2nd (independent) armored brigade
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
2nd (Independent) Armored Brigade celebrated its centenary recently at Pathankot in Northern India. The formation was raised as the Meerut Cavalry Brigade in 1904 and is popularly known as the Fleur-de-Lis Brigade after its formation sign.
The Brigade fought in France during WW 1 where it was designated the 7th Indian Cavalry Brigade and formed part of the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division. The Fleur-de-Lis emblem was adopted as its formation sign at this time (the early stages of WW 1 were when formation signs came into existence, I believe). In 1916 along with the Indian Corps the Brigade left France for Mesopotamia to take part in operations there.
During WW 2 this formation took part in operations in Iraq, Palestine and Persia. It returned to India in 1946 and was finally re-designated as 2(I) Armored Brigade. In the 1965 War the Brigade pulverized Pakistani Patton tanks at the Battle of Khem Karan, where its single Centurion regiment, an AMX - 13 regiment, plus 4 Mountain Divisionís s integral Sherman regiment were all that stood between the enemy's armored division and a Pakistani victory.
2nd (Independent) Armored Brigade spearheaded the Indian offensive into the Shakargarh salient during the 1971 War, making steady if unspectacular progress. It was handicapped by its deployment in penny-packets with regiments and squadrons broken up to work with the infantry.
In 1987-88 the Brigade was part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka. In recent years it has also contributed to internal security and CI operations in Punjab and J&K.
The Brigade was made part of the newly raised 31 Armored Division in 1975, losing its famous Fleur-de-Lis sign, as the new GOC and his staff not being enamored of it. It was considered a French symbol and unworthy of a modern armored force. I had the honor of submitting a couple of suggestions for the new formation sign. Ultimately the White Tiger of Rewa was chosen.
However the Fleur-de-Lis and the independent status of 2 Armored Brigade were not without their champions. These worthies kept on working systematically and patiently for the restoration of both. They succeeded in 1994. A newly raised independent armored brigade and 2 Armored Brigade exchanged flags.
The 2nd became an independent brigade once again and the Fleur-de-Lis was restored to glory.