Mhow Diary – A Collection of fascinating historical facts on Mhow.
(As it was published in the Free Press, Indore edition on May 31 2007)
In 1818 the English under the Scotsman Sir John Malcolm defeated the Holkars at the Battle of Mahidpur. The Treaty of Mandsaur was signed after this battle. The 7 th article of this treaty deals with the founding of Mhow. It was also as a result of this treaty that the capital of the Holkars was shifted from Maheshwar on the banks of the Narmada to Indore . Mhow was the headquarters of Sir John Malcolm till 1821.
According to the Treaty of Mandsaur (1818) the East India Company took the responsibility to "support a field force to maintain the internal treasuries of the territories of Malhar Rao Holkar, and to defend them from foreign enemies. It shall be stationed where the British Government determines to be best, and the Maharajah Malhar Rao Holkar agreed to grant some place of security as a deposit for stores." The place of security mentioned here is what is known as Mhow Fort.
The Army Garrison at Mhow consisted of an Infantry Battalion from a 'Native Regiment' (the rather condescending manner in which the British referred to regiments comprising Indian troops), a wing of a regiment of 'Native' Cavalry and an Artillery Battery comprising British Gunners but which was driven by 'natives'.
The highest point in Mhow is presently part of the campus of the MCTE (Military College of Telecommunication Engineering). It is roughly 1920 feet above mean sea level. It was the location where a British Infantry Battalion was stationed. It was from this point that the British guarded the Bombay track via Chotta Jam.
The Mhow Fort was built in 1821. It covers an area of roughly 10 acres and was used as to store the arms and ammunition of the Mhow Garrison. During the 1857 uprising the Bengal troops in Mhow disobeyed their English officers and took up arms against the English. The surviving English, which included men, women and children, took refuge in Mhow Fort. They stayed here from 1st July 1857 till 2nd August when English troops from Aurangabad under the command of a Brigadier General Stuart entered Mhow via Simrol. Mhow was the only station in Central India which was never abandoned by the British.
If one were to go through the list of regiments stationed at Mhow one can read the names of many Indian Regiments which do not exist any more. In 1857 the year of the uprising the regiments stationed in Mhow were: 5 Regiment Scindiah's Contingent, 23 Regiment the Bengal Native Infantry, The Bengal Artillery, 14 Bombay Native Infantry, 14th Light Dragoons and 25 Bombay Native Infantry. In 1858, after the uprising was suppressed the 5th Regiment of the Madras Cavalry was stationed in Mhow. It is interesting to note that in 1857 the regiments from the Bengal Presidency Army had taken up arms against the British. The Armies of the Bombay and Madras Presidency had not participated in this uprising and were used by the British to crush what they called the Sepoy Mutiny.
In the period between the two World Wars Mhow was the headquarters of the 5th Indian Division which was also known as the Mhow Division. During World War II the troops who had retreated from Burma were kept in Mhow and were trained for jungle warfare in the forests around Mhow. The gruelling forced marches used to start from Mhow and end at Jhansi . Mhow was also used to house prisoners of war including Italian POWs.
From 1940 to 1946 Mhow also housed the Officers Training School . This School trained and converted many a raw young man into an officer of the Indian Army. In 1946 the buildings of the British Infantry Lines were used to establish the Indian Signal Corps School . The first commandant of the School of Signals was an Englishman named Colonel AL Lewis ( 1 Oct 1946 to 27 Oct 1947 ). After independence it was renamed School of Signals on 25 Jun 1948. In 1967 the School of Signals became the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering.
The Infantry School Mhow came into existence on 01 July 1946 and its first commandant was Brigadier RT Cameron, DSO of the 5 Gurkha Rifles (FF). He served in this post from 01 July 1946 to 19 April 1947 . In 1948 the Small Arms School in Sagar, or Saugor as it was known then, was shifted to Mhow along with the Tactical and Administrative School Dehra Dun, the Battle School and Tactical Training Centre DehraDun, the Indian Infantry Platoon Commanders School, Faizabad, the Indian NCOs Training School, Jhansi, the Methods of Instruction School, DehraDun and the Machine Gun School, Deolali. All these institutions merged into the Infantry School – the alma mater of the Indian Infantry. Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw was the Commandant of the Infantry School from 01 Jan 1955 to 29 Novemeber 1956. He was a brigadier at that time. In 1971 the tactical wing of the Infantry School was separated and The College of Combat was born. The first commandant of The College of Combat was Major General OS Kalkat, PVSM of the 6 Gurkha Rifles. The College of Combat is now known as the Army War College .
The Army Training Command or ARTRAC was born in Mhow in 1991. Its first GOC-in-C was Lt. General A.S. Kalkat who had earlier commanded the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka. ARTRAC shifted to Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) in 1994. At that time its General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C) was Lt. General Shankar Roy Chowdhary who went on to become the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). ARTRAC was housed in the former BMH (British Military Hospital) which was used by All Arms Wing MCTE for many years. After ARTRAC shifted to Shimla the BMH building was handed over to Army School Mhow.
Mhow will continue to provide fascinating facts of Indian Military History. The facts listed above could well be called the tip of the iceberg. Readers who wish to contribute more facts may send them to me at email@example.com