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Major General Rajinder Singh Sparrow MVC

Maj Gen Rajinder Singh commanded the 7th Light Cavalry September 1947 to May 1949 and was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest military honor in India, twice.

He saw service in World War II and took over the command of the Regiment in September 1947. The unit had to move to Jammu in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-1948, also known as the First Kashmir War, and one squadron was sent to Srinagar on 4th November 1947. Taking part in the battle of Shalateng, the squadron routed the enemy. The situation in Jammu was critical with the loss of Jhangar on 24th December. Cheetah Force, a mobile column under Rajinder Singh, destroyed the enemy base in Asar-Kandala area. Jhangar was retaken in subsequent operations on March 18 1948, and Rajinder Singh was awarded Mahavir Chakra (MVC) for his bravery and leadership.

An iconic military leader, Major General Rajinder Singh, MVC** was an able Parliamentarian and a renowned public figure. Nicknamed “Sparrow”, Major General Rajinder Singh joined the Indian Army as a soldier on 3rd October 1932. Rajinder Singh served in the ranks of the British Indian Army from 3rd October 1932 to 31st January 1938. He joined the 7th Light Cavalry, an Indian Army regiment, on 24th February 1939. In between the time he was attached to The King’s Regiment (Liverpool), a British Army Regiment stationed on the North West Frontier. Rajinder Singh served during the Second World War and was promoted to the post of Lieutenant on 30th April 1939.

Maj Gen Rajinder Singh commanded the 7th Light Cavalry September 1947 to May 1949 and was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest military honor in India, twice.

Maj Gen Rajinder Singh: The Destroyer of Tanks

Maj Gen Rajinder Singh is credited as the man with the most spectacular success against Pakistan. The man who is responsible for destroying the largest number of Pakistani Patton tanks, Maj Gen Rajinder Singh made the deepest salient into the Pakistani territory. The commander of the First Armoured Division, Maj Gen Rajinder Singh transcended Rommel’s record of destroying 70 tanks in the famous battle of Knightsbridge as the troops under Rajinder Singh destroyed as many as 67 enemy tanks in a single day in the battle of Phillaura. Losing only 6 tanks of their own, as against Rommel's 30 tanks, in the process, General Sparrow's men fought continuously for 15 days and destroyed 250 tanks of the enemy, thus setting a record again. When nobody could’ve even imagined that the tanks could be deployed at high altitudes, Rajinder Singh led the Indian tanks on the Zoli La and cleared the road to Ladakh during the Kashmir Operation in 1948. General Sparrow was awarded Mahavir Chakra for his role in that action.

How did Maj Gen Rajinder Singh get the name “Sparrow”?

It was after the battle for Zoli La during the Indo-Pak war (1947-1948) that Lt Col Rajinder Singh got the name Sparrow. During the battle for Zojila, Lt. Col Rajinder Singh was assigned the near-impossible task of transporting his 7th Cavalry Regiment comprising of Stuart tanks to the battleground at 11000 ft. Accomplishing the task in record time, the 7th Cavalry scared off the Pakistani intruders and forced them to fly off the scene.
“You are an eagle”, impressed by this feat, a foreign war correspondent covering the battle said to Rajinder Singh. Replying with his characteristic modesty, Rajinder Singh replied, “Not Eagle, I am just a Sparrow”. He was called ‘Sparrow’ since then.

A bar to his Maha Vir Chakra (MVC)

The year 1965 saw an attack by Pakistan in the Akhnur district of India and infiltration by a large number of militants leading to a war between the two countries. The Armoured Division commanded by Major General Rajinder Singh ‘Sparrow’ was assigned the task of capturing the Phillora and Pagiwal in the Sialkot sector. With two army regiments of the enemy in the area, the attack on 11th September resulted in the biggest tank battle since the Second World War. Sixty-nine Pakistani tanks were destroyed against nine of India. Major General Sparrow led his formation to win against a better equipped and a numerically superior enemy and Phillora was cleared by 16th September. Major General Rajinder Singh was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for the second time for his bravery and leadership.

Maj General Rajinder Singh Sparrow was the General Officer commanding the armoured division during the 1965 aggression and as a result of his incredible way of handling the Division, Pakistani Armoured Cops, the Pride of Pakistani Army was defeated. Major General Singh ‘Sparrow’ got a bar to his name.

Major General Rajinder Singh: Member of Lok Sabha

After his retirement, Major General Rajinder Singh ‘Sparrow’ entered Politics and became a minister in the Gurnam Singh ministry in 1967. He was later elected to Lok Sabha in 1980 and 1985 for the Jalandhar Constituency as a candidate from Indian National Congress. General Rajinder Singh was a keen hockey and Polo player too. He was a +4 handicapped Polo player and his wife, Sonia Rajinder Singh presented the General Sparrow Polo Cup to General VK Singh, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC in 2011 in memory of her Late Husband.