Military & Aerospace

The Gallant Dogra
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Issue Book Excerpt: The Sepoy | Date : 24 Mar , 2018

Chance threw me among the Dogras after a battle, and I learnt more of these north-country Rajputs than I had ever done in times of peace. Everybody knows how they left Rajputana before the Muhammadans conquered the country and so never bowed to the yoke, how they fought their way north, cut out their own little kingdoms, and have held the land they gained centuries ago by the sword.

I have travelled in the foothills where they live, both in Kangra and Jammu, and can appreciate what they owe to a proud origin and a poor soil. But one cannot hope to learn much of a people in a casual trek through their country. The Dogra is shy and does not unbosom himself to the stranger.

The Dogra is an inveterate smoker and will have his chillum out for a final puff two minutes before going into the attack.

Even with his British officer he is reserved, and one has to be a year or more with him in the regiment before he will talk freely of himself. But the confidence of the British officer in the Dogra is complete, and his affection for him equals that of the Gurkha officer for “the Gurkha.” “He is such a Sahib,” the subaltern explained. “You won’t find another class of sepoy in the Indian army who is quite such a Sahib as the Dogra.”

And here I must explain that I am only setting down what the subaltern told me, that I tapped him on the subject he loved best, and that I am making no invidious comparisons of my own. One seldom meets a good regimental officer who does not modify one’s relative estimate of the different fighting stocks of the Indian Army. Still one can discriminate. What the subaltern told me about the gallantry of the Dogras I saw afterwards repeated in “Orders” by the General of the Division. There were other regiments which received the same praise, and if I had fallen among these I should have heard the same tale.

The Dogras is an unobtrusive gallantry. He is no thruster. When a group of Indian officers are being introduced to an inspecting general or the ruler of a province, you will find it is the Dogra who hangs in the background.

“The first thing we knew of that trench,” the subaltern explained, “was when the Turkey-cock blazed off into us at three hundred yards. Thank heaven, our fellows were advance guard.”

I smiled at the boy’s delightful conceit in his own men. His company were sitting or lying down on the banks of a water-cut in the restful attitudes men fall into after strain. They were most of them young men, clean-shaven with neat moustaches, lightly built but compact and supple, of regular features, cast very much in a type. Some were smoking their chillums, the detached bowl of a huqah, which they hold in their two palms and draw in the smoke between the fingers through the aperture at the base.

The Dogra is an inveterate smoker and will have his chillum out for a final puff two minutes before going into the attack. I was struck by their scrupulous neatness. The morning had been the third day of a battle. The enemy had decamped at dawn, but in the two previous days half the regiment had fallen. Yet they seemed to have put in a toilet somehow. Their turbans, low in the crown with the shell-like twist in front peculiar to the Dogra, were as spick and span as on parade. They looked a cool crowd, and it was of their coolness under the most terrible fire that the subaltern spoke. One of them was readjusting his pagri by a mirror improvised out of a tin he had picked up in the mud, and was tying it in neat folds.

“The Dogra is a bit fussy about his personal appearance,” the subaltern explained. “He is a blood in his way. I have seen our fellows giving their turbans the correct twist when they are up to the neck in it during an advance.”

The Dogra has a splendid heart, but his physique is often weakened by poverty. It is extraordinary how they fill out when they come into the regiment.

“It was the devil of a position. The Turkey-cock lay doggo and held his fire. We didn’t see a sign of him until he popped off at us at three hundred yards. Their trenches had no parapets and were almost flush with the ground. In places they had built in ammunition boxes which they had loopholed and plastered over with mud. They had dotted the ground in front with little mounds which they used as range-marks, and they had every small depression which offered any shelter covered with their machine-guns.”

And he told me how the Dogras pressed on to the attack over this ground with a shout—not the “Ram Chandra ji ki jai” of route marches and manoeuvres, but with a “Ha, aha, aha, aha, aha,” a sound terrifying in volume, and probably the most breath-saving war cry there is.

A great many of the regiment were new to the game, mere boys of seventeen, and the old hands had piqued their vanity, reminding them that they had never been in battle and expressing a pious hope that they would stand their ground. The subaltern had to pull some of these striplings down who exposed themselves too recklessly. He pointed out to me one Teku Singh, “a top- hole fellow.” In the trench a machine-gun jammed, Teku Singh clambered out to adjust it. The subaltern called to him to keep his head down. “What does dying matter, Sahib?” he answered, echoing at Sheikh Saad the spirit of Chitore. “The only fit place for a Rajput to die is on the field of battle.” Teku Singh was, modestly smoking his chillum on the bund.

The Dogra’s is an unobtrusive gallantry. He is no thruster. He has not the Pathan’s devil-may-care air, nor the Sikh’s pleasing swagger. When a group of Indian officers are being introduced to an inspecting general or the ruler of a province, you will find it is the Dogra who hangs in the background. Yet he is intensely proud, conservative, aristocratic. The subaltern’s description of Teku Singh at home reminded me of the hero of the “Bride of Lammermuir,” that classic and lovable example of the impoverished aristocrat, whose material poverty is balanced by more honourable possessions.

