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A SILENT THUNDER IN ‘HUNTER’ SQUADRON, NDA

 

A SILENT THUNDER IN HUNTERSQUADRON, NDA

By 2997

A Bit of History

At the end of World War II, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, then Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, led a committee around the world and submitted a report to the Government of India in December 1946. The committee recommended the establishment of a Joint Services Military Academy, with training modelled on the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In August 1947, the Chiefs of Staff  Committee immediately implemented the recommendations of the Auchinleck report. The committee initiated an action plan in late 1947 to commission a permanent defence academy and began the search for a suitable site. It also decided to set up an interim training academy, known as the Joint Services Wing (JSW), which was commissioned on 1 January 1949 at the Armed Forces Academy (now known as the Indian Military Academy) in Dehradun.  Initially, after two years of training at the JSW, Army cadets went on to the Military wing of the Armed Forces Academy for two years of further pre-commission training, while the Naval cadets were sent to Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth  in the United Kingdom for further training.  Air Force cadets did their flying training either at Begumpet, Hyderabad or Jodhpur.

The training at the JSW was divided into four terms. The total number of cadets was about 700 and they were organized into six ‘squadrons,’ two each in the three ‘Battalions’ The instructors were drawn from all the three services, and they unanimously decided to give no ‘names’ to the Battalions and the Squadrons. The battalions were numbered numerically, and the squadrons were christened alphabetically. There were six squadrons from ‘A’ to ‘F’. In those days, the wartime ‘radiotelephony call code’ was in vogue, and so the following names caught on. These are given below, for the first eleven letters: 

 1943

 

Jab We Joined NDA in Jan 1958

The JSW shifted from Clement Town, Dehradun to Kharakwasla in Jan 1955. The training period was enhanced to three years, and therefore the strength of cadets increased. Three more squadrons were raised. These additional squadrons were allotted, one each to the three Battalions. And then, when the intake increased, a tenth squadron became necessary. This tenth Squadron should have been designated as ‘J’ but the Commandant did not like a Squadron to be called “Jig Sqn” and therefore this letter was skipped, and “King” Squadron was born. When we joined, there were ten Sqns placed under three Battalions as follows:

1 Battalion: Able, Baker, George and King. 

2 Battalion:  Charlie, Dog and How  

3 Battalion:  Easy, Fox and Item  

I was assigned to Easy along with 16 comrades whom I consider closer than my brothers. One more friend dropped in from the XVIII course, and for us “Easy” became our ‘home base’.Even though E Squadron was as good as any of the others, the name “Easy” gave scope for the others to label us as “Easygoing.”

NATO Phonetic Code

In 1956, NATO adopted a revised Phonetic code, and the rest of the world followed. In the radio-telephony classes this was taught and used. Some cadets started using it to refer to their Squadrons, and so we were in the transition phase. The NATO words are given below:

 

 nato

“Rationalization” of Squadrons in June 1960

Maj Gen E Habibullah was the Commandant when we joined. He has the unique distinction of commanding the NDA for SIX long years; two years in Dehradun and four in Kharakwasla. He was replaced by Rear Admiral BA Samson in December 1958.  Around the same time, Wg Cdr MK “Macy” Khanna joined as the Battalion Commander of  3 Battalion.  He found himself at a loose end because almost all activities and competitions were done  squadron-wise.  Wg Cdr Khanna set about creating a greater role for battalions.  He wanted “squadron spirit” to be replaced by “battalion spirit.”   To this end, he was able to convince the Commandant to change some of the squadron names, so as to have A, B, C and D  in 1 battalion,  E,F and G in 2 battalion and H, I and K  in 3 battalion.

The change was announced at the end of the Spring term 1960 and implemented from the start of the Autumn term 1960. Squadrons were designated alphabetically.  In this process, King became Charlie, How turned into Golf and Fox received the name Kilo

As per this format, we were designated as ‘Hotel’. Joseph Thomas was appointed the SCC, and he firmly believed that Hotel was not a military name. He thought that Easy and Echo were bad enough.  He was an Air Force cadet and Hunters had come to Pune around that time.  They used to impress us with their sonic bangs.  They also used to fly past at the end of our passing out parades.   The phonetic alphabet was a mere aid for radio-telephony and he decided to use ‘Hunter’ as the new name. At the first morning muster parade of the new term, he called “Hunter” Squadron to ‘Savdhan. The name received unanimous acceptance by cadets of all the terms. It may be mentioned that cadets of the old ‘How’ Squadron did not like to refer to their Sqn as ‘Hotel’ and therefore there was a felt need to seek an alternative. Thomas proved to be silent thunder, to create ‘Hunter’ for generations to follow. Had we sought permission of the NDA authorities, we might not have got it.

