4th Infantry Division: An Outline History

v.3.0 March 25, 2008

 

Ravi Rikhye & Mandeep Bajwa

 

This is merely a sketch; you are welcome to add details as you wish.

 

1914

 

The Division is one of Kitchner’s reorganized Indian Army divisions. It is called the 4th (Quetta) Division, and has the

 

  • 1st Quetta (10th) Brigade
  • 2nd Quetta (11th Brigade)
  • 3rd Quetta (57th Brigade)
  • Karachi Brigade

 

 

The division stays in India for the duration of the war.

 

 

1939

 

September 3 finds the division in the Deccan District of Southern Command, HQ Bolarum.

 

Its brigades are:

  • 4th Cavalry Brigade (Bolarum)
  • 10 Infantry Brigade (Jabbalpur)

 

The division leaves for North Africa after reorganization.

 

1940

GOC Major-General Beresford-Peirse

 

Battle of Sidi Barrani, December 11, 1940.

 

  • 5th Infantry Brigade
  • 11th Infantry Brigade
  • 16th British Infantry Brigade

In December moves to Sudan as part of the campaign to prevent Italian forces in East Africa from threatening the Suez and Red Sea.

1941

 

GOC Major General Frank Messervy

 

East African Campaign.

Map by Stephen Kirrage http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:EritreaCampaign1941_map-en.svg

 

5th Infantry Brigade detached to Syria for the advance on Damascus, June 1941

 

Operations Battle Axe (June 15-17, 2nd Tobruk); Crusader (November 18 – December 11, 3rd Tobruk) and under XIII Corps; December 12 redeploy to East Africa.

 

 

 

THE DIVISION ON NOVEMBER 18, 1941. THE ORBAT IS FROM A US ARMY SOURCE, WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR THE REGIMENTAL IDENTIFICATION SYMBOL USED FOR 7TH AND 11TH BRIGADES. THE DIVISION’S THIRD BRIGADE WAS DETACHED TO SYRIA AT THIS TIME. THE DIVISION WAS ABOUT TO ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE OF THE OMARS IN NORTH AFRICA. MORE DETAILS CAN BE FOUND AT www.lonesentry.com/battleoftheomars/section1.html

 

1942

GOC Major General Francis Tuker

 

Battle of Alam Halfa (30th August-2nd September 1942). Battle of El Alamein (October 23 start).

 

4th Division Indian troops in North Africa. "Hell-fire Pass" was the nickname for Halfaya Pass.

Image from  Wikipedia

 

1943

 

Italy.

 

1944

 

Second Cassino [GOC Brig. Harry Dimoline]

 

 

Plan of attack: 2nd Cassino February 15-18, 1944

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Cassino2nd_en.svg

 

Third Cassino [GOC Maj.-Gen Alexander Galloway]

 

Fourth Cassino; advance to the Gothic Line [Maj.-Gen. Alan Holworthy]

 

Division moves to Greece.

 

1945

 

Greece [Maj.-Gen. Charles Boucher]

 

Returns to India, after fighting in nine campaigns and suffering 25,000 casualties

 

1947

 

The division's station at independence is unclear.

It forms the nucleus of the Punjab Boundary Force (Major-General T.W. Rees) on July 17, 1947, with HQ at Lahore.  PBF becomes operational August 1, 1947, but is disbanded September 1 because of its ineffectiveness in controlling the riots breaking out in consequence of Partition. PBF has a maximum strength of 50,000.

 

The PBF had approximately 15 Indian and 10 Pakistani battalions.

 

  • 5 Infantry Brigade
  • 11 Infantry Brigade
  • 14 Parachute Brigade (went to Pakistan)
  • 43 Lorry Brigade (ex 1 Armed Div)
  • 114 Infantry Brigade

 

Also attached:

  • 50 Parachute Brigade (ex 2 Abn Div)
  • 77 Parachute Brigade (ex 2 Abn Div)
  • 123 Infantry Brigade

 

Division moves to Jullunder after PBF disbanded.

 

Note  In v.2.0 January, 2006 we incorrectly stated that the division was inactivated and 1947 and reactivated in 1948. The division retained its identity when it became part of the Punjab Boundary Force.

 

2 Airborne Division was given to Indian at Partition but immediately disbanded. It's three brigades were retained. 14 Air Landing Brigade went to Pakistan after the disoultion of the PBF. When next the number was used in India, it was for the  newly raised 14 (I) Armored Brigade.

 

 

1948

 

Now at Ambala as reserve for Western Command (Major General Thimmaya). It is companion to 1st Armored Division with which, in the event of war,  it will launch an offensive into the heart of West Punjab. 1st Division was then based at Jullunder-Kapurthala.