There are families who do nothing but soldiering. There is no difficulty about recruits. “When a man goes home on leave,” the subaltern explained, “he brings back his pals.

I have seen the land the Dogra cultivates. It is mostly retrieved from a stony wilderness. His cornfields are often mere sockets in the rock over which a thin layer of earth has gathered. His family traditions forbid him to work on the soil and compel him to keep a servant, though he has been known to plough secretly by night. Under-fed at home, he will not accept service save in the army. There are families who do nothing but soldiering. There is no difficulty about recruits. “When a man goes home on leave,” the subaltern explained, “he brings back his pals. There is always a huge list of umedwars (candidates) to choose from. It is like waiting to get into the Travellers or the Senior Naval and Military.”

Most of the men in the regiment were Katoch Dogras from the Kangra district, the most fastidious of all. They won’t plough, and won’t eat unless their food is cooked by a Katoch or a Brahmin. There are families who will only join the cavalry. The plough they disdain, as they boast that the only true weapon of a Rajput is the sword; when driven by hunger and poverty to cultivate their land themselves, they do it secretly, taking out their oxen by night and returning before daylight. The head of the house has his talwar, or curved Indian sword with a two-and-a-half-foot blade. It is passed down as an heirloom from father to son, and is carried on campaigns by the Dogra officer. I have seen them in camp here, though they are not worn in the trenches.

The Dogra has a splendid heart, but his physique is often weakened by poverty. It is extraordinary how they fill out when they come into the regiment. It is the same, of course, with other sepoys, but there is more difference between the Dogra recruit and the seasoned man than in any other stock. The habit of thrift is so ingrained in them that it is difficult to prevent them stinting themselves in the regiment. The subaltern had a story of a recruit who left his rations behind on manoeuvres. It was the General himself who discovered the delinquent. Asked for an explanation the lad thought awhile and then answered bashfully, “Sahib, when I am fighting I do not require food.”

Every Dogra is shy and reserved and very sensitive about his private affairs. When his name is entered in the regimental sheet roll, the young recruit is asked who is his next of kin.

The_Dogra“ Wife,” he will say bashfully.

“ What age?”

He is not quite certain, thinks she is about twelve.

“How high is she?’

“About so high.” He stretches his hand four feet from the ground.

He is dreadfully bashful as he makes this gesture, afraid the other recruits should hear, just like a boy in the fourth form asked to describe his sister’s complexion or hair.

Needless to say, the Dogra seldom, if ever, brings his wife into cantonments. Exile must be harder to him than to many as he is the most home-loving person. His only crime is that when he goes to his village he sometimes runs things too close, so that an accident by the way, a broken wheel or swollen stream, makes him overstay his leave.

Every Dogra is shy and reserved and very sensitive about his private affairs. When his name is entered in the regimental sheet roll, the young recruit is asked who is his next of kin.

“I wish I could show you Moti Chand,” the subaltern continued. “He was a mere boy not turned seventeen. This show was the first time he had been under fire; he was one of the ammunition-carriers and had to go from the front trenches to the first-line transport and bring back his box. He made two journeys walking slowly and deliberately as they all do, very erect, balancing the ammunition-box on his head. When he came up the second time I told him to hurry up and get down into the trenches. ‘No, Sahib,’ he said, ‘Ram Chand, who was coming up beside me, was killed. I must go back and bring in his box.’ He brought in the box all right, but was shot in the jaw. I think he is doing well.”

“I can tell you, you would like the Dogra if you knew him. He is difficult to know and his reserve might make you think him sulky at first, but there is nothing sulky or brooding about him. He never bears a grudge; he is rather a cheery fellow and has his own sense of humour. As a shikari——”

The subaltern sang the praises of Teku Singh and Moti Chand in a way which was very pleasant to hear. He told me how their families received him in Kangra, every household insisting that he should drink tea, and he ended up by repeating that the true Dogra was the most perfect Sahib he knew.

It was no new experience for me to hear the Dogra praised. Their fighting qualities are well known, and they have proved themselves in many a frontier campaign, more especially in the capture of Nilt (1891), and in the defence of Chitral and in the memorable march to the relief of the garrison. And one had heard of the Dogra officer, Jemadar Kapur Singh, in France, who held on until all but one wounded man had been put out of action, and then rather than surrender shot himself with his last cartridge. Besides the three Dogra class regiments, the 37th, 38th, and 41st, there are many Dogra companies in mixed-company battalions, and Dogra squadrons in cavalry regiments. They may not make up a large part of the Indian Army, but they contribute a much larger part in proportion to their numbers than any other stock.

When next I met the subaltern the regiment had been in action again and he had been slightly wounded. He took me into his tent and showed me with pride what the General had written about his Dogras. One of them, Lance-Naik Lala, had been recommended for the Victoria Cross; he was the second sepoy in Mesopotamia on whom the honour was conferred.

Needless to say, the Dogra seldom, if ever, brings his wife into cantonments. Exile must be harder to him than to many as he is the most home-loving person.

