50 years later, ’62 PoW recalls Tang La ridge affair

Krishnamohan

I returned alive and kept my marriage date same — only January 20, 1964, instead of October 20, 1962

He was to get married on October 20, 1962. But he was unaware that the shower of flowers would be replaced by a volley of bomb shells. Days before the operation of 'throwing the Chinese out' began, Col (Retd) Tallury Krishnamohan, 80, then a captain, received the orders of joining 2nd Rajput, one of the battalions under Brig John Dalvi's 7 Infantry Brigade, as RMO. Marriage now meant passing a survival test through a debacle the nation remembers as the Himalayan Blunder.

Standing at Dhola post alongside Namka-Chu river, the Thang La ridge looked like touching the sky. Ten days before the Chinese attack happened, operation of 'throwing the Chinese out' began with a platoon of 9 Punjab being sent on the ridge. I was standing with Gen B M Kaul — wearing goggles and looking like a film actor — and Brig Dalvi — looking at the ridge through binoculars. We saw Chinese bee-lining the ridge. I remember Dalvi saying: 'This is madness'," recalls Krishnamohan.

Gradually, the increasing number of donkey-bells on the other side of the ridge kept indicating the increasing Chinese activity. "On the (October) 20th, heavy firing started at the first light of the day. A JCO came running saying: 'Saab Chinese'. I could see three-four Chinese leapfrogging. Havildar Uttam Singh, who was to fly to Tezpur for his daughter's wedding, died while operating a gun in the same position. Amid flames, smoke and dead bodies of fellow soldiers, I suddenly got hit in the left leg," Krishnamohan recollects.

The entire day, he lay unattended without water and food. "By the end of the day, the Chinese brought an improvised stretcher and made our soldiers carry me. While crossing the river, they decided to throw me into the river, when somebody who could understand their plans opposed. Even after reaching there, I was not asked for water. I don't drink alcohol, but the irony is that I was offered rum, the glass of which I threw back at the Chinese soldier. Angry, he went back, but still got me a glass of water. I was taken to a monastery where PoWs were kept," he says.

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