
have any shades of grey. For him
it was this or that, never a
maybe. He would have been a
failure in civilian life.”
“He was always very brave. It
was in his DNA.”
“There is a book in Pakistan by
a soldier who was fighting in the
same sector and he mentions
my father’s courage. His courage
came for the love of his men.”
“He would often say to me, ‘If
only god would give me the priv-
ilege of leading them into battle,
I will think my life is worth it.’
And it did happen.”
mrs Boyce returned this military jacket, the last one worn by her father, to his regiment last week. It has his name ‘tarapore’ stitched on the inside of the collar. aRchana maSIh
rough, rugged, tough, guy
for whom every day of life
was the Indian Army.”
last week, the school will
be renamed Hayde Heritage.
His three sons, one of whom
retired as a lieutenant
colonel from the Indian
Army, arrived from the UK
and Canada to attend the
The son of Anglo Indian
parents whose father
worked for the Railways,
Brigadier Hayde’s rules in
life were very simple, and
imbibed from the motto the
Indian Military Academy
had sent him out with:
The country comes first,
your men come second and
self comes last.
“I have seen senior officers
— almost all have goals of self career progression —
but here was a man who had no iota of self,” says
Colonel Singh, who was encouraged and coached by
Brigadier Hayde to join the Indian Army.
“That is the reason that even after he passed away
‘even if all of you run away,
in 2013, men from his regiment still call. He always
thought of how the army and the lives of jawans
could be improved, writing letters to the officials, the
army chief, his own regiment etc.”
Even in his 80s, if he was invited for an army func-
tion, he would call his gaadiwala (a hired car that he
often used for outside travel) and set course.
I shall continue to stand on
the battlefield alone’
Brigadier Hayde was no ordinary soldier, like so
many other extraordinary men who fought so bravely
in that month of September, 50 years ago.
Heroes like Havildar Abdul Hamid, Colonel A B
Tarapore, Major Ranjit Dayal, Colonel Salim Caleb,
Squadron leader A B Devaiyya and many others —
men who need to be remembered but rarely are.
Ordered to breach the Ichogil canal, a deep and
wide reservoir in Pakistan that ran parallel to the
boundary, Colonel Hayde’s battalion first took Dograi
on the night of September 6-7.
It was for this action that he won the Mahavir
Chakra, announced on the battlefield itself.
But 3 Jat had to fall back because rest of the units
detailed to support them in the offensive, could not
reach in time because of lack of information. Colonel
Hayde and his men stood their ground alone till
ordered by the brigade headquarters to retreat.
The miscommunication resulted in the removal of
a major general, while 3 Jat had to wait in bunkers 8
kilometres behind enemy lines till they got the next
orders for launching an assault on Dograi.
The wait was almost two weeks. By then Pakistan
had converted Dograi into a fortress.
It was in this scarred backdrop, that Colonel Hayde
and his troops were given the
task of re-taking Dograi. And
they did — company by compa-
ny, combat by combat, inch by
inch — in a gruesome battle in
which one-fifth of the battalion
The death count on the opposite side was nearly 300.
In a blog post, many years
later, an army officer referred to
what Colonel Hayde had told a
correspondent when asked
what makes soldiers fight such
‘The colonel pointed to his
second in command, Major
Shekhawat and said: “Major
Shekhawat fights because he
holds nothing dearer than the
respect and standing he enjoys
in the eyes of his men, family,
and community back home. His
fear of losing that standing
overcomes his fear of death.”
“The men, of course, fight because Major
Major Shekhawat retired as a colonel. He lost four
of his fellow officers in Dograi that night.
After his retirement in 1978, Brigadier Hayde
moved to Kotdwar in the Garhwal hills, his wife’s
Till the end, he followed a very precise schedule.
Having breakfast at 7 am, thereafter walking up to
his study — researching the history of the Jats, the
1965 and 1971 wars etc — and eating supper by 7.30
“Our offices were adjacent,” recalls Colonel Singh.
“If I had to meet Brigadier Hayde, I had to take an
appointment and I’ll be damned if I was late even by
“He was a man who sought no popularity. He could
be blunt and at times was not taken well. For him,
there was no grey. Only black or white.”
The brigadier set up the ex-servicemen league in
Kotdwar and readily helped people from his paltan.
He wrote a book on the Battle of Dograi and complet-
ed his memoirs, which is yet to be published.
“He used to come across as someone who was not
too fond of kids or company, but started enjoying
their presence on campus,” says Colonel Singh.
“His other passion was stray dogs. He adopted so
many of them. In fact 2, 3 of them would be in his
The war hero remained a soldier right till his end,
and battled skin cancer, like only a gallant fauji
could. Sometimes, even surprising doctors with the
way he went about life in spite of the virulent disease
that was eating him away.
Exactly a month before he died, he circled
September 25 on a calendar and hung it on the wall.
“He said, look September 25th will be my last day
and I told him, ‘Sir, what nonsense are you speaking’,”
Colonel Singh recalls.
“But he was absolutely right.”
Two days and 48 years after winning one of the
Indian Army’s toughest battles on September 23,
1965, the hero of Dograi passed away.
the Hero of
the Battle of Dograi