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Pioneer Corps
 
Achievements/Contribution in Nation Building
 

World War II.  The Pioneers have enriched their experience under operational conditions.  Indian Pioneers during World War II have been deployed all over the world like Italy , Greece , Turkey , Middle East ( Sudan , Palestine ), Indonesia , Malaya , Singapore , Burma et al.  Through the jungles of Burma , across the plains and deserts of North Africa and deep into the heart of Italy , personnel of Indian Pioneer Corps have militarily done the spadework without which the victories in these theatres could never have been achieved.  That they have worked like Trojans, through worst monsoons keeping the road fit for traffic, repaired landlines, filling in breaches, tarring and metalling roads, opening of the railway line from Orte to Arezzo (1217 Indian Pioneer Company) as part of the operations of the 8th Army, speaks volumes for itself for their great devotion to duty.

The Pioneers were forward troops during the 8th Army’s advance into Tunisia and Cecilia.  Arduous to essential job of not only carrying supplies and ammunition in the jungles of Aragon (Burma) but also constructing tracks for men and mules, working for over 72 hours without pause to get essential supplies to the forward troops.  The Pioneers also constructed flood bank in all Bailey bridges over Maricha River in Rimi , Italy , Tripoli and other roads in Italy .  8 Special Pioneer Company constructed summer camps on the sandy seashores of Nahariya near Haifa ( Palestine ).

Under mental and physical stresses by loading and unloading ships, trains and vehicles under extreme heat, sandy and stormy climatic conditions in Persia and Iraq , their tales of bravery know no bounds.  The Pioneers thwarted the Germans and Italians in Tobruk and recaptured the fortress, seized their arms and drove them out.  Following achievements bear testimony to the valour of Pioneers:-

      (a)        Lt Joseph William Wright of Indian Pioneer Corps was awarded Military Cross (MC) for
      gallantry in Italy (Mt Cairo).  He motivated the Indian Pioneers by sheer inspiration under
      continuous artillery and mortar shelling at Mount Cairo and ensured delivery of supplies to the
      forward posts.

      (b)        Pioneer Abdul Subhan of 1436 Pioneer Coy (27th Group of Indian Pioneer Corps) was
      awarded Certificate of Gallantry while evacuating the casualties from Mandok across Tan chi
      on the Sanghi River through swirling currents and carrying the wounded for 15 miles on his
      shoulders.    

      (c)        1247 Indian Pioneer Company was awarded the US 5th Army’s Plaque and Clasp by
      Gen Mark Clark. Where the mules failed, the Indian Pioneers succeeded.   

      (d)        Pioneer Pyara Singh was awarded Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM) for
      delivering supplies and rations at 4,000 feet under heavy artillery and mortar fire.

      (e)        Jemadar Mehar Singh was awarded Military Cross in Italy (Mt Cairo).  

      (f)         Havildar Inder Singh was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in Italy (Mt Cairo).  

      (g)        Subedar Subhas Elahi Bux was awarded Military Cross.

      (h)        Several Kaiser - e - Hind silver medals were awarded to Pioneers by Gen Sir Claude
      Auchenleck for gallantry.



The success of the 15th Indian Corps’ combined operations down to Aragon coast was militarily aided by the endeavours of Pioneers in combat situations. They swam and trekked bare footed, carrying food and water throughout the day and night. India can take pride in the knowledge that the inspiration and initial work of planning and construction of Ledo and Stilwel roads in Burma was carried out by the Indian Pioneer Corps.  Opening of the Ledo road was consequential to major military successes in the Burma campaign.  The Pioneers accredited themselves in the long drawn bitter fight from Manipur to Mandalay and Rangoon to Meiktila.  The Pioneers constructed 43 miles section of the total railway lines with nine stations, 13 bridges and 73 culverts in the jungles of Assam and to Chi Valley .  The Pioneers have accredited themselves for capturing Rangoon in the battle of Meiktila by delivering supplies to fighting troops under fire.  The Pioneers worked shoulder to shoulder with the Corps of Signals in establishing telephone and wireless communications in all types of terrain.  Following achievements are noteworthy:-   

      (a)        Indian Pioneers were rewarded with Honorary Meritorious Service medals for their service
      in Burma .  

      (b)        Sub Maj Akbar Khan Sardar Bahadur, OBI, IMSN, was invested with Star of the Order of
      the British Empire Class I for his dedication and leadership qualities in Oct 1943, while he was
      Sub Maj of 58 Auxiliary Pioneer Battalion.  

