History of Eastern Army
The history of Eastern Command dates back to the year 1895 when the Bengal Presidency Army was abolished. The period 1902, begining with General Viscount Kitchner's reforms till World War I, gave the command its military character. As per official records, Eastern Command was formed on 01 November 1920 with its summer Headquarters in Nainital and winter Headquarters in Lucknow. General Sir H Hudson, KCB, KCIE, was its first Army Commander. The command's territorial jurisdiction extended over Delhi, UP, Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam.
On first January 1939, Meerut, Lucknow, Bengal, Assam and Delhi military districts came under Eastern Command. The winter Headquarters moved to Bareilly but summer Headquarters remained in Nainital. In Apr 1942 the command was designated as Eastern Army and its Headquarters moved to Barrackpore to prosecute war effort during World War II. Its formations, however, were forced to effect the longest tactical retreat (1500 kms) through Malaya and Burma against superior Japanese forces.
In June 1942, plans were prepared to limit Japanese advance at Imphal and Kohima and for reconquer of Burma that were to result in the biggest ever defeat of Japanese forces in World War II. The Command then consisted of 4 Corps (Headquarters at Imphal) with 17 and 23 Indian Division, 33 Corps (Headquarters at Arakan) with 14 and 26 Indian Division, 70 British Division and 50 Indian Tank Brigade in reserve.
In Feb 1943, the first CHINDIT operations were mounted in Burma by 77 Indian Infantry Brigade (Chindits) under Brigadier Orde Wingate. (Name of Chindit derived from the mythological Chinte-half lion - half eagle, adopted as the formation sign). The force was maintained wholly by air.
In Oct 1943 the first Arakan offensive against Japanese was undertaken by 14 Indian Division. However in Jan 1944, Arakan was recaptured by the Japanese.
In Oct 1943, on the formation of the Fourteenth Army, Eastern Army was relieved of operational responsibility east of river Meghna (now in Bangladesh) including Burma and Eastern Command was revived under Lieutenent General Agom Mayne, CB, CBE, DSO, IDC, Headquarters at Tollygunge, Calcutta with operational responsibility West of river Meghana. In addition the command was responsible for training Indian, British and Chinese troops. Ramgarh became a large training base. The Command also provided administrative back-up for operations in Burma.
On 23 Mar 1947, the Command Headquarters moved to Ranchi with Lieutenant General Thakur Nathu Singh, PSC as its first Indian Army Commander.
During Mar to Aug 1947, as a result of Partition, the command formations were split between India and Pakistan. Only 20 and 23 Infantry Division were left with the command. Maintenance of law and order became one of its major tasks.
In Feb 1955 the Command Headquarters moved from Ranchi to Lucknow.
In 1956, the Command was made responsible for Counter Insurgency Operations against the Naga Insurgents.