REGIMENTAL INSTITUTIONS, SPORTS & ADVENTURE
Introduction. REGIMENTAL INSTITUTIONS : Corps Association – Corps Committee – Colonels Commandant – Corps Emblem & Motto – Corps Colours – Corps Flag – Reunion – War Memorial – Corps Museum – Headquarters Mess – Corps Band – DR Display Team – Dress & Accoutrements – Corps Publications – Corps History Committee – Corps Traditions Committee – Cariappa Trophy – Iyappa Trophy – Daulet Singh Trophy- Plaque of Honour. SPORTS & ADVENTURE : Hockey – Football – Basketball – Volleyball – Triangular Sports Meet – W.I.A.A. Reliability Trials. CONCLUSION.
Customs and traditions are inseparable from the military life. With advances in technology, the modern battle field bears little resemblance to that of yesteryears. The days of hand to hand combat are virtually over, and one will rarely see an enemy face or force, except on a computer screen. It would appear that qualities such as valour, daring and discipline, the hall marks of every soldier, have been replaced by intelligence, knowledge and technical skills. This is true but only in part. Even today, the premium on traditional military values such as courage, discipline and esprit de corps remains high as ever. Each regiment and corps has its own distinct ethos developed over decades and centuries of adherence to regimental customs, both on and off the battlefield. Regimental institutions are the means to nurture these customs and strengthen the bonds between soldiers. By itself, each one may appear insignificant or irrelevant. However, taken as a whole they form the mortar that binds the various parts that together represent the Corps of Signals of the Indian Army. The institutions that existed in the Corps from its inception up to 1947 have already been covered in Appendix 2 of Volume II. The developments in these institutions and new ones that came up after Independence are covered in this chapter.
The Indian Signal Corps Association was formed on
1 April 1947 primarily as a
welfare measure. The objects of the Corps Association were to render financial
assistance to serving and retired signallers and their families who were in
financial distress; to enable old comrades to keep in touch with each other;
and to assist retired and released personnel in finding employment. In a wider
context, it was not only expected to look after the wellbeing of its members
but also promote brotherhood, camaraderie and esprit-de-corps. Major General R.F.H.
Nalder, the SO-in-C, encouraged all serving members of the Corps to support the
Association in the early stages of its existence, so that its future is
assured. He also instructed all CO’s to publicise the aims and objectives of
the Association and to inspire such confidence in it as would ensure its
Initially, two branches of the Corps Association were formed at
in 1947, each branch being based on an ISC Centre and possessing its own
section of the Association Funds. Both branches were controlled by a Central
Committee which met annually at GHQ in Bangalore .
The Central Committee was headed by the SO-in-C, with one ICO from each command
and ISC Centre as members. In addition, two or three ICOs were nominated by the
SO–in–C, one of whom functioned as the Secretary. The day-to-day administration
of each branch of the Association, including the administration of the funds,
was vested in an executive committee which was formed at each ISC Centre. The
executive committee consisted of the Commandant (Chairman), four senior ICOs,
up to four retired ICOs or VCOs and an ICO who functioned as the Secretary. Delhi
There was little change in the rules of the Association until 1959, when the Corps Committee decided to do away with annual membership and permit only life membership. The existing annual members were to be converted to life members. Units would pay the difference in the subscriptions to Records which would be recovered from individuals in instalments. It was decided that flat rates of subscriptions would apply to JCOs and OR. However, officers would continue to pay the existing rates on rank basis. The final striking of names of those existing annual members who were not willing to become life members would be taken up at the next Committee meeting after knowing the exact number of such members at the time of the conference. 1
At the next meeting of the Corps Committee Meeting held at Jullundur on 24-25 March 1960 it was decided that annual members could not be debarred from the Signals Association as long as they paid their annual subscription and would be treated the same as life members for purposes of grants of loans from the Signals Benevolent Fund. If the arrears of subscription in respect of defaulters were not received by 1 July1960, then such individuals would cease to be members of the Signals Association. However, in future only life members would be enrolled into the Corps of Signals Association.
Though the Corps Association had been formed in 1947, it did not have a permanent office. In 1961, Brigadier T. Barreto, then CSO Western Command, proposed that Signals should have a regimental headquarters on the lines of other Arms and Services and the Royal Signals in
The point was considered by the Corps Committee, which was presided over by
Major General A.C. Iyappa, since Lieutenant General Daulet Singh could not
attend. The Colonel Commandant felt that the idea, though desirable, was an all
arms issue and would require special Government sanction. It was decided that further information in
this connection should be obtained from the UK and the case examined by the SO-
in-C (Major General R.N. Batra). UK
It is interesting to note that at Brigadier Barreto’s insistence, this point continued to be considered at every subsequent meeting of the Corps Committee, but was always postponed, for one reason or the other. In 1967, two years after Brigadier Barrreto had retired; the point was discussed for the last time. The SO-in- C pointed out that a regimental headquarters had been sanctioned for the Royal Signals, but in view of the restrictions on raising of operational units only it had not yet been possible to take up this case with Army HQ. Though he agreed that there was a need for the establishment of a regimental headquarters, in view of the heavy commitments on Signals 4 Section in the Signals Directorate, the proposal would have to be pended for the time being. 2
The point about conversion of annual membership remained unresolved for several years. In 1964 it was decided that all references to annual membership will be deleted from the rules and only life membership will be permitted. As a result of this amendment, all annual members were given a final option to convert their subscription and become life members, failing which their names were to be struck off the rolls. Apparently, there were many who did not comply. In 1966, the Association had 62,690 members out of which 2728 were still to convert to life membership. In 1972, while discussing the point regarding presentation of mementoes to officers prior to their retirement from service, the Committee felt that officers who did not accept the obligations and allegiance the Corps would not be dined out on retirement and the presentation of memento withheld. Such officers would cease to be life members of the Corps Association and would no longer be treated as members of the Corps. 3
One of the primary aims of the Corps Association was to render financial assistance to members who were in financial distress, and those who had been boarded out due to disease and infirmity. The Association originally maintained two main funds. These were the Indian Signals Benevolent Fund and the Indian Signals Reunion Fund. The Benevolent Fund was used for making monetary grants in cases of poverty and distress among members and their families, including those of deceased members. Assistance to families was restricted to wives, widows, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters only. In the case of officers, only those who had been commissioned from the ranks were eligible for relief for themselves or their families. On its formation, subscriptions for life and annual membership were Rs. 75 and Rs. 10 respectively for officers, Rs. 30 and Rs. 3 for VCOs, Rs. 15 and Rs.1 for OR and Rs. 7/8 and Rs -/8 (eight annas) for non combatants (enrolled). The Reunion Fund was to meet the expenses of reunions, which were planned to be held annually. It was also intended to start an organisation for helping old comrades of the Corps to find employment. Lest the present generation of readers find these rates too low, it is well to remember that the basic pay of a second lieutenant was only Rs. 400, while that of a signalman was Rs. 60/65, depending on his trade.
Apart from grants, loans were also given to personnel for meeting unforeseen expenses. In 1951, Subedar Dharam Singh and Jemadar Sardara Singh who were going abroad for training were given loans of Rs 1000/- and 500/- respectively, for which ex-post facto sanction was accorded by the Signals Committee. Since there was no financial safeguard in respect of loans granted to personnel who became non-effective, in 1953 it was decided that loans would be given to all ranks on proper agreement on the security of men in the unit or Corps as defined in RAI Instruction 743.
The objects and rules of the Corps funds were formalised during the 9th Corps Committee meeting on
11 April 1956. It was
decided that the following funds would be maintained by the Corps:-
· Corps of Signals General Fund
· Corps of Signals Bands Fund
· Corps of Signals HQ Mess Fund
· Corps of Signals War Memorial Fund
· Signals Benevolent Fund
· Signals Scholarship Fund
· The Signalman Fund
The 10th meeting of the Signals Committee held on
April 1957 decided that newly raised signal units would be given
grants from the General Fund. The rates were Rs. 1,000/- for major units, Rs.
500/- for brigade signal sections and Rs. 100/- for smaller signal sections.
For officers’ messes of newly raised units, loans could be given from the HQ
Mess Fund. The procedure of sanctioning loans was also streamlined. It was
decided that loans to JCOs/OR would be sanctioned by Officer-in-Charge Signal
Records. In an emergency, CSOs Command could sanction normal loans of up to Rs.
250/-. The limits for normal loans from the Benevolent
Fund for officers, JCOs and OR were 2, 4 and 6 months’ basic pay respectively.
The loan amount had to be returned in two and a half years. The unit commander
would stand surety for the loan. In case the individual was transferred to
another unit, the surety would also be transferred.
The limits for grants and loans were revised from time to time. In 1971, a sum of Rs. 1, 07,000 was disbursed as grants to TB patients, ex-servicemen, disabled personnel and next of kin of deceased personnel. In addition, 1082 serving personnel were given loans totalling Rs. 3, 00,000, which was the limit laid down. In 1972 the ceiling on loans was raised to Rs. 5, 00,000.
The Corps Committee
The formation of the ISC Committee in 1946 was an important step towards ‘Indianisation’ of the Corps. It was for the first time that decisions on ‘domestic matters’ of the Corps were entrusted to a majority of Indian officers, whereas these had in the past been dealt exclusively by British officers. Only two meetings were held prior to
15 August 1947. According to the charter
adopted at the first meeting held on 10 September 1946, the main functions of the Committee were to sponsor the social and domestic
interests of the ISC and to represent Corps opinion in all matters pertaining
to the welfare and esprit-de-corps. The ex-officio Chairman of
the Committee was the SO-in-C, with members being nominated from each command
and STC. In addition, two or three
members were nominated by the SO-in-C. The Committee comprised Major General
R.F.H. Nalder (Chairman); Lieutenant Colonels B.D. Kapur and T.K. Mukerji;
Majors Bhattacharya, A.C. Iyappa, S.S. Chowdhary, M.B.K. Nair, Mohd. Suleman and M.N. Batra (Secretary); and Captain
Ajit Singh. The Committee decided to invite General Sir Douglas D. Gracey to
serve as Colonel Commandant of the Corps and Chairman of the Committee. It was decided that the SO-in-C would
henceforth assume the duties of Deputy Chairman.
The Committee took several important decisions in its first meeting on
10 September 1946. These included the replacement of the
Corps Motto ‘Certa-Cito’ by ‘Tez-o-Sahih’; the compilation of the history of
ISC; approval of designs for shoulder badges for the Army Signal School, the
Corps cap and collar badges and the colour of flash backings and unit flags.
The second meeting of the Committee was held on 13 May 1947 under the chairmanship of the
SO-in-C, Brigadier H.D. Beadon. It was decided that a quarterly journal called
“The Indian Signal Quarterly Journal” would be published by the ,
Mhow, in three languages - English, Roman Urdu and one vernacular language. It
was also decided to give an award to the best young officer (YO) of the year.
The award was to consist of a miniature bronze ‘Jimmy’ mounted on a wooden
plinth. Commandant ISC School
the Committee was reconstituted. The first meeting of the reconstituted
Committee was held on 1-2 April 1948 at Independence
under the chairmanship of Brigadier C.H.I. Akehurst. It was decided that the Colonel
Commandant of the Corps would be the ex-officio Chairman, with the SO-in-C
being the Deputy Chairman. Other members of the Committee would include the
Deputy Director Signals; one member from each command to be nominated by the
CSO; one member each from the Delhi and the STC to be
nominated by the respective commandant; and three members to be nominated by
SO-in-C, one of whom would be a subedar major. The GSO II Signals 4 would be
the secretary. It was also decided that a sub-committee may be deputized from
time to time at ISC
to go into various matters as may be decided.
The sub-committee would consist of the SO-in-C, Deputy Director Signals,
GSO II Signals 4 and such other officers from local signal units as may be
required. New Delhi
The Committee formally approved the following charter of the Indian Signals Committee:-
The functions of the Indian Signals Committee are to sponsor the social and domestic interests of the Indian Signals and to represent Corps opinions in all matters pertaining to the welfare and esprit-de-Corps generally. In particular, it will maintain interests in such matter as particulars of dress; mess customs and etiquette; social and sports activities; regimental customs; welfare of officers and other ranks both during their period of service and after return to civil life; Corps manuals and journals; the establishment of technical status of personnel in relation to civil institutions; examination and control of such funds as may be decided; sponsoring any associations or committees formed for the implementation of the items above. 4
The next meeting of the Committee was held at
from 24-26 May 1949. It was chaired by General K.M. Cariappa, the Colonel
Commandant. In his opening address the Chairman dwelt on a number of issues
such as customs and traditions, dress, officers’ messes, austerity, membership
of clubs etc. He also talked about loyalty of army officers. He stated that an
officer’s loyalty was first to his country i.e. Delhi ; then to our Army, i.e.
Indian Army; then to the Corps of Indian Signals; then to the unit, then to his
men and lastly to himself. He said that
they (the members of the Committee) belonged to the privileged few, who had
been given the unique task of building up their Corps. They should be proud of this trust placed in
them, and give their best to the Corps regardless of personal comforts. The
foundation of the Corps should be built on dignity and loyalty, and if service
to the Corps is maintained as the first and foremost task, nothing was
It was decided that the Corps Committee should meet twice annually. One meeting would be held in
and the other in Mhow and Delhi Jubbulpore
alternatively each year on 10 October and 15 February respectively. However,
this did not happen, and the Committee was never able to meet more than once a
year, except in 1950, when it met in March and October. After this, the Corps
Committee continued to meet regularly every year, except in 1961 because of the
Golden Jubilee and in 1963, due to the Emergency in the wake of the 1962 war.
The meetings were usually chaired by the Colonel Commandant, if he was
available, or the SO-in-C, who was the Deputy Chairman. From 1948 to 1955 the
Corps had only one Colonel Commandant, General Cariappa. In 1955 Major General
Daulet Singh was appointed the second Colonel Commandant. He attended the
meeting in 1962. General Cariappa chaired the meetings twice, in 1949 and 1958.
In 1959, Major General A.C. Iyappa was appointed Colonel Commandant after the relinquishment of the post by General Cariappa. In 1962 it was decided that the second Colonel Commandant would be designated as the Co-Chairman of the Corps Committee. It was also decided that one retried officer would be nominated on the Committee by the SO-in-C. In 1964 the SO-in-C, Major General R.N. Batra was appointed the second Colonel Commandant after the demise of Lieutenant General Daulet Singh and became the Co- Chairman. It was decided that so long as the SO-in-C was also a Colonel Commandant, a Deputy Chairman would not be appointed. In view of the growing number of retired officers, it was felt that their representation in the Corps Committee should be increased. It was agreed that there was a requirement for appointing a Corps Tradition Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of a senior member of the Corps to examine Corps customs and traditions and put up suggestions for approval of the Corps Committee. Brigadier T. Barreto was appointed Chairman of the Corps Tradition Sub-Committee. 5
In 1967 Lieutenant General I.D. Verma was appointed the third Colonel Commandant. Consequently the 19th Corps Committee meeting held on
February 1968 was chaired by Lieutenant General A.C. Iyappa, with
two Co-Chairmen - Lieutenant General R.N. Batra and Lieutenant General I.D. Verma.
(The rank of SO-in-C was upgraded the same year.)
The decisions of the Corps of Signals Committee on important domestic matters were disseminated through directives. After
the following Corps of Signals Committee Directives were issued:- Independence
Directive No. Date Subject
2 February 1953 Corps
of Signals DR Display Team
4 February 1953 Charter
of Duties of Editorial Staff of THE SIGNALMAN
3 September 1953 Scheme
for Grant of Loan from Signals Benevolent Fund
5 October 1962 Corps
6 February 1964 Corps
Sports Control Committee
5 November 1963 Lt Gen Daulet Singh Trophy for Personal High Endeavour
17 February 1964 The Iyappa Trophy
16 September 1964 Unit Sign Boards
15 January 1965 Record of Mess Property and Silver of
21 September 1964 Award of Corps Colours and Blazers
Though the Corps Committee was intended to deal with domestic matters such as dress; mess customs; sports activities; regimental customs; welfare of serving and retired personnel and so on, over a period of time it became almost an extension of the Signals Directorate. One of the staff officers in Signals Directorate performed the job of the secretary of the Corps Committee, on a part time basis. The need for a permanent secretary of the Committee and a permanent address for the Corps Association, as existed in Royal Signals had been brought up several times by Brigadier T. Barreto, but it was not implemented. Had a regimental headquarters for the Corps of Signals been officially designated, with a permanent secretariat, perhaps the Committee would have been more effectual. It would have also avoided the autocratic and cavalier manner in which the Committee sometimes functioned. Nothing illustrates this fact as well as the manner in which the Committee treated one it’s most active and faithful members, Brigadier T. Barreto.
Brigadier Barreto first became a member of the Corps Committee in 1954 and attended every meeting thereafter until 1965, when he retired. He became Chairman of the Corps History Committee in 1957 and of the Corps Tradition Sub-Committee in 1964. He played an important role in suggesting, designing, setting up and nurturing several important Corps institutions such as the Corps Museum, War Memorial, Regimental Colours, Corps Flag, Headquarters Mess, Roll of Honour, Honours and Awards list and many others. Form a perusal of the agenda and minutes of the Corps Committee and connected correspondence, there is no doubt that he sponsored the maximum number of points for discussion and was one of the few who took follow up action on its decisions. However, as mentioned in a long article on him in the Signalman after his retirement, ‘he was strong willed to a fault and possessed the highest principles. He loved the Corps as few others did and he was uncompromising where truth and the interest of the Corps, as understood by him, were involved. To Tery, the Corps was everything’. 6
In June 1963, Brigadier Barreto, who was then Commandant School of Signals, sent 12 points for inclusion in the agenda of the 15th Corps Committee meeting that was scheduled to be held in 1964. These points were as given below:- 7
1. Where is the Daulet Singh Trophy for High Endeavour? What are the rules for competition/presentation of this trophy?
2. What is future of the Iyappa Trophy for technical proficiency?
3. Discuss future of the Signalman in view of cut in Publications Team and embargo on use of GSO2 (Publications) on duties other than those laid down by DMT.
4. Discuss stocking of liquor in HQ Mess.
5. Sanction write-off of sword of Lt Col Rosenburg which is missing from HQ Mess.
6. Approve return of skins presented/loaned to HQ Mess by Lt Col VD Deshpande.
7. Discuss amounts due from the Corps Funds to School funds.
8. Review items manufactured by Saharan & Company for quality and cost.
9. Revise Corps Committee Directive No 3 in light of Minute 7 (b) of 13th Meeting. (This dealt with loans from the Signals Benevolent Fund to officers.)
10. Discuss progress/improvement in sports publicity
11. Discuss introduction of President’s Own Despatch Riders.
12. Discuss compilation of Annual Resume of Activities. The last issue contained a large number of omissions and inaccuracies.
In August 1963, the Secretary of the Corps Committee sent a reply to Commandant School of Signals, informing him that 10 of the 12 points submitted by him had not been included in the agenda for the 15th Corps Committee meeting. The only two points that had been included were those pertaining Saharan & Company and sports publicity. The reasons given for rejection of the other points were interesting: ‘this is an administrative problem and should be referred to Signals Directorate (stocking of liquor in HQ Mess); ‘this is already under correspondence (amount due from Corps Funds to School Funds); ‘the point may be referred to Signals Directorate for examination (writing off sword of Lt Col Roesnburg); ‘this will be progressed by Signals Directorate (President’s own DR); ‘necessary action will be taken by Signals directorate’ (Annual Resume of Activities) and so on. 8
Some of the points submitted by Brigadier Barreto had been under correspondence for several months, on which he had already sent several reminders. Several other points raised by him had been either ignored or treated in a cavalier fashion. The reply of the Secretary Corps Committee irked him no end. He wrote an angry letter to the SO-in-C, Major General R.N. Batra, extracts from which are given below:- 9
………The Secretary has thought it fit to reject 10 out of the 12 items submitted by me for inclusion in the agenda. This unilateral and dictatorial action shows that the Secretariat does not appreciate the status of the Corps Committee and its members. Before I deal with the particular items I had submitted, I shall state my views on the general case.
At last year’s conference, you had very correctly defined the difference in status between the CSO's Conference and the Corps Committee meeting. The former is your personal conference and CSOs/Comdts cannot claim any rights to be heard nor can they insist on raising issues. The final decision on all matters concerning that conference rest entirely with you personally. The Corps Committee, however, is a democratic body consisting of responsible members charged with the duty of regulating the domestic affairs of the Corps. Generally speaking, decisions are taken by majority vote, the power of veto resting with the representative Colonel Commandant in his capacity as chairman of the Committee. If therefore, there exists a certain freedom of discussion, it presupposes that members have the privilege of raising such matters as are within the legitimate purview of the Committee.
My personal status on the Corps Committee is unique by virtue of active and continuous participation in its deliberations over a period of years, and it is not without a record of achievement. It is therefore to be expected that I should know what may or may not be discussed at such meetings. I have no objection to any point of mine being excluded as a result of satisfactory action being taken subsequent to the receipt of my points; such is the case in four of them, some of which have been outstanding for years. …….
What may or may not be discussed by the Corps Committee? The Corps Committee being the watch dog of the Corps, it should not fight shy of examining any matters affecting its domestic affairs, however embarrassing they may be. Only thus can the Corps Committee achieve its rightful status and be looked upon with respect by the rest of the Corps.
I am deeply hurt by this unwarranted action by the Secretariat, even more than the insulting treatment extended to me over the past years by their persistent refusal to reply to my letters and reminders thereto. Perhaps you may not be aware of this attitude of the Secretariat. Various excuses, such as changes in staff and the Emergency, have been offered, but something solid is required to ensure a more efficient and progressive transaction of Corps Committee business. I do not believe in witch hunting, nor is there anything personal in my complaint, but I do believe that a regimental headquarters is now more than necessary to administer its domestic affairs. The correct set up on an unofficial part-time basis has, in my opinion, failed to keep up with e progress required by growing Corps. …………
The 15th Corp Committee Meeting was held on 14 and
17 February 1964 at . It was chaired by General Iyappa with
General Batra as Co-Chairman. Most of the points raised by Brigadier Barreto
were discussed and decisions arrived at. Some contentious issues such as the
Headquarters Mess, Daulet Singh Trophy, Tradition Committee and The Signalman
were hotly debated and the decisions were not always unanimous, as is apparent
from subsequent correspondence on these subjects. Vindicating Brigadier
Barreto’s opinion regarding the functioning of the Secretariat, the Committee
decided that its decisions ‘will not be
made by correspondence alone; but points and views of members will, in future,
be circulated and final decisions made only when these have been considered. If
necessary, these may be held over for discussion at the next Corps Committee
Meeting.’ Significantly, Lieutenant Colonel M.B. Hart performed the duties
of Secretary during the meeting, the permanent incumbent Lieutenant Colonel Sri
Ram being in attendance. Delhi
Apart from the absence of a permanent secretariat of the Corps Committee, another factor that affected its functioning was the office of the Colonel Commandant. From 1946 right up to 1963, the Colonels Commandant and Chairmen of the Corps Committee – Generals Gracey, Cariappa and Daulet Singh - were not from Signals. Even if they did not attend all meetings of the Corps Committee, their exalted position in the Army and status as Chairman ensured that their views were considered before important decisions were taken by the Committee or its Secretariat. After 1963, this important check was removed and the Corps Committee was headed by a retired or serving SO-in-C. The nomination of a staff officer of Signals Directorate as the part time secretary aggravated the problem. One can perhaps forgive the secretary for not being able to distinguish between the office of the Chairman of the Corps Committee and the SO-in-C, on whose staff he was serving.
