KOLKATA: On Tuesday, as the Army’s Eastern Command celebrated its 96th birthday, it was time for retrospection and remembrance for the officers and men. From providing support to the Chindits in Burma (now Myanmar) in 1943 to Op Waghnaksh – I in 2015, the Indian Army’s largest command has come a long way. This command is also the only one in the country that has been engaged in regular counter-insurgency operations for more than four decades now. But then, it wasn’t till 1963 that the command actually started looking east.

“The history of Eastern Command dates back to 1895 when the Bengal Presidency Army was abolished. The command was formed on November 1, 1920, with its summer headquarters in Nainital and winter headquarters in Lucknow. General Sir H Hudson was its first commander and its territorial jurisdiction extended over Delhi, UP, Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Assam. In April, 1942, the command was designated as Eastern Army and its headquarters moved to Barrackpore for the Burma campaign. In June 1942, plans were prepared to limit Japanese advance at Imphal and Kohima and for reconquer of Burma that were to result in the biggest ever defeat of Japanese forces in World War II. In Feb 1943, the first Chindit operations were mounted in Burma by 77 Indian Infantry Brigade under Brigadier Orde Wingate. The entire force was maintained wholly by air,” said Wg Cdr S S Birdi, CPRO, Ministry of Defence, Kolkata.

In October, 1943, the Eastern Command was revived under Lt Gen Agom Mayne at Tollygunge, Kolkata but moved to Ranchi under its first Indian commander Lt Gen Thakur Nathu Singh on March 23, 1947. In February, 1955, the command shifted to Lucknow. The 1962 Indo-China War turned out to be an eye-opener on how the country’s border in the northeast are being neglected and the command was permanently headquartered at Fort William in Kolkata from May, 1963.

“Fort William, the former seat and symbol of authority of the British Empire has an unparalleled aura not experienced by any other formation. The close proximity to a number of countries add significance to its strategic geopolitical position and standing. With such a glorious past and major ongoing commitments both along the border and in containing insurgency, the Eastern Army has much to be proud of. On Tuesday, the command’s raising day was celebrated in a simple ceremony at Vijay Smarak War Memorial with GOC-in-C Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi laying a wreath to honour the valiant martyrs,” Birdi said.

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Source: TOI-Kol