 

 thomas and dipak

SCC Joseph Thomas and Dipak Choudhry of  A Squadron.  Earlier, the duo got extra drills for skipping a Prep period and  scooting off to see an Otter that had landed in the gliderdrome

 

Our Squadron Commander was Major Khader Ahmed of the Kumaon Regiment, and he decided to turn a Nelson’s eye to this issue. At any rate, in the official papers, the Squadrons were mentioned as letters, and the calling code was an informal method of referring to them. The sixth termers also considered it to be a better name. I must hasten to add here, that in the official documents, the Squadrons were referred to by the alphabetic letters. Phonetic codes were only used to ensure that there was no mix-up.

 

 16 hunter

A picture of the sixteen ‘Hunter’ Sqn cadets with Maj Khader Ahmed, the Sqn Commander

 

Lo and behold, the word ‘Hunter’ caught on! Sixty one years have elapsed since that day, and no one has questioned this. In fact, I doubt whether the cadets of NDA even know this story. I sometimes think that if a smart Alec in our neighboring ‘Fox’ Squadron had taken a cue from Thomas and called their Squadron ‘King’, it would have been a kingly signal!

Two years after we passed out, there was a further expansion, caused by the increase in the intake of cadets.  Two more Squadrons were raised. ‘J’ was resurrected, and named ‘Julliet’ and Lima was the 12th Sqn. Over the years, six more Sqns have been added. The NATO code has prevailed in all cases, except one: P is called ‘Panther’ and not ‘Papa’. This must be the achievement of a smart Alek who had the  support of his course-mates and the tacit approval of the Squadron Commander.

Hunter Squadron down memory lane

To complete the story, we have gathered some pictures taken during that period, thanks to the camera club.

  lightening

‘Thunder’ is often accompanied by lightning. And this picture captures the scene!

  onroofAnd that thunder caused the window of a cabin to fall off along with its frame. It created an awesome scene to capture for the exhibition at the end of the term

 

candles

In the ‘Mela’ held in the Stadium, our Squadron organized a game. There was a prize for being able to light 12 candles with one matchstick. Here you see a niece of the Commandant, Rear Admiral BA Samson trying to do so. ACC KD Singh escorted her to our stall. She nearly burnt her finger trying to do so.

 

 pushups

‘Hunter’ was in the news recently, when Admiral Karambir Singh chose to perform pushups with the cadets when he went there to review the passing out parade in May 2021

 

The Tailpiece

It is well known that the name makes a difference. “Easygoing” label of yore was replaced by a word that has a stronger military spirit.  Within a few years, there was a time when all three Chiefs were from Hunter squadron. 

Hunter also  made news recently, when the CNS, Admiral Karambir Singh decided to perform ‘pushups’ on the hallowed parade ground of ‘Hunter’ squadron on 29 May 2021.

This story also contains a maxim, “In the military, if you seek permission, you may not get it. But if you are on the right lines, and are able to carry your comrades, you can move a mountain!”

Epilogue

The story concerning the adoption of ‘Hunter’ is known to only the 16 of us who were in the VI term in July 1960. It pains me to mention here that only six of us are alive today. They are AJS Bahl, SV Jaychandran, Suresh Bhatia, Joseph Thomas,  JS Cheema and Yours Truly (seen below)

ss 

 

 

  1. Dhiraj Mullick says:

    Great piece of history sir.

    Very well written and needs to part of NDA History/Archives.

    With your permission I will try and send this to the officer in NDA who looks after Alumni affairs. He may like to take this forward

  2. Lt Cdr JS Cheema IN says:

    Jasbir Cheema
    Sun, Jun 27, 10:29 AM (1 day ago)
    to me

    I, ND146, J.S.CHEEMA joined when the squadron name was changed from EASY to HUNTER. The ACC(Academy Cadet Captain) was from our squadron. Facing out from the squadron, the mess was in front and the ITEM(INDIA) Sqn to our left and the hospital to our right. The Sqn to our right was empty, used by the hospital. Those days were nice and pleasantly memorable.
    Jasbir Cheema

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Jasbir,
      Your memory is sharp as a razor!
      Even though you were with us for only one year, you won a lot of friends and became a part of our squadron mates.
      The ACC was KD Singh. He took pre-mature retirement and migrated to the USA. Unfortunately, he contracted cancer and passed away about five years ago.
      Nice hearing from you.
      Surjit
      Ph no. of Cheema 9869633977

  3. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

    Harbhajan Singh

    to me

    Dear Surjit Ji,

    When we started there were only two squadrons; A and B. When the 2nd Course came in Jul/Aug 1949 C Sqn was added.