As explained in Volume II, the institution of Colonel of the Regiment or Colonel Commandant is a British legacy. In Victorian times, commissions were given only to members of the aristocracy and the landed gentry, the class which could be trusted to remain loyal to the Sovereign. This not only reduced the chances of mutinies and revolts, but also provided an honourable occupation to scions of the nobility, for whom no other profession or calling was considered respectable. Few of these officers had formal training and some even bought their commissions. Regiments were commanded by colonels who often paid the salaries of the soldiers and the cost of their uniforms. Some continued to look after their estates and commitments in Court, leaving them little time for day to day administration of the regiment during peace time. This gave birth to the rank of lieutenant colonel, who deputized for the colonel. As the army became more professional, the system changed and every officer had to start at the bottom rung as a second lieutenant. But the institution of Colonel remained, becoming largely ceremonial. In the Infantry and Cavalry, he was known as the Colonel of the Regiment, while in other Arms and Services, he was referred to as the Colonel Commandant. These Colonels could be of any rank and are not to be confused with the rank of colonel, which a lieutenant colonel attains on promotion. The Colonel was normally a senior officer of repute, who was regarded as a father figure in the regiment. In case a regiment did not have an officer of the requisite rank and seniority, a suitable officer from another regiment was invited to be the Colonel of the Regiment.
Major General S.H. Powell, who is regarded as the ‘Father’ of the Corps, was appointed the first Colonel Commandant of the ISC on
15 May 1934, when the appointment was sanctioned. General
Powell relinquished the appointment at the age of 70 after attending the Silver
Jubilee celebrations of the Corps at Jubbulpore
in 1936. He was succeeded by General Sir
Robert A. Cassells, the C-in-C of the Indian Army. Almost at the same time, the
Princess Royal was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of the ISC. Following the retirement of General Cassells,
Lieutenant General Douglas D. Gracey assumed the appointment of Colonel Commandant
on 21 February 1947. After Partition, General Gracey was appointed
the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army, and expressed his unwillingness to continue as
the Colonel Commandant of the ISC.
The point was discussed during the first meeting of newly reconstituted Corps Committee on 1-
1948. It was agreed that General Gracey could not continue to be
the Colonel Commandant of the Corps anymore. Since
there was no officer above the rank of brigadier within the Corps, it was
decided to request an officer from outside for this assignment. The Committee authorized
the Chairman, Brigadier C.H.I Akehurst to approach the following officers in
order of priority to accept this appointment:-
· Lieutenant General K.M. Cariappa, O.B.E.
· Major General K.S. Thimayya, D.S.O.
· Major General S.M. Shrinagesh
The Committee also agreed to the appointment of a second Colonel Commandant of the Corps in the
authorized the Chairman to approach Major General C.H.H. Vulliamy, C.B.,
D.S.O., for this purpose. UK
The First Indian Colonel Commandant Gen KM Cariappa, OBE
In the event, General Gracey resigned from the appointment of Colonel Commandant of the Corps on
16 July 1948. Lieutenant
General K.M. Cariappa was then heavily involved with the operations in Jammu
& Kashmir and it was only after he took over as C-in-C
of the Indian Army that he accepted the invitation
and was appointed the first Indian Colonel Commandant of the Corps on 5 April 1949. During the next meeting of the Indian Signals
Committee on 24-26 May 1949, which he chaired, General Cariappa thanked
the Corps Committee for inviting him to become Colonel
Commandant of the Corps of Indian Signals. He stated that he accepted the offer extended
to him, because he felt that he could help with advice and guidance in making
the Corps of Indian Signals the ‘Corps elite’ of the Army.
General Cariappa agreed that so long as
within the Commonwealth, the Princess Royal must inevitably remain the
Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps of Indian Signals. He said that he, as Colonel Commandant, would send a greeting message to
H.R.H. The Princess Royal, the Colonel-in-Chief. He also agreed that it would
be advantageous for the Corps to have a second Colonel
Commandant in the India
and directed the Director Signals to take this up with the Military Secretary’s
The Second Indian Colonel Commandant Lt Gen Daulet Singh, MBE
In 1955 Major General Daulet Singh was appointed the second Colonel Commandant of the Corps. General Cariappa, who had been appointed
High Commissioner in India
in 1953, continued to take keen interest in the Corps and offered to donate a
trophy for a Corps championship in chess.
Even after his return from Australia in 1956, he remained the
Colonel Commandant and attended the Re-union in 1958. In 1959, General Cariappa
relinquished the appointment of Colonel Commandant, and Major General A.C.
Iyappa was appointed in his place. In 1963 Lieutenant General Daulet Singh lost
his life in a tragic air accident. Though Major General B.D. Kapur was senior,
he withdrew his name in favour of the SO-in-C, Major General R.N. Batra, who
was appointed the Colonel Commandant in 1964. Australia
Though he had ceased to be the Colonel Commandant and settled down in his ancestral home in Mecara in Coorg, General Cariappa agreed to attend the Colour presentation ceremony in 1965 and travelled to
with President Radhakrishnan in the same aircraft. In 1967 a third Colonel Commandant was
authorised and the appointment was filled by Major General I.D. Verma, who had
become the SO-in-C a year earlier. The very next year, the rank of SO-in-C was
upgraded and all three Colonel Commandants were lieutenant generals. In 1971
Lieutenant General Iyappa’s tenure ended and he was replaced by Lieutenant
General E.G. Pettengell, the newly appointed SO-in-C. Shortly afterwards the
policy of having retired officers as Colonel Commandants was revised and it was
decreed that only serving officers would hold the appointment. Jabalpur
Corps Emblem & Motto
The emblem of the Corps of Signals is based on Mercury, or Mercurius, the Roman version of Hermes, the messenger of the Gods in Greek mythology. It is commonly believed that the figure which is part of the badge of the Signal Corps of almost every Commonwealth nation, including
, is based on the bronze
statue of the Hermes made by Giovanni Bologna, which is now in the Muzio
Nazionale in India .
Signallers all over the World affectionately call it the ‘Jimmy’, though the
history of the appellation is obscure.
The Jimmy, surmounted by a crown, was first used by the Telegraph
Battalion of the Royal Engineers when it was formed in 1884. Apparently, the suggestion to use the figure
of Hermes came from Captain C.F.C. Beresford of the Royal Engineers, whose
father had bought a replica of the statue at an exhibition in Florence Hyde
Park in 1851. With a few
small changes, the emblem was later adopted by Royal Signals in 1929. The Indian Signal Corps began using it in
1934, with the crown being replaced by the five-pointed Star of India.
In 1946 a new badge was introduced in the Royal Corps of Signals and the ISC. The new badge, without the oval band, had the figure of Mercury on a globe, supported by a scroll bearing the motto Certa Cito and six laurel leaves arranged on each side of the globe. The badge of Royal Signals was surmounted by a detached crown, while that of the ISC had a detached Star of India. The Mercury and the globe were to be in silver, the remainder being in gold. This badge continued to be used until
when the motto was changed from Certa
Cito to Tez-o-Sahih. Independence
The motto of the Royal Signals from 1929 onwards was Certa Cito, which can be translated as ‘reliable information quickly’. Since this lacked harmony and consonance, it was later replaced with Swift and Sure, which was simpler and more easily understood. However, the motto was not used in the emblem until 1946, when the oval band inscribed with the words “Royal Corps of Signals” was removed and a scroll added at the base of the figure inscribed with the words Certa Cito. This motto was used by the Royal Signals as well as the ISC. In April 1947, the new motto approved for the ISC was ‘Tez-o-Sahih’ meaning ‘Swift and Correct’.
The 1st meeting of the newly reconstituted Signals Committee held on 1-2 April 1948 took several important decisions with regard to the motto, emblem and title of the Corps. It was decided to do away with the present Corps motto of Tez-o-Sahih and to ask signal units to submit suggestions for new Corps motto. It was decided that Rs. 100/- would be paid from the Indian Signals fund for the three best suggestions received. The present motto would continue until a new and suitable motto had been decided upon and finally approved.
After examining the different designs of the Corps badges produced before it, the Committee decided to retain the present layout of the badge and to authorize the sub-committee at Army HQ to further examine the possibility of obtaining a die from the
and getting the badge made locally at cheaper rates. It was decided that one firm only should
supply Corps badges to all signal units and individuals. Also a decision was
taken not to have any backing to the Corps badge. However, if the Army HQ
sub-committee Committee recommended a backing, it should be oval in shape and
coloured light blue (top) and green (bottom). Metal buttons would have only an
embossed “Jimmy” with no other inscriptions.
Details and sizes were left to the sub-committee at Army HQ. UK
The Corps Committee recommended the following redesignations in the title of the Corps and its institutions:-
Present Designation Proposed Designation Remarks
INDIAN SIGNAL CORPS “CORPS OF INDIAN SIGNALS” Full title
“INDIAN SIGNALS” Short title normal use
1 INDIAN SIGNAL “SIGNALS TRAINING CENTRE” Full Title
CORPS CENTRE “STC” Abbreviated Title
INDIAN SIGNAL CORPS “SCHOOL OF SIGNALS” Full Title
Title SCHOOL OF SIGS
In April 1948 Signals Directorate sent a letter to all signal units asking for suggestions for a new Corps motto. However, the response was not very encouraging. In July 1948 it was decided to ask for further suggestions from all ranks through an Indian Army Order. Accordingly IAO 512/48 was published, asking for suggestions for a new motto for the Corps of Indian Signals. It was stipulated that the suggested motto should have some association in meaning with the work of Signals, be simple, easy to pronounce and be short i.e. not more than two words. Suggestions were to be sent to the Secretary Indian Signal Corps Committee by
21 August 1948. It was
stated that Rs. 100/- would be distributed in prizes for the three best
suggestions received by due date.
The call for suggestions through IAO 512/48 elicited a large number of responses. The three mottos considered most suitable were SHIGRA-SHUDDHA (Swift-Correct), TIVRA-SATYA (Keen-True) and TEZ AUR CHAUKAS (Swift – accurate, cautious, vigilant, careful, exact). On
21 October 1948 these were sent to
the Ad Hoc Committee comprising Brigadier B.S Bhagat, CSO Western Command;
Lieutenant Colonel P.N. Luthra, CO Army HQ Signal Regiment; Lieutenant Colonel
Hazara Singh, CO Western Command Signal Regiment; and Major A.M. David, Staff
Officer, Air Formation, Air HQ. The
members of the Ad Hoc Committee, who were all based in , were asked to state their order of
preference by Delhi 31 October
1948. If considered necessary, they could get the opinion of others
under their command. 10
The Ad Hoc Committee finalized its recommendations on
1948. Instead of selecting one of the mottos sent to them, in toto,
it decided to take one word each from two of the mottos and combine them to
form TEEVRA CHAUKAS (changing the
spelling TIVRA to TEEVRA). The new motto of the Corps of
Indian Signals was disseminated to all units on 17 November 1948 by the Secretary of the Corps
Committee. It was subsequently approved by the C-in-C and promulgated through
Indian Army Order No. 3/49. The exact
meaning of the motto is ‘Swift and Sure/Secure’. It signifies the determination
of every member of the Corps to do his best in transmitting the commander’s
orders as quickly as possible and in the most accurate manner. Nine persons
shared the monetary award, of which only three (one JCO, one NCO and one civilian)
were from Signals, the remainder being from other arms and services. 11
Since earliest times, colours, standards and guidons have been used to indicate the presence of commanders on the battlefield. With advancements in weaponry and means of communication, battlefields became larger and the commander was rarely visible to the troops. Though their function now is largely ceremonial, colours remain an important ingredient of military ritual, and command great reverence from soldiers. The significance of the colours has been described by Sir Edward Hamly in the following words:-
A moth eaten rag on a worm eaten pole,
It does not look likely to stir a man’s soul.
Tis the deeds that were done ‘neath the moth eaten rag,
When the pole was a staff and the rag was a flag.
only infantry and cavalry regiments were entitled to possess colours, which
were emblazoned with the crest of the regiment, and the battle honours awarded
to it during war. According to the existing orders, the Indian Signal Corps was
not eligible for award of colours or battle honours. These orders were revised
vide Army HQ letter No. 51991/1AG//PS-8 dated 2 March 1956, according to which
President’s Colours could be awarded to battalions, regiments and corps. The
matter was discussed during the 12th meeting of the Corps Committee
held on 19-20 March 1959 and it was decided that a statement of case should be
prepared for presentation of the President’s Colours to the Corps. Based on
this, a case was initiated by Signal Directorate in February 1960 for
authorizing regimental colours for the Corps and award of the President’s
insignia. A proposal by Brigadier T. Barreto to claim battle/theatre honours
which could be inscribed on the regimental colours was considered by the 13th
Corps Committee Meeting on 24-25 March 1960. However, it was felt that
battle/theatre honours could not be claimed for signal units or the Corps as a
whole since the Corps had taken part in practically all operations. Independence
The Corps Colours
The colours were approved in December 1960 but due to difficulties experienced in getting them manufactured, the presentation could not be held during the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1961. According to the approved design, the size of colours was 3 ft. 9 in. in the fly and 3 ft. in the hoist with a two-inch wide gold fringe. On a background of light blue, the Corps badge and motto was embroidered within a single wreath composed of Ashoka leaves and flowers. The title of the Corps was embroidered on a scroll below the wreath. The wooden staff surmounted by the national state emblem in gilt metal was 8 ft. 7½ in. The tassel suspended by cord from the upper corner of the hoist was of crimson and gold mixed. The material used was indigenous silk or hand woven silk.
In 1962, Brigadier T. Barreto again proposed that a case should be taken up for award of battle honours “Neuve Chapelle (1915)” and “
(1944)” to the
Corps. The point was discussed during the 14th Corps Committee
Meeting on 16-17 March 1962. It was explained that this question had not been
taken up earlier because it was felt that that no operation could be successful
without Signals providing the means of exercising command and control. Since we
contributed to the success of every battle it would not be appropriate to claim
battle/theatre honours for any particular battle or operation. However, after
discussion it was agreed that the present orders which made the Corps
ineligible for claiming battle/theatre honours were not justified and action
should be taken to have them amended. Ngakyedauk
As regards the award of President’s insignia for the regimental colours, it was explained that the case had already been prepared and would be submitted soon. It was agreed that proper cord silk for the flag be procured from the
, if necessary. With regard to
the presentation of the regimental colours, it was felt that once a decision is
obtained for the award of the President’s insignia, a presentation ceremony for
the colours should be arranged during the next reunion or earlier on a Corps
birthday. In the meantime a write up on the award of regimental colours to the
Corps, along with its photograph should be published in the Signalman. UK
The article on regimental colours was duly published in the April 1963 issue of the Signalman. The point about battle/theatre honours was not discussed in the next meeting of the Corps Committee held on 14 &
17 February 1964. However, on the insistence
of Brigadier Barreto a case was taken up by Signals Directorate asking for
battle honours and theatre honours In the Report of the Corps of Signals Tradition Committee 1964-65 submitted on 1 February 1965. Brigadier
Barreto pointed out that battle honours and theatre honours have been asked for
specific units only and not for the Corps.
He also noted that the Battle of Neuve Chapelle had been omitted. He recommended that battle honours “Neuve
Chapelle (1915)” and “ (1944)” should be
claimed for the Corps as a whole so that these titles may be emblazoned on the
regimental colours. Ngakyedauk
The Corps of Signals was presented regimental colours by the President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan at an impressive ceremonial parade on
20 February 1965 at 1 STC, . The parade
comprising 50 officers, 49 JCOs and 1649 OR was commanded by Colonel R.N. Sen,
Commandant 1 STC. Jabalpur Mathur was the parade
second-in-command. The cased colours sheathed in a leather cover were brought
on parade under escort. Lieutenant Colonel
removed the sheath and placed the uncased colours on six side drums and one
tenor drum piled in three tiers. The colours were then consecrated by four
religious teachers – the Pandit (Naib Subedar Ram Dutt Pant), the Granthi (Naib
Subedar Pritam Singh), the Maulvi (Naib Subedar Atta Ullah) and the Padre
(Havildar Gurupadam). The colours were then handed over to the President by
Lieutenant General A.C. Iyappa. The colours were formally handed over by the
President to the Colour Ensign, Second Lieutenant M.S. Ahluwalia. In his
address to the parade, the President lauded the role of the Corps of Signals
Colonel N.S. ,
including UN assignments in Independence ,
Indo Korea ,
and Congo . Gaza
The President, Dr S Radhakrishnan presents the colours at
on Jabalpur 20 Feb 1965
The colours are preserved in 1 STC
. They are
brought out only during guards of honour and ceremonial parades. When being
moved, the colours are always escorted. The colour party usually comprises an
officer who carries the colours escorted by two havildar majors. Uncased
colours are saluted with the highest honours viz. arms presented, trumpets
sounding the salute and drums beating a ruffle. On occasions when the National
Salute is given, the colours are lowered. For General Salutes, the colours
remain flying. Jabalpur
The Corps Flag
The official colours of the ISC were blue and white, as specified in Army Order 184 of 1922, which stated: The Signals service has now proved its worth in the field and should have distinctive dress of its own. Blue and white, the Signal Service colours should form its distinctive colouring. In 1926, it was decided that the ISC would use the same colours as the Royal Signals, which were light blue, dark blue and dark green, representing communications by sky, sea and land. However, blue and white continued to be used in the signal office flag, and on the arm bands of DRs and signal office staff, as they are to this day. The pre-war flag did not have the Corps emblem.
Along with the approval of the new motto and crest for ISC in 1946, the Indian Signal Corps Committee approved the new design for the Corps flag. It was specified that the length of the flag should be twice the breadth for sizes up to 10 feet; the Corps colours would be in the proportions of 3/7th light blue uppermost, 1/7th dark (navy) blue in the middle and 3/7th dark green lower most; in the centre without oval backing would be a gold (deep chrome yellow) “Jimmy” with star and motto scroll; the overall height of the badge being one half the breadth of the flag and the badge would face away from the hoist on both sides. It was decided that a coloured drawing should be sent to M/s Phelps in
Connaught Place, New
Delhi to obtain an estimate of the cost. 12
the ratio of the length to the width of the flag was changed from 2:1 to 3:2,
vide Army Instruction 128/48. The size
of the badge, however, was not mentioned.
There was some confusion about the orientation of the Jimmy in the
flag. In some cases the Jimmy faced inwards,
in some outwards and in still others, on one side it faced the hoist and on the
other the fly. Though the Corps
Committee of September 1946 had specified that the Jimmy should face the fly,
based on a similar decision of the Royal Signals Committee held in
February/March 1946, many people felt that this looked improper. In the Corps
badge, the Jimmy faces the left, in heraldic terms the ‘Dexter’ side. In heraldry, when any heraldic device is
transferred to a standard or flag, the ‘Dexter’ side is always that nearest the
staff, known as the hoist. Once it was
pointed out that the orientation of the Jimmy was not in consonance with
heraldry, the Royal Signals issued an amendment and decided that the Jimmy
should face the hoist on both sides of the flag. However, the orientation of
the Jimmy in the Indian Signals flag continued to face away from the hoist,
until several years later. Independence
During the 2nd Meeting of the Indian Signals Committee held on 24-26 May 1949 under the Chairmanship of General K.M. Cariappa, O.B.E, the specimen Corps flag received from the
displayed. The Committee observed that
the background of the crest did not merge with the rest of the flag and the
stitching on the separate piece of cloth in the centre of the flag was not satisfactory. It was decided that the manufacturers be
asked to produce another sample eliminating the above defects, for approval of
the ad hoc committee before bulk orders for the flag were placed. A fresh sample of the Corps flag manufactured
in the UK
was displayed at the next meeting in March 1950 and was approved by the
Committee. It was decided to place bulk
orders for the same on the UK
During the 14th Meeting of the Signals Committee on 16-17 March 1962, Brigadier Barreto brought to the notice of the Committee that technical specifications do not exist to control the manufacture of the Corps flag, nor is the actual size of the badge, in relation to the length and width of the flag, clearly laid down. It was decided that a sub-committee will be appointed to examine the question and also to make recommendations whether we should follow the
pattern of having the Jimmy facing the hoist on both sides of the flag as
opposed to our present specification which laid down that the Jimmy will face
away from the hoist. Brigadier T. Barreto was nominated the chairman of the
sub-committee, the other members being Lieutenant Colonel V.D. Deshpande and
Major D.B. Lahiri. UK
The sub-committee acted with commendable speed and came up with a comprehensive report on
12 October 1962. Its
recommendations were approved during the next meeting of the Signals Committee
in February 1964. Details such as the design of the flag, the material used,
the occasions on which it is to be flown, the size of the mast and the plinth
were specified. Along with the Corps flag, the specifications of the signal
centre flag were also laid down. The new flags, conforming to these
specifications, were to be brought into use and the old flags wasted out by
The Corps flag is made up of material either wool khadi (hand spun cotton) or bunting cloth. It consists of the Corps emblem mounted centrally on the background of the Corps colours, light blue, dark blue and dark green in the proportion 3:1:3. The size of the flag is 6 ft. X 4 ft. The emblem faces the hoist on both sides. The overall height of the emblem is 2 ft. from the lower edge of the globe to the upper point of the surmounting star. The flag is displayed at all unit quarter guards and behind the saluting base at ceremonial parades. Traditionally, it is also flown outside the office of the commanding officer. The flag is not carried on parades and ceremonials. It is not entitled to any honours.
The signal centre flag is 3 ft. X 2 ft. in size and is an Ordnance issue item authorised in the equipment table of every signal unit. The colour of the flag is white and dark blue horizontally paced in the proportion of 1:1. In peace time it is flown outside the static signal centre on a 10 ft. high mast. Under field conditions the size of the mast is reduced and the flag displayed keeping in mind the requirements of camouflage and concealment. While moving by road the signal centre vehicle flies the flag to enable despatch riders to know its location. At night, the signal centre vehicle is permitted to carry a white and blue light to indicate its location.
The custom of holding reunions goes back several centuries. Reunions are held by educational institutions, religious sects, social organisations etc., but nowhere is it as popular as in the military. Like other regiments of the Indian Army the Corps of Signals also follows this tradition. Reunions enable comrades-in-arms to renew past associations and revive old memories. It is also an occasion to recall the sacrifices and pay homage to those who laid down their lives to that the present generation could live in peace. The ‘Spirit of the
Reunion’ has been
aptly described by an old signaller in the following words:-
But the essence of a Re-Union of this nature is the spirit of comradeship which inspires the whole gathering. Two distinct generations, as it were, meet on a common plane. The old soldiers bring with them a treasure of experience and tradition; the younger generation who have stepped into their shoes are anxious to maintain a high standard of discipline and heroism set up by the older generation.13
The first reunion of the Indian Signal Corps was organized by Northern Command at
in March 1931. The next reunion was held
in 1932 at Rawalpindi Jubbulpore, which has since then
been the venue of all subsequent reunions.
In 1936, a grand reunion was held to celebrate the silver jubilee of the
Corps, which was attended by the ‘Father of the Corps’, Major General S.H.
