Lt Bikram Singh Rathore, The Unsung Hero of Walong, 1962 War

Lieutenant Bikram Singh Rathore made the supreme sacrifice while fighting gallantly in the famous Battle of Walong (NEFA) on 16 Nov 62. Lt. Bikram Singh hails from village Sialba, Punjab.

In the Indo - China war, Lt Bikram Singh commanded 120 men of the 6 Kumaon’s D Company. Two intense engagements with the enemy forces were significant, as they rebuffed and severely delayed the enemy assault. The first was at Namti Nallah which gave the Chinese a bloody nose. The other was at West Ridge on 16 November, where he died fighting till the end.

In the Battle of Namti Nullah, Lt. Bikram Singh and his soldiers planned a classic ambush at a small hanging bridge over Namti Nallah. Lt Bikram removed the last few planks of the hanging bridge. When the Chinese came in at 3 a.m. on October 23rd, the first Chinese soldier stepped on the plank and fell into the Nullah. As the following Chinese milled around, many lights were fired revealing the Chinese in a cramped path. The mortars and MMGs sighted on this section brought down the accurate fire. About 200 Chinese troops were killed or wounded in this action against nine Indian fatalities.

After the success at Namti Nallan, Lt Bikram Singh was tasked to occupy critical defenses on “West Ridge” overlooking the Walong town. On 15 Nov 62, a Division Strength (10,000 soldiers) of Chinese Army launched their offensive against 120 soldiers of Delta Company of 6 Kumaon. Lt Bikram Singh was tasked to hold the defenses of West Ridge at all costs till 1100 hours of 16 Nov 62 and he promised his Brigade Commander that he would never withdraw & hold on till his end. Waves of Chinese attacks came on his post one after the other. However, Kumaonis fought gallantly and repulsed the attack. Then the Chinese fanned out and the next attack came with an overwhelming superiority of numbers from three sides (the forth side was a steep cliff), supported by machine-gun fire & heavy artillery bombardment. The tenacity of the troops still prevented Chinese to capture West Ridge, however at a heavy price of precious & brave lives. By now, Lt Bikram Singh had held on to the post well beyond the assigned time of 1100 hrs. He was now left with a handful of troops and little ammunition. Even though he completed the assigned task, he took the decision to stay on & repel the attack till his end, living up to the promise he made to his brigade commander in the true Rajput traditions.

In his last letter to his family (Dated Nov 11, 1962), Lt Bikram wrote

“the traditions of our race cannot be forgotten, I have killed many and will continue to kill more until the enemy finishes off”.

Interestingly, the resting place of Lt Bikram Singh was discovered 22 years later in 1986 by another army unit. In 1995, a memorial dedicated to ‘unknown soldiers’ was constructed. This is a short drive from Walong town and is known as Helmet Top.

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