    Each Sqn was equated to a company and commanded by a Maj/equivalent. Each Sqn had three Divisons ( a Naval terminology equated to a platoon).

    As far as memory goes, C Sqn was raised when 3rd Course joined and D Sqn was raised when the 4th Course arrived.

    There were no battalions till the 1st Course was there.

    Regds.

    HS

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thanks, Sir.
      This fits in with my perception.
      We, the ex-NDAs owe a lot to the First-J. They laid the foundation stone of the edifice.
      Surjit

  4. Maj Gen Inderjit Kahyap says:

    Inderjit Kashyap
    Thu, Jun 17, 10:35 PM (18 hours ago)
    to me

    Hello Surjit,
    Yes, we were a comparatively gentle Sqn barring a few whose belligerence surfaced once in a while. Yes, some of the Senior Courses did venture into mischief, some got away whilst some got the hard rap.
    Wonder if you recall K(Kalu) Gill, he started a term senior but went down another term whilst we were there & another term whilst at IMA. He was one whose mind had to but think about hoodwinking the system irrespective of the consequences. He did earn for himself an incorrigible cadet & thus dragged the Course too with himself.
    Easily, a book can be written on his escapades. That apart he was a thorough team man who did his very best for the team he was in plus never let his friends or Course mates down. Have seen him undergo severe punishment but never opened his lips about those involved.
    All in All, NDA as it stands now, is an institution par excellence & willingly volunteer to undergo a 3 yrs stint even at the present age.
    Regards,
    Inder

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Inder,
      Yes. I remember Gill. But we never considered him to be our course-mate.
      I remember many of his monkey tricks. He collected money from the newcomers to send telegrams to their parents for having arrived safely and pocketed the cash. He was caught.
      He did not last long in the service. I suspect that he suffered from some kind of perversion. The SSB should have been able to find that in their ‘psychological’ tests.
      Surjit

  5. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    ABS Sidhu

    to me

    I had moved to Item Sqn from Fox Sqn
    on relegation. We were quite happy with
    being called India Sqn .
    ABS Sidhu

    • Surjit Singh says:

      ABS,
      That indeed was an ‘upgradation’!
      ‘King’ to Charlie’ was for sure a down-gradation.
      Surjit

  6. Sqn Ldr Kumar Gaurav says:

    (Received on WhatsApp)

    Good evening sir,

    This piece of history has remained a mystery for most of the cadets who have passed out from the esteemed Academy. Even many of the Ex-Hunters are not clearly aware of this missing piece. It has been of great value to know the insights about the structure of the Academy during the said period. Rumours had emerged regarding the change in name of Sqn from Hotel to HUNTERS over the decades and finally, this information will be circulated amongst everyone from 16th course to 145th course (in progress). I have heard great stories about the spirit of Hunters and many legends have emerged from the Hallowed portals of this Prestigious Sqn. I am appointed as one of the Divisional Officers of the HEADHUNTERS (as they call themselves now) and it would be our privilege to share the history of HUNTER in the sqn ante room so that the cadets present now (141-144 C) will cherish and pass it down to all the Hunters.

    Regards

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Kumar Gaurav,
      You have helped us a lot.
      We wish you all the best in your new unit.
      The NDA memories will never fade away. They are indelible!
      Regards,
      Surjit

  7. Surjit Singh says:

    Dear Gen Suri. Thanks for the kind words. I think Nahan is a good place to escape from the oppressive heat of NOIDA. We spent our childhood in Dehradun because Pitaji was posted in the IMA from 1949 to 53. He was given a loan for a car, and so we could drive down to Paonta Sahib, which is close to Nahan. Thanks for the kind words. Memories of the NDA days are precious for all of us, and therefore this piece has been received well. One question which you alone can answer is, ‘When was ‘King Squadron’ raised? And if you can tell us a bit about what it felt like to shift from Clement Town to Kharakwasla, it will be a useful addition to this story. I know for sure that you were asked to carry the IMA colours’ as an Under Officer in Dehradun. With best wishes, Surjit

  8. Lt Gen Kulbir Suri says:

    (Received on WhatsApp

    Hi Surjit,
    Enjoyed reading your piece on the HUNTER Sqn, posted by Narayan Chaterjee.
    Have been holidaying in Nahan (HP) since 23 May, along with Choosa, Charu and their families. We all are doing fine.
    Hope all well with you all. Our regards to Mrs Surjit and love to the children.
    Kulbir

  9. Lt Gen JS Dhillonl says:

    (Phone call from Gen Dhillon to me)

    Surjit, you have recorded the history of the squadrons very well. The piece is highly readable, and the language is lucid. It made me go down memory lane…and for a moment I was back in ‘How Squadron’. I was in the XVIII course.