Powell, who came from . England
The first post-war reunion was held in 1950. This being the first reunion of the Corps of Signals that came into being after
it needs to be covered in some detail. In early 1949 approval of Army HQ was
obtained for holding the first post-war reunion of the Corps in February 1950.
It was also decided that the reunion week would be held in February every
alternate year to include 15 February, as this was the birthday of the Corps.
Though instructions for the reunion were issued by Signals Directorate, detailed
planning for the event was done by the STC. In mid 1949, the Commandant,
Colonel Apar Singh, was promoted brigadier and posted as CSO Southern Command.
The responsibility for organizing the reunion fell to the lot of the Deputy
Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel T. Barreto, who was promoted colonel and
appointed Commandant. The reunion was
originally planned to be held in February but was subsequently postponed to
March 1950. About two weeks before the reunion, Apar Singh returned to his old
appointment as Commandant, in the rank of colonel. In the event, Barreto had to
drop his rank and revert to his appointment of Deputy Commandant, in the rank
of lieutenant colonel. Independence
General K.M. Cariappa, O.B.E, the C-in-C and Colonel Commandant of the Corps, agreed to attend the reunion and all preparations were made accordingly. The reunion had many unique features, which deserve mention. There were no less than four conferences, on different dates – the Subedar Majors’ Conference, the Unit Commanders’ Conference, the CSOs/Commandants’ Conference and the Signals Committee Meeting. The Inter Command (Signals) Championships were held in hockey, football, basket ball, volley ball, and rifle and pistol shooting. Other events that took place during the week, from 6 to 11 March were concerts (Pollard Arena and Herdon Arena); equipment demonstration (Hugh Rose Barracks); baby show (Child Welfare Centre); pagal gymkhana (Parade Ground); athletic meet (Copeland Ground); cinema show (Delite Cinema); dance (Nerbudda Club); bara khana (unit lines); JCOs’ guest night (JCOs Mess) and the Corps Dinner (Officers Mess). In addition, there were visits to various institutions, group photographs and informal interactions between the guests attending the reunion.
Invitations for the reunion were sent to 105 pensioners and ex-servicemen, after dividing them into three categories – those who had been discharged before 1931; those discharged between 1931 and 1939 (with decorations) and those discharged after 1939 (with decorations). Finally, 80 pensioners and ex-servicemen attended the reunion. General Cariappa was to arrive on 8 March and return to
on 10 March. He was to be accompanied
by Brigadier W.W. Loring, the military attaché in the British High Commission
in Delhi , and
other members of his staff. Due to a national emergency, the C-in-C’s programme
was cancelled a day before his arrival. In his absence, the SO-in-C, Brigadier
C.H.I Akehurst presided over the functions. Other senior officers who attended
the reunion were Brigadiers A.C. Iyappa, B.D. Kapur and B.S. Bhagat; Colonels
S.N Bhatia, P.N. Luthra and J.N. Shahani. Delhi
Among the prominent JCOs who attended the reunion were Subedar Majors (Honorary Captains) Chajja Singh Sardar Bahadur O.B.I., R. Panchanadan Bahadur O.B.I., Mohd. Shahab Khan Sardar Bahadur O.B.I. and Teja Singh Gurung; Subedar Majors Narain Singh Bahadur O.B.I., M.B.E., A.D.C., Joginder Singh Bahadur, O.B.I., M.B.E., R. Seshachalam M.B.E. and Shiv Singh Bahadur, O.B.I.; Subedars Ahmed Badsha, G.Moses, M.B.E., Asa Ram Bahadur O.B.I., I.D.S.M. and D. Narayana Swami Bahadur O.B.I.; Jemadars Gulaba and A. George I.D.S.M. 14
On the face of it, the reunion appears to have been organised on a lavish scale. In fact, it was an example of austerity and meticulousness. Signals Directorate had decreed that the total expenditure on the Reunion Week was not to exceed to Rs. 10,000. As a result, the accent was on economy. One way rail fare of all pensioners was paid by the Government, the return fare being reimbursed from the Indian Signals Reunion Fund. Pensioners were also provided free messing and accommodation. Senior officers (brigadiers and colonels) were accommodated in the Flag Staff House and Circuit House. Most of the lieutenant colonels stayed in the Rest House with the balance staying in the Officers Mess with the other officers (majors and below). A large number of officers stayed with officers posted at the STC. Two pensioners had the pleasure of staying with their sons. Subedar Major Narain Singh stayed with his son Captain Hardev Singh and Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Chajja Singh with his son Captain H.S. Kler. Transport being in short supply, even senior officers had to share the available staff cars and stations wagons. Almost all officers and their wives were transported to various functions in 15 cwt. trucks. Many used their own cars.
Though it had been earlier decided that reunions would be held every alternate year, it was subsequently decided to hold them once every four years together with the Signals Inter-Command Games. Accordingly, the second post-war reunion was held at
from 9-16 February 1954. As already decided, the Inter-Command games were also
held. Five teams – one from each command, the STC and Army HQ – contested in
five events – hockey, football, volleyball, basketball and shooting. The
Akehurst Challenge Cup was awarded to Southern Command which stood first,
winning the Inter-Command Championship.
There were a few changes in the programme from the previous reunion of 1950. A Signals Tableaux was organised, which included a para drop, trick riding by despatch riders, PT display by the Boys Regiment and floats depicting the evolution of Signals from early times. Instead of a dance at the Nerbudda Club, a ‘social night’ was held in the Officers Mess. This was in addition to the Corps Dinner which was held on 15 February as a Regimental Guest Night. Another new event was the carnival, organised on the lines of a fete or a mela (fair). This had a number of stalls selling eatables, artefacts and souvenirs, in addition to games of skill and chance.
This reunion was also a farewell to Brigadier Akehurst, who was laying down the reins of office of the SO-in-C on his retirement. Due to exigencies of service, General Cariappa – he had retired as C-in-C but was still the Colonel Commandant - could not attend the reunion but sent a message that was read out by the SO-in-C. The number of pensioners who attended the reunion was 108, including some who had attended the previous reunion in 1950. One of the prominent veterans was Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Chajja Singh. Among the senior serving officers who attended were Brigadiers A.C. Iyappa, B.D. Kapur, R.N. Batra, Apar Singh and M.N. Batra. The only two retired officers present were Majors P. Bernard and Puran Singh.15
The third post-war reunion held in 1958 was the sixth reunion since 1931, when the first reunion was held in
. Many people
in the Corps felt that the appellation ‘post-war’ should be given up, and the
reunions numbered from 1931 onwards. As the Editor of the Signalman wrote in
the issue of April 1958, “Surely we are
not going to let transitory wars and allied events interfere with our history
and tradition.” He also suggested the Hindi translation of the reunion as punarmilan, hoping that this would be
readily accepted and brought into use. As a matter of record, the invitations
in Roman Hindustani to ex-servicemen sent for the 1950 reunion had used the
words mel milap. Rawalpindi
The Colonel Commandant conversing with Havildar Magh Singh and other pensioners during the 1958
The 1958 reunion was attended by General Cariappa, who was the senior Colonel Commandant. The second Colonel Commandant, Lieutenant General Daulet Singh, could not attend. Fifty nine ex-servicemen were present, including some veterans of World War I such as Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Chajja Singh, Sardar Bahadur, O.B.I., Jemadar Govind Fadtare, I.D.S.M., Havildar Magh Singh and Sapper Bhag Singh, I.O.M. Each pensioner was measured as soon as he arrived and was presented with a set of mufti (white trousers and
coats) the very next day! Among the senior serving officers who attended were
Brigadiers A.C. Iyappa (SO-in-C), B.S. Bhagat,
Apar Singh, H. Chukerbuti, M.N. Batra and T. Barreto. Jodhpur
Most of the events associated with earlier reunions such as the Inter Command games, variety show, pagal gymkhana, demonstration of signal equipment etc. were held in 1958 also. A unique event was the shooting of a tiger by Jemadar Kalyan Singh of 1 Technical Training Regiment from a distance of ten yards on 11 February. Apparently, the party had gone on a shikar expedition looking for deer, but bagged a tiger instead. Next morning, the dead tiger was laid out on the shooting range, during the Inter Command shooting competitions. This probably demoralized the other teams, enabling the STC to win the Cariappa trophy!
There was a social get together in the Officers Mess on 12 February for signal officers and their wives. In a departure from norms, honorary officers were also invited. The next evening, the Nerbudda Club hosted a dinner dance in honour of General Cariappa who arrived the same evening. A unique event was the performance by Sachin Shanker’s ballet troupe on 14 February. The events on 15 February included the ceremonial parade, followed by the bara khana, athletic meet, PT display and the Corps Dinner at night. The last event of the reunion was the closing address by the General Cariappa in the Pollard Arena on 16 February.16
Since the 50th Anniversary of the Corps was falling in 1961, the next reunion was held after a gap of three years instead of four. The reunion was celebrated as the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the Corps of Signals from 12-16 February 1961. The Inter-Command Games and Shooting competitions that formed part of the reunion were held earlier, from 7-11 February 1961. In keeping with importance of the event, the celebrations were on a lavish scale. A large number of British officers attended the reunion, prominent among them being Major General R.J. Moberly, C.B., O.B.E., Colonel Commandant, Royal Signals; Brigadier C.H.I. Akehurst, C.B.E., Brigadier E.C.R Blaker, O.B.E., Chief Signal Officer, Scottish Command,
Major E. Lawton-Summer; Major H.K. Milward and Captain W.E. Holloway. Among the
Indian retired officers were Brigadier B.S. Bhagat, Major J.R. de Souza, Major
Sahib Singh, O.B.I., Sardar Bahadur, Captain Khushal Singh, Captain N.C. Ray
and Lieutenant V.K. Oliver. UK
Among serving officers, the most prominent visitor to the reunion was General K.S Thimayya, D.S.O, Chief of the Army Staff. This was unique, because apart from those of his own regiment, the only reunion that General Thimayya attended during his tenure as Army Chief was that of Signals. Other prominent Indian visitors were Lieutenant General Harkirat Singh, Engineer-in-Chief and Major General B.D. Kapur, Chief Controller, Research & Development. The senior Colonel Commandant, Lieutenant General Daulet Singh, GOC-in-C Western Command, could not be present due to the illness of his wife and the reunion was presided over by the SO-in-C, Major General A.C. Iyappa, who had been elected as Colonel Commandant in place of General Cariappa in 1959. Almost all senior officers of the Corps attended the reunion. This included Brigadiers Apar Singh, H. Chukerbuti, T. Barreto, I.D. Verma and Jaswant Singh; Colonels E.G Pettengell, S.N. Gairola, M.B.K. Nair and R.Z. Kabraji. All commanding officers were invited and the serving officers comprised 29 lieutenant colonels, 24 majors, 26 captains, eight lieutenants and seven second lieutenants. These were in addition to the officers posted in STC, which was then under the command of Colonel Prem Singh. The number of serving JCOs was also large – 24 subedar majors, 37 subedars and 71 jemadars.
This being the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the Corps, every pensioner who could be reached was invited to attend. The response was overwhelming. The list of attendees included 43 subedar majors, 14 subedars, 17 jemadars, 36 havildars, 19 naiks, 12 lance naiks and 60 signalmen. Some of these veterans had joined even before the birth of the Corps in 1911. Among them were Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) Chajja Singh, Sardar Bahadur, O.B.I. (1908-1944); Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) Mohd. Shahab Khan, Sardar Bahadur, O.B.I. (1909-1939); Subedar Major (Honorary Lieutenant) Tej Singh Gurung (1908-1920); Subedar Ujagar Singh (1907-1938); Jemadar Govind Fadtare, I.D.S.M., (1908-1929); Havildar Magh Singh (1904-1929); Havildar Ganesha Singh (1906-1934); Havildar Thakar Singh (1906-1921) and Havildar Achharu who had joined in 1901.
Two major events that occurred during the 1961 reunion were the unveiling of the War Memorial and the establishment of the
, both of which had
been proposed and designed by Brigadier Barreto. The Roll of Honour was placed
on the War Memorial with due ceremony.
An attestation parade was held on Corps
grounds in front of the War Memorial, a custom that has been followed ever
since. The para drop scheduled on 13 February had to be cancelled due to strong
winds, after the Air Force instructor who jumped first landed among the
spectators. However, the motor cycle trials were held as planned. A ceremonial parade comprising 2,500 all
ranks, the largest ever in the Corps, was held on 15 February. Colonel Prem
Singh commanded the parade and General Thimayya took the salute. After the
Corps Dinner that evening, the golden rose bowl that had been presented earlier
by General Moberly on behalf of Royal Signals was filled with champagne and
passed around to all officers for a sip. Brigadier Akehurst, on behalf of Mrs.
Akehurst and himself, presented a silver sugar sifter to officers of the Corps.17 Anderson
The fifth post-war reunion was held at
from 18-23 February 1965. The reunion week had to be delayed due to the
presentation of the Regimental Colours by the President, which took place on 20
February. The reunion was planned on almost the same scale as the Golden
Jubilee Anniversary that had been celebrated five years earlier. The events
were presided over by the two colonel commandants, Lieutenant General A.C.
Iyappa and Major General R.N. Batra, the SO-in-C. The Chief of the Army Staff,
General J.N. Chaudhuri attended the reunion. Other prominent guests were Major
General A.M.W Whistler, C.B., C.B.E., Colonel Commandant, Royal Signals; Major
General Harkirat Singh, Engineer-in-Chief; Major General D.C. Misra, M.C., GOC
Madhya Pradesh Area; Major General M.N. Batra, Director of Military
Intelligence; Air Commodore K.A. Joseph, Director of Signals, Indian Air Force;
Captain E.J. Debu, I.N., Director of Naval Signals and Captain R.B.
Fanderlinden, I.N, Director Joint Communications Electronics Staff. Jabalpur
Though not as large as in 1961, the number of pensioners was substantial. The old stalwarts – Chajja Singh, Tej Singh Gurung, Mohd Shahab Khan, Thakar Singh – were present, along with many other veterans of World War I and II. Another distinguished visitor was Mrs. Daulet Singh, who presented to the Corps the sword of her late husband, our Colonel Commandant, who had died in tragic circumstances two years earlier. Advantage of her presence was taken by requesting her to personally hand over the Daulet Singh Trophy for personal high endeavour, which had been donated by her husband in 1959, to Naik Dharam Chand Dhilan, VrC. The full dress uniform of late Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Narain Singh as ADC to King George V had already been presented to the museum. To acknowledge the donation, a life size portrait was presented to his son, Captain Hardev Singh.
The Corps Dinner was held on 19 February in the Officers Mess as a regimental guest night. The COAS was the chief guest. The highlight of the reunion was the presentation of Regimental Colours by President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan at a ceremonial parade on
20 February 1965, a
detailed account of which has been given elsewhere in this chapter. The
President was accompanied by General K.M. Cariappa, the first Indian C-in-C and
former Colonel Commandant. After attending the parade, General Cariappa also
attended the pagal gymkhana in the afternoon along with General Chaudhury and
other visitors. The most popular event was ‘donkey review’, in which only
brigadiers and above could take part. General Whistler, a veteran equestrian and
one time Master of the Nerbudda Vale Hunt, won the contest.18
The reunion ended on 23 February. After the closing address by the SO-in-C, some pensioners made impromptu speeches, expressing their feelings. A welcome change in the dispersal arrangements was the special train that had been arranged from
to Jabalpur . The train was gaily decorated,
especially the engine, leading spectators to mistake it for a barat (marriage party). Delhi
The President meets pensioners during the 1965
The sixth post-war reunion was held at 1 STC
in 1970, five years after the fifth reunion. By this time, the third colonel
commandant had been sanctioned for the Corps and the rank of the SO-in-C
upgraded to lieutenant general. Consequently, the Corps had had three colonels
commandant attending the reunion - Lieutenant Generals A.C. Iyappa, R.N. Batra
and I.D Verma (SO-in-C). Prominent Indian guests were Colonel T.K. Mukerji,
Brigadier Ajit Singh, Colonel M.S. Krishnmoorthy, Lieutenant Colonel Shiv
Singh, Major H.D. Vyse and Major P. Thakoor. The two officers from Royal
Signals present were Major Eric Lawton Sumner and Captain W.E. Holloway. Jabalpur
Compared to previous reunions, the number of events had been reduced in order to curtail the duration of the function and make it less hectic for the visitors, many of whom felt that it was too strenuous. The Inter-Command games had been done away with, and replaced by the 1 STC Boxing Championships. The formal events consisted of the wreath laying ceremony at War Memorial, attestation parade, ceremonial parade and the Corps Association dinner. These were interspersed with events designed to entertain visitors, such as the torchlight PT display, fireworks, DR display and para drop.19
After World War II ended, the Indian Signal Corps War Memorial Fund was opened, to commemorate the sacrifices of signallers who had lost their lives in action. During the 1st Meeting of the Indian Signal Corps Committee held on
September 1946 it was decided that a school at Jubbulpore
and later a second school at
run entirely by the Corps would be a fitting Indian Signals War Memorial. The
object of the school would be to help the education of sons of signalmen and
NCOs either killed in action or missing. Boys would be accepted at the age of
10 or 11 and should aim at reaching the high school standard at the age of 17.
There would be no undertaking to join the Army in due course by boys entering
the school though every effort would be made to encourage the boys to take up
an Army career in the Indian Signal Corps. This would help in the induction of
good material into the Corps. Coimbatore
This decision was reaffirmed during the next meeting held on
May 1947, which decided that the school at Jubbulpore
should cater for 30 boy boarders with additional educational facilities for 70
day scholars. Apart from the sons of deceased sepoys and NCOs and those who are
orphaned, the school would also accept sons of retired and serving soldiers
including VCOs, if vacancies were available, but there would be a small charge
according to the parents’ means. It was estimated that the annual recurring
expenditure on the school would be approximately Rs. 10,000. The only fund
available to meet this expenditure was the interest accruing from the Indian
Signal Corps War Memorial Fund which then stood at Rs. 60,000. To meet the
shortfall the Committee decided to levy a compulsory annual subscription on
Indian signal officers equivalent to half a day’s basic pay and a compulsory
annual contribution from all signal units in proportion to their strength with
the proviso that the contributions from VCOs and other ranks will be voluntary.
Based on this decision, units were asked to send their contributions to the
Commandant Indian Signal Corps Centre, Jubbulpore
by 31 December 1947.
The amount collected from officers’ subscriptions was estimated as Rs. 3,000
while the remainder Rs. 7,000 was to be contributed by units.20
Apparently the funds collected fell short of the requirement and at the next meeting of the Indian Signals Committee held in April 1948 it was decided that the Rs. 40,000 available be spent to provide a lasting war memorial in Jubbulpore. Suggestions regarding the form and design of the memorial were invited from all ranks by
31 July 1948. In the next
meeting held in May 1949 it was stated that the form which the war memorial to
be built at Jubbulpore was to take had not yet been decided, and that the
majority of the suggestions received so far favoured the construction of a
pavilion. The committee decided that as the cost of construction at present was
extremely high the matter should be pended for some time. Further suggestions
should be called for and the matter would be reconsidered at the next meeting.
During the next meeting held in March 1952 Brigadier B.D. Kapur suggested that the war memorial should take the form of a pavilion to be built at the STC, which was accepted. Brigadier Kapur further suggested that in order to economize on expenditure, the possibility of MES undertaking the construction of the pavilion should be investigated. Nothing happened for the next four years until the point again came up for discussion at the 9th Meeting of the Signals Committee on
April 1956 when it was stated that the scheme outlined by Commandant
STC for a children’s school was beyond the means available. Although the
Committee generally favoured a farm, no decision could be reached and the
matter was again deferred. Meanwhile,
Commandant STC was asked to investigate the availability of land. If land adjacent to STC was not available,
the feasibility of running a farm outside Jubbulpore
could be considered. It was also stated that sufficient funds were not
available to build a museum as a war memorial.
However, Commandant STC was asked to work out a plan and submit
estimates for a suitable building for consideration.
In 1959 the Corps Committee decided that a memorial should be built at the STC at a cost of not exceeding Rs. 7,000. Brigadier Barreto was requested to produce a design of the memorial after consulting consultant engineers/architects. The war memorial would be unveiled during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. At the next meeting in 1960 the plan of the war memorial was generally approved. It was decided that it will bear only one Jimmy of the erstwhile Indian Signal Corps and would be inscribed with the words: “In Memory of Those Who Gave Their Lives In the Service of The Country”.
Construction of the war memorial commenced soon afterwards under arrangements of the STC. The actual construction was carried out by M/s Anand Construction Company,
The total cost of the project was Rs. 8,309 of which Rs. 7,000 was paid from
the War Memorial Fund and the balance from the regimental funds of the STC.
The site for the memorial was selected after considerable thought, as described by Brigadier T. Barreto in the following words:
The actual site of the monument was given some thought but sentiment eventually pointed to the drill square in
Lines. This ground has been watered by
the sweat of the recruits of the Corps since the Training Centre was
established in Anderson Jubbulpore in 1920. It was on this square that they swore loyalty
to the Country. No other part of the
Centre is as familiar to the majority as this area; and now that some of the
feet that had stamped on its surface are silent and still, having fallen in the
field, away from home and country, it is only appropriate that the recruits of
the future swear their loyalty in the shadow of a memorial erected in honour of
their predecessors who died in the service of the Corps.21
The monument, consisting of a ten-foot wall of Katni stone with the original emblem of the Indian Signal Corps in brass and a dedicatory plaque was unveiled on
13 February 1961, during
the Golden Jubilee Reunion at . The unveiling ceremony was performed by Major
General A.C Iyappa in the presence of a large number of visitors and all ranks
of the STC. The parade consisting of a guard of honour and representative of
the Corps was commanded by Major D.B. Lahiri. The Roll of Honour (researched
and drafted by Brigadier Barreto) was brought under escort from the Museum and
placed on the War Memorial. After the ceremony, wreaths were placed by General
Iyappa, Brigadier Akehurst, Colonel Muhammad Iqbal Khan, the Pakistan Military
Attaché (on behalf of the Pakistan Signal Corps), Colonel Prem Singh,
Commandant STC and Subedar Major Amar Singh, the oldest and senior-most
pensioner (on behalf of retired VCOs). Following this, wreaths were also laid by
Colonel M.B.K. Nair (on behalf of Lieutenant General Daulet Singh), Major
General R,J. Moberly (on behalf of the Royal Corps of Signals), Major General
B.D. Kapur, Lieutenant Colonel R.L. Anand (on behalf of the Corps of Engineers), Colonel T.K. Mukerji
(on behalf of retired officers), Havildar Achharu, the oldest OR present (on
behalf of retired OR) and by Subedar Inder Singh (on behalf of serving JCOs and
The War Memorial
Subsequently, it was decided to add the present emblem of the Corps, and this was mounted below the original device in 1970. Today, attestation parades are held in the shadow of the memorial, during which recruits pledge their loyalty to the nation and the service. Wreaths are laid at the memorial on special occasions, and a ceremonial guard performs a ritual each morning, during which flowers are offered in memory of the martyrs.
is located within the precincts of 1 STC at Corps Museum .