      (c)        The Pioneers have also been rewarded by Royal Indian Navy with Certificate of Gallantry
      for action in Burma .



The Pioneers also lent their hands to the Royal Indian Navy in amphibious operations across the seven seas, supporting the Allied operations at Singapore , Indonesia , Burma and the Middle East .  They landed rations, equipment and other warlike stores under adverse weather conditions and under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire.  The Royal Indian Navy was all praise for the dedication and determination with which the Pioneers completed the tasks allocated to them.  

Construction of roads and new tracks in snowbound areas under difficult weather conditions and working hand in hand with organisations like General Reserve Engineer Force(GREF)/Border Roads Organisation, and carrying loads of ammunition in the Eastern, Northern and Western sectors is still continued by the Pioneers.  

Post Independence Wars (1947 to date).      The Pioneers have contributed extensively in all campaigns since independence and have played a vital role in all major and specialized operations. When enmass demobilization of the Pioneers was in progress soon after World War II, the requirement of the Pioneers was felt once again.  The Pioneers were pushed into service in the high altitudes of Jammu & Kashmir, Leh/Ladakh, plains of Punjab and the arid deserts of Rajasthan to thwart the malicious and malevolent designs of Pakistan and China .  They were employed in all types of construction/maintenance work as also loading/unloading of stores, rations, equipment and ammunition over land, sea and air.  The Pioneers accredited themselves in the face of the enemy.   The Pioneers also fulfilled their tasks in the police action ‘Op Polo’ at Hyderabad , Junagarh and Goa .   

The Pioneers have played a vital and key role in all campaigns since independence to date including overseas operations in Sri Lanka during ‘Op Pawan’. Some important tasks carried out by Pioneers are enumerated as follows:-

      (a)        Link up of Poonch.  

      (b)        Link up in Uri sector (J & K).  

      (c)        Opening and maintenance of Zojila Pass (J & K).  

      (d)        Opening and maintenance of Sadhna and Tithwal Passes (J & K).  

      (e)        Opening and maintenance of Jawahar Tunnel (J & K).  

      (g)        Construction of roads and mule tracks.  

      (h)        Construction and maintenance of bridges in the East during the 1971 operations.  

      (j)         Laying and breaching of mines and minefields.  

      (k)        Loading/unloading of stores, rations, equipment and ammunition.  

      (l)         Construction, maintenance and activation of aerodromes, airfields and helipads.  

      (m)       Laying and breaching of obstacles in enemy lines.  

      (n)        Carrying back the body bags during ‘Op Vijay’ in the higher reaches of Kargil, Drass and
      Mushkoh.  

      (o)        Bringing back the wounded from recaptured entrenchments.

      (p)        Expatriating the Prisoners of War.  

      (q)        Construction and laying of the border fencing along the Indo - Pak border, despite the
      vagaries of weather along the ‘Line of Control’ in Jammu and Kashmir during the recent times.  

      (r)        The Pioneers have played a stellar role in all major battles of Basantar, Shamshernagar,
      Keran, Tithwal, Kargil and Mushkoh to name a few.  



‘Op Vijay’
deserves a very special mention in the history of the Pioneers.  The Pioneers rose and geared to the occasion.  They carried out the most difficult tasks assigned to them with total commitment and dedication.  In addition, two of the pioneer companies Pioneer Companies worked non stop alongwith Border Roads Organisation and ensured that the lines of communication on the Srinagar - Leh, the Jammu - Poonch - Rajauri and Jammu - Srinagar axes remained open at all times.  

Counter Insurgency Operations.       Notwithstanding the role and employment of the Pioneers during war and peace, the Pioneers have stood at the forefront and have been employed in intense counter insurgency operations in both sectors, ie, Jammu & Kashmir ‘Op Rakshak’, as also the eastern regions of Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura ‘Op Riddle’, ‘Op Hifazat’, ‘Op Rhino’ and ‘Op Bajrang’.  They have been extensively employed in road opening duties, convoy protection and guarding of vital installations in the rear areas.  Their dedication and commitment has never been in doubt, and they have risen to the occasion time and again proving their mettle in saga of blood and guts.  

Peacetime Work Force  

During the peace time, the Pioneers have never rested.  They have stood fast to the old adage ‘the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war’.   The Pioneers have trained well keeping in mind their role and employment, as also in other aspects of training, keeping in view the futuristic war in the environment of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) scenario.  The Pioneers have been committed time and again in peace time requirements such as flood relief, ‘Op Sadbhavana’, Op Sahayata’, earthquake relief work, aid to civilian authorities, ‘Op Blue Star’ and internal security duties. In these too, the Pioneers have never lagged behind, have always been at the forefront, and will remain so forever.