  10. Maj Gen MPS Kandal says:

    Madan Kandal
    Jun 16, 2021, 11:11 PM (11 hours ago)
    to me

    What a fine piece you have written Sir.Nothing new though.
    Personally my mind remained attached to Easy or Echo. It was the world that I entered in Dec 58.So it is even today. In fact as I recall the change to How Hotel or Hunter didn’t really stir me
    me. Rather it felt like losing a friend.And before one could get used to this new address another change . Juliet.Spent my final term in this new addition to No 3 Bn.
    Thanks and Regards
    Madan Kandal

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      Madan,
      You are able to say a lot, in very few words. In this mail, ‘Nothing new, though’ means a lot to me! Yes. I agree with you. Sqn names should not have been changed. If rationalization was necessary, we should have been physically shifted. I did not know that Juliett was raised just one term after we left. And I am not sure that this is the right name for a military unit. If I had my way, I would have called it ‘Josh’ or something else to inspire the cadets
      .Regards
      Surjit

  11. Lt Gen Raj Kadyan says:

    Raj Kadyan
    Jun 16, 2021, 11:09 PM (11 hours ago)
    to me, chiranjiv, Madan, d, jagwant

    Dear General,

    As I know (and I am sure you would know too), when the NDA started in Kharakvasla, there were only six squadrons from A to F. There were divided into three battalions ie A & B in 1 Bn, C & D in No 2 Bn and E & F in No 3 Bn. When the seventh squadron G was raised it went to No 1 Bn, eighth went to No 2, Ninth to No 3 and tenth again to No 1 Bn. So when you joined NDA, No 1 Bn had A,B,G & K Sqns, No 2 Bn had C,D & H Sqns and No 3 Bn (ours) had E, F & I Sqns. It was only logical that these were put sequentially. The choice was either to keep the same name and change the buildings or just change the name. The latter option was followed. That is how in your sixth term we from E we became H.
    In my view, instead of saying ‘Old Easy; new Hunter” I would prefer to say our Sqn was ‘Easy renamed Hunter’.

    We are grateful to Thomas and you all for choosing Hunter, which is more macho and inspiring.

    I agree with you change is more acceptable when we approach not only with a request with an option or even better a fait accompli.

    Despite giving ourselves a strong masculine name one competition we could never win in my six terms was the Inter Squadron drill competition. In our final term we managed to carry away the Torna Trophy though.

    With best regards,

    Lt Gen Raj Kadyan
    262, Sector-17A
    Gurgaon – 122 001

    • Maj Gen Surjit Singh says:

      Raj
      I agree with every word you have written. We should have used the term, ‘E’ renamed ‘H’ and not old E/mew HYes. Our Sqn did not do well in the Inter Sqn championships. We were called ‘Easy’ and everyone said, ‘Take it easy!’I am glad that you broke the glass ceiling by lifting the Torna Trophy. But these days when we meet in the course get-togethers, I find that we were a Sqn of ‘gentlemen’. The kind of things that happened in other Sqns like throwing bicycles in a well, stealing scooters for joyrides and throwing a fire-extinguisher on a CSM did not occur in our Squadron. The way you readily offered to host my wife in your house in Paris in 1992 is ample evidence of your camaraderie.I read your piece every morning, like a newspaper. Thanks.
      Surjit 

  12. pushkar says:

    Nice read.
    Can someone throw light on how sister sqn were formed and how come golf and india misses out.?

  13. Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas says:

    Joseph Thomas
    4:03 PM (1 hour ago)
    to me

    Remarks from Cmde Bose (9 JSW)

    3007

    ” When we (Joint Services Wing) moved to Khadakvasla from Dehradun in Dec 1954, 3 more Sqdns were formed viz. G, H, & I in addition to the existing six A to F Sqdns to cater for the additional inputs of cadets. I was moved from Fox Sqdn to India Sqn.

