Unsung Story of NCC Cadet Sergeant Pratap Singh Who Won Ashok Chakra During 1965 War

NCC Cadets during 1965 War
During Indo Pakistan War of 1965, NCC cadets played a very important role. Every NCC cadet rose to the occasion, they gladly relieved the Police, the Territorial Army and the Defence Services personnel to carry out more vital tasks in the defence of the country. Cadets were engaged in civil defence tasks and they assisted civil and military authorities in various sectors throughout the War.
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
NCC Cadets were given the following Tasks during the War:
•   Passive Air Defence including rescue work, first aid, evacuation of casualties, fire-fighting and removal of debris.
•   Manning of Civil Defence posts including civil defence patrols and lookouts.
•   Maintenance of essential services such as motor transport, pioneer and engineer services, water supply and power supply.
•   Traffic Control.
•   Manning of static signal installations.
•   Messenger service.
•   Duties in Hospital.
•   Administration and running of camps in case of movement of civil population.
•   Any other allied duties.
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
Girl Cadets working in telephone exchange during 1965 War
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
Girl cadets take training at signal equipment
These duties were performed by the cadets with full zeal and enthusiasm. The cadets also helped in building bunds along the western borders. The cadets were guards at important installations like Akashwani, Telephone exchanges and Post offices.
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
Evacuation by NCC cadets
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
Cadets providing first aid
NCC cadets were even tasked to capture Paksiatni Paratroopers who landed in the Cities.Yes! These Young Boys and Girls who were not more than 21 were trusted to Capture Highly Trained Pakistani Paratroopers. But the Story of their Heroism does not End there.The most outstanding instance of courage and devotion to duty displayed by the cadets was the firefighting operations on September 13, 1965, at the Gurdaspur railway station.One NCC Cadet Sergeant Pratap Singh was even Awarded Ashok Chakra III (Equal to Shaurya Chakra) due to his actions at the railway station.
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
Cadets guard Post Office
NCC Cadets during 1965 War
Cadets guard Akashwani Bhawan

Here is the Story of Sergeant Pratap Singh:

On 13th September 1965, Four Pakistani Planes bombed and strafed a goods train carrying diesel oil and other explosive materials at Gurdaspur Railway station, setting fire to the wagon containing diesel oil. The burning oil threw out huge flames and the entire area surrounding the railway track was shrouded by a thick cloud of smoke causing panic and confusion in the locality.

Collecting about 59 other NCC cadets, Sergeant Pratap Singh (No: 1148011) rushed to the scene of the fire. Unmindful of their personal safety, under the inspiring leadership of Sgt Pratap Singh, the Cadets set themselves to the task of detaching the unaffected wagons from the burning wagons and pushing the burning wagons away to a safe distance. During this action, Sergeant Pratap Singh displayed leadership, courage and initiative and set an inspiring example to other cadets.

NCC Cadets during 1965 War
Gurdaspur Railway Station being Attacked by Pakistan’s F-86 Sabre

Due to the Quick and timely response by those Sixty cadets, the fire was brought under control. The cadets not only detached diesel wagons but also detached the wagons loaded with ammunition, thus preventing a major explosion and a fearful disaster.Had they not detached the Ammunition and Diesel Wagons, The Advancement of Indian Army in the Frontline would have almost halted due to low ammo and fuel .The Soldier would not have been able to advance as they had to wait for resupply from other trains which would have taken a long time since train tracks were destroyed as well.

The cadets happily risked their lives and suffered burns in achieving this remarkable feat. In this action, cadets were inspired and led by Cadet Sergeant Pratap Singh who manifested high qualities of leadership, courage and initiative. For his gallantry and selfless devotion to duty which saved the city of Gurdaspur from a terrible catastrophe, Sergeant Pratap Singh of the 10th Punjab Battalion NCC Gurdaspur was awarded the Ashok Chakra Class III (Shaurya Chakra) by President of India Dr Radha Krishnan in 1966.

Here is his Citation:

NCC Cadets during 1965 War