Siachin Bn (ACC Wing)

Kitchner College, Nowgaon

The opportunities for an ordinary soldier to rise to the position of an officer have existed in the Indian Army ever since the British days. Even when the British first decided to grant Commission to Indians in the Indian Army, they gave equal opportunity to the soldiers from the ranks. The British encouraged soldiers from the ranks to join the Indian Military Academy. In the very first Regular Course of 40 Gentlemen Cadets, known as the Pioneers, 15 were from the ranks. And many of them rose to the rank of General and some even became GOC-in-Cs and COAS. The very first Sword of Honour at the Academy was won by Smith Dun, who was from the ranks and was an alumnus of Kitchner College, the forerunner of Army Cadet College. Smith Dun and one of his coursemates from the ranks, Mohd Musa later rose to become the Army Chief of Burma and Pakistan respectively.

Weapon Training in progress at Kitchner College, Nowgaon

Prior to granting full Commission to Indian officers, the British had started giving partial commission as VCOs or the Viceroy Commissioned Officers. World War I afforded many opportunities for VCOs to assume responsibility of leading platoons and even companies. This experience underlined the need for providing better training to potential VCOs, who in times of crisis could take up full command in the battlefield. To provide training to VCOs, the British Government. in India had set up Kitchner College. Three years prior to the establishment of the Indian Sandhurst, in 1929, Field Marshal Birdwood, Commander-in-Chief, India, founded Kitchner College at Nowgaon for training VCOs. When the Indian Military Academy was set up in 1932, Kitchner College served as a preparatory training institute for candidates coming from the army before joining the Indian Military Academy. It served as a feeder institution all through the Second World War. At the time when India was on the verge of gaining freedom after the war, Kitchner College was closed down.

 

Lord Kitchner

Field Marshal Lord Herbert Kitchner of Khartoum and Burma, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, was born on 24th June 1850. He was commissioned in the Royal Engineers from RMA, Woolwich. As a military commander, he won great fame by conquering Sudan when he crushed the Mahdi rebellion. In 1900 he succeeded Field Marshal Roberts as Commander-in-Chief of the African Army during the Boer War. In 1902 he came to India as C-in-C of the Indian Army, an appointment he held upto 1909. During his tenure as C-in-C India, he had serious differences with Lord Curzon who was the Viceroy at that time, over the control and decision making matters regarding the Army. The British Government. upheld Kitchner's stand, but he was denied being made the Viceroy of India. As C-in-C, he reorganized the army to meet external aggression rather than internal rebellion. At the beginning of World War-I he was made Secretary of State for War. Unlike other strategists, he visualized that the war would be long. He organized armies known as "Kitchner Armies" on a scale unprecedented in British history and became a symbol of Britain's will to fight. In recognition of his services, a college was established for fighting soldiers at Nowgaon (MP) in his memory and was called Kitchner College.

 

Lord Birdwood

Field Marshal Lord William Ridell Birdwood, GCMG, GCB, CCSI, GCVO, KCMG, CIE, DSO, was born at Kirkee in 1865. His father Herbert Mills was an Anglo-Indian judge and educationist. During the Boer War he was Military Secretary to Field Marshal Kitchner. He was C-in-C, India, from 1925-1930 and was responsible for establishing (and naming) Kitchner College in 1929, the forerunner of the Army Cadet College. Later on, after his retirement, he became the House Master of Peter House, Cambridge. He died in 1951. He authored two books namely "Khaki and Gown" (1941) and "In My Time" (1946).

 

Outstanding Laurels

  •  The first Sword of Honour was awarded to Smith Dun, an alumnus of Kitchner College who later rose to the position of Army Chief of Burma.

  • Cadet Mohd. Musa, became the Chief of the Pakistan Army.

  • Three ACC Graduates Mohan Dasan, Kamlesh Pathak and Shyamvir were invited to an 'At Home' at the Prime Minister's house in 91-92, organized in honour of the toppers of Central Universities.

 

ACC, Nowgaon

Few years after independence, the need to provide career advancement to meritorious soldiers in the ranks was urgently felt. This led to the revival of Kitchner College, in 1960, with a new name, Army Cadet College (ACC). ACC was established to allow entry of deserving soldiers into corps of officer cadre. The Indian Army has ensured that this egalitarian concept is carried forward into posterity. Thousands of its alumni have contributed their bit to the rich heritage of the Indian Army.

On 16 May 1960 the then Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon inaugurated ACC at Nowgaon. Thus ACC came into being with an initial sanctioned strength of 90 cadets. This was later increased to 450. This was the first reincarnation of the erstwhile Kitchner College. It was decided to run ACC in the mould of NDA. However, entry into ACC was restricted to soldiers serving in the ranks; greater thrust was laid on academics at ACC with an even emphasis on building officer like qualities in them.

Inauguration of ACC Wing at Nowgaon, 1960

 

ACC, Pune

In 1962, post Chinese Aggression, Officers Training Institute (OTS) was established at Ghorpuri, Pune to cater to the Emergency Commission. By 1964, OTS moved out and merged with OTS, Madras. In May 1964, ACC moved to Ghorpuri from Nowgaon and was relocated the same infrastructure occupied by OTS Pune. In Pune, ACC groomed a great number of trainees and served as a major feeder institution of Indian Military Academy. In those days ACC was sending more than 100 cadets each term to IMA for further training to become commissioned officers.

Field Marshal Manekshaw in a classroom at ACC Pune after 1971 victory

ACC Cadets with Field Marshal K.M.Cariappa

In 1971 the Government. decided to raise the eligibility criteria for permanent regular commission to a graduation degree. As a consequence of this decision, ACC, along with NDA, came to be affiliated to the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University. This resulted in a qualitative change in the content, character and pattern of academic training at the college. ACC became a full fledged Degree College with professional teaching staff and military instructors. This resulted in a qualitative change in the content, character and pattern of academic training at the college. ACC became a full fledged Degree College with professional teaching staff and military instructors.

ARMY CADETS COLLEGE WING (SIACHEN BN)

In 1977 it was decided to shift ACC to Dehradun from Pune and was attached to IMA as a separate Wing. The Commandant of IMA became ACC's new Commandant and the earlier ACC Commandant was designated as Commander ACC Wing.

Decades later ACC, like NDA, continues to function as a feeder institution of IMA. Its primary purpose is to provide the requisite academic and service training to its cadets prior to their entry into IMA. For some time, ACC Wing had a depleted strength. However, the future seems to be quite encouraging with more number of trainees from Army and Air Force inducted. ACC has significantly contributed in shaping a large number of soldiers hailing from ranks into the mould of Army officers who have distinguished themselves in all theatres of operation.

 

Siachen Bn (ACC Wing)

In 2006, ACC Wing was renamed as Siachen Bn and was integrated into the folds of the Academy as a training Bn without losing its essence as the feeder institution like NDA. The position of Commander ACC Wing was suppressed and the command was vested upon the Bn Commander. However, the training paradigms remained intact. With this alignment, the Siachen Bn was designated with three training coys. Now the cadets are able to compete with the Gentlemen Cadets of IMA in all competitive sports. As a welcome sign, the strength of the Bn is increasing by each passing year.