    Whilst in JSW Dehradun there were no Battalions, in Khadakvasla three battalions were formed. Easy, Fox & India Sqns formed the 3rd Battalion. The 8th & 9th course Naval cadets who had to do an extra year in the Naval Wing of Joint Services Wing also moved to Khadakvasla, and were re-integrated with the Sqdns, became the senior cadets and held the appointments. I passed out from Khadakvasla as Battalion Cadet Captain of 3rd Battalion. Interesting to note from your mail that the phonetic terms used for the Sqdns (borrowed from the NATO forces), were never used in official correspondence. During my time, I Sqdn was known as Item Sqdn. Later it became India Sqdn.”
    Thanks a lot.Thanks for the mail.Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      It appears that ‘Battalions were formed only after the Academy shifted to Kharakwasla. In Clement Town, Squadrons reported to the Wing HQ directly. There were only six squadrons, and the Wing Commander could deal with them.
      Surjit

  14. Col Sudhir Sakhuja says:

    SUDHIR SAKHUJA
    6:12 AM (7 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear General:

    Greetings from Down Under!

    Just read the very informative piece A SILENT THUNDER IN ‘HUNTER’ SQUADRON, NDA.I am from Hunter / 47th Course, and hence it was of special interest to me.

    I now live in Melbourne and am a member of the NDA Alumni Association (Australian Chapter).

    This link to this piece was received in my Sqn WhatsAppgroup and has now been posted by me to the Whatsapp group our NDA Australian Chapter.

    Please do visit our website (https://ndaaaac.org.au/) whenever you have some time. I am associated in a humble capacity with a newsletter which we publish. I shall soon send you a copy.

    Yes, I also visited Guftagu @https://amolak.in/web/. The pieces are so well written and nostalgic. Kudos Sir to the team which under your guidance is
    doing a stupendous job.

    Please plan to visit Australia. It will be an honour to meet you.

    Thanks and kind regards,

    Col Sudhir Sakhuja, VSM (Retd)
    MADRAS Regt
    +61412091079 (also Whatsapp)

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Sudhir,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      I will go through your website.
      I have spent some time in Australia. I have a very close cousin in Maryland, about tso hours from Sydney. He took us all over.
      Now, at eighty, travel has become difficult.
      Internet, WhatsApp and zoom chats seem to be a better alternative!
      Do tell us more about yourself, and your family.
      Surjit

  15. KS Rao says:

    From: K S Rao
    Date: Tue, Jun 15, 2021 at 7:22 PM
    Subject: Hunter Sqn
    To: himlynx@gmail.com

    Respected Wg Cdr Joseph sir,

    I had read the article of Maj Gen Surjit on Hunter Sqn.

    It was a great revelation. Our heartiest congratulations and our admiration reaches higher levels.

    profound regards,
    KS

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Gen Rao,
      I have heard a great deal about you from Sapper officers about your adventures. The ‘Trishna’ voyage was a great challenge and you did us proud. I meet TPS Chaudhary quite often.
      We invite you to write a piece on your voyage, along with some pictures. I am sanguine that it will be well received.
      Surjit

  16. Col Anil Bhalla says:

    “Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean the future can’t be better than you ever imagined.”

    A quote from Ziad K. Abdelnour, sent by Col Anil (Bobby) Bhalla

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thanks, Bobby.
      You are forever great.
      A japhhi with you is always a treat.
      (Though the ribs are at risk)
      Surjit

  17. Lt (IN) Vipul Kumar says:

    [7:56 PM, 6/15/2021] Unknown Friend: Good evening sir,

    This piece of history has remained a mystery for most of the cadets who have passed out from the esteemed Academy. Even many of the Ex-Hunters are not clearly aware about this missing piece. It has been of a great value to know the insights about the structure of the Academy during the said period. Rumours had emerged regarding the change in name of Sqn from Hotel to HUNTERS over the decades and finally this information will be circulated amongst everyone from 16th course to 145th course (in progress). I have heard great stories about the spirit of Hunters and many legends have emerged from the Hallowed portals of this Prestigious Sqn. I am appointed as one of the Divisional Officers of the HEADHUNTERS (as they call themselves now) and it would be our privilege to share the history of HUNTER in the sqn ante room so that the cadets present now (141-144 C) will cherish and pass it down to all the Hunters.

