Mashkoh : Kargil as I Saw It – Capture of Pimple – 2
Brig U S Bawa, Vr C
I had lost one officer (Captain Anuj Nayyar), one junior commissioned officer (Subedar Harphool Singh) and 34 soldiers in the battle so far. I was extremely sad at the loss. But I could not let my emotions affect my troop’s morale. So, I controlled myself and tried to show the courage to brave the situation.
Though we had captured Whaleback and Pimple – 1, we still had a tough nut to crack on Pimple 2. The fourth sangar. The fighting for the destruction of the fourth sangar on Pimple 2 continued the next day 07 Jul.
Pimple 2 was kept engaged by battalion firebase, Pimple 1 and Whaleback from three different directions and it was ensured that the sangar did not receive any reinforcements. A large amount of Bofors fire in a direct firing role was employed to destroy that sangar.
Also, faggot missiles were fired from the battalion firebase on that sangar. At 1600 hours, the firebase commander, Major Padam, informed me that the fourth sangar had been neutralised by one of our missiles hit on the loophole of that sangar. There was no firing observed from that sangar, and it appeared that the sangar had been silenced effectively.
Major Deepak Rampal confirmed similar information about the sangar being silent. Half an hour later, CO 13 Jak Rif called me up informing me that he has destroyed the fourth sangar with a fagot missile. Each one was trying to take credit for silencing the sangar. Whoever demolished that sangar was not crucial for me, but that it has been neutralised mattered to me the most.
Noticing that my unit had suffered heavy casualties, my brigade commander offered me one company of 2 Naga regiment, (which was to be employed for phase 2 of brigade attack) for the capture of the balance of Pimple 2. But I refused to accept any company from another battalion. I told my commander, “sir capture of Pimple Complex was the task given to my battalion, and I will complete the task with my troops only. I will ask for additional troops only when I have exhausted all my options. Well, I thank you for your concern”.
As usual, all our attacks commenced after the last light and finished at first light. That is the standard teaching in Junior Command Course also. The enemy even knew it and was expecting the assault accordingly. I was not sure whether the fourth sangar had been actually silenced or still some enemy troops were there on Pimple 2 or hiding on the reverse slope. According to my assessment, some enemy troops were still holding on to the objective, maybe in reverse slope positions to escape our deadly fire. It was 07 Jul evening, and I decided not to attack Pimple 2 on that night but attack it simultaneously from two different directions on daylight 08 Jul. But I needed my commander’s consent for undertaking a daylight attack. Initially, my commander was reluctant to allow me to take that risk, but my persuasion finally worked, and he allowed me to do so. My logic was that the enemy was expecting an attack on 07/08 night and when he finds that he has not been attacked and we have pulled back; he might think that we have exhausted ourselves and might become complacent. And if we attack him when he is unworried, he would be surprised! Also, it was the fourth day of the attack, and the enemy had not been given a chance to rest so far. Though to some of you, it may seem foolhardy and risky, and some may feel that it was a bold decision. But in war, one has to take calculated risks to succeed. You have to think ‘out of the box’.
After that, close observation of the objective area of Pimple 2 was maintained throughout the night with the help of PNVD and MIRA night sight from three different directions. No move of enemy troops was observed during the night 07/08 Jul 99. Throughout the night of 07/08 Jul, the objective was intermittently engaged by own small arms fire from Pimple 1, Whaleback and battalion firebase. At 0800 hours, on 08 Jul, the move of three to four enemy troops was seen from top sangar towards north-west spur. Two of those were effectively engaged by Pimple 1 and killed on the spot, while they were trying to remove an automatic grenade launcher (AGL).
I pulled my troops from Pimple 2 due to safety reasons and pounded it hard with artillery before the final assault. A frontal attack was the only option. For more than one hour before the attack, as many as 20 artillery guns pounded the objective incessantly. At about 1100 hours on 08 Jul 99, as soon as the artillery fire was lifted, one platoon each from A company, under Major RK Singh and D company under Maj Deepak Rampal respectively closed in on to the objective of Pimple 2 from two different directions and launched an attack on Pimple 2. The enemy was shell shocked. Two enemy troops who were occupying reverse slope to take cover were seen running down the north-west spur. Both the platoons reached the top simultaneously. Pimple 2 collapsed. We saw the enemy running for his life, leaving his dead soldiers and weapons behind. My victorious Jats were on top of Pimple 2 with their war cry “JAT BALWAN JAI BHAGWAN’ and the enemy was seen running for his life, leaving the post vacant. The enemy put up no worthwhile fight. The valiant Jats had captured the objective finally.
My joy in this success was remarkable. I lost no time in calling my GOC and the colonel of the regiment, to tell them that I was on Pimple 2. I think that was the happiest moment of my life. My trust reposed on my troops was correct. On the evening of 8 Jul 1999, the tricolour was flying on top of Pimple Complex. It was a sight to marvel! The troops had a sense of pride and satisfaction after having won such a hard-fought battle, but deep down, they cried silently for their comrades who would never go back home to see their loved ones.
The battalion had performed exceedingly well and had accomplished the task given to them to the fullest. Lives were sacrificed, limbs were lost and lots of blood was shed, but every soldier ensured that he completed the task assigned to him without questioning his superiors. Young officers barely out of the Indian Military Academy had led the attacks from the front and made sure that they fought shoulder to shoulder with their men.
To know more about the war read the book MASHKOH: KARGIL AS I SAW IT.