Recollections of the Se La-Bomdila Debacle 1962

Jaidev Singh Datta

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Commemorating 50 years of the India-China War of 1962, this is a factual account by the author, who was Brigade Major of 62 Infantry Brigade. He is the only person, apart from late Brigadier Hoshiar Singh, Commander 62 Infantry Brigade, who was privy to all developments and key decisions that led to the withdrawal of the Brigade from Se La. The debacle resulted in the tragic deaths of almost 1000 personnel, most of whom never got the opportunity to fight the enemy.

Two chapters in the book, after selective translation, have been gleaned from two authoritative Chinese books. These portray the meticulous strategy, timing, determination and speed, by which the Chinese reached Chakoo — the gateway to Assam — in two days!

It shows how, in sharp contrast, the Indian Army was deployed in great haste with ill conceived plans, units woefully equipped and not acclimatized to high altitude terrains having trained for different roles and locations.

Even after the Namka Chu debacle (south of Thagla Ridge), the Indian Political leaders in Delhi and the Army brass, failed to read the Chinese intentions to encroach further into Indian Territory, which brought great humiliation to the Indian Army.

Awards to both Indian and Chinese soldiers have been narrated in some detail, as well as lessons learnt for the future and for military historians.

Jaidev Singh Datta Major General (Retired) Jaidev Singh Datta was born in 1927 in Lahore. After graduating from Government College, Lahore, he got his commission in the Regiment of Artillery in 1948, from Post-War Third Course of the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. After some regimental service, he graduated from Camberley Staff College, United Kingdom in 1961. He served as Brigade Major 62 Infantry Brigade at Se La in 1962. In 1965, he raised 73 Medium, a new regiment equipped with Soviet 130 mm guns. During the Indo-Pak war of 1971, he served as Colonel General Staff at Amritsar. He commanded 39 Artillery Brigade at Yol-Alhilal near Dharmsala, Himachal Pradesh. In 1975, he was posted as Military Attaché in the erstwhile Soviet Union in Moscow, and was concurrently accredited to Outer Mongolia. From Moscow, he went on to serve as Major General Artillery Eastern Command, Calcutta, and finally as Major General Administration Western Command, Shimla, from where he retired in 1983.

After retiring, he settled in New Delhi where he lives with his wife Kushal. His son is in Melbourne, Australia and daughter in North Carolina, USA.


The General Area
1. People of North East Frontier Agency
2. Topography, Important Roads And Tracks

The Debacle
3. Induction into Kameng Frontier Division
4. Withdrawal of 62 Infantry Brigade
5. Withdrawal of 4 Infantry Division

Chinese Perspective
6. Chinese Offensive
Version I
Version II

Other Factors
7. Air Force

8. Lessons Learnt

9. Gallantry Awards: Indian and Chinese



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