    Regards
    This is Lt (IN) Vipul Kumar N/129 C presently Divisional Officer in Hunter Sqn.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Vipul Thanks.
      It is so nice to hear from some one who is currently serving in Hunter Sqn. Kindly convey my regards to all officers of the Sqn, and extend my blessings to the cadets. And call me up if you want to know more about what life was like, sixty odd years ago.
      Maj Gen Surjit Singh

  18. A wonderful recap of the days at the Alma Mater.. there are so many stories that come up with each passing out course. This vintage tale about the initial days of NDA at Kharakvasla giving the history of nomenclature is surely a gem.
    Thank you Sir, for sharing this.
    Best wishes

    Col CP Ramchandani
    53 Delta (Daggers?) :)

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Col Ramchandani,
      Thanks.
      Ex-NDAs of our vintage are fading out. That is why you hear less about the initial years of the Academy at Karakwasla. Photography was expensive and the pictures of that era are few.
      Be that as it may, I am happy to notice that cadets of the present generation have shown keen interest in knowing the history of that period. Sixty years is a fairly long time. Even the Commandant in the chair today was not born when all this happened!
      Surjit

  19. Lt Gen Sanjay Verma says:

    Great one Gen Surjit sir – didn’t know in spite of being a HUNTER!
    It is all over our course group!
    Thanks
    Sanjay

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Sanjay,
      I am delighted to hear that!
      Now I know why and how you ‘outsmarted’ everyone and rose to such wuthering heights!
      Regards,
      Surjit

  20. Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas says:

    Old Fox sqn wanted to be known as Killer Sqn but didn’t succeed

    Presume they tried to get permission!

    JT

    • Surjit Singh says:

      3007,
      Now they are going to raise two more squadrons, S and T
      Unless a JT appears on the scene, the new Squadrons will be called ‘Sierra’ and ‘Tango’
      Along with Romeo, Julliet and Foxtrot, the NDA will be fit to replace the National School of Drama!
      Surjit

  21. Maj Gen Naseeb Katoch says:

    Abstract from a message on the WhatsApp by Maj Gen Nasseb Katoch, who was the Sqn Commander of Bravo Sqn in 1970-72

    Fortunately the presentations made by the 6th Termers to the respective sqn’s are intact though needed extensive repairs . Dy Comdt Pereira was very considerate & I was able to get money to get all “BRAVO” Sqn trophies repaired . He was the great admirer of EX-NDA spirit & use to say only that his greatest regret in life is he was not from NDA ! The changes brought about in dress of cadets , selection of civilian Academic staff & in various other fields were entirely due to his efforts . He was sent to the West Point & Sandhurst to view the functioning of these institutions & incorporate good practices noticed in curriculum of NDA . On his returned he addressed all offrs & Academic Staff & stated that barring few things the functioning of NDA was far better in all aspects than these two Academies .

    Naseeb Katoch

  22. Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas says:

    [2:05 PM, 6/15/2021] Thomas 2018: Written by Maj Gen Surjit Singh (Retd) 19th Course NDA, EME..
    Received by me. .
    Narayan Chatterjee

    https://amolak.in/web/a-silent-thunder-in-hunter-squadron-nda/
    Thomas 2018: Kishore Rao is 24th course Hunter
    The second person to send the article to me
    3007

  23. Surjit says:

    Naseeb Katoch has revealed the ‘missing link’ . In 1970, Maj Gen Gupta who was the Commandant then, decided to locate the squadrons in a clockwise manner. The first Sqn of each Bn was to be the one that was facing the road, and the others were located in a clockwise pattern. Consequently Bravo and Delta Squadrons were swapped over. A similar change was implemented in the other Battalions. At the end of the day, only two squadrons ‘A’ and ‘I’ are where they were during our days. Old albums and other documents have not been shifted in a meticulous manner, and therefore, if you go looking for them, you have to do a lot of research.
    Surjit

  24. Ranjit Talwar says:

    Deepak my understanding from Nasib’s post is that they have been renamed once again in a clockwise sequence. Old George is now Bravo. Unfortunately, we remain Chatlies to-date.
    Ranjit Talwar

  25. Vivek Bopiah says:

    Vivek Bopiah
    Jun 14, 2021, 10:52 PM (13 hours ago)
    to me

    We were lucky that our Sqn remained the same except from Able it became Apha,

    Regards

    Vivek

  26. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

    Harbhajan Singh
    Jun 14, 2021, 8:24 PM (16 hours ago)
    surjit@amolak.in

    Interesting. Maj Gen Surjit Singh has a great way of narrating past happenings.
    May be he got the gift from his father who was in AEC and one of our esteemed
    instructors at IMA.

    Harbhajan Singh
    Lt Gen

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Affable General,
      You are very kind with your words.
      We draw inspiration from your course.
      First J set the traditions and will forever remain the pioneers
      Surjit

  27. Col Randhir Singh says:

    randhir singh
    Jun 14, 2021, 6:13 PM (18 hours ago)
    to me

    Very interesting! Sent to my son he is from Hunter thxs for sharing

    Gagi

  28. Brig SS Jaswal says:

    Brig S S Jaswal
    Jun 14, 2021, 3:59 PM (20 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Sir,
    It is a real pleasure to read your mails, especially the ones which give your family background. This write up on NDA Squadrons is quite interesting and I will forward it to my Course Mates.