The museum is the outcome of the efforts of a very distinguished
signaller whose abiding interest in the Corps has been instrumental in the
establishment of several regimental institutions, in addition to compilation of
the first volume of the history of the Corps of Signals. Were it not for the
sustained efforts of Brigadier T. Barreto spread over several years and his
personal initiative to collect memorabilia, often at his own expense, it is
doubtful if the museum would have come up when it did. Sadly, his sterling
contribution remains largely unrecognized and few signallers of the present
generation are aware of the odds against which the museum was established. Jabalpur
There is an indication that a museum existed in the officers’ mess of the STC prior to 1933. “Printed précis, notes and orders on Signalling 1879-1889” loaned from this museum formed part of “Notes on the Historical Record of the Indian Signal Corps” compiled by Major C.E.J. Reynolds and submitted to the SO-in-C that year. Although the main portion of the Notes is available in original, the items obtained from the mess museum were never found. Nor is there any trace of a museum register or any other item in the mess that may have belonged to it. At the time of
, there was
no museum in existence in the Corps. The first effort in this direction was
made in 1948 by Lieutenant Colonel T. Barreto, who was then commanding the
Technical Training Regimental at Independence Jubbulpore.
He built up a small museum of signal equipment mainly for instructional
purposes in his unit. The first pieces to be exhibited were a DIII telephone
which Barreto purchased from a kabari (scrap
dealer) for five rupees at Kamptee
and an SX-DX baseboard which he obtained from an Ordnance depot. 22
In 1951, guidelines for establishment of signal equipment museums were issued by Signals Directorate. This letter gave out the aim and scope of signal equipment museums and the method of display, along with a suggested diagrammatic layout. Both antique and modern equipment was to be displayed, in such a manner that it reflected the historical evolution of signal equipment from the early days of inception of the Corps to the modern times. Captured equipment was also to be included to indicate the equivalent equipment of the enemy, to cater for an appreciation of comparative standards. The letter was addressed to the STC and
with copies to CSOs, Army
Signals School Poona, CAFSO and signal officers posted in all major training
institutions.23 School of Signals
The next significant step was taken in 1956 when Brigadier Barreto submitted a proposal for a museum for consideration of the Corps Committee. Noting that the War Memorial Fund had remained unutilized from 1947 for want of an acceptable proposal, he suggested that the war memorial should take the form of a museum. To buttress his argument, he quoted a letter issued by Signals Directorate in 1953 which had stated that “in order to inculcate pride in one’s corps, it is necessary that each member of it must be familiar with the past history, traditions and achievements of the Corps”. In order that history be taught, he argued, a historical record must exist. Although a history was being compiled, the lack of a Corps archives and Corps museum had made the task extremely difficult. Even after the history had been complied, it would have little effect on the recruit or the young officer who would be bored by a mass of detail. But were he to see for himself relics of the Corps’s past history, not only would history fix itself in his mind but he would also take an interest in reading the history. Most historical pieces in existence were spread over a number of officers’ messes. Consequently, most officers remained unaware of their existence. As for the men, they never got a chance to see them. Many relics such as medals and photographs held by veterans would disappear after their death, since there was no organisation where these could be collected and preserved.
The proposal envisaged the construction of a building which in addition to being a monument for the Corps dead, would also house the Corps museum and archives. The names of the martyrs who had fallen during operations from 1911 to 1947 could be inscribed on the front face of the structure. The building could also house the offices of the Corps Association, whose secretary would also function as the curator of the museum, keeper of the archives, the Corps historian and the editor of the Signalman. In hindsight, the proposal was not only cogent, but brilliant. Had it been accepted in toto, it would have resulted in the establishment of a number of regimental institutions at one go. It would have also filled up several voids, such as the absence of an archive, a regimental headquarters and a permanent historian, which exist even today.
Barreto’s proposal was considered by the Corps Committee during the 9th Meeting held on
1956. The Committee felt that cost of the scheme was beyond the
financial resources then available but agreed that a museum to house items
connected with the history and traditions of the Corps was desirable. Accordingly, it directed the Commandant STC
to take steps for the collection of such items and to arrange for housing them
in existing accommodation. Accordingly, on 31 May 1956 the Commandant STC wrote
to CSOs Command, Commandant School of Signals, CAFSO and CO 1 Army HQ Signal
Regiment asking them to direct units to despatch to the STC ‘any items
connected with the raising, development and history of the Corps of Signals and
any other item that may have connections with the tradition of the Corps’.
Considering the vague and half-hearted appeal, which did not indicate the type
of items that were being solicited, it is not surprising that the response was
lukewarm. After a year, when the Corps Committee met again, Barreto stated that
unless every senior officer of the Corps takes a special interest and
approaches ex-officers and JCOs, it will not be possible to collect items of
interest for the Corps museum. The Committee asked him to give a list of
individuals who might be in possession of old war relics and such other items
of historical value to the Officer-in-Charge Signals Records who in turn will
supply CSOs/Commandants with a copy of the list with the addresses of these
The next meeting of the Corps Committee held on
14 February 1958 at Jubbulpore
was chaired by General K.M. Cariappa. Brigadier Barreto, President of the Corps
History Committee, pointed out that there were occasions when payments had to
be made to the dependents of an ex-serviceman for certain items which were
considered useful for the . It was agreed to place a sum of Rs 1,000/- at
the disposal of the President, Corps History Committee, for such expenditure,
which would be debited to the Corps of Signals Fund in the first instance. Corps
After the decision to establish the
in 1956, some
items had been transferred from the signal equipment museum and others from the
officers’ mess at Corps
Museum Jubbulpore. Gradually
certain other items were added mainly due to the efforts of the Corps History
Committee. The collection was housed temporarily in the sand model room in the
headquarters building of the STC. An appeal for items for the museum was
published in the July 1959 issue of the Signalman, but the response was far
from enthusiastic. Fortunately, at this time a museum-cum-library building was
sanctioned as part of the plan for construction of permanent accommodation for
the centre. This building was completed shortly before the Golden Jubilee of
the Corps in 1961 and the items were hurriedly transferred from their temporary
was formally inaugurated by the
SO-in-C, Major General A.C. Iyappa, during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of
the Corps in February 1961. Though the
collection was meagre, considering that the Corps was fifty years old, there
were a few items of value. One of the most interesting items was a manuscript
letter dated 1880 from Lord Roberts (later Field Marshal Lord Roberts of
Kandahar) to Captain Wynne (later General Sir Arthur Wynne) on the subject of
heliograph signalling which was then in its infancy. Other valuable exhibits
were ‘The Manual of Signalling 1884’; the manuscript correspondence between
Major Powell and Major Wright, commanding the Telegraph Battalion in Aldershot
in England; and Powell’s printed report on the Deoband Manoeuvres of 1908. A
striking exhibit in the clothing section was the uniform of Subedar Major
Narain Singh worn by him in 1925 while employed as Indian Orderly Officer to
the King. The medal section had the original sanads of three awards of the Indian Order of Merit, two of them
relating to World War I. Another exhibit was the battle scarred flag used by 7th
Indian Divisional Signals during the Corps Museum
of the Battle in 1944. Ngakeydauk
The interest shown by pensioners more than made up for the scanty collection, as described by the Chairman of the Corps History Committee in the following words:-
During the re-union, a large number of pensioners were conducted round the museum on the morning allotted on the programme but several of them visited it again during their spare time. Their interest in the exhibits, their comments as they recognised colleagues in the photograph albums, the way they fondled the heliograph and the signalling keys, gave the greatest satisfaction to the organizers of the museum. If the glint in the eyes of the more aged pensioners was any indication, we have been more than amply rewarded in our efforts.24
Efforts to increase the collection continued and contributions began to be received from units as well as retired officers, JCOs and OR. In an effort to enhance the range of items held in the museum it was decided in 1964 that old items of mess silver of historical value should be preserved in the Museum. CSOs and Commandants were asked to ascertain from units details of regimental mess trophies of pre-1920 vintage and forward these to the Chairman Corps History Committee, who would recommend to the Corps Committee items that were considered suitable for transfer to the museum. It was also decided to obtain the Royal Signals trophy presented to the IMA in 1934 and used as a boxing trophy up to 1940, but which was not now being used for this purpose. If necessary, an offer would be made to present another trophy to the IMA in place of the original.
In 1966 the
was officially recognized as one
of the Army Museums by Army HQ. Certain changes were carried out in the layout
of the museum, which was reorganized into pre-independence and
post-independence sections. Captured items of equipment were displayed in a
separate hall. In 1967 the Corps Committee decided to initiate efforts to
transfer the ACVLP (Armoured Command Vehicle Low Power) named ‘Drona’ held by 1 Armoured Divisional
Signal Regiment to the museum. In 1970 it was suggested that a horsed wagon
cable layer be obtained for the museum. In view of the increase in expenditure
on maintenance of the museum, in 1971 the Corps Committee approved the creation
of a new fund known as the Corps Museum Fund for maintenance of the museum.
Until then, 50% of the annual intake into the General Fund was transferred to
the Sports Fund. It was decided that henceforth 25% each would be transferred
to the Sports Fund and the Museum Fund. Corps Museum
Throughout its existence from 1911 to 1947, the Indian Signal Corps did not have a Headquarters Mess of its own, being officered almost entirely by Royal Signals officers, who were members of the Royal Signals Headquarters Mess at Catterick Camp in
. The only
large officers’ mess in the Corps during World War II, when a large number of Indian
officers were inducted, was the Officers Central Mess
at UK Jubbulpore. After the
establishment of the at Mhow in October
1946, it was decided to shift the Central Mess from ISC
to Mhow. In early 1947, it was known that would be partitioned and
become independent on India 15
August 1947. The princely states were given the option to join
or India .
Due to uncertainty about the attitude of the Holkar of Indore, there was a
possibility that the Pakistan may have to move out
of Mhow. (The Holkar signed the Instrument of Accession on 11 August 1947, just
four days before Independence). In view of this, it was decided to defer the
move of the Central Mess till the final location of the ISC
was decided.25 Indian Signal
, it became known that the Independence
would continue at Mhow. The proposal for
establishing a Headquarters
Mess was considered by the Corps Committee in 1948 and it was decided that the officers’
mess at the ISC School should be the ‘Indian Signals
Headquarters Mess.’ In view of the fact
that no facilities for a proper mess existed at Mhow at that time, it was
decided that Indian Signals Centre Officers Mess at ISC School Jubbulpore
will continue to be regarded as Headquarters Mess for the time being. The Committee decided that
‘financing’ of the proposed Headquarters
Mess should be commenced immediately.
Half a day’s basic pay (on new pay code) annually was agreed as the
basic subscription towards this fund from all officers of the Corps. Signals Directorate (Signals Adm) was asked
to open a separate account for this fund and devise means of collection of the
subscription from officers through their units annually.
A year later, the above decision was modified, and the 2nd Meeting of the Indian Signals Committee held on 24-26 May 1949 decided that with immediate effect the officers’ mess of the
as opposed to
that of the STC will be known as the ‘Indian Signals Headquarters Mess’. School
The officers’ mess of the
was initially established in
small hutments north of the Guard Room. This was later shifted to Block No 4,
Roberts Lines during October 1947. This building had originally been a
gun park that was later used as the Sergeants’ Mess in the days of STC (B),
during the war. Initially the mess was run by Messrs Salig Ram & Sons, the
School canteen contractors. For some time, a lady supervisor was also employed.
However, their services were dispensed with as soon as a mess committee was
properly constituted, which began running the mess. In
February 1949 a separate ante-room for the use of the permanent staff was built
and a bar added. In 1949 Government
approval for a project (estimated originally at Rs. 26 lakhs) was accorded but,
due to financial stringency, money could not be allotted. In lieu, local sanction for a number of minor
works was accorded and in 1950 the mess underwent an overhaul. In 1952 a ladies room was added and a number of
alterations and renovations were carried out. ISC School
In 1953, dining tables and chairs to seat 100 officers were ordered from the Forest Research Institute,
. The walls of the dining hall were panelled,
indirect lighting installed and the ante-room refurnished and redecorated. Additional furniture and silver brought by
the Dehra Dun
helped further to improve the general appearance of the Mess. A ‘shikar’ room
was started, with tiger and panther skins presented by members of the School
shikar club. As more trophies fell to
the shikar club guns these were added to the shikar room. A small shikar library was also made. In 1954 a squash court was constructed not
far from the site of the proposed mess.
This court was officially opened on Army Signal School 8 April 1954 by Brigadier C.H.I. Akehurst
during his farewell visit to the School.
The HQ Mess - 1954
By this time the new site for the Headquarters Mess had been selected in the area close to the BI Bazaar. In the A.E. (approximate estimates) for the project, Rs 50,000 had been earmarked for the rehabilitation of the inhabitants of the BI Bazaar. However, subsequently the Chief Executive Officer of the Cantonment Board expressed his doubts about the possibility of evicting and rehabilitating them without causing repercussions in ministerial circles. This resulted in the selection of an alternative site on the airfield. The matter was referred by HQ Delhi Area to HQ Western Command for reconsideration in May 1954. In June 1954 Colonel H. Chukerbuti, Commandant School of Signals wrote to CSO Western Command, Brigadier R.N. Batra (at that time, Central Command did not exist) as well the Director of Signals, Brigadier A.C. Iyappa pointing out the advantages of the new site. The original site would have resulted in obliteration of the BI Bazaar, which would have been a good thing from the health and security point of view. However, the entrance to the mess would be through the School lines. Moreover it was adjacent to the JCO and OR family quarters. On the other hand, the airfield site was ideal in every way for a mess. It also had plenty of room for construction of single officers’ quarters and ancillary buildings and was capable of unlimited expansion. Colonel Chukerbuti recommended: “We should plumb for this site”. 26
The new site was approved and the building plans were prepared by the Engineer-in-Chief’s Branch, using the plan of the CME Officers Mess as a guide. In September 1955, Brigadier Batra discussed the plan with the Chief Engineer Western Command and suggested certain improvements, such as the addition of a guest room, a small library/study room and a room for the Mess Secretary/Receptionist; and shifting the ladies lounge away from the card and billiard rooms.
30 September 1955 Brigadier Batra wrote to the
Commandant School of Signals, Colonel I.D Verma and the Director of Signals,
Brigadier A.C. Iyappa, forwarding copies of the line drawings of the proposed
Signals Mess and the CME Mess, mentioning that the Engineers had consented to
incorporate the changes, if requested. He also mentioned that the Chief
Engineer had agreed that our Headquarters Mess should be better than the CME
Mess, which has certain obvious shortcomings. Brigadier Batra asked Colonel
Verma to send his comments to him and to the Signals Directorate, after which
they could both come to
and finalise the plan in conjunction with the Director of Signals. Delhi
Colonel Verma responded on
October 1955. While agreeing with most of the changes proposed by
Brigadier Batra, he added some of his own, such a front verandah for the entire
building, a room for mess clerks and storage of
stationery and ledgers, increase in the size of the dining hall and so
on. The plans for the building were discussed between the senior officers of
the Corps during Exercise ‘Damini III’ which was held later that year in Mhow.
Construction of the building started soon afterwards and progressed at a
satisfactory pace under the watchful eyes of the Commandant School of Signals.
Even as the construction was going on plans were made for furnishing the mess
once it was ready. In 1958 the Corps Committee met under the chairmanship of
General K.M. Cariappa. One of the items on the agenda was the proposed
expenditure on the new Headquarters Mess which was then under construction.
The Commandant School of Signals placed before the Corps Committee a rough estimate of Rs. 83,500 as the cost of essential items required to furnish the HQ Mess when it was completed. This included purchase of furniture, furnishings, linen, electrical appliances, crockery, garden implements, cutlery and curtains for 100 single officers. The Committee decided that the final details of items and the expenditure to be incurred from Corps Funds will be decided between the SO-in-C and the Commandant School of Signals. However, certain general principles were laid down with regard to the expenditure on these items. Expenditure on furniture, furnishings (curtains and carpets), electrical appliances (vacuum cleaner and standard lamps only), crockery, cutlery and lawnmower would be met from the Headquarters Mess Fund. All expenses on the upkeep of the mess including items purchased out of the Headquarters Mess Fund and the maintenance of the garden would be met from the present officers mess fund of the
27 School of Signals
The new building of the Headquarters Mess was completed in March 1961. The Mess was brought into use for the first time on
August 1961. It was formally
inaugurated on 1 October
1961, the 15th anniversary of the ,
by the SO-in-C, Major General R.N. Batra, O.B.E. School of Signals
The Mess is located in an area covering six acres which was part of a disused airfield, known as ‘One Tree Hill’ because of the lone Baobab (adansonia digitata) tree that has been there since ages. It provides the best panoramic view of Mhow and its surroundings. A large lawn was planted in front of the mess building to cater for the needs of officers of a summer evening. The ground to the rear of the building sloped downwards. Trees like Ashoka, Jacaranda and Gulmohar were planted in this area in a manner to ensure an unrestricted view of the
even after they were full grown.
The anteroom was furnished with new furniture which was specially made to order
by a firm in Berchha Ranges . The dining room could seat up to 200 officers
and was furnished with new dining chairs.
The kitchen had a modern cooking range which could work with either
diesel oil or kerosene and was fitted with electric blowers. A novel feature of the mess was the provision
of utility rooms such as a change room for bearers, ample store rooms and staff
rest rooms. A sum of Rs 60,000 was spent
on the furnishings, furniture and other requirements of the new Headquarters
The HQ Mess - 1961
Soon after it was brought into use, the rapid expansion in Corps in the wake of the 1962 war made it too small, since a large number of officers had to be given pre-commission training at the School of Signals. To cater for the cadets, an additional temporary mess and associated temporary accommodation was constructed in 1963. Known as the ‘B’ Mess, this was subsequently used for officers once cadet training was stopped. This later became the Airfield Mess and still later the Annexe.
In 1963, Brigadier T. Barreto, Commandant School of Signals brought to the notice of the Corps Committee certain losses that he had discovered during an inspection of the Headquarters Mess and requested that these be written off. One related to the sword of Lieutenant Colonel Rosenburg and the other to loss of a collection of antique weapons. The Presentation Book opened in December 1946 contained an entry relating to a sword belonging to the late Lieutenant Colonel Rosenburg who was drowned at sea off Malaya in 1942. This entry had been carried over to the new silver book opened in 1951. However, the actual sword held against this entry was an NSP sword with the inscription of Jat State on the guard. When questioned by the Commandant, the Mess Supervisor who had been in the mess since 1950 stated that he knew of no other sword. As regards the antique weapons, according to the printed History of the School of Signals published in 1953, the Maharaja of Jaipur had presented a collection of antique weapons and shields to the mess in 1950. These items were not in the property ledgers nor were they traceable in the mess or elsewhere in the School.
The 15th Meeting of the Corps Committee was held on 14 and 17 February 1964 at Delhi under the chairmanship of Lieutenant General A.C. Iyappa, with the SO-in-C, Major General R.N Batra as Co-Chairman. The Committee considered the recommendations of the sub-committee which had been convened under the chairmanship of the Commandant School of Signals, to examine the recurring maintenance expenditure on the Headquarters Mess, vis-à-vis the income from subscriptions and also to fix the amount to be transferred annually to the depreciation fund. The recommendations of this sub-committee regarding cutlery, portraits and other matter concerning the Headquarters Mess were also discussed.
The Co-Chairman had many queries regarding the expenditure incurred on purchase of curtains and cutlery without prior approval. It was decided that items needed for daily use would be purchased from the officers’ mess fund of the School and in future, only items specifically sanctioned by the Corps Committee will be paid for out of the Headquarters Mess Fund. It was also decided that a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Director Signals with Commandant School of Signals and CSO Central Command as members would study the requirements of capital expenditure and the recurring maintenance expenditure of the Headquarters Mess. All unspent balances with the School which were sanctioned from the Headquarters Mess Fund would be frozen and no further expenditure would be incurred from this Fund until the recommendations of the sub-committee had been examined. 28
The proceedings in the Corps Committee failed to dampen the ardour and commitment of Tery Barreto. During the next year he carried out wide ranging improvements that laid the groundwork of the Headquarters Mess. The Annual Report on the Corps of Signals Headquarters Mess for the year 1964-1965 that he prepared for consideration of the 16th Corps Committee Meeting is a comprehensive document, covering every aspect of the Headquarters Mess. Due to constraints of space the entire report cannot be reproduced in its entirety. However, some of the major improvements were mounting of mental Corps badges on the main building and gates; placing the brass statuette of Mercury (Bengal & Assam Signal Regiment Sergeants Mess) on a black terrazzo column and placed in the centre of the hall; mounting a glass case with the Corps badge engraved on the front to hold closed visitors books; replacement of iron curtain rods with brass rods; placing a heavily carved half-round side table (presented by Brigadier T. Barreto) against the wall; construction of show cases to display the pre-war mess jackets presented by Major General B.D. Kapur and Brigadier B.S. Bhagat, the Katangese Flag presented by Lieutenant Colonel P.K. Roy Chowdhury, the Italian sword presented by Brigadier Bhagat and the Pashupathinath Temple; a new table top for the 14-foot long head table, two tables (10’x4’) and two sideboards in the during hall, a show case for the mess silver, round leather chairs, magazine racks and a book shelf in the reading room; improvement of the ladies room by repainting the cane furniture, putting up three oil paintings (including one presented by Maya Barreto), provision of an 8-foot long side table with shelf for buffet meals; two additional mirrors with fluorescent lighting in the ladies tiolet; two small rockeries and fire hydrants in the front garden; development of the rear garden with lawns, paved pathways and a pond; and a coal stove (in addition to the oil burning stove) and a water cistern in the kitchen. A number of additions and alterations to main building were in an advanced stage of planning/construction, such as a verandah in front of the lounge and dining room, a cycle and scooter shed, a roof for the rear patio, a shelter for officer’s bearers, broadening of culvert over front drain and conversion of a store room into an office.
The report covered several other points such as utilization of mess silver presented by the Colonel-in-Chief and by Brigadier Akehurst, the statuette of the Madrassi Signalman on loan from 5th Divisional Signal Regiment, purchase of two silver coasters for decanters from Barton & Company, Corps reserve of scotch whisky (451 bottles worth Rs. 17,000), repair of leather furniture, disposal of old mess property, writing off deposits with bankers Rai Sahib Ramchandra & Sons which had become insolvent, reduction in monthly expenditure on water and electricity, projected expenditure on purchases, and plans to dig a bore-well to offset the acute water shortage being faced for the mess garden.29
The 16th Meeting of the Corps Committee was held form 19-22 February 1965. In the absence of the Senior Colonel Commandant, Lieutenant General A. C. Iyappa, it was chaired by the Co-Chairman, Major General R.N. Batra. Brigadier T. Barreto also attended the meeting. Surprisingly, the report of the Headquarters Mess was not discussed at all during the meeting. However, the reports of the Corps History Committee and the Corps Traditions Committee, which were headed by Brigadier Barreto, were discussed. This was the last meeting attended by Brigadier Barreto, who retired soon afterwards. The two committees headed by him became defunct, and were never revived.
In 1965 a letter was issued laying down the composition of the mess committee of the Headquarters Mess and its functions. It was laid down that the PMC (President Mess Committee), not below the rank of lieutenant colonel, will be nominated by the Commandant School of Signals. The Headquarters Mess Managing Committee would be set up for the purpose of supervising expenditure incurred from the Headquarters Mess Central Fund, making recommendations to the Corps Committee regarding capital expenditure to be incurred from the Central Fund and accounting, purchase and sale of property purchased out of the Central Fund. The Commandant, School of Signals would be the chairman of the Managing Committee, the other members being representatives of CSO Central Command and SO-in-C and the PMC. The Mess Secretary would be the secretary of the Managing Committee.30
In 1966 the mess received a number of gifts. Colonel T.K Mukerji presented a Japanese dagger surrendered to him by a Japanese officer during World War II in Burma. A framed replica of the Regimental Colours of the Corps was received from the SO-in-C. A full sized statuette of Buddha made of clay was presented by the Chief Engineer Project Dantak. The King of Bhutan presented a helmet, sword and shield to the Headquarters Mess.
