Severely wounded in the head, a steel plate which he carried to his last day was a constant reminder. He was in a military hospital when General A.E Percival, the Allied field commander, surrendered all Allied forces in Malaya and Singapore to the Japanese in 1942. Then followed three years of a miserable existence and near starvation as a Japanese prisoner of war.
Released at the end of the war in 1945, he remained in hospital for some months with beri-beri and other problems brought on by malnutrition and inhuman conditions in Japanese POW camps.
Posted as second-in-command of 4 Sikh on release from hospital, he was perhaps the only deputy ever to ride a horse on parade in an infantry battalion, as he was too weak to march.
There have been three episodes in his brilliant military career which make him stand out as one of the most outstanding commanders in modern Indian history...
Field Marshal Lord Wavell, seen apt for describing General Harbaksh Singh: "He was essentially a soldier's soldier, and takes an assured place as one of the great commanders in military history".
Gen Harbaksh Singh died, his funeral was on November 15, 1999. Very few knew about it, therefore apart from his friends and contemporaries, former officers of the Sikh Regiment of which he had been colonel for over a decade, , gathered at the Delhi cantonment to say our final farewell.
The Army did him proud by giving him a send off befitting a great soldier. And while the ceremonies were on, and six Lieutenant Generals removed the National Flag from the body which was to be cremated, I couldn't help wondering how fortunate it was for the country to have had the right man at the right place at the right time....
My blog is dedicated to ...The Real Unsung Heros of Indian Army...
Punjab is proud of all such sons who have lived up to its highest cherished values. "Courage in the face of death!"
Soldier, rest thy warfare is o'er,
Dream of fighting fields no more;
Sleep the sleep that knows no breaking,
Morn of toil, nor night of waking.