    Deep regards
    Jaswal
    37 NDA
    Charlie Sqn.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Jaswal,
      The word ‘Charlie’ means  ‘night watchman’ And for the ‘King Sqn’ to be re-named ‘Charlie’ was a down gradation. I think they should have called themselves ‘Chandan’ or ‘courage but we can never go back. That much is certain. God bless
      Surjit

  29. Satish Kumar Bhandari says:

    satish bhandari
    Jun 14, 2021, 3:29 PM (21 hours ago)
    to me

    Great to hear from you.
    Very interesting and informative article.

  30. Gulu Hora says:

    Gulu Hora
    Jun 14, 2021, 3:15 PM (21 hours ago)
    to me

    Thanks sir very interesting reading
    Cheers Gulu Hora.

  31. Narayan Chatterjee says:

    narayan chatterjee
    Jun 14, 2021, 3:08 PM (21 hours ago)
    to me

    Excellent History of NDA…

    THANKS AND BEST REGARDS

    Narayan Chatterjee

  32. Probir Sengupta says:

    Probir Sengupta
    Jun 14, 2021, 2:51 PM (21 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Gen. Singh,

    I must admit I do not know how I have received this mail since I am not from the Services. I enjoyed reading your story how the SCC named the Squadron as “Hunter”
    I read that you were in the NDA in 1960.
    My younger brother, J K Sengupta, was in the NDA at that time.
    He was the ACC in his final term.
    Perhaps you knew him. He died in 2013 at the Command Hospital, Pune (Cancer)

    Regards,

    P K Sengupta
    Pune

    • Surjit says:

      Dear Probir,
      Thanks for your mail.
      Your brother is a well known officer. A brave man who was snatched away too soon.
      He is held in high esteem by all his colleagues.
      God bless.
      Surjit

  33. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    ABS Sidhu
    Mon, Jun 14, 2:35 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Hi Surjit ,
    Thanks for sharing the history of
    naming of the Sqn names in NDA .
    Initiative used by Thomas to change
    the name from Hotel to Hunter was
    a smart act .
    With best wishes .
    ABS Sidhu
    3016

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thanks, ABS
      I think you should have insisted on being called “Killers” or “King” Officially the name of the Sqn was only the alphabet. The word was merely phonetic, to avoid ambiguity.
      Surjit

  34. Maj Gen Inderjit Kahyap says:

    Inderjit Kashyap
    Mon, Jun 14, 2:24 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Surjit,
    Very interesting! Was unaware of this part of your Squadron’s history. Thank you.
    Regards,
    Inder

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Inderjit,
      Thanks. And I think we were a squadron in which mischief was rare. We did not perform the kind of dare-devil acts which were almost routine in How and King Squadrons. I think your buddies were also very gentle (at least the ones whom I knew)
      Regards
      Surjit

  35. Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas says:

    Joseph Thomas
    Mon, Jun 14, 1:57 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Received, thanks. Forwarding

    3007

  36. Col Aman Inder Brar says:

    aman brar
    8:10 AM (4 hours ago)
    to me

    Fantastic piece masad…

    Regards, Aman Inder Brar

  37. Brig PT Gangadharan says:

    Forwarded to all my friends
    Gangadharan

  38. Air Cmdre Ashok Chhibbar says:

    Cd Ashok
    9:09 AM (3 hours ago)
    to Maj

    Dear Surjit Sir,

    Nice to read about the Hunter Sqn story!.
    I have written one on my joining NDA…

    https://drifterchibsky.blogspot.com/2021/06/dreams-do-come-true.html

    Warm Regards,

    Ashok Chhibbar

  39. Gp Capt Ghosh says:

    Vow !!!
    2400 Cadets ?? Holy Cow !!
    POP in two shifts ??
    Group Capt Ghosh

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Ghosh,
      For a country of our size, 2400 is not too large a number. And now, they have many cadets from friendly foreign countries.
      As for POP the participation is limited to the fifth and sixth term cadets.
      Regards,
      Surjit

  40. Lt Gen Prakash Gokarn says:

    Brought back happy memories of first term at NDA

    Prakash

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Prakash,
      Thanks.
      Are you not going to send us a ‘slice’ out of your memories?
      And if you can embellish it with pictures, it will be the icing on the cake!
      Surjit

  41. Maj Gen Inder Kashyap says:

    [6:15 PM, 6/14/2021]

    Inder Kashyap:
    It’s been updating of our NDA history of Squadrons.
    Thank you Surjit
    Inder Kashyap

  42. Lt Gen Sudhir Kumar says:

    Surjit, it is an interesting reading.