 

Its brigades are at:

  • Jullunder
  • Ambala
  • Kasauli-Dagshai-Solan

 

1960

 

The division moves to NEFA starting in 1959 after the China border is handed over to the Army. This elite strike division has already become the butt of jokes.  of the Army because its division commander has been using it to build barracks and such, and garnering much praise from the civilians leaders for "saving" money.

 

North East Frontier Agency.

 

  • 5th Infantry Brigade - Tezu/Walong
  • 7th Infantry Brigade - Kameng Frontier Division; Bomdila-Towang
  • 11th Infantry Brigade – Nagaland

 

1962 [October]

 

  • 5th Infantry Brigade – Walong, October 31st, then to Bomdila
  • 7th Infantry Brigade – Towang
  • 11th Infantry Brigade – Walong, replaces 5th Brigade in November, passes to newly-raising 2nd Division], then to 5th Mountain Division which takes over Kameng FD.

 

In 1962 the GOC is Major General Nirinjan Prashad. In November, Maj.-Gen. A.S. Pathania takes over as division commander.

 

7th Brigade is destroyed at the Namkachu, suffering the heaviest losses of any brigade in the Army’s history. By now 5 other brigades have reinforced the division, which disintegrates at the Battles of Sela and Bomdila.

 

  • 48th Infantry Brigade (ex-17th Division)
  • 62nd Infantry Brigade (ex-20th Division, Ramgarh, Bihar)
  • 65th Infantry Brigade  (ex-Southern Command, Secunderabad)
  • 67th Infantry Brigade
  • 82nd Infantry Brigade (ex-Southern Command, Jodhpur)             

The division loses its reputation as the Army's best. While it performs well in 1965 and 1971 and removes the tarnish of 1962, it is never to achieve its former reputation from World War II.

 

 

Subadar Joginder Singh, PVC; 1 Sikhs. Killed in action October 23, 1962 at Tongpen La, Tawang Sector, NEFA. He joined the army in 1936 at age 15.

 

1963-64

 

Division is rebuilt at Ambala as a mountain formation. Area of responsibility: Himachal Pradesh. 5th and 11th Brigades remain in NEFA to be absorbed by newly raised divisions.

  • 7th Brigade (Ambala) (original brigade)
  • 33rd Brigade (Sugar Sector) (new raising)
  • 62nd Brigade (Kasauli-Dagshai-Solan)(ex-20 Division)

 

1965

 

Battle of Khem Karan, where the division makes amends for 1962 with its staunch defense against Pakistan 1st Armored and 11th Infantry Divisions.

 

GOC Major General Gurbaksh Singh

 

  • 7th Mountain Brigade
  • 62nd Mountain Brigade

 

33rd Mountain Brigade remains in Sugar Sector to guard against potential Chinese threats. It is eventually replaced by 41st (Independent) Mountain Brigade, previously a reserve for XV Corps. 41st Brigade had, during the war, been sent to Chaamb to reinforce 10th Division.

 

39th Division picks up 33rd Brigade. This division moves to Yol-Dharamsala-Bakloh-Dalhousie-Palampur-Alhilal from Jhansi-Babina-Talbehat.] The brigade's place in Sugar Sector is taken by a new raising, 51st (Independent) Parachute Brigade

 

CQMH Abdul Hamid, PVC; 4 Grenadiers. Killed in action at the Battle of Khem Karan on September 10, 1965. He joined the army at age 21, in 1956.

 

http://faculty.winthrop.edu/haynese/india/medals/PVC/PVC09.html

 

1970

 

By this time India is confident a whole division is not needed for the Himachal Pradesh sector. The division again becomes an AHQ reserve, but its nominal attachment is HQ I Corps. Oddly, its integral tank regiment is taken away now that it is designated for plains service.

 

1971

 

Leaves control of I Corps for attachment to II Corps in Eastern Command; serves in the Bangladesh campaign.

 

GOC Major-General M.S. Barar

 

o        7th Mountain Brigade

o        41st Mountain Brigade

o        62nd Mountain Brigade

 

It is preparing to move west with HQ II Corps for the continuation of the war as planned, but a general ceasefire comes into effect and the division returns to I Corps

 

1972

 

First assigned to Jhansi-Babina, then settles down in Allahabad-Faizabad-Lucknow-Kanpur under I Corps, where it remains to this day. Is converted to an infantry division.

 

1984-1987

 

Two deployments to the Punjab: Operation Blue Star and Punjab Counter Insurgency.

 

1987-1989

 

IPKF Sri Lanka.

 

2002

 

Operation Parakram.

 

During various times the division comes under XI, III, and XVI Corps and is a major player in the Parakram deception plan.

 

2003

 

In 2003 it returns to its home stations.