In 1967 the Commandant School of Signals proposed the construction of a third mess or extension of the facilities of the Headquarters Mess and ‘B’ Mess. This was on the ground that the new PE (peace establishment) of the School was likely to be sanctioned in the near future and the number of officers, permanent staff and students in the School at any time will be in the region of 400. The alternatives were to either extend the facilities in the existing Headquarters Mess and the ‘B’ Mess or ask for construction of a third mess. The Corps Committee felt that the Headquarters Mess does not lend itself to expansion and we should, if possible, have a third mess when the new PE is sanctioned. If, this cannot be justified then expansion of the ‘B’ Mess may be considered.
In 1972 the Corps Committee examined several proposals for improvements in the mess. It accorded ex-post-facto sanction of Rs 1,200 for the installation of a 3-feet Jimmy on a pedestal on the front porch of the building. It sanctioned Rs 10,000 for the purchase of six carpets for the ante-room, directing that the used carpets would be transferred to 1 Army HQ Signal Regiment Officers’ Mess. For the ladies room, the expenses were to be met by MCTE from its own funds. It also sanctioned Rs 2,700 for resurfacing of the two tables in the dining hall. However, a proposal to for air conditioning the guest room was not approved.
The history of the Corps Band from the time it was raised in 1926 by Colonel E.F.W. Barker, the Commandant STC, up to 1947 has been covered in Appendix 2 of Volume II. After partition of assets between India and Pakistan in 1947, the strength that remained in India was one pipe major, nine pipers and eight drummers (bass, side and tenor) and the band was named as Pipes and Drums. The Pipe Major at that time was Subedar Sarwan Singh. Though the band was located at Jabalpur, its expenses were met from the Pipes Band Fund which was maintained at Delhi. During the 2nd meeting of the Corps Committee on 26 May 1949, the rates of subscription to the fund from the STC, School of Signals and individual officers were laid down. However, a proposal to transfer the fund from Signals Directorate to STC was not accepted. During the meeting, it was brought out that a number of princely states were disposing off their bands and good musical instruments and bandsmen would be available for raising a brass band for the Corps. However, due to high cost and non-availability of Government sanction, no decision was reached and Signals Directorate was asked to look into this subject.
The 5th Signals Committee on 7 March 1952 agreed to the payment of extra duty pay as also some increase in the rates of subscription to the Pipes Band Fund. It was also decided that the expenditure for raising the brass band could be incurred from the Pipes Band Fund. On 5 March 1953 the 6th Corps Committee was informed that 14 Gorkha Training Centre is transferring seven bandsmen to the Corps to form the brass band. The Commandant STC was requested to look for persons having an aptitude for music and also to demand vacancies for training existing bandsmen in the School of Music, Pachmarhi. Some band equipment was received free of cost from the Government and this was kept with the STC, pending sanction to raise the military band which was still awaited.
The Military Band was raised in 1953 at 1 STC, comprising one bandmaster and 20 bandsmen. The responsibility for looking after the Military Band was given 1 Military Training Regiment. Havildar Bawa Singh of the Bengal Engineer Group was appointed the first Bandmaster for a period of one year. In 1954 Havildar Chandra Bahadur, who was one of the bandsmen transferred from 14 Gorkha Training Centre became the Bandmaster and remained for five years. He was relieved by Havildar Sheikh Mansoor of the Maratha Light Infantry, who had joined the band as sepoy in 1953 and was the Bandmaster for 17 years from 1958 to 1975, retiring in the rank of Subedar Major.
On 15 February 1954, the 7th Signals Committee renamed the Pipes Band Fund as SO-in-C’s Signals Band Fund. The tours policy of the Pipes and Drums was laid down by the 10th Signals Committee on 14 March 1957. It was ruled that the Pipes and Drums should not be away from the STC for more than four months in a year, that it should be present in the School of Signals on 1 October every year and that it should be available to HQ Southern Command during the month of September each year during the Southern Command week celebrations.
The 11th Signals Committee on 14 February 1958 sanctioned a sum of Rs. 1000 for maintenance, Rs. 200 for music and Rs. 2340 for payment as extra duty pay to the bandsmen. At that time, Havildar Sheikh Mansoor was the Bandmaster for whom a special extra duty pay of Rs. 20 per month was approved by the 12th Signal Committee on 20 March 1959. In the same meeting Rs. 1400, Rs. 3800 and Rs. 200 were allotted for the items mentioned above. A proposal to provide winter uniforms was turned down for reasons of high cost, deterioration during storage and climate. On 25 March 1960, the 13th Signal Committee decided that the expenses to maintain the Corps Band would hence forth be met from the funds available with the Commandant STC. However, a year later, the 14th Signals Committee on 17 March 1962 agreed to provide a sum of Rs. 4070 for maintenance/dress.
After the raising of 2 STC in Goa in 1962, it was decided that it should have its own band. The existing band at 1 STC was renamed as No. 1 Pipes and Drums while No 2 Pipes and Drums was raised at 2 STC on 9 December 1962. The minutes of the 14th and 15th Signal Committee meetings held on 16/17 March 1962 and 14/17 February 1964 respectively do not give any indication about the formation of a separate band for 2 STC. However, the existing peace establishment (PE VI/46/1946/5) of 1 STC which was made applicable to 2 STC included an authorization of two JCOs, six NCOs and 43 bandsmen (total 51). At 1 STC, this strength was sub-divided into the Military Band and No. 1 Pipes and Drums. But the Government did not agree to provide a brass band for 2 STC and effected a reduction of one JCO, five havildars, nine naiks, nine lance naiks and 16 bandsmen (total 34). As a result, only an authorization of one JCO and 16 bandsmen (total 17) was permitted in the PE of 2 STC to form No. 2 Pipes and Drums. Some of these 17 personnel were transferred from No. 1 Pipes and Drums while the remaining were newly recruited and subsequently trained. Havildar Dev Singh was the first Pipe Major of No. 2 Pipes and Drums.
During the Reunion held in 1965, a dress combination was tried out for the bands. This was further pursued during the 17th Signals Committee meeting at Delhi on 4 March 1966 both by the Commandants of the School of Signals and 1 STC. The change in colour of cummerbund to light blue was also suggested. The 19th Signals Committee agreed to provide a winter coat for the bandsmen but in view of the high cost involved, the SO-in-C suggested that two woollen vests per bandsman may be provided. The cost of this was met from the SO-in-C’s Signals Band Fund. On 1 February 1969, one white woollen gabardine jacket per bandsman was proposed and Commandant 1 STC was requested to look into this matter. A sum of Rs. 7000 was sanctioned by the Adjutant General’s Branch in 1970 for procurement of new band equipment ex-import. This proved to be inadequate but one flute, one piccolo and one bassoon were purchased. On 22 April 1972, the 23rd Signals Committee agreed to sanction Rs. 6000 for making the winter dress. A committee comprising the Inspector Signals Trade Training and Commandants 1 and 2 STCs was appointed to examine the whole issue of uniform and accoutrements for the Corps bands. Based on the report of the committee, a sum of Rs. 20,131 was sanctioned for modification of the band dresses on 10 February 1973.
Bagpipers carry banners on their bagpipes which are customarily presented by the senior officers. On occasions when senior officers were present at the function where the Pipes and Drums or pipers were playing, it was customary that the pipers carry the banners presented by the concerned officers. This British custom was followed by the Corps of Signals after Independence in respect of No. 1 Pipes and Drums which was the only band in existence then. Over a period of time, the number of banners outnumbered the number of bagpipes and drums and it was decided during 10th Signals Committee on 14 March 1957 that the old banners will be displayed in the Corps Museum. The 13th Signals Committee accepted three new banners and laid-up two old banners on 25 March 1960. In 1962, when No. 2 Pipes and Drums was raised at 2 STC some banners were transferred to them along with the pipers from No.1 Pipes and Drums. The 22nd Corps Committee examined a proposed design of banner on 12 February 1971. The design, size, cloth, lettering and crest in respect of the banner were standardized five years later, on 14 February 1976.
According to the Corps Memoranda of 1942, “All The Blue Bonnets Are Over The Border” arranged by D. Mathaison, DCM, was accepted as the Corps marching tune. The tune is peculiar to the Pipes and Drums and is not played by military bands using brass/woodwind musical instruments. The Pipes and Drums adopted this tune after Independence. The 3rd Signals Committee, which met on 10 March 1950, discussed whether the Royal Signals march tune should continue to be used by Indian Signals. After deliberation, it was agreed that the Royal Signals march tune should be in addition to Mathaison’s composition. During the 17th Signals Committee meeting on 4 March 1966 it was decided that “All the Blue Bonnets Are Over The Border” should be tape-recorded and issued to signal units. It was suggested during the 24th Signals Committee meeting that the Corps Military Band should also play this tune. However, it was realized that the traditional tunes of Pipes and Drums are peculiar to them only and cannot be played by the brass bands.
When the Corps of Signals military band using brass instruments was raised in 1953, it played the traditional martial tunes composed by western experts. The 8th Signals Committee considered a new march past tune on 16 February 1955. It was decided to refer the tune to the Director, Military Music School, Pachmarhi. In the next Signals Committee meeting on 11 April 1956, this tune was not accepted. It was then decided that the military band will play “Cariappa March” if they could, otherwise “Veer Bharat March” can be accepted as an alternative. However, both tunes were found unacceptable by the 10th Signals Committee meeting on 14 March 1957 and the Corps military band was left without a Corps march tune. Two new tunes were heard during the 19th Signals Committee meeting on 11 February 1967. At this point of time, two more tunes proposed earlier were also under consideration. However, all the four tunes were rejected by the 20th Signals Committee on 1 February 1969. In 1970, it was once again decided to look for new Corps tunes. It was only in 1975 that a tune composed by Master Warrant Officer J.A. George, of the Indian Air Force Band was accepted. This was named the ‘Signals March’ which became the “Teevra Chaukas” march, many years later.
DR Display Team
The history of the DR Display Team of the Corps, popularly known as the ‘Dare Devils’ , from the time of its first performance at Annandale, Simla on 9 and 11 March 1935 up to 1947 has been covered in Volume II. Soon after Independence a show was organized during the Inter Service Exhibitions and Military Tattoo held at the National Stadium in Delhi in April 1948. The team was led by Colonel S.N Bhatia, with Captain H.K. Ranji and Jemadar N.G. Rajan as his assistants. In March 1950 the Corps Committee was apprised that there was a great demand for the Corps DR Display Team and as the men comprising the team were widely dispersed, considerable difficulty was being experienced in collecting them when required. To obviate this, it was suggested that all members of the team be concentrated at the STC with necessary dress and equipment. The Committee decided that only a nucleus of the DR Display Team comprising six or seven key men be held centrally at the STC and the remainder of the team be made up from trainees.
A “dare devil” goes through a ring of fire and over a jeep, during a show
In October 1950 the team performed at a show at the National Defence Academy, Dehradun. The officer in charge of the team was Major P.V. Atma Ram with Jemadar N.G. Rajan as the team leader. At this time, the DR Display Team was not formally sanctioned and was formed by milking signal units. In 1952 the Corps Committee directed Commandant STC to forward his recommendations for the formation of a Corps of Signals DR Team. In 1956 the Committee was informed that official raising of the team was not possible due to financial stringency. Commandant STC stated that motor cycles were in short supply even for training. It was suggested that a DR section be located in Jubbulpore to enable the STC to hold he necessary machines. CSO Western Command agreed to make a DR section available for this purpose.
Formal sanction for the DR Display Team was received only on 1 May 1965. The team was stationed at Jabalpur and placed under Commandant 1 STC. The strength of the team was two officers, two JCOs and 38 OR. In subsequent years the team toured various stations where it gave performances. The tours were controlled by the Staff Duties Directorate at Army HQ. The team also took part in the Army Day Parade on 15 January and the Republic Day Parade on 26 January on Rajpath in New Delhi.
In 1972 a proposal was placed before the Corps Committee to raise a second DR Display Team. This was discussed at length. The Committee felt that it would be difficult to post a second DR team to 1 STC, but emphasized that efforts be made to release additional motor cycles for training purposes. The Committee accepted the necessity for dress being provided to the DRs and directed that the required amount be sanctioned in 1974, so that the personnel are properly dressed for the 1975 Reunion. On the question of ED (extra duty) pay, the Committee was not in favour. However, it was agreed that the team may be given the actual expenses incurred for coolie hire and so on during tours. The Committee accepted the recommendation of Commandant 1 STC to have the scale of insurance increased and agreed to meet the expenses from Corps Funds on account of insurance premiums for men and vehicles. The rest of the expenditure would continue to be borne by 1 STC.
Dress & Accoutrements
The changes in dress and accoutrements of the Indian Signal Corps from the time of its inception in 1911 to 1947 have been covered in Volume II. However, brief details are recapitulated to assist readers in getting a better perspective of the subject.
From 1911 to 1916, signallers wore the same uniform as the Sappers and Miners. The distinctive Signal Service colours, blue and white, were permitted in the ‘pullah’ in 1916 and in the ‘jhalar’ of the headdress in 1920. Indian ranks started wearing brass shoulder titles ‘SIGNALS’ in 1922. In 1923, all ranks of the Corps began to dress as mounted men, wearing breeches and short-putties, in addition to trousers and shorts. In 1927 the colours of Royal Signals – light blue green and dark blue - were adopted for ‘jhalars’, replacing the blue and white. In 1928 it was ruled that the blue and white Signals arm bands would be worn only on active service. In 1935 Madrassis were permitted to wear felt hats, instead of the heavy pagri which often came off while riding a horse. The length of the Punjabi Mussulman’s ‘safa’ was reduced, with a small kullah being worn. Sikhs and Dogras wore a small pug under their turbans. With mechanisation, breeches and spurs gradually disappeared. During World War II, all personnel, except for Sikhs, started wearing the blue beret and the jungle hat.
After Independence, the Corps Committee reviewed the various items of dress and accoutrements in 1948 and approved the following:-31
· Dark (Navy) blue colour lanyards of cord type would be worn on the left shoulder by officers and JCOs. OR would be permitted to wear the lanyard only for ceremonial parades and with walking out dress, only if a free issue is sanctioned.
· Officers and JCOs would carry canes (polo stick type) without covering or varnish of 2 feet length and ¾ inch thickness. OR should carry canes for walking out. The knob of the cane should be of white metal with the Jimmy embossed on it. Regimental Havildar Majors would carry Malacca canes, to be provided by the unit commander.
· Shoulder titles “IND SIGS” in block letters with no full stop after IND or SIGS, and only one letter spacing between them, would be worn by all ranks. On battle dress for all ranks, “INDIAN SIGNALS” in full in white lettering on dark (Navy) blue background will be worn on the shoulder. If free issue was not authorized for OR, they will not wear the shoulder title.
· Only one type of regimental mufti would be worn in summer and winter by OR and Boys. This would comprise a black cap (white turban for Sikhs); jodhpur coat of white drill (three patch pockets in front and two slits down the side of the back); white drill trousers; black shoes; ordinary civil type white pearl buttons; socks (issue or black) and standard cane.
· Band personnel would continue to wear turban with slight modifications by the addition of gold/silver braid, the initial cost of which would be borne by the Band Fund.
· For the ISC School a formation sign of a light blue/dark green with a silver streak of lightning across it was approved. The Commandant was asked to submit six painted specimens for obtaining formal approval of Army HQ.
· The pre-war system of Orderly Havildars wearing red sashes was recommended. Units could implement this if their unit funds permitted.
In May 1949 there was a proposal to introduce a hackle consisting of blue and white plumes as part of the head dress to be worn on top of the cap badge, but this was not approved by the Corps Committee. However, it was decided that badges of rank would be worn with light blue backing. The Corps badge worn with the pugree would not have a backing. The size of the cap badge (excluding the star) and the collar badge would be of identical size i.e. 1¼ inch. It was clarified that shoulder titles of .35 inches height consisting of letters ‘IND SIGS’ on summer uniform of all ranks should be embroidered in black on olive green background. It was also decided that all Indian Signals personnel on signal intercommunication duty will wear blue and white arm band subject to the discretion of unit commanders. 32
In March 1950 the Corps Committee was informed that the C-in-C had approved the new lanyard for Signals, and orders had already been placed on Messrs Saharan & Sons. Stocks would be available by approximately 1 May 1950. These would be stocked at the School of Signals for purchase by officers. It was also informed that with effect from 26 Jan 1950 the use of ‘Indian’ in the Corps designation had been discontinued, as already approved by the Committee. The replacement of the shoulder title “IND SIGS” by “SIGNALS” had been put up to the C-in-C for approval. The Committee reviewed all types of shoulder titles to be worn by officers on different types of dress and approved the following:-
· For Shirts OG/Bush Shirt OG/Battle Dress OG, the shoulder title “SIGNALS” would embroidered in black lettering as hitherto fore on an OG sleeve.
· As already in use, shoulder titles for serge battle dress would be in black lettering .35 inch in width stitched around the base of the blouse shoulder strap. The OG background would extend the whole width of the shoulder strap. The Committee directed the Secretary to obtain a specimen of light blue lettering .35 inch in height on scarlet background .75 inch in width to be affixed in the same manner as above for consideration by the Ad Hoc Committee.
· For service dress, shoulder titles would be in brass, .35 inches in height.
In October 1950 the Corps Committee decided that as part of the summer mess dress officers could wear white cotton or blue barathea overalls with monkey jackets provided that all officers in any one unit were dressed alike, the choice being left to the discretion of COs, having regard to the climate of the station. It was stated that since Signals was a mounted arm all officers should be permitted to wear spurs with Wellingtons. This was specified in the Dress Regulations but AO 8/S/50 did not make any provision for this. It was decided that Army HQ should be approached to issue necessary amendments tot AO 8/S/50.
The Committee also reviewed the dress items of JCOs and OR. The Committee approved the proposal that JCOs should be permitted to wear the new lanyard (officers’ pattern) which would be supplied to them on payment as was done earlier. As regards the wearing of arm bands it was felt that in the interests of uniformity specific instructions should be issued on the wearing of blue and white arm bands and that the matter should not be left to the discretion of the COs as was decided earlier in 1949. The Secretary also pointed out that according to Indian Signals Dress Regulations, arm bands are required to be worn on the right arm. The Committee approved of the proposal and decided that necessary instructions would be issued by Signals Directorate.
In 1950 Army HQ issued orders that regimental mottos would in future be written in Devanagri script. Signals Directorate decided that in the interests of economy the change will take place in a phased manner, and that existing cap/pugree/collar badges will continue to be used until wasted out. Existing stocks of cap/pugree badges held at the STC and School of Signals with the motto in Roman Hindustani will continue to be issued until disposed off. Corps flags with the motto in Roman Hindustani will also continue to be used until wasted out. The same would apply to Corps stationery, which would continue to be used until wasted out. However, Messrs Thacker & Co. were instructed to supply all future demands of stationery with the motto in Devanagri script.
In 1952 it was decided that a Corps scarf could be worn with the Corps blazer. A proposal to permit Sikh officers to wear white pugree with winter mess kit was considered but not accepted. It was clarified that white pugree could be worn with mess kit only by officers of the rank of colonel and above. Other officers will continue to wear a light blue pugree with a dark blue pug as already decided. It was felt that the existing system of centralised stocking of all items of dress at the School of Signals and STC was not feasible for financial reasons. Hence it was decided that in future all items of Corps dress would be obtained under arrangements of CSOs/Commandants.
In 1956 the Corps Committee agreed to a proposal to replace the existing blazer buttons with embossed buttons. It also permitted the use of blazer buttons with evening dress (Jodhpur) style). However, it did not agree to the use of trousers instead of overalls with winter dress of officers and to the removal of the blue piping on the jacket of the summer mess kit. The decision on the provision of lanyards to OR was deferred until a satisfactory dye was obtained. A proposal to introduce mufti for JCOs was not accepted and it was decided that they could be permitted to wear the Corps blazer if they wished. The specifications of the regimental mufti for OR was approved. This was to consist of a white shirt with one outside breast pocket and one pocket inside, the outside pocket large enough to hold AB-64 (pay book); white trouser with bottom turned up and a hip pocket; black oxford pattern shoes and black socks.
In 1960 a sample side cap to be worn with regimental mufti was placed before the Corps Committee but not approved as it resembled an existing article of official dress. The necessity for having a regimental mufti was discussed. Subedar Major M.S. Pondia suggested that if mufti was considered necessary, a monetary allowance should be provided to individuals. The Committee felt that for reasons of being able to distinguish our men and to provide a suitable dress for certain official functions when men turn out as a body, regimental mufti was necessary, and on those occasions, caps must be worn. With regard to wearing caps when OR go out individually, the matter will be referred again to AG’s Branch. Pending further clarification, the status quo would be maintained.
In 1967 it was proposed that officers should be permitted to wear the Corps crest on the blazers. The Chairman of the Corps Committee, Lieutenant General Iyappa mentioned out that this point had been considered earlier in 1952 and 1956 and rejected. Several members felt that the blazer without a crest looked bare. General Iyappa pointed out that wherever the Corps colours are awarded for proficiency in games and sports by any Arm or Service, the practice of allowing all officers to wear crests was not in vogue. The SO-in-C, Major General I.D. Verma pointed out that the Corps blazer already had the crest affixed on the blazer button which was enough representation of the Corps. Without the crest on the pocket, the blazer could be worn on informal occasions, but with the crest affixed, its use would be restricted for sports only. If the proposal was accepted, it would have to be made obligatory, resulting in additional expenditure for every officer. In view of this, and the desire for economy, the proposal was dropped and it was directed that this case will not be taken up in future.
The Committee also considered a proposal for a narrower Corps tie with the Jimmy embroidered on it. A photograph of the Royal Signals tie with the Jimmy was shown to members. After some discussion it was decided that a cheaper tie with the traditional design of diagonal stripes would continue for use by JCOs and a more expensive one with the Jimmy embroidered on it could be used for officers. The design of the second type of tie would be examined by a sub-committee and submitted to the SO-in-C for approval.
In 1969 AG’s Branch asked commands for their comments on a proposal to introduce leather belts for officers. It was clarified that the cost of the belt would be defrayed by the individuals concerned and its use would be confined to unit lines. The leather belt would not be allowed on official functions or formal visits of VIPs to the unit. The Corps Committee discussed this point and it was generally agreed that these belts were already being used by certain units and were quite popular. The Committee asked CSOs to express the views of the Corps when the Army Commanders asked for their views. The Committee approved the dark brown belt with the white buckle with the Signals crest embossed in the centre of the buckle.
In 1971 the Corps Committee discussed the proposal to permit OR to wear the lanyard. Opinion on the issue was divided and some members felt that the men were not in favour of purchasing the lanyards. When asked for his views Subedar Major Gyan Singh said that wearing of lanyards is desirable and everyone should wear it. The Committee decided that OR would be permitted to wear lanyards and Signals Directorate should issue a directive on the subject to all concerned. It was also decided that to ensure quality control, demands of signal units would be supplied centrally by the Signals Directorate.
