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New book chronicles iconic artillery battles spanning four continents, 136 years

The book, titled With Honour and Glory: Five Great Artillery Battles is written by Major Gen A J S ‘Abdo’ Sandhu (retd) under the aegis of the United Services Institute of India’s Centre for Military History and Conflict Studies.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
June 17, 2021 8:43:46 am
Tiger Hill, KargilThe Victorious Indian Army Jawans of 18 Grenadiers rejoicing with the National Flag in their hands after recapturing the Tiger Hill in Drass sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Express archive photo on 18.07.1999

A new book that weaves a coherent narrative of the evolution of artillery and the lessons to be imbibed from historic battles in which the boom-boom guns played a decisive role was released Tuesday by Lt Gen Raj Shukla, GOC-in-C Army Training Command, Shimla.

The book titled, With Honour and Glory: Five Great Artillery Battles, spans iconic artillery battles across four continents and 136 years and includes the battles of Gettysburg (1863), Vimy Ridge (1917), Bir Hacheim (1942), Chhamb (1971) and Tololing/Tiger Hill (1999).

The book is written by Major Gen A J S ‘Abdo’ Sandhu (retd) under the aegis of the United Services Institute of India’s Centre for Military History and Conflict Studies.

Major Gen Sandhu is the author of the 2017 book, Battleground Chhamb: The Indo-Pak War of 1971.

Lt. Gen. Raj Shukla, GOC-in-C, ARTRAC, Shimla, who is the senior-most serving officer of the Army’s Regiment of Artillery, released the book in an online ceremony and discussions chaired by Major Gen Ian Carduzo (retd) and attended by the Director-General, Artillery, Army HQs, Lt. Gen. K Ravi Prasad, Colonel Commandants of the Artillery Regiments, and senior officers from artillery divisions, brigades and regiments.
“The book fills in the gaps in narratives and paucity of information on these great artillery battles. The role of artillery is somewhat underplayed while writing military history and my book aims to overcome this,” said Major Gen. Sandhu, himself a retired artillery officer, with familial roots in Chandigarh.

The book includes a chapter by Vikram Jit Singh, who was the only mediaperson allowed into the battle zone at high-altitude during the Kargil war as a correspondent with The Indian Express.

Singh was invited by Major Gen. Sandhu to pen his eye-witness accounts of artillery firing from vantage points at 15,800 feet and above during the war for the book. This included Singh’s recount of artillery firing during the night he spent during the War on the Khalubar ridge, Batalik LOC sector, at 15,800 feet, with troops of the 12 JAK Light Infantry, being subjected to ground and air-burst artillery by the Pakistan Army during his exposed climb up the Bhimbet nallah, Drass, to the LoC at 16,000 feet with the 18 Garhwal Rifles and while negotiating the precipitous cliff face above the Gragario nallah.

The project to write a book of such depth and span was conceived by the Directorate of Artillery, Army HQs, and handed over to the USI for execution, which in turn tasked Major Gen. Sandhu.

The first print of the book has been distributed by the Directorate of Artillery to the School of Artillery, Devlali, and all formations and regiments of the artillery, and the second print will soon be made available in the public domain.

The book has unearthed material from the war records of different nations such as the US, Canada, Pakistan etc. and is studded with such delightful nuggets as the fact that the 2 Indian Field Regiment, which knocked out 56 of Rommel’s tanks in the battle of Bir Hacheim in 1942, had two serving officers who went onto command the armies of India and Pakistan — Gen P P Kumaramangalam and Gen. Tikka Khan, while another officer, Capt A S Naravane, was the uncle of the present Army COAS.

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