When I wrote about 37 (Coorg) Medium Regiment, I would be failing in my duties if I did not write about its sibling unit – 36 (Maratha) Medium Regiment.
When I joined our Regiment – 75 Medium Regiment (Basantar River) as a second Lieutenant in 1982, 36 (M) Medium was part of the same Artillery Brigade. They were located at Meerut and we at Gurgaon. The young officers of both regiments bonded well in that we stayed with the young officers of 36 (M) Medium whenever we visited Meerut. It was mostly for various competitions – both professional and sports.
The two Regiments competed vigorously on the field, but at the end of the day, we were friends again. I still cherish the nicest memories of our association with 36 (M) Medium, especially Veteran Colonels Manu Satti, Atul Mishra, Mitra and Mukherjee.
36 (M) Medium, well known among the Gunner fraternity as Chathis, meaning 36, is also known for most conversions an Indian Regiment has ever been through. The Regiment was raised as 7/5 Maratha Light Infantry at Faizabad on October 10, 1940, by Lt Col AL Collingwood.
Like all Maratha Infantry Battalions, 36 (M) Medium too have the battle cry – Bol Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai,, meaning ‘ Victory to Emperor Shivaji.’ This war cry is believed to have been conceived while the Marathas were fighting Italian forces in World War II in Gallabat, Sudan. It was in January 1941. An attack on an Italian garrison was not going as per plan with the Marathas on the verge of losing the battle. It was then that Captain Boomgart, the officer in charge, was advised to inspire the Marathas by reminding them of the Emperor Shivaji, the famous Maratha king who had the courage to stand against the Mughals’ misrule. Thus was coined the famous war cry, “Bol Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai.” Hearing the war cry, the Marathas lept forward with great aggression and overcame the Italian garrison.
Soon after raising, in 1942 the Regiment converted from an Infantry Battalion to 51 (M) Armoured Regiment. It was part of the 268 Indian Infantry Brigade which saw operations on the Japanese front during World War II.
During the war, in 1943, the Regiment became 8 (M) Anti-Tank Regiment and served under 44 Indian Armoured Division, in Burma. The Regiment in 1944-45 was part of 33 Corps Troops and later participated in the Burmese operations in 1945 as part of 7 Indian Infantry Division.
At the end of 1945, 2 Indian Airborne Division was reorganised in preparation for the independence of India. This resulted in Indianisation of the Division. All British soldiers moved into 6 (British) Independent Parachute Brigade, though it remained part of the 2 Indian Airborne Division. 36 (M) Parachute Anti-Tank Regiment (Royal Indian Artillery) joined the Division in 1946.
On Indian independence, the Regiment was rechristened as 36 (M) Anti-Tank Regiment of the Regiment of Artillery of the Indian Army. In 1956, the Regiment converted to become 36 (M) Heavy Mortar Regiment.
The Regiment saw action in the Tsangdhar-Zimithang and the Tawang – Sela Sectors in the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. 62 Bravehearts of the Regiment laid down their lives during this war.
In 1965 the Regiment converted to 36 (M) Light Regiment, equipped with 120 mm Mortars and was deployed in the Dera Baba Nanak and Amritsar sectors. The Regiment participated in the operations to occupy areas up to the Icchogil Canal and in the Battle of Dograi.
Before the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the Regiment reconverted to be 36 (M) Heavy Mortar Regiment with Tampella 160 mm Mortars and participated in operations in the Shakargarh Bulge and Sialkot sectors.