In 1972 The Corps Committee was apprised that the existing mufti being provided to recruits during their training period was of inferior quality and not in good condition by the time they left. The Committee decided that the mufti for OR would comprise white terry cot shirts, charcoal grey terry cot trousers, black shoes and black socks. As a precaution against early wear and tear the Commandants of the two STCs were directed to equip the recruits with mufti only in the passing out stage, when they were about to leave the training centres. The expenses would be met by the OR and could be collected in monthly instalments.
During the period 1947 – 1972, there were a number of publications dealing with various subjects. Some had very short life spans, becoming redundant with time or being replaced by other publications. Others continued and some exist even today. The publications covered in this chapter are the Indian Signals Quarterly Journal, Signalman, Corps Bulletin, Corps Planning/Liaison Notes, Corps Gazette, Signals List, Technical Newsletter, and the pamphlet Corps Customs & Traditions.
The decision to publish a quarterly journal called the Indian Signals Quarterly Journal was taken during the 2nd Meeting of the Indian Signal Corps Committee on 15 May 1947, shortly before Independence. The journal was to be published by the Commandant Indian Signal School, Mhow, in English and Roman Urdu and one vernacular, the latter if there were enough contributions. The objects of the journal were to be a source of information and a record of units and members of the Corps thus strengthening the bonds of comradeship; to keep members up-to-date in the latest technical and tactical developments affecting the Corps; to be a source of information on general Corps matters and of activities of the Corps Committee and Corps Association; and to widen interest by short literary contributions in general subjects. An initial non-recurring grant of Rs 2000 was made from the ISC Fund as initial capital for staring and running the Corps Journal.
In April 1948 the Corps Committee agreed that a Corps magazine was very desirable. It should be an all ranks publication like the “Wire” in Royal Signals and not in the form of a journal. The magazine should be printed in English and Roman script and produced by Commandant Indian Signals School. A publication sub committee consisting of CSO Southern Command, Commandant Indian Signals School and Commandant STC were appointed to go into the details of production, editing etc. and put up recommendations to the Secretary. The first issue of the magazine should be published within six months from now. An initial non-recurring grant of Rs 2000 was made from ISC Fund as initial capital for starting and running the Corps Magazine.
The first issue the Signalman, the Corps magazine, was published on 1 January 1949 by Brigadier B.D. Kapur, CSO Southern Command. (The first issue is a collectors’ item – it is the only issue that had the Corps emblem on the cover without the motto in the scroll). It was a quarterly magazine, and the first three issues (January, April and July 1949) were published from Poona, before the magazine moved to Mhow, where it began to be published by the Commandant, School of Signals. The cost of the magazine was one rupee per copy for officers and JCOs and 12 annas for OR. At that time, it was felt that it was as yet premature to think of having life membership of the magazine. In 1950 it was decided that the magazine should have a standard cover design. The Editor was authorised to ask for suggestions to improve the magazine in this regard and offer prizes drawn from the profits of the magazine. It was also decided that promotions of JCOs should also be published in the Signalman.
Apart from information about postings, promotions and retirements, the magazine published news about activities of units under the heading Home Stations Calling. In 1952 the Corps Committee was apprised that news about units in forward areas should not be published in the interests of security. While the Committee agreed that in the interests of security only static signal units should contribute notes for inclusion in Home Stations Calling, it felt that such a measure would result in a decrease in the circulation of the Signalman. It was, therefore decided that CSOs would consolidate the notes of field units under their command for inclusion in Home Stations Calling without specific mention of designations of units, particularly field units.
In the initial years, very few JCOs and OR contributed articles to the magazine, in spite of prizes being offered for the best contribution in every issue. In order to motivate JCOs and OR to write for the magazine it was decided to include a Hindi section in the magazine. The first article in Roman Hindustani was published in January 1951 and the first article in Hindi in the Devanagri script came out in October 1952. . CSOs and Commandants were asked to stimulate efforts for encouraging personnel to contribute to the magazine. The Corps Committee Directive No. 2 issued in February 1953 laying down the charter of duties of editorial staff of the Signalman also specified the inclusion of a Hindi section in the magazine. It was also decided that every JCO and OR who contributes articles to the Signalman would be given a complimentary copy of the issue in which his article is published.
In 1954 it was proposed that the popularity of the Signalman could be enhanced if it was combined with the Technical News Letter. However, Commandant School of Signals felt that this was linked with expenditure from the Technical Grant. It was then decided that only certain selected articles from the Technical News Letter should be reproduced in the Signalman.
In 1962 it was proposed to introduce life membership for the Signalman. It was felt that the scheme though desirable could only be fully implemented when the circulation of the magazine goes up. It was decided that as an interim measure life membership should be thrown open only to officers and JCOs over 40 years of age. The subscription for life membership would be calculated by the following formula:-
Life Subscription = (60 – age) x Rs. 2.50
In 1964, it was decided that complimentary copies of the Signalman should be sent to training institutions such as the Indian Military Academy, National Defence Academy, Officers Training School and Army Cadet College. Sufficient copies were to be sent to provide one per ante-room for the above institutions. The cost of these complimentary copies would be borne by the Corps Funds. It was also decided to increase the number of complimentary copies sent to pensioners from 25 to 50, the cost being borne by the Reunion Fund. Complimentary copies would also be sent to ex-Signals officers of the Commonwealth countries, who were present in India. Colonel T.K. Mukerji offered to send a list of such persons with their addresses to the Secretary. The cost of these would also be met from the Reunion Fund.
By the year 1972 the Signalman had matured into a well rounded magazine. It contained articles in English and Hindi by individual contributors, in addition to several features of informative value, such as retirements, demises, promotions, honours and awards, latest orders regarding pay and pension, and so on. It was widely read by serving and retired personnel of all ranks, including many who are living abroad. For many old signallers, the Signalman had become the only link with their colleagues, and most of them looked forward to receiving their copies in time.
The first Corps Bulletin was issued on 1 September 1949. It was felt that in the formative period of the Corps, there should be a separate medium for disseminating Corps domestic matters such as information on customs, etiquette, procedure etc. in a distinct consolidated form for all units and members of the Corps. It consisted mainly of decisions taken by the Corps committee. In the preface of the issue, the SO-in-C, Brigadier C.H.I. Akehurst wrote: “It is said that anyone who tampers with a Regiment’s traditions would soon find that he had laid hands on a very ‘angry tigress’. I have no doubt that the decisions contained in this Bulletin will be proudly adhered to by all of us to bring us strength through uniformity and pride in creating a common personality.”33
The second Corps Bulletin was issued in February 1953. This was more exhaustive than the first issue. It contained the gist of almost all decisions of the Corps Committee after 1949. It also contained photographs showing various items of dress and the correct method of wearing them. Almost all subjects covered in the first issue were repeated, with the latest amendments. Army HQ advised all units and establishments to procure sufficient copies so that all ranks had access to it. It also recommended that all officers should obtain a personal copy. The cost of the Bulletin had been fixed as Rs. 1/4/- per copy, based on an anticipated demand for 500 copies. After this, no further Bulletins were issued. From 1953 onwards, the Corps Committee began issuing directives. Between 1953 and 1965, ten such directives were issued, each dealing with a specific subject.
Soon after Independence, the Planning Note began to be issued by Signal Directorate with the object of informing all concerned about changes in establishments, equipment and technical matters before they were promulgated through normal channels, as well as to give publicity to Corps domestic, personnel and training matters of general interest. The Indian Signals Planning Note was started in January 1948 on a monthly basis and brought on to a bimonthly basis in June 1948. From 1950 onwards, the frequency was changed to once a quarter but this was not always adhered to. From April 1950 onwards, it began to be called the Corps of Signals Liaison Note. Between 1948 and 1972, a total of 98 Planning/Liaison Notes were issued, No. 98 being issued in October 1972. Covering every aspect of the Corps such as organisation, personnel, training, procedure, development in communications, equipment and so on, they are an invaluable source of information and reference material for a historian or monographer. Unfortunately, most units and establishments have destroyed old issues, which are now untraceable.
The Technical News Letter (TNL) was the technical journal the Corps, published by the School of Signals. It contains technical articles dealing with developments in communication techniques and equipment. Usually, each issue concentrates on a specific subject. The first TNL was published in February 1950. After the publication of TNL No 42 in January 1971, it was renamed the Journal of Military Telecommunications and Data Processing (JMTDP). By the end of 1972, a total of 47 issues of the journal had been published.
The first Corps Gazette was published in 1951, giving details of all officers borne on the strength of the Corps of Signals, such as their date and type of commission, seniority, dates of acting and substantive ranks, and qualifications. These gazettes continued to be published at intervals of two or three years up to 1957. From 1961 onwards it was called the Signals List. Although it is a useful source of information with regard to the officer cadre, it cannot be quoted as an authority.
The pamphlet Customs of the Corps of Signals was published in 1950. It was based on a similar pamphlet produced by Royal Signals, whose permission was taken before publication of the pamphlet in India. It covers customs most of which are in vogue throughout the Indian Army. The subjects covered include saluting, conduct in the officers’ mess, calling, financial matters, behaviour towards JCOs and OR, correspondence and various other related aspects. Many years later, when Brigadier T. Barreto was nominated as the Chairman of the Corps Traditions Committee he pointed out that there are hardly any customs peculiar to Signals and it would be best to follow the book ‘Customs and Etiquette in the Service ’ written by Lieutenant Colonel H.R. Roach. This was accepted by the Corps Committee.
Corps History Committee
Though no history of the Corps was published during the period 1947-72, most of the work including the writing of the script of Volume I covering the period 1911-39 was completed during this time. The story of the ups and downs connected with the publication of the book has been covered in ‘History of the History’ which forms Appendix 1 of Volume II. However, the deliberations of the Corps Committee concerning the history of the Corps and other subjects within the purview of the Corps History Committee which are relatively unknown will be covered here.
The Corps Committee, in its very first meeting held in September 1946, ‘agreed that it was most desirable that the history of the Indian Signal Corps should be compiled’. However, nothing much seems to have been done during the next few years except a visit to the Historical Section in Simla by the Deputy Director Signals in early 1953 and the initiation of a case for a lieutenant colonel to write the Corps history. The lieutenant colonel and his staff were sanctioned, but due to acute shortage of officers in the Corps, no officer could be provided for this task.
Fortunately, Colonel T. Barreto was posted as Deputy Director of Signals from 1953-56. Without any mandate from the Corps Committee, he had begun collecting material in 1951, when he was at the Staff College, and continued his efforts during his tenure at Delhi. This naturally came to the knowledge of the SO-in-C, Brigadier Akehurst, and Brigadier Iyappa, who succeeded him in 1954. In 1957, the Corps Committee agreed that the compilation of the history of the Corps is a long outstanding necessity. They appreciated the effort already put in by Brigadier Barreto and requested him to accept the responsibility to complete the Corps history, sanctioning a sum of Rs. 1000 for expenses.
By this time Brigadier Barreto had moved to Poona as CSO Southern Command. He was nominated Chairman of the Corps History Committee, an appointment he held until his retirement in 1965. During his tenures at Poona (1956-60); Simla (1960-63) and Mhow (1963-65), he continued to work assiduously on the project. He presented the first report of the Corps History Committee during the 11th Corps Committee Meeting in 1958. Thereafter, he presented progress reports in every meeting of the Corps Committee up to 1965, which was the last meeting he attended. During the meeting held from 19-22 February 1965, he informed the Committee that the manuscript of Volume I of the History of the Indian Signal Corps was almost ready. In the absence of the Chairman, Lieutenant General Iyappa, the meeting was chaired by the Co-Chairman, Major General Batra, who stated that he had discussed the matter with the Senior Colonel Commandant. As the printing of the Volume would require last minute coordination with the printers, it would be printed in India. It had been decided that the services of Lieutenant Colonel Proudfoot be engaged for technical vetting of the manuscript and processing till its final publication.
Due to some reason, within a month the proposal to engage Colonel Proudfoot appeared to have been dropped. By this time, Brigadier Barreto had already put in his papers and was due to proceed on retirement on 30 April 1965. On 23 March 1965, General Batra, in his capacity as Co-Chairman of the Corps Committee, wrote a letter to Brigadier Barreto, the Chairman of the History Committee, extracts from which are given below:-34
......In view of the fact that after 1 May 65 it is possible that you may have a little more time available and also because of your detailed background knowledge of the history of the Corps, I feel that you may like to consider following through with Volume I of the Corps History until its final publication, and continue with the compilation of subsequent volumes.
If you do decide that you can take this commitment on, you would naturally be entitled to the fee of Rs. 2,000.00 that we were proposing to give to Lt Col PROUDFOOT for Volume II. ....
Also, in view of your great interest in Corps domestic matters, I would appreciate it if you would agree to continue to serve on the Corps Committee after you retirement.....
Brigadier Barreto replied on 2 April 1965. His emotional letter brings out his anguish at having to leave the service and the dilemma that he faced, torn between his domestic obligations and his love for the Corps. Extracts from the letter, a copy of which was endorsed to General Iyappa, the Senior Colonel Commandant, are given below:-35
It has always been my intention that I would continue to do my bit for the Corps after retirement. I have, however, now come up against a major obstacle. My wife is extremely bitter about the whole business of my premature retirement and the real reasons behind it, and she is adamant that I shall not spend any time after retirement on this type of work....... I can understand her feelings because she has suffered much during these years when I have greatly neglected her and the children while I devoted so much of my spare time, including my holidays, to voluntary work for the Corps.
I am still hoping that time will heal the wounds and that she will come round. To me personally, her decision is a great blow, as I have identified myself to such an extent with the Corps that it is almost impossible to conceive myself isolated from it......
In the circumstances, I would request you to keep your offer open. I am not interested in the fee. In fact, I hope I shall not reach the stage when I shall have to accept money from my Corps. Mine has been a labour of love, and I feel morally bound to complete it.
Regarding my member ship of the Corps Committee, the same prohibitions apply. I would however, suggest that I am formally nominated to the Corps Committee though I might have to remain a passive member until the atmosphere is more congenial.
On 26 April 1965, General Batra replied, informing Brigadier Barreto that in view of the necessity to publish Volume I of the Corps History with all dispatch, it had been decided to entrust it to Lieutenant Colonel Proudfoot, as decided earlier. To enable him to do the job properly, the drafts of Volume I and all relevant correspondence, documents and connected material that had been acquired by Brigadier Barreto in his capacity as Chairman of the History Committee would be collected from him before he proceeded on retirement. For this purpose, Major Mirza, who was looking after the Corps Museum, had been asked to proceed immediately to Mhow. The material would have to be properly listed before being handed over to Major Mirza, who would also collect all material pertaining to the Traditions Committee. As regards his membership of the Corps Committee, since he would not be able to take active part, he could not be nominated as a member.36
The above letter reached Mhow on 28 April, two days before Barreto was to retire. In a long letter addressed to the Secretary of the Corps Committee, he wondered why he was being subjected to such humiliating treatment, on the day of his retirement. By this time, he had already packed most of the documents and files that he had used for the draft of Volume I and despatched them with some of his personal baggage to Jabalpur, where he was planning to settle down. These books and documents, collected during the previous 14 years, filled four large crates and had not been catalogued. Even if they were readily available in Mhow, it would take months to sort them out. Since the draft of Volume I was already completed, the papers that had been used to compile it could not be of much use, immediately. Since it was known that he was going to settle down in Jabalpur, surely these papers could be collected from him after he reached there. In a final gesture, he decided to return the amount of Rs. 1000 that had been given to him by the Corps Committee in 1957 to meet the expenses in connection with compilation of the Corps History. Barreto attached a cheque for this amount with the letter, a copy of which was endorsed to all members of the Corps Committee. 37
In a gesture of reconciliation, Brigadier I.D. Verma, the Brigadier Signals Staff, wrote to Brigadier Barreto on 18 January 1966, renewing the offer to complete the publication of the Volume I of the Corps History and inviting him to attend the next Corps Committee meeting that was to be held in March 1966. Barreto declined the offer. Though the manuscript had been completed by the time he retired, the project went into limbo after his departure, with the Corps not being able to find a suitable replacement to head the Corps History Committee. The next meeting of the Corps Committee records: - Since the retirement of Brig T BARRETO a new Chairman of the Corps History Committee has not yet been appointed in his place. No report has, therefore, been prepared for discussion.38
In1967 the Corps Committee was informed that the only nomination received so far for ‘writing’ the Corps history was that of Lieutenant Colonel A. Asirvadam of the School of Signals. Brigadier K.D. Bhasin stated that he had informally contacted Brigadier Barreto who had declined to undertake the task. The Chairman, Lieutenant General Iyappa, asked the SO-in-C, Major General I.D. Verma to discuss this issue with Brigadier Barreto during his next visit to Jabalpur. Meanwhile, all the material still held with Brigadier Barreto was to be taken over from him and properly compiled to facilitate further work. Major G.Y. Sowani of 1 STC was to carry out processing of Volume I and start writing the draft for Volume II. The draft written by Major Sowani was to be passed on to Colonel S.N. Mehta for vetting and finalisation.
For the next four years literally nothing was done with regard to the Corps history. The subject was also not discussed by the Corps Committee during the meetings held in 1968, 1969 and 1970. In 1971 Commandant 1 STC placed before the Corps Committee the list of items which had been collected from Brigadier Barreto and kept in the Corps Museum. The Chairman, General Iyappa then suggested that it is time some concrete action was taken to publish the Corps history. CSO Southern Command stated that Lieutenant Colonel G.Y. Sowani had volunteered to do the work. (This had been approved by the Committee four years earlier). Initially he should be moved to Jabalpur on temporary duty to make an assessment of the volume of work involved and later he may be posted to Jabalpur if necessary.
In the event, Colonel G.Y. Sowani also begged off. Various other writers were approached, including Lieutenant Colonel C.L. Proudfoot, Colonel Pyara Lal, Colonel V. Anantharaman, Major K.S. Kapur, Brigadier K.D. Bharagava and Lieutenant Colonel J.C. Dhamija. Volume I of the Corps History was finally published in 1975, ten years later after its completion by Brigadier Barreto. The book was a verbatim reproduction of the original draft except for a change in the title. The preface written by Brigadier Barreto was omitted and so was his name as the author.
Corps Traditions Committee
In 1962 Brigadier T. Barreto, CSO Western Command, proposed that there was a requirement for appointing a Corps Tradition Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of a senior member of the Corps to examine Corps customs and traditions and put up suggestions for approval of the Corps Committee. Details regarding the composition and charter of the Sub-Committee would be issued as a Corps Directive. The Corps Committee approved the proposal and appointed Brigadier Barreto Chairman of the Corps Traditions Committee.39
The annual report of the Traditions Committee was considered by the Corps Committee on 14 and 17 February 1964. With regard to a proposal to name certain buildings, roads and grounds in Mhow and Jabalpur, the Committee asked CSO Central Command to pursue the case with the Army Commander for naming of the Iyappa ground at 1 STC. As regards naming of buildings in the School of Signals, it was decided that except for the Mercury Theatre and Akehurst Hall, the remaining names will be deleted. Commandant School of Signals was asked to submit specific recommendations for naming roads and buildings in the School to the Corps Committee for approval before the case was taken up through staff channels.
The Traditions Committee had recommended that certain commemorative days be celebrated by the Corps as was being done by other Arms and Services. It was recommended that the battles of Neuve Chapelle (1915) and Ngakyedauk Pass (1944) in which the Corps had taken part may be celebrated in this manner. However, the Committee decided to restrict the commemorative days or the time being to 15 February, until the case for battle honours for the Corps was finally decided. Colonel T.K. Mukerji was requested to forward a write up on the Irrawaddy battle, which was recommended by him as being a notable day for the Corps.
The Traditions Committee had also recommended that adequate publicity must be given to personnel who earned honours and awards. The Corps Committee decided that CSOs and Commandants must obtain and transmit to the Editor of the Signalman information pertaining to honours and awards and any other distinction gained by personnel of the Corps, in units under their command. The constitution of the Corps Traditions Committee was also amended. Brigadier Barreto was to continue as Chairman, with members being three serving officers of the Corps, preferably those who had earlier been secretaries of the Corps Committee.
During the next meeting of the Corps Committee in 1965, the report of the Traditions Committee was considered. CSO Central Command was directed to expedite the case of the naming of the Iyappa ground with HQ Central Command. Commandant School of Signals sought a clarification on the policy for the naming of specific buildings and places, particularly as to whether these should be named after battles or individuals. It was decided that Brigadier Barreto would examine the priorities in consultation with the Chairman and Co-Chairman, and recommend suitable names for specific places, for approval of the Corps Committee.
As mentioned earlier, Barreto retired in 1965. No report of the Corps Tradition Committee was placed before the Corps Committee in 1966, since no Chairman had been appointed. The Corps Committee decided that this will be considered at a later stage together with the appointment of an officer to perform the duties of Chairman, Corps History Committee. In the event, this never happened, both committees becoming defunct.
The Cariappa Trophy
The Cariappa Trophy was donated by General K.M. Cariappa, the first Indian C-in-C of the Indian Army, who was the Colonel Commandant of the Corps from 1949-59. After his retirement in 1953, General Cariappa was appointed India’s High Commissioner in Australia, where he remained until 1956. Even while he was in Australia, the Colonel Commandant continued to take a keen interest in the Corps. During the 8th Meeting of the Corps Committee on 16 February 1955, the SO-in-C, Brigadier Iyappa informed the members that General Cariappa had offered a trophy for a Corps championship in chess. The Committee felt that before this game is introduced in the Corps, the number of individuals who are interested in the game should be ascertained. CSOs/Commandants were asked to take steps to popularize the game in all units and report progress after six months. It was decided that if the progress is satisfactory, General Cariappa will be asked to present the trophy so generously offered by him.
Based on the feedback from CSOs/Commandants, it was decided to request the Colonel Commandant to present the trophy for a competition in musketry instead of chess. After obtaining his concurrence, it was decided that it would be a floating trophy in the field of musketry and will be competed for by all major signal units. The trophy was presented by General Cariappa on 14 February 1958 after delivering the closing address of the 11th Corps Committee Meeting, during the third post-war reunion held at Jubbulpore.
In the early years, a team from each command selected by the CSO competed for the trophy. Subsequently, in view of the commitments of the units deployed in forward areas, it was decided to restrict the competition to teams from the STCs.
The Iyappa Trophy
The Iyappa trophy was presented by Major General A.C. Iyappa, the SO-in-C and Colonel Commandant during the Golden Jubilee in February 1961 at Jubbulpore. While presenting the trophy to the Corps Committee, General Iyappa announced that it was for ‘Inter Unit Technical Proficiency.’ Since no meeting of the Committee was held in 1961, there was no record of his announcement nor was there a photograph of the actual presentation. This created some confusion, which was eventually cleared.
In September 1961 Colonel R.Z Kabraji, Commandant School of Signals and Editor, The Signalman, wrote to Colonel Prem Singh, Commandant STC that he intended publishing a detailed article on the Iyappa Trophy in the January 1962 issue. He asked for a suitably illustrated article with details such as the dimensions of the trophy; significance of various plates mounted on it, details of the proposed competition and photographs of the trophy. In his reply, Lieutenant Colonel R.K. Vats Officiating Commandant STC, wrote as under:-
Reference your DO No 868009 G(SM) dated 15 Sep 61 addressed to Col Prem Singh.
