Name : Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria
Date of Birth : 29 November 1935
Regiment : 3rd Battalion, 1st Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment)
Place : Elizabethville, Katanga, Congo
Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, was born on 29 November 1935, in Gurdaspur, Punjab . He was commissioned in the 1 Gorkha Rifles on 9 June 1957. After the Belgians quit Congo , a civil war situation developed in that country. When the United Nations decided upon military intervention to retreive the situation, India contributed a brigade of around 3000 men to the U.N. Force. In November 1961, the U.N. Security Council had decided to put a stop to the hostile activities of the Katangese troops in Congo . This greatly angered Tshombe , Katanga 's secessionist leader, and he intensified his 'hate the UN' campaign. The result was more violence against UN personnel. On 5 December 1961, a 3/1 GR Company supported by 3-inch mortar attacked a road-block, established by the Katangese troops, between HQ Katanga command and the Elizabethville airfield at a strategic round about. The enemy roadblock was destroyed and the Gorkhas established a UN roadblock there. When Captain Salaria in platoon strength tried to link up with the Gorkha Company to reinforce the roadblock, he met strong opposition in the old airfield area. The enemy brought down heavy automatic and small arms fire on his force from a dug-in position on the right flank. The enemy held the area strongly with two armoured cars and 90 men. Captain Salaria was not deterred by the superior enemy strength and firepower. He decided to take the enemy, head-on, to achieve the objective. The Gorkhas then charged the enemy with bayonets, khukris and hand-grenades. A rocket launcher supported them in the attack. In this sharp encounter, Captain Salaria and his men killed 40 of the enemy and knocked out two enemy cars. His bold action completely demoralised the enemy who fled despite numerical superiority and well-fortified positions. However, in the engagement, Captain Salaria was wounded in the neck by a burst of enemy automatic fire, but he ignored the injury and continued to fight till he collapsed due to excessive bleeding.
Subsequently, he died of his grave wounds. Captain Salaria prevented the enemy from going to the roundabout thereby saving the UN Headquarters in Elizabethville from encirclement. His leadership, courage, unflinching devotion to duty and disregard for his personal safety were in the best traditions of the Indian Army. For his extraordinary leadership and devotion to duty, Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria was awarded the highest wartime medal, ParamVir Chakra, posthumously.
CAPTAIN GURBACHAN SINGH SALARIA
3/1 GORKHA RIFLES (IC-8947)
On 5 December 1961, 3/1 Gorkha Rifles was ordered to clear a roadblock established by the gendarmerie at a strategic roundabout at Elizabethville , Katanga . The plan was that one company with 2 Swedish armoured cars would attack the position frontally and CaptianGurbachan Singh Salaria with two sections of Gorkhas and two Swedish armoured personnel carriers would advance towards this roadblock from the airfield to act as a cutting-off force.
Captain Salaria with his small force arrived at a distance of 1500 yards from the roadblock at approximately 1312 hours on 5 December 1961 and came under heavy automatic and small-arms fire from an undetected enemy position dug in on his right flank. The enemy also had two armoured cars and about 90 men opposing Captain Salaria’s small force.
Captain Salaria appreciating that he had run into a subsidiary roadblock and ambush and that this enemy force might reinforce the strategic roundabout and thus jeopardize the main operation, decided to remove this opposition. He led a charge with bayonets, khukris, and grenades supported by a rocket launcher. In this gallant engagement, Captain Salaria killed 40 of the enemy and knocked out the two armoured cars. This unexpected bold action completely demoralised the enemy who fled despite their numerical superiority and protected positions.
Captain Salaria was wounded in his neck by a burst of automatic fire but continued to fight till he collapsed due to profuse bleeding. Captain Salaria’s gallant action prevented any enemy movement of the enemy force towards the main battle scene and thus contributed very largely to the success of the main battalion’s action at the roundabout and prevented the encirclement of UN Headquarters in Elizabethville. Captain Salaria subsequently died of his wounds.