“I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to the last man and the last round.” Major Somnath Sharma
Major Somnath Sharma was a part of the 4th Battalion Kumaon Regiment of the British Army, who fought in WWII under Col. K S Thimmayya in Burma.
“Despite being injured, he was determined to lead from the front”
Maj.Somnath Sharma was heavily plastered on the left arm as a result of a fracture. Reports had it, that there were raider infiltrations toward Srinagar from different routes and one such was heading toward Badgam, about 10kms away from the southwest, Srinagar.
The village was near an airfield and could be under a threat. A force of two companies, A & D of the Kumaon was under Maj. Sharma. He was a seasoned soldier, who had seen much bitter fighting in his career especially in the Burma campaign of WWII.
He was determined to accompany his team arguing that he knew his men better than anyone else. The two companies reached Badgam. Soon after the first light, Maj. Sharma reported being positioned in the high ground, west of the village. 1 Para Kumaon had reached position south-east of the village. The situation was reported as ‘quiet and peaceful’.
Little did they know that among the group of civilians were the raiders disguised as Kashmiri villagers and were armed under their loose cloaks. Taken by surprise, the firing began from the houses in the village. Faced from fire from the village, Maj. Somnath was hesitant to return the firing in the fear of harming women and children.
Reporting the worsening of the situation Maj and his 90 men were outnumbered from 1 to 7. Though they were promised air support, he knew that there was no time to lose. He kept motivating his men to keep firing.
The men were greatly inspired by him and continued to make the enemy pay a heavy price by killing as many of them as possible.
When he discovered that the casualties were affecting the functioning of the light machine guns, he began to fill the magazines himself. It was while he was so engaged that an enemy mortar shell landed near him killing him on the spot.
His last words were “The enemy is only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to the last man and the last round.”
24-year-old Major Somnath Sharma went down in history to become the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra in 1947. Decades have passed, his story and his spirit have become a motivation for generations of warriors in the country.
Lest Shall We Forget…