“You’ll see I haven’t been talking through my hat,” he explained. “Lala was at it all day and most of the night, and earned his V.C. a dozen times. It seemed certain death to go out to ——; the enemy were only a hundred yards off.”

“Lance-Naik Lala insisted on going out to his Adjutant,” the recommendation ran, “and offered to crawl back with him on his back at once. When this was not permitted, he stripped off his own clothing to keep the wounded officer warmer, and stayed with him till just before dark when he returned to the shelter. After dark he carried the first wounded officer back to the main trenches, and then, returning with a stretcher, carried back his Adjutant.”

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This was at El Hannah on the 21st January. There was a freezing wind and the wounded lay out in pools of rain and flooded marsh all night; some were drowned; others died of exposure. It was a Dogra-like act of Lala to strip himself, and to make a shield of his body for his Adjutant, an act of devotion often repeated by the sepoy in Mesopotamia; and the Adjutant was only one of five officers and comrades whom Lala saved that day.

In a special issue of orders the Divisional General spoke of the splendid gallantry of the 41st Dogras in aiding the Black Watch to storm and occupy the enemy’s trenches. The 6th Jats and 97th Infantry were mentioned with the Dogras. Of the collective achievement of the four regiments on that day the General wrote:—

“Their advance had to be made across a perfectly open, bullet-swept area, against sunken loop-holed trenches in broad daylight, and their noble achievement is one of the highest. The great and most admirable gallantry of all ranks, and especially that of the British officers, is worthy of the highest commendation. They showed the highest qualities of endurance and courage under circumstances so adverse as to be almost phenomenal.”

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Edmund Candler

Edmund Candler

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2 thoughts on “The Gallant Dogra

  1. What is the worth of the Hindoo Dindoo !?

    They r evil!

    And cowards !

    Sons of Rama – the impotentica who told his wife to whore herself

    https://dindooohindoo.page.tl/Rama-Tells-Sita-to-whore-herself.htm

    Chapter [Sarga] 115

    तद्गच्छ त्वानुजानेऽद्य यथेष्टं जनकात्मजे |
    एता दश दिशो भद्रे कार्यमस्ति न मे त्वया || ६-११५-१८

    “O Seetha! That is why, I am permitting you now. Go wherever you like. All these ten directions are open to you, my dear lady! There is no work to be done to me, by you.”

    तदद्य व्याहृतं भद्रे मयैतत् कृतबुद्धिना |
    लक्ष्मणे वाथ भरते कुरु बुद्धिं यथासुखम् || ६-११५-२२

    “O gracious lady! Therefore, this has been spoken by me today, with a resolved mind. Set you mind on Lakshmana or Bharata, as per your ease.”

    įatrughne vätha sugréve räkņase vä vibhéņaëe |
    niveįaya manaų séte yathä vä sukhamätmanaų || 6-115-23

    “O Seetha! Otherwise, set your mind either on Shatrughna or on Sugreeva or on Vibhishana the demon; or according to your own comfort

  2. This is a tale of how a Rajpoot rat-coward-traitor-thief destroyed “a Race, a Nation,a Religion”, and will “now destroy”, the land of the Dindoo Hindoo Bindoo and Kashmir !

     Once upon a time in the land of the Rajasthani Limpet Limpdick Rats – there was a race of “Rajpoot rats, called the Dogras” – who had been “raped and brutalised” by the Mughals, for
    centuries !
     At that very time there was “a rising star”, in Dindoo Bindoo Land called “Ranjit Singh he Sikh” -and so what did the Rajpooot rats do ?
     They met Ranjit Singh and “offered to convert to Sikhism”, with the caveat , that they be “allowed to pray to the Harlot Duo of Kali/Doorga and Nigger Shiva” ! (Now you will say Y ?)
     Ranjit Singh agreed,as the Dogra Rajput rats supplied their women (a normal Rajpoot rat practice) and some soldiers
     Ranjit Singh treated One of the sons of these Dogra Rajpoot rats as his own son- “Farzand-e-Khas”, and then “what did the Dogra Rajpoot” limpet limpdick rats do to the Clan of Ranjit Singh
     They “killed Kharak Singh,Naunihal Singh” and the widow of Ranjit singh, by arsenic and cold blooded murder
     The Dogra rats,”Lal Singh and Tej Singh”, betrayed the Sikhs to the British in the Khalsa War -by selling out all the military positions – and the Brits pulverised the Khalsa army
     Then Gulab Singh Dogra. the Rajpoot Chor and rat,”stole 22 cartloads of gold”, from Ranjit Singh’s treasury and vanished………and then what ?

     The Dumb Sikhs hired Gulab Singh Dogra,as the consultant,to broker the instrument of surrender”, between the Sikhs and the British !! Ain’t this fun ? Nein – there is more !
     As a part of the instrument of surrender, Gulab Singh Dogra the Rajpoot Chor and rat,made the “Sikhs give up Kashmir” to the British (sale) and then did a “buy back deal” with the British, to buy Kashmir on a downpayment + lease rentals !! It is called “throwing the Sikh Monkey into the water”

     Guess how did Gulab Singh Dogra the Rajpoot Chor and rat , pay the Brits , for

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