ON 71ST INDEPENDENCE DAY IDF RECALLS THE CONTRIBUTION BY FORGETTEN ROYAL INDIAN NAVY BRITS-INDIANS-ANGLOS & PARSEES FOR INDIA’S WHITE GUARD PAST & PRESENT —THEY STRUCTURED & TRAINED WHAT IS THE FINE INDIAN NAVY TODAY —-PART ONE

Ranjit B Rai inputs Jai Misra

Former PM Vajpayee a leader who respected the military, attend Navy Days is no more and IDF will do a post.

This IDF post holds an apology for poor editing at times from IDF’s I Pad, but it’s what comes out of one’s bonnet. It is left to Sub Editors, which IDF does not have.

After 71 years of neglect of infrastructure the monsoon is playing havoc washing away roads especially in Kerala where Navy is executing heroic recues. When one travels, one sees how India is falling behind ASEAN and China, as inequality also has risen but 200 mill Indians are propelling India big, as the world’s biggest consumer market.

In such conditions poorer Indians look to PM Modi to become India’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR–1940) who gave USA Social Security and Health care and made USA rich and strong. It can happen with leadership, with Demonet, GST, Adhaar and 106 schemes in PMO and now Modi care!

Regrettably most like Modi are born after 1947 so military history especially about the British part of the Navy is not recalled or researched as 15,000 Navy mutinied in 1946, and records destroyed and research is not Indians’ forte but PM Vajpayee lived pre and post Partition India, enjoyed a tot, made India go nuclear and dearly loved a woman too as Kingshuk Nag his biographer writes ! He lived history……… RIP!

IDF listened to PM’s 82 minute (Election??) spiel from the Red Fort. Children from 5.30 am, endured the stifling heat, and even PM, wiped his face often with gulps, but he did unfold India’s progress many times, conveying he needs another term to complete his dream. In golf we say, the Mulligan (second) shot, is always better, so Modi is India’s only Mulligan

May be under another BJP the War Memorial at India Gate, National Defence University (NDU) in Gurgaon, NFU and OROP and the Theatre Commands debate that IAF, Radm Monty Khanna and now ACM Krishnaswamy have alluded to and a CDS will move. The defence budget is inaequate — Rafale and S-400 will eat in, and no off sets have succeeded. No new Naval ship can do without a helicopter it is said, so Navy, like India Jugads! This needs correction.

PM’s speech lacked military issues or needs, save permanent commissions for women. Pakistan, China or Indo–Pacific were absent or what is expected by India’s men in white, or a word on foreign policy. Vajpayee’s sensible policy Kashmiryat is back. Surprisingly Army Chief knows AFSPA is in court by 300 uniformed and IDF wonders how, without waiting for statutory rules.

IDF’s thought therefore raced back to the ole Navy’s forgotten men who 70 years set the edifice of the current small potent Navy. Most fought in WW2, trained with the Royal Navy and as young they held top posts. 700 officers and over 3,000 sailors spent months in Britain in shipyards and dockyards and officers did specialist ND G TAS & C courses between 1948-1960 to give Navy a foundation which was made stronger by the lot who went to the Soviet Union and lived in harsh conditions (Borsch, hard Kleb bread, rice and Vodka), but the only consolation was some did meet pretty damsels.

Some officers while abroad married locals, but by 1970s were not trusted to head sensitive posts. Most Anglos left for Australia, UK and Canada, but only after laying the foundation for our Navy, with an RN pedigree. Most Muslims in the Navy opted for Pakistan but remained friends for long, as both Navies’ only fought each other in the 1971 war.

From 1948 RN’s Vice Admiral William Parry, John Hall, Admiral Sir Charles Pizey and Vadm Sir Stephen Carlill, (the latter took on Indian Flag Lts) headed the Navy. Indian Officers went to UK for training at Dartmouth and served in the cruiser HMS Devonshire, aircraft carriers like Indefatigable and destroyers like Bleasdale. They were imbibed with a will to make Indian Navy like the Royal Navy and today there are results to see.

