A Legacy of Generations: 14 Field Regiment's Raising Day Celebrates Enduring Bonds

As we entered the military cantonment on 9th May evening in the unit area, we were welcomed by the Commanding Officer (CO), his wife and some officers of the Reception Centre with such warmth that we realised that we had come home. My regiment had always been my home ever since I had joined it in June 1971 after the Young Officer’s Course. The 69th Raising Day of our Artillery Regiment on 14 May 2024 was ideally called a Reunion or ‘A Celebration of Unity’ since it encompassed a team of officers from six decades ago till the most recently commissioned officer from the Indian Military Academy (IMA), a few months ago.


Our senior most veteran was a 1965 and a 1971 War Veteran, a Young Officer (YO) of the unit. He incidentally also became the first YO to command the regiment in 1982. Our senior most officer in rank was a former Army Commander, again a YO of the regiment, a 1971 War Veteran and the second YO of the unit to command the regiment in January 1988. Altogether we were seven 1971 War Veterans who attended the Raising Day Celebrations of the unit in Dehradun. We were eight former COs of the regiment who attended the celebrations. There were about 40 officers, mostly veterans and some serving officers (who are posted elsewhere) who also made it convenient to come to the regiment. There were about 70 veteran JCOs and NCOs also who attended the ‘Celebration of Unity’.


I was just over six years of age in May 1956 when my father had raised the regiment, converting a Dogra infantry battalion into an artillery regiment, -we call ourselves the ‘Dogra Gunners’. Little did I realise then that while my father would be the first commanding officer of this fine regiment, I would get commissioned in December 1970 into this same unit, then fight in the 1971 War with this regiment and subsequently become its fourteenth commanding officer in February 1993. I thus became the first father and son to command the same regiment, thus setting a fine tradition. I was very happy and proud that my father was there, to see his son command the regiment that he had raised.


A greater legacy subsequently got established in due course in the history of the unit. When I was commanding the regiment in 1993, the son of our first YO (a former commanding officer of the unit) joined the regiment. This YO of mine subsequently became the CO of the unit in 2009 and he and his father became the first set of YOs of two generations to command the regiment. The unit in its history has a total of four second generation officers to have commanded this regiment. The regiment boasts of the fact that the unit has been commanded by twelve of its YOs as of now. The most significant fact is that one of our CO’s in 2016 was again a second generation gunner whose father had joined the regiment as a recruit in the ranks in 1959-1960. This had coincided with the Diamond Jubilee of the regiment. Altogether the regiment has had ten second generation gunners in the regiment.

As the regiment now embarks on its journey into the seventh decade of its service to the Regiment of Artillery, the Indian Army and the Nation, it has etched a legacy across generations, cutting across the rank and file of its structure. In doing so we always remember our comrades in arms who had made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty for the nation. Their names are ‘Liveth for Evermore’ in the annals of history of our regiment.


This Raising Day was unique as it gave us veterans an excellent opportunity to interact with the present generation of Officers, JCOs, NCOs and Other Ranks and families of the regiment during the very well planned series of events. The bonhomie and camaraderie was evident as people interacted with great fervour and sentiment. It was a wonderful feeling to meet some of those who had served alongwith me during the 1971 War and subsequently also go down memory lane with amusing anecdotes of our times in the regiment. The clockwork precision, the dignity and decorum in the manner that all events were conducted by the unit, spoke volumes of the efforts put in by the CO and his excellent team and the ladies. The sea change in the execution of events due to automation and digitisation as also social media and its application was very evident. I compared it from our times, decades ago and realised that this was a generation differential and a process of evolution.


The regiment has served with distinction in different theatres and terrain and has acquitted itself with glory on the battlefields of the 1965 and 1971 Wars. It was very heartening to note that the regiment continues to maintain its very high standards in training, operational efficiency and administration to hold a place of honour and pride in the Regiment of Artillery and the Indian Army.


To quote the famous Field Marshal Earl Wavell,


“A regiment is more than a mere organisation; it is in truth a family, with its ancestors and descendants, its pride and its possessions, and through its entire vicissitudes a strong sense of community and continuity.”


14 Field Regiment has lived up to the motto of “Sarvatra Izzat O Iqbal’, With Honour and Glory Everywhere.


*BRIEF PROFILE*

Brig Ajit Apte is a second generation Army Officer, a Gunner. He is a 1971 War Veteran. He has served on the Line of Control in the western sector and in counter insurgency environment in the eastern sector also.

He has commanded an artillery regiment, an artillery brigade and has served on staff and instructional appointments during his service.


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