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Old 6th June 2010, 14:49   #46
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Wow!!! Awesome write up and fantastic period photographs. Felt like I was there and witnessing the different chapters as you narrate
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Old 6th June 2010, 20:10   #47
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Sudev has been telling me about your fascinating threads. He did not do enough justice - lovely tale told simply but fully.
Thanks to you for the appreciation and thanks to Sudev for the recommendation.

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Wow!!! Awesome write up and fantastic period photographs. Felt like I was there and witnessing the different chapters as you narrate
Thank you. Even I was reliving the moments as I wrote the chapters.
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Old 6th June 2010, 20:34   #48
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Default Chapter Seven: The Gun That Did Not Stop Spinning

The Bofors was like a rose. The rose (read gun) was a very desirable weapon for the Army but yet the thorns of the gun (read controversies) surrounding it had hurt quite a few in the political circles. But as we all know the Bofors proved its worth in the Kargil war.

As mentioned earlier my Dad’s unit was one of the first Artillery units in India to have the Bofors hence it was a matter of prestige for them. Being one of the first units there were also lots of visits from senior army officers and other visiting dignitaries to see the prowess of the gun. Hence lots of demo’s had to be organized by the unit for them.

The basic reason why the Bofors was inducted in the Army was beacuase of its “shoot and scoot” ability. In army parlance it means that the gun could shoot and on its own and move to a different location before the enemy radar could find it and they could fire back to destroy it. The Bofors like the other guns did not need to be towed at smaller distances. The movement of the gun was powered by a Mercedes engine in its belly. Apart from the “shoot and scoot” ability the gun was fully automated and required only a hand full of people to manage it.

Preparing for one such demo’s that was going to happen in a few days the gun commander was going through the drill. Other senior officers from the unit were also present at the site watch the final preparations of the drill. We were also allowed to watch the drill but from a distance. Part of the drill was to mock fire the gun, put the back wheels down, turn the gun 90 degrees and scoot. All this was controlled by the gun commander through the console in front of him.

Everything it seems was going to plan, till the gun commander turned around the gun 180 degrees for the scoot procedure. The gun did not stop at 180 degrees, it turned 360 degrees and in fact did not even stop there, and it kept turning. It was spinning round and round around its own axis at a good speed. All the kids watching the drill could not stop laughing. It was a scene straight out of the Tom & Jerry cartoons. The gun simply would stop spinning and it was also making the gun operator spin with it. What a funny sight it was for us.

But it was not fun for all, especially for the operator, I bet he had his heart in his mouth. Just imagine an out of control vehicle doing donuts for 10 minutes. I could see commotion amongst the officers. No one could go close to the gun, in the fear of being hit by the barrel. Lots of instructions were being yelled at the guy but to no avail, the gun continued spinning. This drama must have gone around for 10 minutes and finally somehow to everyone’s relief the operator managed to stop the gun. But the gun had to be taken out of use and was decommissioned.

Another Gun was organized for the demo and the demo went of well without any further incidents.

I do not know what went wrong with that gun. Parts failure, maybe? But now when I think of it and read other articles on the net I presume it was one of the 100 de-commissioned guns out of the 400 delivered. These guns were de-commissioned for want of spares. The government had stopped getting spares in wake of the controversies surrounding it. The ban on spares was only lifted after Bofors proved its metal in the Kargil war of 1999.


Pics of Bofors in action
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Three cheers to the Indian Army to operate in such harsh physical conditions and these conditions even made harsher mentally for the Army by the politicians for their own vested interests.
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Old 6th June 2010, 20:43   #49
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That was a wonderful description of the Bofors gun, and also the comedy!
Do they still use Tatra trucks to tow the Bofors gun or have they switched over to AL Stallions or some other tow truck?
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Old 7th June 2010, 00:53   #50
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deky, awsome memoir. I am sure you will visit these places in the upcoming trip and relive those moments.
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Old 7th June 2010, 07:29   #51
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Deky,

Rated the thread 5 stars. Great memories and fantastic narration. Looking forward to the rest.
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Old 7th June 2010, 11:50   #52
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That was a wonderful description of the Bofors gun, and also the comedy!
Do they still use Tatra trucks to tow the Bofors gun or have they switched over to AL Stallions or some other tow truck?
Hi Sir, As far as I remeber only Scania trucks were used to tow the Bofors. (Swedish truck Swedish gun) And as far as my knowledge about Tartra truck is that Tartra is only used to tow tanks in the Army ( Russian truck, russian tank).

I do not know the current situation of which truck tows the Bofors, as my dad has retired from the Army for the past 10 years. But I can find out about them this time I visit Kargil.

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deky, awsome memoir. I am sure you will visit these places in the upcoming trip and relive those moments.
I hope so too. Unluckily we are not going to Zanskar this time and we have just one evening in Kargil. Would love to make the most of the evening though.

