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True Story - The Army Hired A Train

This is a true story of a new army unit which was ordered to shift its base from a small village called Raiwala to a city called Bhatinda. The army unit had a few hundred Officers and men. But with the families including wife children and parents, the numbers were a few thousand people. Also, include the luggage each household will be moving with.

The true story started with the army unit commander ordering preparation to move the unit to the new forward area using their own vehicles as ordered by the army headquarters, they realised that the army vehicles were too hardly enough to accomplish this huge task. There were not many trains that transit via this small village called Raiwala where this army unit was located.

The Army Allowed To Move In A Hired Train - A True story

So the Army unit request the army headquarters for hiring a train on their own. The army headquarters granted permission within a few days to hire a train on their own by liaisoning with the railway staff. The army Officer who was Commanding this army unit had a lot of discussions with the railway staff and finally hired a long train to move the entire unit with men, women, children, army vehicles, personal vehicles like two wheelers and bicycles.

This story is true. In those days cars were too expensive to own. The only car I had seen there was that of the Commanding Officer which was provided by the government. He had a red flag and a star displayed in front of his car. The Other army officers had a Jeeps which was a four wheeler with a soft top and all of these four wheeler vehicles where owned by the army.

This is not fiction but a true life story. Almost all the army personnel owned a bicycle each whic was the ultimate mode of personal transport. The personnel would go to office on their bicycles. They would even go to the market with their wife sitting behind on the metal frame seat of the bicycle. The theywould cycle back home from the market with at least thirty to fifty kilogram provisions, vegetables etc on their bicycle riding over ten kilometers in all.

Even a few army Officers owned bicyles. Just imagine the number of train bogies required to load a few hundred bicycles. To the hundreds of bicycles to be put on the train, add the few dozen four wheelers in the unit of sizes ranging from a car to a six tonner vehicle had to be loaded in to the train. A complete train with at least thirty bogies would be required just for the vehicles.

There were at least  three hundred families to board the train on this short trip. Half the unit personnel were either forced bachelors or unmarried. The train was going to be over croweded. It was understood after talking to the railway officials the previous day of travel, that the train required to move the entire unit was going to be over eighty train bogies long, which was not possible to be positioned by the railway staff at such a short notice.

The maximum promised by the railway staff was about fifty bogies as two separate trains with one diesel engine pullingeach train. Diesel engine was a luxury as electric engines were unheard of in those days and most engines were still coal burning steam engines in India those days. What the railway staff had promised was two trains of twenty five bogies each.

What the army bosses understood was that it is a single train of about fifty bogies and with two diesel engines. The army officers came back happy from the discussion. A lot of discussions were held by the Commanding Officer of the army unit with his Officers and men. Since the entire army families and vehicles were going to take up too many bogies of the train, they took another decision that the bigger army four wheelers like the four tonners and six tonners will load all the bicycles and luggage and go by road.

True Story - Some Army Families Not Allowed To Board The Hired Train

Some of the families were not allowed to board the train. It is a true story. That was because of the space shortage and to reduce the number of people possible to be put on the train. These families were also ordered to go in the vehicles like One tonners and Jeeps to reduce the overcrowding on the army train.

However the Commanding Officer, the second in command and the adjutant along with their families, had not choice but to board the train with the men and the families of the army unit to ensure safety of the entire unit on the train and take decisions. A that time I did not know what decisions they were going to take were going to be hilarious and that is what this true story is all about.

A few days later, on one fine morning, my dad came back home and told us that the train has been positioned at the Raiwala railway station and the unit has to load everything within three days on the train. We all packed up our entire house in to a few wooden boxes. Wood was costly but affordable those days. Steel trunks were too costly for us to buy.

All the army unit those days had many tailors and carpenters. So almost all the army personnel generally had boxes made out of discarded wooden ammunition boxes. These boxes were thrown away after use. As the true story progressed most people felt that those families who were not allowed to board the train were lucky as they reached the forward area in just seven hours.

This true story of the army unit moving in  a hired train, was now going to become a hilarious episode, from the time we boarded the train and were all ready to move. What not a single soul in the entire army unit who boarded this hired train was aware was that, the 385 kilometers overnight journey from Raiwala where this army unit was raised a year ago, to the place called Bhatinda, was going to take us not one night, but more than ten full days, living on the train to complete on the train the army had hired.

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