PARAM VIR CHAKRA :Major Somnath Sharma, PVC (Posthumous)
Born – 31 Jan 1923 Dadh, Kangra ,HP
Father – Maj Gen AN Sharma
Commission – 22 Feb 1942
Action – 03 Nov 1947
Religion – Hindu
Studies – Prince of Wales Royal IndianMilitary College
In Nov 1947, Major Somnath Sharma’s company was ordered on a fighting patrol to Badgam Village in the Kashmir Valley . He reached his objective at first light on and took up a position south of Badgam at 1100 hours. The enemy, estimated at 700, attacked his company position with 3 inches mortars, Light Machine Guns and rifles. Completely outnumbered and with withering fire being brought to bear on its position from three sides, the company began to sustain heavy casualties.
Fully realising the gravity of the situation and the direct threat that would result to both Srinagar and the aerodrome if the enemy attack was not held until reinforcements could be rushed to close the gap leading to Srinagar via Hum Hom, Major Sharma urged his company to fight the enemy tenaciously, with extreme bravery, kept rushing across the open ground to his sections exposing himself to heavy and accurate fire urging them to hold on.
Keeping his nerve, he skillfully directed the fire of his sections into the ever-advancing enemy. He repeatedly exposed himself to the full fury of enemy fire and laid out cloth air strips to guide our aircraft into their targets in full view of the enemy. Realising that casualties had affected the effectiveness of his light automatics, this officer, whose left hand was in plaster, personally commenced filling magazines and issuing them to light machine gunners. A mortar shell landing right in the middle of the ammunition resulted in an explosion that killed him.
Major Sharma’s company held onto its position and the remnants withdrew only when almost completely surrounded. His inspiring example had resulted in the enemy being delayed for six hours, thus gaining time for our reinforcements to get into position at Hum Hom to stem the tide of the enemy advance.
His leadership, gallantry and tenacious defence were such that his men were inspired to fight the enemy outnumbering them by seven to one for six hours, one hour of which was after this gallant officer had been killed. He has set an example of courage and qualities seldom equaled in the history of Indian Army. His last message to Brigade Headquarter received a few moments before he was killed was: “The enemy is only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to the last man and the last round”.