Honours and Awards
  

Over the years, the Pioneers have had their share of honours and awards for both gallantry in the face of the enemy, and also for distinguished service.  These are listed as follows :-   

      1971
Ops
Op Vijay Counter Insurgency Ops Peace Time Services
             
(a)  

Kirti Chakra

- - 01 02
(b)  

Shaurya Chakra

-   06 -
(c)  

Sena Medal

- 01 01 01
(d)  

Mentioned-in- Despatch

04 - - -
(e)  

COAS Commendation Card

03 01 - 45
(f)  

VCOAS Commendation Card

- - - 08
(g)  

GOC-in-C Commendation Card

- - - 79
(h)  

DG Border Roads Commendation Card

- - - 01


Summary of Awards and Casualties of Pioneer Corps.
  The Pioneers were given the much-awaited combatised status in June 1945.  The Pioneers have worked cheerfully under fire, treated the wounded and worked for long hours handling heavy quantities of supplies, ammunition and other war material in the mountainous and snowbound terrains of Jammu & Kashmir, Leh/Ladakh and the arid terrain of deserts and plains, which speaks volumes for itself for their great devotion to duty.  The awards and casualities of Pioneer Corps are summarized as follows :-

(a)       Gallantry Awards/ Decorations.  
  (i)         World War II.  
    (aa)      MC 06  
    (ab)      MM 07
    (ac)      Kaiser Hind Silver Medal 02
    (ad)      Star of The Order of the British
Empire Class I 
01
    (ae)      Order of the British Empire    05
    (af)       British Empire Medal  05  
    (ag)      IDSM 04
    (ah)      Member of the British Empire 20  
    (aj)       Army Plaque and Clasp 01
    (ak)      Certificate of Gallantry 01
       
  (ii)        Post Independence .  
    (aa)      KC 03
    (ab)      SC 06
    (ac)      SM 03
    (ad)      Mentioned-in-Despatch  04
    (ae)      COAS Commendation Card 49
    (af)       VCOAS Commendation Card 08
    (ag)      GOC - in - C Commendation Card 79
   

(ah)      DG Border Roads Commendation Card 

01
       

(b)        Battle Casualties World War II.       The details tabulated below are the total casualties suffered by the Pioneer Corps in Burma, Europe, Middle East and Far East:-

      Offrs     JCOs Combatants NCsE Remarks
             
(i) Killed       - 02 263 14  
             
(ii) Missing/Dead

14 $

10 1718 109

    $ Incl 05 Indian officers.

(iii) Wounded

05 #

17 1157 39

# Incl 03 Indian officers.

             
(iv) PsW

NK

16 2731 162  
               
    Total

19

45 5869 334  

c)        Battle Casualties wef 1947 to Date.

 Missing/

 
  Operations Killed

 

Dead

 

PsW Wounded
(i) 1947

Not Known

(ii) 1962 56 163 557 40
(iii) 1965 02     01
(iv) 1971 03     14
(v) Post 1971 20     28

Sports and Adventure Activities

The Corps has also performed commendably in the spheres of sports and adventure activities. Most notably the Corps has fielded players in wrestling and hockey in national and international meets and undertaken Trans Himalayan white water rafting from Devaprayag to Rishikesh every alternate year. The outstanding sportsmen of the Corps have made the Corps proud by proving their skills. The personnel who have participated in the services, national and international sports are listed as follows :-  

 
Rank Name Sports Participated In
         
(a) Sub Maj & Hony Capt Ramchander Wrestling Won 07 Gold, 01 Silver and 02 Bronze medals in National, Asian / Commonwealth Games
         
(b) Hav Cyprian Aind Hockey Represented India in international matches held at Moscow , and is presently Captain of the Army Red team.
         
(c) Pnr Sunil Ekka Hockey Represented India Juniors in Australia in 2004, and is presently a playing member of the Army Red team.
         
(d) Pnr Dinesh Kumar Hockey Represented Junior Army Red in Junior Nationals at Jabalpur in 2004.
         
(e) Pnr Flurance Kujur Hockey Represented Junior Army Red in Junior Nationals at Jabalpur in 2004.
         
(f) Rect Anthony Hembram Hockey Represented Karnataka in All India Junior Nationals, Kolkata in 2005.
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