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JANUARY 2002 Contents
Asian Art -
at Every Alien Door'
– Seven years of comradeship turns into lifelong association of Officers from UK, India and Pakistan.
by Roopa Bakshi
Jullundur Brigade is a 90-year-old association of ‘blood brothers in arms’ – as described by Capt (Retd) R Bonner. The ‘brothers’ had lived together in peacetime, while stationed in the city of Jullundur in Punjab (India), from 1911-1914, and had fought together in the Great War 1914-1918. The Jullundur Brigade was a part of the Lahore Division of the Indian Army and comprised the 1st Manchesters, 47th Sikhs, and 59th (Scinde) Rifles Frontier Force. The three Regiments are now – 1st Battalion The Kings Regiment of the British Army, 5th Battalion The Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army, and the 1st Battalion (Scinde) the Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army. For a couple of days every two or three years, boundaries are forgotten, and Officers from all three Regiments share a memorable time in honour of the close association of the past. The story of how a seven-year comradeship turned into a lifelong association is almost a contemporary Buddhist parable – with a strong message.
The Manchester Regiment first arrived in India in 1834 in Fort George, Madras. In 1911, they were grouped together with 47th Sikhs and 59th Frontier Force to form the 8th (Jullundur) Brigade of the 3rd (Lahore) Division. The Brigade was based in Jullundur, Punjab, where they all stayed together. The peaceful pre-War years provided them with enough leisure time to play football and cricket against each other, and participate in other activities such as drama clubs, and concerts. When war broke out in 1914 – they sailed out to France. Among the many ships used to ship the Lahore Division to Europe was the ‘City of Manchester’. The Brigade fought and took part in the severe battles of Ypres, Neuve Chapelle, 2nd Battle of Ypres, Festubert and The Loos offensive - and distinguished themselves. The Brigade returned to India in 1918.
"1919 brought an end to their period of association but the three had established a very close relationship between them – they were blood brothers in arms. They had these beautiful silver centre pieces made - models of three soldiers standing at the foot of a tower – a Sikh, a Frontier Force soldier and a British soldier of the Manchester Regiment and each Regiment was presented one. The Sikhs and the Manchesters gave one to the Frontier Force, the Frontier Force and the Manchesters gave one to the Sikhs, and the Sikhs and the Frontier Force gave one to the Manchesters. They are identical and they are all in the Officers’ mess" explained Capt (Retd) R Bonner.
The 1st Manchesters returned to England and, much later, with the independence and partition of India in 1947, the existing affiliations lapsed – but not for too long. The blood brothers were brought together 40 years later by the efforts of one officer – Maj Gen Mohinder Singh Chopra. In 1988 Maj. Gen Chopra, the most senior pre-partition Frontier Force officer of the Indian sub-continent, was invited by his paltan, the 1st Battalion Frontier Force Regiment to visit them at Bahawalpur, Pakistan. At the formal dinner that took place, the 59th’s Jullundur Brigade trophy, a reminder of the past togetherness, was displayed and this inspired Maj Gen Chopra to bring the three affiliated Regiments back together again. The old affiliations were re-established with the formal approval of HM the Queen and all the three Governments.
In 1989, 75 years after the Brigade went into action in France, the Association was re-formed and a historic reunion of the respective Colonels of the Regiments and their officers took place in Manchester. There, they agreed that regular liaison should take place between the members – both serving and retired – of each Regiment. They also made a special visit to Neuve Chapelle in France, where the Jullundur Brigade had distinguished itself in 1914 and 1915. The historic Jullundur Weekend in Manchester had the enthusiastic presence of Maj Gen Mohinder Singh Chopra (a previous Colonel of Frontier Force Regiment), Pushpinder Singh Chopra and Gobinder Singh Chopra (sons of Maj Gen Mohinder Singh Chopra) from India; and Lt Gen Ahmad Kamal (Deputy Chief of Staff Pakistan Army and Colonel of the Frontier Force Regiment. Brigadier Fazle Qadir (Commander, The Frontier Force Training Centre), Lt Col Sadaqat Ali Shah (Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Frontier Force Regiment), Capt Nadir Khan (Adjutant, 1st Battalion Frontier Force Regiment, and Subedar Major Mohammad Bashir (1st battalion Frontier Force Regiment) from Pakistan.
Since 1989, members have met regularly, both in the Indian sub-continent and in the UK. In 1993, at the presentation of new colours to the 1st Battalion, the King’s Regiment by the King’s Colonel-in-Chief HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the Colonels of the other affiliated Regiments were present at the celebrations.
The July 1998 Reunion of the Jullundur Brigade in Warrington was in continuation of the tradition established by the Association and had amongst its guests – Maj Gen Anant Singh Pathania MVC, MC. Interestingly, his wife’s uncle Subedar Prabhat Chand took command of the 59th Rifles at Neuve Chapelle and led it in battle when all the British officers had been killed and wounded. Subedar Prabhat Chand became the first MC (Military Cross) of the Indian Army. Other guests were Pushpinder Singh Chopra ( son of Late Maj Gen Mohinder Singh Chopra), Maj Gen Khanna, and Brigadier Mahmood.
In May 2001 members of the Association together with six serving soldiers from 1st Battalion The King’s Regiment were invited to India to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Sikh Regiment. A reunion of one form or another takes place every 2 or 3 years.
Many of the officers in both Sikh regiment and the Frontier Force had their fathers in the Regiment as well. According to Capt (Retd) Bonner, when they meet each other they normally say "My father sends his very best wishes to you" and they all know each other very well and they are friends. Unfortunately, they have to fight each other from time to time but they also have a very strong, happy relationship."
At present Maj Gen (Retd) Peter Davies is the President of the Jullundur Brigade Association and its Vice Presidents are Maj Gen (Retd) Prem Khanna MVC, and Maj Gen (Retd) Mohammad Akram.
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