Maratha Light Infantry - The Oldest Light Infantry of Indian Army || Everything You Need To Know

Light Infantry is a type of infantry that carries lighter equipment which allows for more fluid and more mobile function than other types of infantry. The Maratha Light Infantry is a light infantry regiment of the Indian Army. It traces its lineage to the Bombay Sepoys, raised in 1768, making it the most senior light infantry regiment in the Indian Army. The class composition of the regiment was and is primarily formed by hardy, frugal and disciplined Maratha recruits from the former Maratha Empire. The men are mostly drawn from all over the state of Maharashtra, with some percentage from Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka including Coorg. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about them.

Quick Facts

  • The 1st battalion of the regiment, known as Jangi Paltan ("the fighting unit"), was raised in August 1768 as the 2nd Battalion, Bombay Sepoys, to protect the British East India Company’s possessions on the islands of Bombay.
  • Their regimental centre has been in Belgaum, Karnataka, since 1922, which was part of the Bombay Presidency at that time.
  • The battle cry of Maratha Light Infantry is, "Bol Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai (Say Victory To King Shivaji)".
  • They are also known as Ganpats.
  • Regimental day - 4 February
  • Awards and Decorations include 2 Victoria Crosses, 4 Ashoka Chakras, 10 Param Vishisht Seva Medal, 4 Maha Vir Chakras, 4 Kirti Chakras, 1 ACCL II, 14 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, 34 Vir Chakras, 18 Shaurya Chakras, 4 ACCL III, 4 Yudh Seva Medal, 107 Sena Medals, 1 Shaurya Chakra & Bar, 23 Vishisht Seva Medal, 1 Padma Bhushan, 1 Arjuna award and 3 Unit Citations.
  • At present, Lt. Gen. P.J.S. Pannu is the chief of the regiment.
Image result for lt gen pjs pannu
  • The first Sikh Chief Of The Army Staff, General Joginder Jaswant Singh was from this regiment.

Units

Regular Battalions :

  1. 1st Battalion - (former 103rd Maratha Light Infantry)
  2. 2nd Battalion - (former 105th Maratha Light Infantry)
  3. 4th Battalion - (former 116th Marathas)
  4. 5th Battalion - (former 117th Marathas)
  5. 6th Battalion
  6. 7th Battalion
  7. 8th Battalion
  8. 9th Battalion
  9. 11th Battalion
  10. 12th Battalion
  11. 14th Battalion
  12. 15th Battalion
  13. 16th Battalion
  14. 17th Battalion
  15. 18th Battalion
  16. 19th Battalion - (former Kolhapur Raja Ram Infantry)
  17. 22nd Battalion - (former 2nd Hyderabad State Infantry)
  18. 23rd Battalion
  19. 24th Battalion
  20. 25th Battalion
  21. 26th Battalion
  22. 42nd Battalion

Other Battalions :

  1. 3rd Battalion is now 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment
  2. 20th Battalion (former Baroda State Infantry) is now 10th Battalion, Mechanised Infantry Regiment
  3. 21st Battalion is now 21st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (Special Forces)
  4. 101 Infantry Battalion Territorial Army (Maratha Light Infantry)
  5. 109 Infantry Battalion Territorial Army (Maratha Light Infantry)

History

Pre-independence

  • Before the British came, the Marathas were a potent force in 16th, 17th, and 18th century India. Maratha armies, comprising both infantry and light cavalry, along with the Maratha Navy had dominated the military scene in India for around three centuries.
  • Under the British, the Marathas fought in almost all the wars and battles fought by the British.
  • In the second half of the 19th century, the battalions fought in various campaigns from the Middle East to China. The siege of Kahun and the defence of Dadar, in Baluch territory during the First Anglo-Afghan War in 1841 were their most important campaigns.
  • Three Maratha battalions distinguished themselves during the First World War (1914–1918) in the long drawn-out Mesopotamia campaign. 
  • The Second World War saw the Marathas in the forefront in almost every theatre of operations from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the deserts of North Africa, and the mountains and rivers of Italy. During the war Nk. Yeshwant Ghadge and Sep. Namdeo Jadhav were decorated with the Victoria Cross in the Italian campaign, while 130 other decorations were awarded to the regiment. 
Image result for maratha light infantry victoria cross
Left : Sepoy Namdeo Jadhav
Right : Naik Yeshwant Ghadge 

Post-independence

  • Since independence, battalions of the Maratha Light Infantry have taken part in every Indian armed conflict — the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the Annexation of Junagadh, the Annexation of Hyderabad, the Annexation of Goa, the Sino-Indian War, the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971, against the Chinese on the Sikkim watershed in 1956, Operation Pawan, the ongoing operations on the Siachen glacier and in numerous counter insurgency operations.
  • The Ashoka Chakra was awarded to Capt. Eric Tucker, Col. N.J. Nair, Col. Vasanth Venugopal and Lt. Navdeep Singh.

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