Captain Chandra Narayan Singh was a second generation soldier in uniform. His father Honorary Captain Balwan Singh, a Himachali Dogra, served with the 4th Battalion of the Dogra Regiment during World War II and was decorated during the battle for ‘Magwe’ in Burma Campaign. For Himachali Dogras, soldiering is not just another profession, but a calling.
Chandra Narayan, a Himachali Dogra, was born on July 2, 1939, at Dharamsala. After obtaining Faculty of Arts (FA) degree (present day equivalent to senior secondary), Chandra, with a firm resolve to follow into his father’s footsteps applied for the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and was selected in the very first attempt. After two years of training at the IMA, on June 11, 1961, Chandra Narayan was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion of The Garhwal Rifles Infantry Regiment, the same battalion that gave to the British Indian Army two bravest of the braves who went on to win the Victoria Cross during World War I – Darwan Singh Negi and Gabbar Singh Negi, both from the 39th Garhwal Rifles.
Chandra Narayan, affectionately known in his battalion simply as CN, based on his above average profile, very early in his service, was posted as a staff officer in an Infantry Brigade guarding sensitive areas along the cease fire line between Poonch and Mendhar in Jammu region. It is there, that he proved that nobody beats the Himachali valour.
Poonch Sector: 05 Aug 1965
During Aug 1965, Captain Chander Narain Singh’s unit was deployed in the Poonch sector in J & K and was engaged in an intense fight with the enemy forces to capture and hold on to the strategically important ground features. On 5th August 1965, his unit got information that some Pakistani soldiers had infiltrated in the Poonch area and were seen around the location of the Brigade Headquarters.
On getting his orders, Captain Chander dispatched his patrol team immediately in the evening at 18.30 hours to carry out a search operation. Around at 19.30 hours, an encounter with the Pakistani infiltrators commenced wherein Pakistanis started firing using the heavy & light machine guns, mortars, and grenades from a higher position. However, Captain Chander ordered his patrol to take their positions and fire back at enemies. He instructed his soldiers to keep firing and keep the enemy pinned down while he himself crawled towards one of the flanks to engage the enemy perched at advantageous position. In this process, Captain Chander silenced one of the machine guns firing from the hilltop. But, the onslaught of fire continued on them. In order to neutralize the threat, he prepared a plan to launch an attack in night as the enemy position was too strong to conquer during the daytime.
At the opportune moment in the night, Capt Chander led a daring charge with a handful men within the 50 yards of the enemy position. In one rush they progressed halfway up and then paused to reorganize. While half of his patrol was engaged in cover fire, he led the other half to a flank attack on the enemy position, which was successful. During the operation, a fierce fight took place wherein six enemy soldiers were killed and many more were wounded and the enemy left behind considerable quantities of arms, ammunition, and equipment. However, Captain Chander Narain Singh was hit by a Light Machine Gun burst and was martyred.
During this operation Captain Chander Narain Singh displayed conspicuous bravery, leadership and courage in the highest traditions of the Indian Army before laying down his life. For his Gallant act of Bravery and unparalleled courage, Captain Chander Narain Singh was posthumously awarded India’s second highest gallantry award, “Maha Vir Chakra”.
A road in his native place Ramnagar, Dharamshala has been named after him as “Chander Maarg”. Captain Chander Narain Singh’s memorial has been installed at his native place in Dharamshala.