It was in 1948 — when none of the present lot of serving officers of the Indian Army were even born — that Brigadier D M Sen became the first Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the independent Indian Army. Having served with the likes of British Commander-in-Chief General Roy Bucher, General S P P Thorat, Field Marshal K M Cariappa, General Rajendra Sinhji and General S M Srinagesh, Sen had lot to recollect and narrate to army chief General Dalbir Singh when he visited Sen who celebrated his 100th birthday on Wednesday.
“In 1965 when I went to London, Field Marshal Auchinleck called me to spend a weekend with him… Today’s army chief’s visit reminds me of that visit of mine,” the centenarian said.
“When I reached Field Marshal Auchinleck’s residence, he had an Indian flag in his house. Starting on that note, we went on to talk about Punjab, the regiment he commanded in World War-II and the regiment in which I was commissioned in 1942…The talks were just incredible,” Sen recollected as he awaited the army chief’s arrival at his Defence Colony residence. He fondly spoke about his weekend gatherings with the likes of K M Cariappa and Rajendrasinhji.
With visits from the Chief of Army Staff and the first lady of the Indian Army, officials of JAG branch of the army, and children and grandchildren who flew down from the US — Sen’s 100th birthday turned out to be extra special. One befitting a “A century of honour”, as was written on the cake brought by General Dalbir Singh.
Sen’s life in uniform began when he enrolled in the British Army at the outbreak of WW-II and was enlisted as a private in the Royal Scots. Two months later, he was selected for a commission in the Indian Army. After the required training as an officer cadet, he got commissioned in the First Punjab Regiment on November 15, 1942. Sen was promoted and appointed JAG on April 1, 1948. He held the position until February 1957.
While a more formal function — by the JAG branch of the Army — followed the army chief’s visit, the mood through the day and during the General’s visit was informal. This despite the fact that armed security guards were manning the gates of the bungalow and at least seven vehicles of the Genreal’s convoy were waiting at the gates.
“My son-in-law’s birthday too is today,” General Singh’s wife smilingly told the gathering as the army chief held Sen’s hand and said, “I will come again, next year and a year after that.”