Featured Image: File photo of the main entrance to Eastern Command Fort William headquarters next to Red Road in Kolkata.
By A Newsman
Kolkata, 01 November: HEADQUARTERED at Fort William in Kolkata, Eastern Command of the Indian Army has turned 96 today.
The Raising Day of the Command was celebrated today through a ceremony organised at the Vijay Smarak War Memorial at Fort William.
Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi, Eastern Army Commander, laid a wreath at the War Memorial paying tribute to the valiant martyrs who made supreme sacrifice in protecting the safety, integrity, and honour of the country.
On 01 November 1920 when Eastern Command was formed, its summer headquarters was in Nainital (Uttarakhand) and the winter headquarters was in Lucknow. General Sir H Hudson was its first Army Commander. The command’s territorial jurisdiction extended over Delhi, UP, Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, and Assam.
But prior to this, there is a historical background dating back to 1895 when the Bengal Presidency Army was abolished. The period from 1902, beginning with General Viscount Kitchener’s reforms, until World War-I, gave the command its military character.
In April 1942, the command was designated as Eastern Army and its headquarters moved from Lucknow to Barrackpore in North 24-Parganas to execute the war effort during World War-II.
In June 1942, plans were chalked out to limit Japanese advance to Imphal and Kohima, and for the reconquer of Burma (now Myanmar) leading to the biggest ever defeat of the Japanese forces in World War-II.
In Feb 1943, the first CHINDIT operations were mounted in Burma by 77 Indian Infantry Brigade (Chindits) under Brigadier Orde Wingate. The entire CHINDIT force was maintained wholly by air.
On the formation of the 14th Army in October 1943, Eastern Army was relieved of operational responsibility east of river Meghna (now in Bangladesh) including Burma.
Eastern Command was revived under Lieutenant General Agom Maynewith heeadquarters at Tollygunge in Kolkata with operational responsibility west of river Meghna.
On 23 Mar 1947, the Command headquarters moved to Ranchi with Lieutenant General Thakur Nathu Singh as its first Indian Army Commander. In Feb 1955, the Command headquarters moved from Ranchi to Lucknow, and in May 1963 the headquarters returned to Kolkata.
Headquarters of Eastern Command, occupying Fort William, the former seat and symbol of authority of the British Empire, has an unparalleled aura not experienced by any other formation. The historic structures and edifices in and around the Fort, narrate the tales of trials and triumphs of the British Army and the post-Independence Indian Army.
The history of the region is replete with stories of uncanny heroic deeds of valour and sacrifice since the days of yore. The close proximity to a number of neighbouring countries adds significance to its strategic geopolitical position and standing.