In 1934 two years after RIN was formed, six trailblazers were sent to UK –Mukkerji and Daya Shankar became Engineers, HMS Choudhary later CNS Pak Navy, Soman (No 2 batch Dufferin), Charavarty and Bose did India proud. Soman topped his batch and in war Cdr SG Karmarkar (No 1 batch Dufferin) was the senior most, first RINVR officer to command RN officers and ratings while in command of HMIS Cauvery.

All Dufferin entrants had merchant navy service including Soman, but as Karmarkar was RINVR he was over taken by others who were RIN, while both Katari (No 1 Dufferin 1st batch) with Hoogly Pilot Service and Nanda with Karachi Port Trust Service were given seniorities for their former service. Names of others will be in next post. As young officers under daring Captains they had confidence and held top jobs in planning and operations in NHQ under confident RN Chiefs, and continued the legacy.

By Apr 1958 Vadm Ram Das Katari, Long TAS from UK, who commanded a destroyer and served in NHQ became the first Indian CNS, followed by salt horse Vadm Bhaskar Sadashiv Soman of Berbera fame who was landed ashore from HMIS Cornwallis to capture the Italian remnants and he rescued the British Indian Army soldiers. He was promoted Admiral, followed by Admirals Adhar Kumar Chatterji (TAS) a great ship handler also from Dufferin, and the 1971 war winner, Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda, on whose leadership volumes have been written; Sourendra Nath Kohli (Long C in UK), Jal Cursetji a UK Hydrographer, Ronald Lynsdale Pereira a UK trained Long G, Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani Empire test pilot; Oscar Stanley Dawson and Jayant Ganpat Nadkarni both long ND from HMS Dryad followed. All of them are no more and the last UK trained officer Nadkarni breathed his last recently. IDF salutes them.

The contribution by the Brits, Parsis and Anglo Indians, and those English speaking officers from all over India who were recruited by the Federal Services Selection Board to the beginnings of the present Indian Navy has been a lasting one. Many of these stalwarts stood out as much for their professionalism, colorful personalities and irrepressible sense of humour as for their professional and human qualities, that has propelled the Indian Navy with the strong structure filled today with traditions, that great services thrive on, but accent is on Hindutva.

Among the old timers were luminaries; sportsmen like Artkle who with Nandy Singh were in the National Hockey team of Dhyan Chand. Most Parsees were aristocratic and honest and fair to the extreme. Navy received a Tata, and a Godrej with a Jhola for a Family’s Day at sea and they mixed with juniors, and joked over Bara Khana.

The authors recall Commander D R Mehta, CO INS Tir and Lt Cdr Rustom Khusrobad Ghandhi CO INS Cauvery during training in the late 1950s when we joined as a callow cadets, fresh out of the NDA. Cdr Mehta had an upright gait with a mild paunch and smoked a cigar after dinner, incongruously known as Dolly among his contemporaries, and Ghandhi a flamboyant Flag Lt to Lord Louis Mountbatten as Russi, who deflated Albuquerque in Goa operations as CO INS Betwa. He missed being CNS as Mrs G a name sake preferred Dawson who looked after Rajiv and Sanjay as ADC to the President it is said, but Russi became Governor of Goa and CMD SCI.

But for Parsees fair complexions (who celebrate Nowroz on 17th Aug) as against the British ruddy white complexion, they could easily have been mistaken for RN officers, perfect in diction and master of the kind of dripping sarcasm which often achieved more results than any other form of admonishment would like recalling late Vajpayee.

Cdr Jal Curstjee a Hydrographer became CNS and today Indian Navy’s Hydrographic branch is rated high India’s strategic arm to befriend the many Island and coastal nations in the Indian Ocean to advantage.

The Periera brothers, John became an engineer and Ronald a Whale Island trained gunnery specialist. MR Schunker another UK trained gunnery specialist rose to Vice Admiral and headed the Indian Coast Guard in its formative years. IDF was lucky to serve under the two in INS Angre and then as DNO when they were CNS and VCNS, through Iran Iraq war battling oil shortages.

Adm Ronnie Periera is remembered as the Commandant of the NDA as a role model ………It is said he went to his ITO in Bangalore and explained he was offered black money for his house which he would never accept to buy a house in Conoor! They all were trained in UK and trained the next generation of the India’s Navy. So the structure is sound. Shan Na Varuna.

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