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Deky,

Rated the thread 5 stars. Great memories and fantastic narration. Looking forward to the rest.
Thank you
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Old 7th June 2010, 12:47   #53
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Tartra is only used to tow tanks in the Army ( Russian truck, russian tank).
Slight Correction, TATRA is Czech and not Russian. Yes former Eastern Bloc / Yugoslavia / USSR allies
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Old 7th June 2010, 12:58   #54
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Slight Correction, TATRA is Czech and not Russian. Yes former Eastern Bloc / Yugoslavia / USSR allies
Thanks for the correction, Apologies about the mistake. This proves, information over the phone should not be believed, should re check the facts before posting
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Old 7th June 2010, 18:08   #55
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Thank you. When are you in Ladhak? We will be reaching Leh on the 23rd of July this year
regards
I will be in Leh from the 15-20th of July. I would have loved to hear what Ladakh was like 20 years ago from your perspective. But thanks to your thread, I am doing just that!

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Everything it seems was going to plan, till the gun commander turned around the gun 180 degrees for the scoot procedure. The gun did not stop at 180 degrees, it turned 360 degrees and in fact did not even stop there, and it kept turning. It was spinning round and round around its own axis at a good speed. All the kids watching the drill could not stop laughing. It was a scene straight out of the Tom & Jerry cartoons. The gun simply would stop spinning and it was also making the gun operator spin with it. What a funny sight it was for us.
So the gun that helped win a war and created so much controversy did have a funny side to it. That is good to know.
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Old 9th June 2010, 13:55   #56
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Default Chapter Eight: Being Inventive Leads To Trouble

Dad had already taken us to Dras once. The Kargil war had not taken place
till then, hence Dras apart from being one of the coldest habited places on Earth had no other significant importance for us.

But what actually made us to want to go back to Dras were the snow clad mountain slopes. The slopes had a gradual descent and on our first visit we had thoroughly enjoyed sliding down on them so we were after Dad to take us back there.

Sliding down the slopes on our back side was a different experience all together. We used to come running down the snowy slope to gain momentum and jump on the bum so we could slide down with as much speed as we could. The only issue was that since the snow was soft and there was a lot of friction between the body and the slope we used to invariably get stuck in the snow after a few meters. Not only did we have to restart the complete procedure of running and jumping again but out clothes also used to get completely wet. Those who have played in snow will agree with me that while you playing in the snow its all fun, but later when your clothes get wet and stick to your body then you curse yourself for having done that. So I thought of finding a solution to this problem for the next time we would visit these snow slopes.

I had seen a snow sledge on the television and thought that a sledge would be the best bet in such a situation. It would help me to gather speed on slopes and also prevent my clothes from getting wet. Sledges were not available with the army in Kargil, they were only available in Siachin so I knew I had to make one myself.

The best place to go looking for material for a sledge would be unit junkyard (just like junkyard wars on discovery) I found no wood just metal scrap around. I had to be inventive to make the sledge, so I chose a small stainless steel sheet with rough edges lying around. That would me my sledge, after all it would reduce friction and if I sat on it, it would also prevent me from getting wet. All I had to do was to curve the front part of the sheet so the snow could just slip down from its side. I was extremely thrilled with my invention, now I had an aerodynamic sledge ready for the next time.

The day had arrived when we were going sliding down the slopes again. I think the sliding was coupled with the Zoji la trip. The vehicles were ready; I just had to load my invention on the vehicle. As I was loading my sledge my Dad noticed me

Dad : what is this?
Me : a sledge to slide down.
Dad : So how do you plan to slide down, do you plan to sit on it?
Me(proudly) : Yes ofcourse, I will sit on it, I made it myself.
Dad: and what if you thrown off it and it hit you? Have you seen the rough edges? It could kill you or someone else.
(By now Dad was making it look as if I have made a Sudarshan Chakra, which was out to hurt anyone that came in its way.)
Me: Oh no Dad, I will be carefull not to fall.
Dad (I guess had had enough by now): Either you go in the Jonga or this thing goes, decide.
Me(sheepishly) : I go.

We proceed with my sledge unceremoniously discareded. I still think Dad should have allowed me to take it


But still even without it, we enjoyed the second round of sliding down the slopes.

Some pics of the slopes:
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Old 9th June 2010, 14:09   #57
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Im literally laughing at all your antics deky. Like the way you are recollecting them.
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Old 9th June 2010, 16:21   #58
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...We proceed with my sledge unceremoniously discareded. I still think Dad should have allowed me to take it ....
And you still carry chip on your shoulder!! LOL
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Old 9th June 2010, 17:15   #59
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Deky,

Chapter 3 say : My Love For Suru River And The Consequences what were the consequences?

Your story is about good ending...
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Old 9th June 2010, 19:49   #60
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And you still carry chip on your shoulder!! LOL
Hahaha, yeah I am sure the sledge would have worked out, I still feel it would have :P

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Deky,

Chapter 3 say : My Love For Suru River And The Consequences what were the consequences?

Your story is about good ending...
The consequence for my love for Suru was a picnic organised for the families of all the officers and not just a visit by me. Hence, the consequence was a happy ending!!!

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Im literally laughing at all your antics deky. Like the way you are recollecting them.
I spent a month there. I still think of some moments that happened during my stay there and it makes me smile. So I decided to pen them down.

Thanks for enjoying them
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