Service No : IC-1818
Date of Birth : July 2, 1926
Place of birth : Sidhwan Khurd, (Pun)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Major
Unit : 7 Cav
Arm/Regt : The Armoured Corps
Operation : Operation Vijay (1961)
Martyrdom : December 19, 1961
Major Shivdev Singh Sidhu hailed from Sidhwan Khurd village in Jagraon tehsil of Ludhiana district in Punjab and was born on 2nd July 1926. Son of Shri Mohinder Singh and Smt Mehtab Kaur, he did his initial schooling from the village school and later went to the small town of Jagraon to do his Matric. Having seen his exceptional marks in this exam his father thought that his son would take up the medical profession, but that was not the case. He was then sent to Government College Ludhiana to get the necessary degree for further advancement. In the college a British officer and his team came to give motivational lectures and recruit young men as officers in the British Army. He filled the required form but needed his father’s signature which he knew was not possible. So he forged it, but unfortunately, he lost the opportunity as he was underage. However the British officer offered him a two year educational and training program at the King George School, Jullundur after which he could be inducted as an officer. His father later reluctantly agreed.
On graduating he was commissioned into the 7th Light Cavalry. After a stint in Japan with the occupational forces he was sent with his regiment to Zojila Pass in 1948. Though he was the adjutant, he became a tank commander for the day on 1st November 1948. He had with him a young artillery officer who directed artillery fire which pounded enemy positions. He received "Mentioned in Despatches" for his courage and gallantry during the operations. In 1951 he got married to a Delhi girl Ms Shivinder and the couple went on to become parents to three girls as time went by. Besides being a tough soldier he was very affable and caring which endeared him to his peers and subordinates as well. He also got selected to attend the prestigious course at Defence Services Staff College at Wellington, a tri-service Institute for Officers’ training. A man of many parts, Maj Shivdev was a keen sportsman too and excelled in polo and golf. He was also a voracious reader had a collection of plethora of books on subjects ranging from military history to psychology.
Operation Vijay : 18-19 Dec 1961
As years of negotiation did not yield any result, the Indian government decided to deploy the armed forces in an effort to evict the Portuguese out of Goa and other Enclaves. Consequently in November 1961, Lt Gen Chaudhari of the Southern Army deputed 17 Infantry Division under Major General KP Candeth along with the 50th Para Brigade to carry out the task of liberating Goa , Daman and Diu. The air operations were delegated to Air Vice Marshal Erlic Pinto and the Navy was entrusted to create a suitable Task Force to support the operations. Major Shivdev Singh Sidhu's unit 7 Cav was deployed in support of operations to liberate Goa.
The preliminary operations commenced on 17 December with capture of the border town Maulinguem, after a brief skirmish. Wanting to avoid escalation, the Portuguese High Command denied engagement and clearance for counter action – restricting options for their ground troops. The main offensive, synchronized with the operations of Daman and Diu, started at 0400 hrs the next day. By 1000 hrs, initial contact was made north of Ponda and Mapuca and resulted in the destruction of an armoured car by an AMX tank of 8 Cav, operating under Major Shivdev Singh Sidhu's unit 7 Cav. There was no other major engagement thereafter as the Portuguese kept withdrawing and after crossing the river, blew up the bridge at Banastarim. By 2000 hrs, a cease fire offer was received by the Squadron Commander of 7 Cav.
On the night of 18 December 1961, Major Shivdev Singh Sidhu with a small troop approached Fort Aguada to free the political prisoners there. As he held the surrender document he was not prepared for any action. The Portuguese in the Fort were well entrenched and were not willing to give up, which resulted in them using heavy firearms to prevent any entry into the Fort premises. Caught in this firing Major Sidhu organized retaliatory action but was grievously injured while rescuing a brother officer. Major Shivdev Singh Sidhu later succumbed to his injuries and was martyred on 19 Dec 1961. Major Shivdev Singh Sidhu was a brave soldier and committed officer, who led from the front and laid down his life in the service of the nation.