Honoring first recipient of Param Vir Chakra Major Somnath Sharma
India on Monday commemorated the 99th birth anniversary of Major Somnath Sharma, the first recipient of India's highest gallantry honor, the Param Vir Chakra. Several people have paid tributes to Major Sharma on social media. "Due to his indomitable courage ... the devastating advance of the enemy was thwarted," tweeted General Vijay Kumar Singh, former chief of Army Staff.
- The young commander was martyred in November 1947 while leading his soldiers on a battle patrol in the Budgam area in Kashmir. Despite being outnumbered, he showed exemplary bravery and continued to fight the enemy.
- He was just 24 years old when he made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.
- Major Sharma was awarded the highest military decoration posthumously in 1950.
"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," said Major Sharma in his last message to the brigade headquarters.
Major Sharma was commissioned into the British Indian Army's 8th Battalion, 19th Hyderabad Regiment (later to become the Indian Army's 4th Battalion, Kumaon Regiment) on February 22, 1942. During the Arakan Campaign in Burma in World War II, he had fought against the Japanese. In the Indo-Pak war of 1947, his company was airlifted to the Srinagar airport to stop the enemy.
Major Sharma was born into a military family on January 31, 1923 His father, Major General (retired) Amarnath Sharma, was the head of the Army Medical Corps. Major Sharma went to Sherwood College in Nainital for his education. He later joined the Prince of Wales Royal Military College in Dehradun. He went on to study at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
Taking to Twitter in November last year, the Indian Army praised his incredible valor and irrepressible courage, recalling his daring gesture. They also published Major Sharma's final message, which he sent in 1947 from the battlefield in Budgam.