I am enclosing herewith a photograph of the trophy and its dimensions.
I feel it would be better if the significance of the plates mounted on the shield could be obtained from the Colonel Commandant himself, as any wrong interpretation on our part might be an unforgivable error. I have spoken to Lt Col SRI RAM at Signals Directorate and he is obtaining the necessary information.
As regards details of the competition, we have only held individual competitions in Morse and teleprinter and DR trials, details of which were submitted to you vide our No 1038/A/28 of 18 Mar 61 and HQ 1038/A/28 of 17 Mar 61. A copy of the rules of these competitions is enclosed.
The trophy has been donated for ‘Inter Unit Technical Proficiency but we have neither framed the rules for this competition nor has it been run so far. We have asked Signal Directorate to give us further instructions.
It will therefore be seen that at present, we are not in a position to give more details.40
All would have been well if the above letter had not mentioned the individual competitions in Morse and teleprinter and DR trials. Due to delay in receipt of the photographs from Delhi, the article was finally published in the July 1962 issue of the Signalman, with the title ‘The Iyappa Trophy - Morse and Teleprinter Operating Competition’. The article referred to a decision taken during the 12th CSOs/Commandants’ Conference held in March 1960, in which it was decided that a prize would be given to the best Morse /teleprinter operator in the Corps and a suitable trophy would be awarded to the winning team in the Inter Command Proficiency Competition. It gave details of the competitions held in 1960 and 1961, marks obtained by the participants and the names of the winners. It ended with the statement that the Iyappa Trophy was awarded to the winning team (STC) on 13 February 1961 by Major General A.C Iyappa, the Director Signals and SO-in-C. A photograph of the trophy was published below the article.
After reading the article, on 9 August 1962 Brigadier T. Barreto, then CSO Western Command, wrote a letter to the Secretary, Corps Committee, with copies to the other CSOs and Commandants School of Signals and STC. He pointed out that the article gave the impression that the Iyappa Trophy was only for operating competitions. He clarified that while presenting the trophy during the Golden Jubilee celebrations, General Iyappa had stated that it was for ‘Inter Unit Technical Proficiency.’ Though there was no record of his speech nor a photograph of the presentation, the representations on the face of the trophy clearly depicted four trades – lineman, despatch rider, radio mechanic and switchboard operator. Brigadier Barreto also observed that the Corps Committee had still not drawn up a set of rules to govern the annual competition for the award of the trophy. Also, no expression of gratitude to General Iyappa had been published either in the minutes of the Corps Committee or in the Signalman for his magnanimity. 41
After this, there was flurry of letters between the Signals Directorate, School of Signals and the STC. Finally, a draft Corps Committee Directive was prepared and circulated to all members of the Corps Committee in August 1963. It was clarified that the trophy would be awarded annually to the unit adjudged best in the Corps in technical efficiency. All signal units commanded by majors/lieutenant colonels would be eligible for award of this trophy. It had originally been proposed that the award would be based on the results of the inter unit technical proficiency competitions. However, in the conditions then prevailing (the 1962 war had just ended) it was not possible for units to actively take part in such competitions. As an interim measure, it was decided to have a simpler procedure for the award of the trophy which could be revised later. According to the interim procedure, CSOs/Deputy Director Signals/CAFSO would recommend the best units under their technical control, from which the SO-in-C would select the best unit for award of the trophy,
The draft directive on the award of the Iyappa Trophy was discussed during the 15th Corps Committee Meeting held on 14 and 17 February 1964. It was felt that with the large number and variety of signal units, it would be difficult to conduct this competition equitably. It was then decided that the competition should be limited to divisional signal regiments only. CSOs Command would select the unit judged by them to be the best as regards technical proficiency in their commands and the finals of the inter-command competition will be conducted between the best divisional signal regiment from each command. The competition would be held in one of the commands annually in rotation. Details of the competition were to be issued in the form of a Corps Committee Directive. This resulted in the issue of Corps Committee Directive No 7.
Daulet Singh Trophy.
Major General Daulet Singh was appointed the Colonel Commandant of the Corps in 1955, when the Corps was authorised a second Colonel Commandant, in addition to General Cariappa who had been appointed in 1949. In 1957 he offered a floating trophy to be presented to an officer for personal ‘high endeavour.’ The offer was considered by the Corps Committee during its 10th Meeting on 13-14 March 1957 and accepted. CSOs/Commandants were asked to send in their suggestions by 30 April regarding personal high endeavour. It was believed that some articles had been written previously on the subject in some magazine. The Secretary was asked to obtain a copy of such an article, if available. In September 1957, the Secretary of the Corps Committee wrote to CSOs/Commandants, asking them to forward suggestions regarding personal high endeavour.
During the 12th Meeting of the Corps Committee held on 19-20 March 1959, it was agreed that wide publicity should be given to the trophy and citations for the award be asked for from units. It was also agreed that the award should cover a wide field and not be confined to technical achievements only. Based on suggestions received from various sources a draft Corps Committee Directive was made and circulated to members of the Corps Committee for comments in August 1963. Corps of Signals Committee Directive No 6 dealing with the ‘Lt Gen Daulet Singh Trophy for High Endeavour’ was issued on 5 November 1963. It stipulated that the trophy would be kept permanently in the Headquarters Mess, School of Signals Mhow. All Corps of Signals personnel would be eligible for the award. It stated that while it was not possible to lay down rigidly what constitutes high endeavour, this could be in any of the following fields:-
· Technical Field (a discovery/invention/improvisation/research in the field of electronics culminating in outstanding improvement in the concept/technique of signal communication system or electronic equipment
· Special Mission in a Signals Sphere (sustained personal effort in establishing and maintaining signal communications under extreme conditions)
· Special Mission in a Non –Signal Sphere (a feat of personal endurance in an effort to explore/recce territory on the frontiers of India; an act of sustained effort which enhanced the prestige of the Corps; an achievement in mountaineering or other expedition resulting in acquisition of useful information and data)
· Sports (national or international recognition or record)
· General (any achievement of personal high endeavour which earns national/international recognition or enhances prestige of the service).
The 15th Meeting of the Corps Committee held on 14 and 17 February 1964 decided that the award for the year 1962 will be given to Lance Naik Dharam Chand, VrC. As sufficient data on or recommendations for the award for 1963 had not been received, no award was announced for the year 1963, and CSOs/Commandants were asked to send further recommendations. It was also decided that the award would be given for performance in a calendar year. The award would be given for acts of personal endeavour of any type and not necessarily for gallantry only. As regards the location for the trophy it was decided that it would be kept permanently in the Quarter Guard of 1 STC and will be shown on bara khana and similar functions. The miniature replica to be awarded to each recipient would be in the form of a medal or a plaque the design of which would be decided by a sub-committee.
The decision to award the trophy to Lance Naik Dharam Chand had been vehemently opposed by Brigadier T. Barreto during the meeting, who protested that the donor had clearly stated that it was to be awarded only to officers. (By this time, Lieutenant General Daulet Singh was no more, having died in an air crash the previous year). On 7 July 1964 Brigadier Barreto wrote to the Lieutenant General A.C. Iyappa, the senior Colonel Commandant and Chairman of the Corps Committee, endorsing a copy of his letter to Major General R.N. Batra, the SO-in-C and Co-Chairman of the Corps Committee. In his letter, he wrote:“A dead man’s wishes keep haunting me and in view of my close association with him at the most critical period of his life, I feel that am honour bound to get the Corps Committee to amend its decisions in accordance with the wishes of the donor”. (Brigadier Barreto had been CSO Western Command from 1960 to 1963. He had served under General Daulet Singh, the GOC-in-C, during the 1962 Sino-Indian Conflict and later up to his tragic death in 1963).42
Unfortunately, Brigadier Barreto’s plea went unheeded, and the Corps Committee refused to amend its decision. In subsequent years most of the awardees have been officers, prominent among them being Captain P.K. Ghosh, VrC and Captain M.A. Rasheed.
Plaque of Honour
Shortly before Independence, the 2nd Meeting of the Indian Signal Corps held on 15May 1947 agreed to present a miniature bronze ‘Jimmy’ mounted on a wooden plinth to the best Young Officer passing out of the ISC School. The award was to commence with the first batch (PAT-1), which was then under training. This decision was reconfirmed in the 3rd Meeting of The Indian Signals Committee (1st Meeting of the newly reconstituted Committee) held on 1-2 April 1948, which decided that the cost of the award (up to an approximate amount of Rs 50/-) be met from the Officers Central Mess Fund. The Commandant ISC School was asked to forward a design of the presentation to the Secretary. At the next meeting of the Committee held in May 1949 a bronze replica of the Corps Emblem manufactured by Orr & Sons of Madras was displayed. The Committee did not approve of this trophy and directed the Secretary to obtain a better specimen.
At the next meet held in March 1950 the progress on the manufacture of the Best YO’s trophy was reviewed. The Secretary pointed out that the original idea of presenting a bronze Jimmy had been dropped and instead signal officers of Army HQ, Air HQ, Army HQ Signal Regiment, Air Formation Signal Regiment, and those on ERE were presenting a ‘Plaque of Honour’ as the best YO’s trophy. Orders for the manufacture of this had already been placed on Messrs Hamilton & Co. Ltd. New Delhi. Soon afterwards the trophy was ready and drew appreciation from everyone. The plaque comprises a bronze replica of the painting known as ‘Through’ by Patrick Martin. It depicts the immortal lineman who made the supreme sacrifice after joining two ends of a broken cable and uttering the words ‘Through’ which are part of the lexicon of signallers all over the World. In 1952 it was decided that a medal should be presented to the best YO along with the trophy. Since then, the ‘Plaque of Honour’ and ‘Through’ Medal are presented by the Commandant to the best Young Officer during the farewell dinner at the end of the course. It is much sought after and there is keen competition among young officers for the award.
SPORTS & ADVENTURE
Sports and games have always been an important part of military life. The games played in the Army can broadly be divided into two categories. Troop games are basically team games such as hockey, football, basketball, volleyball and so on, in which officers and men both participate. These are usually played in all units during the games parade. Individual games are non-team games, where individual skills count. For officers, these comprise games such as tennis, squash, badminton etc. which are played outside office hours, in a club or officers’ mess. There are also other individual events such as shooting, boxing, weight lifting etc. in which both officers and men take part.
Though games were being played in units of the Indian Signal Corps even before Independence, it was only in 1953 that it was decided to organise teams on a Corps basis. It was decided that the Corps of Signals teams would be formed on the ‘gladiator principle’ and located with signal units in different stations. The responsibilities allotted to signal units for various teams were as given below:-43
· Western Command Signal Regiment (Delhi) - Hockey
· 20 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment (Calcutta) - Football
· Army HQ Signal Regiment - Basket Ball
· STC - Shooting
In 1955 it was decided that a Corps Sports Fund will be created and maintained by transfers from the SO-in-C’s Signals Fund. The annual subscriptions to the Fund were raised from four to eight annas with effect from 1 April 1955. Regimental cuttings would not be increased, but units were asked to meet this contribution from other sources of regimental income. It was also decided that the Corps Basket Ball and Athletic teams would be disbanded and all effort concentrated on the Hockey Team. At the end of the current season this team would be located at the STC, where the Commandant would be responsible for it and would examine the employment of a suitable coach. Though the Corps Football team would not be disbanded, expenditure on its account would be restricted. It would not move out of Calcutta to take part in tournaments.
In 1964 it was decided to form a Corps Sports Control Committee to promote sports activities within the Corps and to endeavour to improve the standards of the teams in certain selected games viz. hockey, football, basketball, volleyball, athletics, boxing, swimming and wrestling. Corps teams would be maintained only in four games (hockey, football, basketball, volleyball), while in the case of the remainder, promising individuals would be selected and given coaching at the STCs. For this purpose, potential sportsmen would be posted to 1 STC for athletics, boxing and 2 STC for swimming and wrestling. The Chairman of the Corps Sports Control Committee was Commandant 1 STC with members being the deputy commandants of the two STCs, one representative from each command and from Signals Directorate. After the appointment of Inspector Signal Technical Trades (ISTT), he replaced Commandant 1 STC as Chairman. It was stipulated that the strength of the Corps teams would not exceed 18 for hockey and football and 15 for basketball and volleyball. Each team would be captained by an officer or JCO. If an officer of the required standard could not be found as a ‘playing member’, an officer would be appointed as officer-in-charge and non-playing captain.44
The Corps Hockey Team has had a chequered history, having changed it location four times in the first 11 years of existence, before finally settling down at Jullundur (now called Jalandhar. In spite of these frequent moves the team performed creditably, winning several national level tournaments during the period 1953-72. It also produced 15 players for the Services team and three who represented India - Noel Toppo, M.P. Ganesh and Raminder Singh.
The team was raised in April 1953 at Jullundur under Jemadar Ajit Singh. The team was located at 3 Company Western Command Signal Regiment with the CSO being responsible for it. In September 1953 CSO Western Command felt that team was not progressing as it should and decided to attach it to XI Corps Signal Regiment in Jullundur. During the 7th Meeting of the Corps Committee held on 14-15 February 1954 it was suggested that the team should be located at Bombay where there was more scope for practice. However, it was decided that there should be no change in the location for the present. At the next meeting held in 1955 it was decided to move the team to Jubbulpore. Colonel T.K. Mukerji, Commandant STC was made responsible for the team and asked to examine the employment of a suitable coach.
In 1956 the team won the Dhyan Chand Gold Cup at New Delhi. However, after this its performance was lack lustre and it did not win any major tournament for the next four years. In 1960 a proposal to move the team back to Jullundur under CSO XI Corps was included in the Agenda of the 13th Corps Committee Meeting that was scheduled to be held at Jullundur. This drew a strong protest from CSO Southern Command, Brigadier T. Barreto, who wrote:-
THE CORPS HOCKEY TEAM 1964
Front : L/Nk Syed Mustafa, L/Hav Surinder Singh, L/Hav D Balachandran, Hav Noel Toppo, L/Nk Arvind Kadam, Nk Duli Chand.
Back : Maj Harbhajan Singh, Nk Gurdial Singh, Hav AS Shinde, Brig SR Khurana, Lt Gen JS Dillion, Lt Col DB Lahiri, Jem Gurbachan Singh, Hav Balbir Singh, Jem Malkiat Singh.
It appears that this point has been raised by the Secretary. The Secretary is not a member of the Corps Committee and is not empowered to raise points other than procedural. The item states “it is desired….” but does not state by whom it is so desired. Are we to assume that the Secretary desires the location of the Corps Hockey Team to be changed? I do hope a complete brief giving the reasons for the previous change from JULLUNDER to JUBBULPORE and the reasons for reverting to the old location will be issued before the meeting. 45
No brief was issued before the meeting. However, the point was discussed and not accepted. Surprisingly, it was omitted from the minutes of the meeting, which refers only to the formation of the Corps Sports Control Committee. This again drew a letter of protest from Brigadier Barreto to Army HQ, which replied that the point will be considered by the Commandant STC on the formation of the Corps Sports Control Committee.
In 1962 the 14th Corps Committee felt that the Bombay was perhaps a better location than Jubbulpore from the point of view of training of the team. CSO Southern Command was asked to examine this and intimate whether this change could be effected. Shortly afterwards, 12 hockey players were posted to 2 Company, Southern Command Signal Regiment at Bombay. In September 1962 CSO Southern Command wrote to Signals Directorate bringing out several problems connected with the team. Of the 12 players who had been posted to Bombay, one had been sent to STC for an upgrading course. No officer or JCO had been posted with the teams, as decided by the Corps Committee. The team had arrived without any hockey gear, which would have to be purchased. Giving out his plan for training of the team and its participation in various tournaments, some of which had an entry fee, the CSO asked for an additional allotment of Rs. 2500 for the hockey team. He went on to say: “One of the reasons for locating the team at BOMBAY was perhaps the healthy state of regimental funds of the signal company at BOMBAY. The assets of this company derived from the income of coconut trees at the transmitter site are under dispute and we may have to refund the entire amount to the Government. Efforts are however being made to retain the assets as regimental funds.”46
The team was not destined to stay in Bombay by for long. Though not listed in the Agenda of the 15th Meeting that was held in February 1964, the Corps Committee decided that the Hockey team would be located at Jullundur, provided CSO Western Command finds this suitable. If Jullundur was not suitable, the team will be located at Jabalpur with 1 or 3 STC.
This decision took many by surprise, since the move of the team had not been proposed by the Corps Sports Control Committee and neither had there been any discussion on the subject. One person who had been watching the ups and downs of the Corps Hockey Team closely was Brigadier Barreto, now Commandant School of Signals. After coming to know of the move of the team from Bombay from the minutes of the meeting, in July 1964 he addressed a letter to Lieutenant General A.C. Iyappa and Major General R.N. Batra, the Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Corps Committee. He analysed the reasons for the indifferent performance of the Hockey team and felt that it was primarily due to lack of interest of the officers responsible and absence of a playing officer in the team. The standard of hockey in Bombay was high and the competition was on par with the best in India. Making strong pleas for continuance of the team at Bombay, he wrote:-
I have had discussions with Torun Mukerji on the subject earlier this year, and he told me that he has been watching the team at work in Bombay. He claims that the team consists basically of sound players, but that it lacks discipline and guidance. As you know, one of the reasons for moving the team from Jullundur to Jubbulpore was that Torun was there to nurse it, and there is no doubt that he succeeded. He is now prepared to do it again in Bombay, and I strongly recommend that we accept his offer and leave the team where it is.
It was Torun Mukerji and Roby Sen who were responsible for ‘finding’ Noel Toppo, the one and only National Hockey player the Corps has produced in its whole history. And the argument I have against Jullundur is that had the team remained there, we would never have had a Toppo. The answer is to keep the team at Jullundur during the non-playing season so that it is fed with fresh blood. During the playing season (and for a short period before for coaching purposes) it should remain in Bombay.47
In the event, the team moved to Jullundur in 1964 as decided by the Corps Committee. Major (later Lieutenant General) Harbhajan Singh), a hockey player, took charge of the Team. Fortunately its performance during the subsequent years was commendable. It won a number of tournaments including the Beighton Cup (1966), Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup (1967), Rene Frank Trophy (1969), Murugappa Cup (1970) and the Jawahar Lal Nehru Gold Cup (1970-72). Two of the three international players that the Corps had produced were also nurtured at Jullundur. Naik Noel Toppo, who was part of the team while it was at Jubbulpore, played for India in the 1962 Asiad. Lance Naik M.P. Ganesh donned India’s colours at the World Cup in Barcelona (1969), the Munich Olympiad (1972) and the World Cup at Amsterdam (1973), the last one as the team captain. He was given the Arjuna Award in 1973. The third international player was Captain Raminder Singh, who played for India in 1970.
As decided by the Corps Committee in 1953, the Corps Football Team was located in Calcutta with 20 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment. The team took part in a number of tournaments but could not make its mark. In 1962 the Corps Committee was informed that a number of individuals, though up to the required standard for inclusion in the Corps Teams, were not coming forward and in certain cases units were not making them readily available. The minimum number required to train a team for events like hockey and football was between 16 and 18, yet in the case of football only 9 players were made available so far. It was decided that the Chairman of the Sports Control Committee will send names of all football players who took part in the football tournament during the Reunion in 1961 to CSO Eastern Command for making a selection. The teams must be brought up to the strength and the training must start as soon as possible.
In 1964 the Corps Committee decided that the Corps Football Team would be located with 2 STC in Goa. After its move to Goa the team took part in a number of tournaments but did not win any. According to Brigadier Barreto, this was because the standard of football in Goa was high. Commenting on the reasons for shifting the team to Goa, Brigadier Barreto writes: “As a Goan, I knew that the Portuguese had introduced football to Goa and had a high standard. I advised Apar Singh to locate the team in Goa for this reason”.
The Corps Basketball Team was raised in Army HQ Signal Regiment in 1953 as a result of the decision of the 6th Signals Committee Meeting held on 4-5 March 1953. Two years later, in 1955 it was decided that the Corps Basketball and Athletic teams would be disbanded and all effort will be concentrated on the Hockey Team. The team was raised again in February 1961 at Meerut and was later shifted to Delhi under Army HQ Signal Regiment. The Corps Committee during its 14th Meeting held in March 1962 sanctioned a sum of Rs. 500 for the team. Brigadier Barreto, then CSO Western Command, felt that this amount was inadequate and took up the matter with the Corps Committee in October 1962. He wrote that the team under the guidance of Colonel R.N. Sen had recently won four major tournaments in Delhi viz. Royal Club Tournament, All India Butlerian Tournament, Delhi & Rajasthan Area Inter-Station Tournament and Delhi State Championship. In view of their success, the team could now be considered as one of the best in India. He stated that the Rs 500 sanctioned by the Committee had not proved adequate and signal units in Delhi Cantonment had borne the balance of the expenditure from their unit funds. He recommended that an additional sum of Rs 500 be allotted to compensate the units in part. 48
Almost a year later, in August 1963 the Secretary of the Corps Committee, Lieutenant Colonel Sri Ram, replied to Western Command pointing out that from the accounts sent by them it appeared that Rs. 119 were still unspent. He asked HQ Western Command to reconcile the accounts. (By this time, Brigadier Barreto had moved to Mhow as Commandant School of Signals). In 1964 the Corps Sports Control Committee was formed to promote sports activities within the Corps and improve the standards of the teams in certain selected games. Basketball was one of the four games in which Corps Teams were to be maintained. The strength of the team was not to exceed 15 and it would be captained by an officer or a JCO.
The report of the Commandant Army HQ Signals on the performance of the Corps Basketball Team was discussed during the 18th Meeting of the Corps Committee held in February 1967. The Committee commended the performance of individual members of the team during the year. An amount of Rs 1500 was sanctioned tentatively for the year 1967-68 for the maintenance of the team. Any unspent balance from the allotment for the previous year as considered necessary by the SO-in- C would be deducted from this amount of Rs 1500.00. Commandant Army HQ Signals was instructed to plan expenditure within the sanctioned amount.
The team took part in several tournaments and produced a number of players of national level. In 1969 the team participated in twelve tournaments of which they won six and were runners-up in two. The team won the Delhi Area Basketball Championship for the 10th year in a row in recognition of which the Championship Cup was given permanently to Army HQ Signals. A few promising players were selected for teams at the national level. Naik Mohan Singh and Naik Nambiar played in the Services team in 1963 and 1965 respectively. Havildar Gulzar Singh played in the Indian team in the Bangkok Asiad in 1966. In 1969 Havildars Karnail Singh and Ajit Singh and Lance Naik Mewa Singh were selected to represent Delhi State in the National Championship.