    As I recollect, we called ourselves as Killers. Foxes are dead long live the Killers was written on the parting memento presented to the Sqn by us.

    Tutsi can correct me if I am wrong.

    Sudhir

  43. Wg Cdr V Mayadeo says:

    Dear Surjit
    I have little different take on the Sqn names.
    When The Academy moved to k wasla we had six Sqns divided in three Bns. First one had A and B second and third had C,D and E,F respectively in proper sequence.
    As expansion started G was added to No 1 Bn and H and I to 2nd and 3rd Bns. When tenth Sqn was added it joined 1st Bn as K. Sequence went for a six. Noticeably Juliet was left out. Otherwise kings would have been sweethearts to begin with.

    This was a bit hotch potch so they rechristened Sqns battalion wise to make a neater appearance and we had.
    No 1 with ABCD earlier ABGK
    NO2 with EFG earlier CDH
    No 3 with HIK earlier EFI

    So only A,B and I retained original alfabet. I trust that amended international phonetic alfabets were accepted. Politically NATO was a bad word.
    My Sqn happily changed from Item to India.
    Rest as you said was history.

    Take care be happy
    Maya

  44. Maj Gen Nasib Katoch says:

    I was posted as “BRAVO” Sqn Cdr in May 1970 & remained so till Jul 1973 . Def Minister , Jagjivan Ram was to visit NDA in 1971 & my Sqn being the Champion Sqn was chosen for his inspection to show the living conditions of cadets . During the rehearsals of briefing in Main (Sudan) Block Gen SD Gupta (Arty) the then Comdt just could not get the names correctly which Sqn was loc in which bn . He decided to rename the four sqn’s in each bn in clockwise manner the senior most starting in each bn from facing road side & that is how the present naming of sqn’s stand today . Only Sqn that has retained it’s original name & place is “Alpha” know called “Apache “. Though then Commodore (later Naval Chief) RL Pereira opposed the move but the Comdt was adamant . Now No1 Bn has ABCD (B Sqn now faces Gol Matket) , No.2 Bn -EFGH &
    No.3 Bn-IJKL
    2 . Our Sqn “How”had a new Sqn Cdr Sqn Ldr MacNeil in our 3rd Term , if you all recollect after the PT display & horse show org for parents of passing out cadets was followed by air display , in this particular air display for the first time sound barrier was broken by “HUNTERs” in NDA this flight was led by our Sqn Cdr MacNeil & from then onwards we started calling our Sqn as “HUNTER” & not “HOW”.
    Nasib Katoch

  45. It is often a rhetoric in conversations ” what is in a name? ” But for those in uniform ,a name is everything and conveys deep bonds with traditions and past legends . You can ignore it at one’ s peril.This fascinating story ,down memory lane , captures the spirit of names very effectively . The very fact that the author thought about it even after more than six decades proves the point . A great read indeed.

  46. Col Abraham Cherian Retd says:

    This is great, sir! I had an idea about the name changes, but didn’t know the details. Always great to hear squadron stories. I’m H/84.

  47. Lt Gen Kapil Aggarwal (Retd) says:

    Sir, it is an interesting vignette of NDA history captured in your usual lucid style. I wonder how many of current generation are aware of it. Enjoyed reading.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Kapil,
      Thanks.
      We joined the NDA at a very young age. It left an indelible imprint on us. And since we were there for three long years, the bonds are life-long.
      Regards,
      Surjit

  48. PM Bambawlae says:

    A very nostaljik insight in the period gone by long ago.

    However very fresh in young mind of old body.

    Long live your Suadran.

  49. Dave Sood says:

    Love these stories.
    This is what made us different to otherservices in India.
    We maintain traditions and leave these inspiring stories for generations to follow.
    It Needed Joe to changethe history of HOTEL to HUNTER.
    Joe big Achievement.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dave,
      Thanks.
      Item was the closest to our Sqn…and you all were a set of thorough gentlemen. No stealing scooters or throwing bicycles in the well!
      And you got the most appropriate new name. “India’ is far better than ‘Item’ as Mayadev has said.
      Regards,
      Surjit

  50. Rajendra Kapoor says:

    My nephew was from this Sqn and is today an AVM.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Rajendra Kapoor,
      We are delighted to hear that.
      You must send this story to him. An Air Force cadet gave it the name, ‘Hunter’
      Regards,
      Surjit

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