Volleyball was not included among games in which Corps teams were raised in 1953 viz. Hockey, Football, Basketball and Shooting. In 1955 the proposal to raise a Volleyball team was placed before the Corps Committee but not agreed to. Apparently the team was raised soon afterwards and started showing good results. Lance Naiks Sri Ram Yadav and Jaikaran were members of the Services team which won the National Volleyball Championship in 1960-61. After the creation of the Corps Sports Control Committee in 1962, it was decided that Corps teams would be maintained in Hockey, Football, Basketball and Volleyball. For selection and training of the team, the Corps Sports Control Committee would be assisted by the Volleyball Sub Committee, as for other games. The strength of the Corps Volleyball was fixed at 15, with an officer or JCO to be included as team captain.49
The Corps Committee during its 14th Meeting held in March 1962 sanctioned a sum of Rs. 500 for the team. In the next meeting held in February 1964, the Committee felt that the Corps teams could do better if properly organised, encouraged and trained. The locations of the teams were also decided. The Volleyball and Basketball teams were to be located in Delhi, one each with 1 Army HQ Signal Regiment and Delhi & Rajasthan Area as decided by CSO Western Command. The Committee also sanctioned Rs. 1000 each for the Volleyball and Basketball teams, specifying that if the CSO/Commandant needed additional financial assistance, he could bid for more, and the further allotment would be considered provided the performance of the team was satisfactory.
The report of the Commandant Army HQ Signals on the performance of the Corps Volleyball Team was discussed during the 18th Meeting of the Corps Committee held in February 1967. The Chairman commended the performance of the team and Havildar S.R. Yadav who was selected for the National team for the Fifth Asian Games at Bangkok. The requirement of Rs. 1667 projected by Commandant Army HQ Signals for the maintenance of the team for the year 1967-68 was also discussed. The Committee sanctioned an amount of Rs. 1000 tentatively. Any unspent balance from the allotment for the previous year as considered necessary by the SO-in-C would be deducted from this amount of Rs. 1000 now sanctioned.
In 1969 the team produced commendable results, winning the Butlerian, Shastri Memorial and several other tournaments. Havildar Banwari Lal was awarded the Services Colours while Naik Daniel was declared the best volleyball player in the All India Young Players Volleyball Tournament held at Jullundur and was given a special prize. In 1970 the team participated in seven tournaments winning four of them. The team won the Delhi Area Volleyball Championship for the 12th year in succession in appreciation of which this trophy was permanently awarded to Army HQ Signals. Six members of the team were selected to represent Western Command in the Services Championship held at Kota.
The two most well known players of international standard produced by the team were CQMH Sri Ram Yadav and Havildar Jaikaran, who participated in the Asian Games at Jakarta in 1962 and Bangkok in 1966, winning the bronze medal.
Triangular Sports Meet
The Triangular Sports Meet was held every year from 1960 onwards, between the Corps of Engineers, Regiment of Artillery and the Corps of Signals. Teams comprising selected officers and ladies competed in three games – squash, tennis and golf, the last being added only in the second year i.e. 1961. The event has a very interesting history, which has been described by Major H. A. Marley (Engineers) in the following words:-
Once upon a time the top brass of the Regiment of Artillery, the Corps of Engineers and the Corps of Signals met to talk over means of fostering the spirit of camaraderie among the three Arms. The main outcome of their deliberations was to pass the buck to their staff officers. And so ……….
On a historic Saturday in 1959 (the 25th of April, to be exact), and having nothing better to do between their post-breakfast elevenses and pre-lunch twelveses, (this was at Army HQ, you must know), three officers got together in a room at Kashmir House (that’s where the Engineers hang out) in New Delhi, and began to discuss.
The officers were Brigadier Shiv Dial Singh (the Brigadier, Engineer Staff), Brigadier Apar Singh (the Deputy Director, Signals) and Lieutenant-Colonel RS Seth (the Officiating Deputy Director, Artillery). And their terms of discussion were : ‘A proposal to further foster and develop the traditional association between the Artillery, Engineers and Signals by having a get-together for their officers and their wives on the lines of a sports meet to be held at least once a year’.
The proposal was discussed and agreed to in two minutes flat. The representatives of the three Corps then called for tea and settled down to a game of rummy, thereby inaugurating what was in fact the very first Triangular Meet, if rummy can be considered to be a sporting event.50
Actually, the proposal had already been formally considered a month earlier by the top brass of the three Corps. During the Corps Committee Meeting held on 19-20 March 1959, the SO-in-C read out a letter from the E-in-C’s Branch which proposed that to foster and further strengthen the historic association and friendship between Artillery, Engineers and Signal, sports meetings in Cricket, Tennis and Squash be held annually in rotation at Deolali, Mhow and Kirkee. The teams were to be raised from officers volunteering for a particular sport and no organized and lengthy training was envisaged. The main idea was to have a social ‘get-together’. The Corps acting as the host would look after the accommodation and feeding of the visiting teams. Other expenses would be met by the respective teams from their own resources. The Chief of the Army Staff had been apprised of the proposal and had also been requested for some financial assistance from his funds. The Committee examined the proposal from all angles but was not fully convinced of the real value of the scheme in view of the expenses involved. However, it approved of a trial for games like Tennis and Squash.
The 1st Triangular Sports Meet was hosted by the Corps of Engineers at CME, Kirkee in 1960, when only Tennis and Squash were played. Golf was introduced during the 2nd Meet at held Deolali in 1961. The 3rd Meet was hosted by the Corps of Signals at Mhow in February 1962. Thereafter, it became a regular feature and the Triangular Sports Meet was held in rotation at Kirkee, Deolali and Mhow. The expenditure in connection with the Meet held at Mhow was initially paid from the Signals Sports Fund. Subsequently, the Corps Committee decided that it should be debited to the Headquarters Mess Fund.
During the 1st Triangular Sports Meet which commenced at Kirkee on 25 January 1960, the Corps of Signals was represented by Lieutenant-Colonel and Mrs. R.N.R. Sawhny, Major H.L. Pandit, Captains Kalyan Singh, B.P. Murgai, R.P. Singh and S.C. Choudhuri and Lieutenants Pran Nath and Nagrajan. The ‘sparrows’ were well and truly beaten in all matches except one –Sawhny won his tennis singles match against a Gunner. In squash, the Sappers played the current National champion, the runner-up for the National title, the Southern Command champion and a Services semi-finalist and won all their matches. The social events were plentiful, leading the Signallers and Gunners to suspect that it was planned to tire them out before the games! The night before the first day of the sports programme the visitors attended the Republic Day Dance at the Rajendra Sinhji Institute in Poona. The remaining days were filled up by a visit to the National Defence Academy at Kharakvasla, a variety entertainment by the CME music circle, a cinema show at the CME open air theatre, a ride on the “Puffing John” (the CME circular railway), a rowing meet on the Mula Rivera and a supper and dance at the Officers’ Mess of the Bengal Engineer Group. On 28 January, the visitors joined the Corps of Engineers in celebrating their Corps Day, the major event being the Corps of Engineers’ Dinner. 51
The 3rd Triangular Meet was held at Mhow from 13-15 February 1962. This being the first Meet being hosted by Signals, which also coincided with the Corps Day, the functions were planned with meticulous care. The SO-in-C, Major General R.N. Batra was also a participant. In tennis, the Corps was represented by Major and Mrs. J.C. Dhamija, and Captains S.S. Das, N. Kovoor and P.V. Banker. In tennis, Engineers stood first, Signals second and Artillery third. The Signals golf team comprised Major General R.N. Batra, Brigadier R.Z. Kabraji, Major M.S. Sodhi, and Captains S.C. Roy and S.C. Khurana. This event was also won by Sappers, with Gunners being runners up and Signals standing third. The squash matches were conducted at the recently renovated Akehurst Squash Court. The Signals team consisted of Majors S. Ghosh and R.A. Rajan, and Captain B.P. Murgai. In this game, Gunners came first, beating the Sappers, who had to be content with second place. Signals again took third place. There were a large number of social and cultural events. These included an evening party at Berchha on 13 February, a DR Display followed by band performance and Beating Retreat by the Pipes and Drums, culminating in a gala dance at the Central India Club on 14 February and the Corps Dinner on 15 February.52
The 6th Triangular Meet was held at Mhow from 4-6 October 1967, just after the College Anniversary on 1 October. Lieutenant General A.C. Iyappa, now the Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Electronics Ltd., flew down from Bangalore to participate in the event. The SO-in-C, Major General I.D. Verma also came down from Delhi to play for the Corps. The Signals team in golf comprised General Iyappa, Lieutenant-Colonel Phalwant Singh, and Majors V. Khanna and O.L. Matta. When the overall results came in, there was a tie between Artillery and Engineers for the first position. However, the Gunners were announced the winners based on their score for the first nine holes. In tennis, the Corps was represented by General Verma, Major and Mrs. Inderjit Singh and Major N. Kovoor. The event was won by the Sappers, with the Gunners coming in second. The squash team of Signals consisted of Captain C. Dalal and Lieutenants Bansal and B.N. Khera. The Sappers and Gunners had several Services players and vied for the top honours. Finally, Engineers carried the day, with Artillery a close second. As in the previous meet held at Mhow, there were several social functions, including a dance at the Central India Club, a four act play staged by the College dramatic club, an exhibition football match, a DR display, a band display and the social in the headquarters mess. The dinner was followed by a suckling barbecue at 2 a.m. and a sit down breakfast of eggs and ham at 4 a.m., and that too because the SO-in-C had to catch his train from Ratlam.53
The 9th Triangular Meet, the third time when Signals played host, was held in Mhow in October 1970. It proved to be third time lucky for the Corps, which won two of the three tournaments. The tennis team comprised Brigadier J.V. Pinto, Major S.S. Das, Major and Mrs. Inderjit Singh and Lieutenant A.J.S. Bhalla. Signals made a clean sweep, beating both Engineers and Artillery in all matches. The Engineers came in second and Artillery was third. The Signals golf team had Brigadier K.D. Bhargava, Colonel Y.S. Desai, Lieutenant-Colonel S.N. Vishawanath and Major V. Khanna. In the overall results Signals and Artillery tied for first place, but Signals were declared winners based on their victory in the medal round. In squash, the Corps was represented by Major B.P. Murgai, Captain S.K. Jain and Second-Lieutenant Girdhar. The Engineers team had the current National Champion, Major K.S. Jain, while the Artillery team had the current Services Champion, Captain V.K. Paul. The final placing was – Gunners, Sappers, and Signals. The social events included a get-to-know supper at the Headquarters mess, a diner dance at DSOI, (the erstwhile Central India Club) and a play Boeing Boeing staged by the Amateur Dramatic Society.54
W.I.A.A. Reliability Trials
The Western India Automobile Association (W.I.A.A.) began holding Reliability Trials, which later came to be known as Motor or Car Rallies, soon after Independence. The trials were a test of road worthiness of motor vehicles under touring conditions normally available in India. It was based on similar competitions in Europe, such as the Monte Carlo Rally and the R.A.C. Rally. The competition was not a speed race but a test of the ability to maintain a prescribed speed over different sections of the route. Competitors were started off at intervals of about five minutes and scheduled times of arrival at check points were laid down. Arrivals and departures at check points earlier or later than one minute were penalised by one point for each minute. Time lost or gained in one section could not be made up or adjusted in the subsequent sections. (The format remained the same when the author was a member of the Signals team in the Himalayan Rally from 1982-84, except that early arrival was penalized by ten points for every minute)!
The Indian Army took part in the event for the first time during the 6th Reliability Trial held in 1959, with one team of staff cars and two teams of motor cycles, the latter in the 350 c.c. class. One of the motor cycle teams was entered by Southern Command Signal Regiment and the other by Bombay Sub Area, which included Signals personnel from 2 Company Southern Command Signal Regiment and 502 Coastal Battery Signals Section (TA).
The route covered a distance of 314 miles, starting from the National Sports Club in Bombay and passing through Thana, Igatpuri, Nasik and Bhiwandi, finishing at Thana. The first section between Bombay and Peint (314 miles) was to be completed in 3 hours 54 minutes; the second section in the ghats between Peint and Ponda (36 miles) was to be covered in 3 hours 36 minutes; the third section between Ponda and Pardi (17 miles) was to be done in 34 minutes; and the final stretch from Pardi to Thana (114 miles) was to be completed in 3 hours 15 minutes. The Southern Command Signal Regiment team was extremely unlucky, all three drivers suffering breakdowns, one just six miles short of the finish. The Bombay Sub Area team fared much better, all three entries finishing in good time, Signalman Abdul Khader of 502 Coastal Battery Signal Section (TA) on a Matchless was adjudged the best in 350 c.c. class and awarded a handsome trophy. Signalman K.B. Rangaih of 2 Company Southern Command Signal Regiment was awarded a certificate of good performance. Thanks to these two signallers, Bombay Sub Area won the trophy for the best motor cycle team. 55
The 7th Reliability Trial held at Poona on 26 November 1960 had 23 cars and 24 motor cycles taking part. The Army entered one team of three cars and four teams of three motor cycles each in the 251-350 cc. class. Two motor cycle teams of the STC took part, representing the Corps of Signals. On team was entered by Bombay Sub Area from signal units in Bombay and one by Southern Command Signal Regiment. The course for the event covered 293 miles, starting from the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Poona to Lonand, Satara, Koyna Nagar, Poladpur, Mahableshwar and Wai, finishing at the AFMC after going over a driving test circuit at the Golibar Maidan. The performance of the Signals teams was much better than in the previous year. Out of 12 despatch riders who started, 11 completed the course, including Signalman P.L. Veluswamy who sustained injuries when his motor cycle hit a boulder. In spite of injuries to his face and arms he decided to continue after first aid. Naik Ram Nath won the first prize in 251-350 cc. class as well as the prizes for the best rider and best motor cycle. The Corps B Team from STC comprising Havildars Dev Raj and Perumal and Naik Isaiah won the prize for the best motor cycle team. 56
Buoyed by the success in the W.I.A.A. Trials, it was decided to hold similar trials at the STC, to select the best despatch riders in the Corps and train them. In February 1961 five teams – one each from Southern, Western and Eastern Commands, Army HQ and STC - took part in the motor cycle trials at Jubbulpore. Motor cycles were provided by the STC, after drawing lots. Competitors were thereafter responsible for the maintenance of their machines and were allowed to practice on the actual route. The trials commenced on 14 February after an inspection of the motor cycles by an EME team. The first event was a flexibility test, in which riders had to drive in slow and fast time, stopping at the designated stop without using the brake or clutch. This was followed by a 23 kilometre course which included two timed sections, three observed sections and one map reading section. The final event was the cross country course of 8 kilometres which consisted of stony ground, loose sand, mud and rock, with steep ascents and descents. The course was to be completed in 20 minutes. When the final results were tallied, the STC team consisting of Havildar D.G.S. Sandhu, Naik Ram Nath and Lance Naik Chanda Singh came first. The first three places in individual rankings went to Lance Naik Chanda Singh, Naik Ram Nath and Lance Naik Manohar Singh. 57
The 8th W.I.A.A. Reliability Trials were held at Bombay on 9 December 1961. Four teams from Signals took part, two from the STC and two from Southern Command Signal Regiment The distance of the course was 263 miles, covering Bombay- Thana- Bhiwandi – Vada- Kasa- Jawahar - Mokhada– Jarwar Badrukh – Trimbak – Nasik – Ghoti – Igatpuri Shahpur – Thana. Company Havildar Major Dev Raj of STC won the title of best motorcyclist, winning the individual championship for himself and the Noble Shield for his motor cycle. The title for the best team performance was won by the STC A team, led by Company Havildar Major D. Govindaswamy Naidu. 58.
For some reason, the Corps did not enter a team in the W.I.A.A. Trials for the next six years. In the 11th W.I.A.A. Trials held at Bombay in 1967, a total of 29 motor cars and 17 motor cycles took part. Southern Command entered three unit teams each of three despatch riders in both individual and team events in the 151-350 cc. class. The teams were drawn from Southern Command Signal Regiment, 2 STC and Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment. The course was 410 miles, covering Bombay (Flora Fountain), Panvel, Kashedi, Khed, Rajapur, Savantwadi, Dodamarg, Bicholim, Ponda, Old Goa and Panjim. Of the nine despatch riders fielded by the Corps, eight reached the finish point in the order in which they had started. Naik Popat Deshmukh of Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment won the first prize in the 251-350 cc. class and the Ruperal Trophy and cup for the best rider amongst all classes. The trophy for the best motor cycle team was won by Southern Command Signal regiment, comprising Havildar P.K.P Kamet, Naik V.N. Chellapan and Naik S. Swamynathan. 59
The Trials in 1968 were conducted at Ahmedabad by the Gujarat Branch of the W.I.A.A. This was the first part of the Trials, the second being planned later in the year at Nagpur. It was done at short notice and four teams were hurriedly organised and sent to Ahmedabad. Two teams were drawn from the Corps DR Display Team which was then performing at Poona, and the other two were from the Southern Command Signal Regiment and Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment. The route selected was Ahmedabad- Baroda- Narbada Bridge – Kodara and back to Ahmedabad. The distance was about 350 miles, and 30 cars and 28 motor cycles took part. Lance Naik Raghbir Singh of 1 STC won the Ruparel trophy and individual cup by W.I.A.A. for the best driver in the Trials. The Southern Command Signal Regiment team was awarded the special trophy for the best team performance. The team comprised the same members who had won the team event the previous year.60
The regimental institutions covered in this chapter reflect the character of the Corps, and the changes that have taken place in the 25 years since Independence. A few of these institutions, such as the Colonels Commandant, Corps Emblem & Motto, Reunion and DR Display Team existed even earlier. However, most of the institutions covered here came into being only after Independence, when the Corps developed its distinct identity, quite different from that of Royal Signals on which it was heavily dependent earlier. However, the influence and contribution of Royals Signals, which provided the bulk of the officer cadre and a large number of men during the pre-Independence period, cannot be discounted. The Corps of Signals readily adopted the models already in existence in UK, modifying them to suit Indian conditions.
Sports and games have always formed an important part of daily routine in units. The participation of personnel in pursuits such as trekking, mountaineering etc was on an individual basis. Their development into regimental institutions reflects the growing influence of sports and adventure in fostering pride and esprit de corps. The teams that take part in these events act as flag bearers of the Corps, their successes and failures affecting all ranks. There is little doubt that the splendid performance of the hockey team and of stalwarts such as M.P. Ganesh added inches to the chest of every signalman in the Corps, when it was announced in the print media or on radio. It might also have helped in drawing recruits to the Corps, though data on this subject has never been collected.
ENDNOTES TO CHAPTER 12
This chapter is based mainly on the Minutes of the Corps of Signals Committee and its sub committees; records available in the Corps Museum; articles in The Signalman; and inputs from veterans. Specific references are given below:-
1. Minutes of the 12th Corps of Signals Committee Meeting, 19-20 March 1959.
2. Minutes of the 18th Corps of Signals Committee Meeting, 8-11 February 1967.
3. Minutes of the 23rd Corps of Signals Committee Meeting, 22 April 1972.
4. Minutes of the 3rd Meeting of the Indian Signals Committee (1st Meeting of the Newly reconstituted Committee), 1-2 April 1948.
5. Minutes of the 15th Corps of Signals Committee Meeting, 14 & 17 February 1964.
6. Article ‘Brigadier T. Barreto’, The Signalman, April, 1966.
7. School of Signal letter No 0102009 HQ of dated 28 June 1963.
8. Army HQ Letter No 04391/15/Sigs Adm dated 7 August 1963.
9. School of Signals Letter No TB/CC/101 dated 13 August 1963.
10. Army HQ Letter NO. 34770/GS/Sigs Adm dated 21 October 1948.
11. Corps of Signal Liaison Notes No 8 of 23 December 1948 & No 9 of 28 February 1949.
12. Minutes of the 1st Indian Signal Corps Committee Meeting, 10 September 1946.
13. Editorial, The Signalman, July 1950.
14. Article ‘Re-Union- Corps of Signals 1950’, The Signalman, July 1950.
15. Article ‘Second Post-War Reunion- Corps of Signals’, Reunion Supplement, 1954.
16. Col I. D. Verma, ‘The Editor’s Impressions’, The Signalman, April 1958
17. Article ‘The Signalman goes to the Reunion’, The Signalman, April, 1961
18. Article ‘Fifth Corps of Signals Reunion’, The Signalman, April, 1965
19. Article ‘The Signalman Goes to the Reunion’, The Signalman, April, 1970
20. GHQ Letter No. 0311/4/Sigs 3 dated 10 June 1947
21. Article ‘The Indian Signals War Memorial’, The Signalman, April 1961.
22. Article ‘The Corps Museum’, The Signalman, April 1961.
23. Army HQ Letter No. 50349/GS/Sigs 5 dated 14 September 1951.
24. Article ‘The Corps Museum,’, The Signalman, April 1961
25. Minutes of the 2nd Indian Signal Corps Committee Meeting, 15 May 1947
26. School of Signals, Mhow, DO Letter No. 0160049 dated 12 June 1954.
27. Minutes of the 11th Signals Committee Meeting, 14 February 1958.
28. Minutes of the 15th Corps of Signals Committee Meeting, 14 & 17 February 1964
29. Annual Report on the Corps of Signals Headquarters Mess for the year 1964-1965, dated 9 February 1965
30. Appendix A to Army HQ Letter No 37082/HQM/Sigs Adm dated 7 May 1965
31. Minutes of the 1st Indian Signals Committee Meeting, 1-2 April 1948
32. Minutes of the 2nd Indian Signals Committee Meeting, 24-26 May 1949
33. Corps of Indian Signals Bulletin, Issue No 1, September 1949
34. Army HQ Letter No. 00602/A/Sigs Adm dated 23 March 1965
35. School of Signals Letter No. CH/101 dated 2 April 1965
36. Army HQ Letter No. 00602/A/Sigs Adm dated 26 April 1965
37. School of Signals Letter No. CH/GEN/101 dated 30 April 1965
38. Minutes of the 17th Signals Committee Meeting, 1-4 March 1966.
39. Minutes of the 14th Corps Committee Meeting, 16-17 March 1962.
40. STC Jubbulpore DO No HQ 1036/A/36 dated 1 December 1961.
41. HQ Western Command Letter No. TB/CC/101 dated 9 August 1962.
42. Commandant MCTE DO Letter No TB/CC/101 dated 7 July 1964
43. Minutes of the 6th Signals Committee Meeting, 4-5 March 1953.
44. Corps Committee Directive No. 5 dated of 6 February 1964.
45. CSO Southern Command Letter No PERS/SIGS/2 dated 18 February 1960
46. CSO Southern Command Letter No. 210126/ SIGS 4 dated 2 September 1962
47. School of Signals Letter No. TB/CC.101 dated 8 July 1964.
48. HQ Western Command Letter No. 2601/2/SIGS dated 12 October 1962.
49. Corps Committee Directive No. 5 dated 6 February 1964.
50. Major H.A. Marley, ‘How It All Began’, The Signalman, January 1967.
51. Article ‘The First Triangular Sports Meet’, The Signalman, April 1960.
52. Article ‘The Third Triangular Sports Meet: 1962’, The Signalman, April 1962
53. Major Leslie Herbert, ‘The Sixth Triangular Meet:1967’, The Signalman, January 1968.
54. Article ‘Ninth Triangular Sports Meet’, The Signalman, January 1971.
55. Article ‘The Sixth W.I.A.A Reliability Trial-1959’, The Signalman, October 1959.
56. Article ‘Seventh Western India Automobile Association Reliability Trials-1960’, The Signalman, January 1961.
57. Major W.V. Ferris, ‘Motor Cycle Trials’, The Signalman, July 1961.
58. Article ‘The Eighth W.I.A.A Reliability Trials-1961’, The Signalman, April, 1962
59. Article ‘Signals in Eleventh WIAA Reliability Trials, The Signalman, October, 1967
60. Article ‘W.I.A.A Reliability Trials-1968’, The Signalman, October 1968.