The Lost Bayonet – a page from my cadet training days

As officer cadets  in the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun way back in 1965  , we have scaled the Sivalik hills and jungles many times practicing  jungle warfare ,  raids and  night operations  .  I still remember a very funny incident  on one such occasions  involving my friend  Rao  , a cadet belonging to the Education Stream .  He was a lecturer in a college in Guntur ,  Andhra Pradesh  ,  before getting selected for the Army Education Corps and did not have the necessary  ” cadet acumen ” normally found in those selected through military schools etc .

We were on a night patrol exercise starting at 9 pm and were walking for almost 7 hours  through inhospitable jungle terrain with one or two halts in between  wearing full FSMO  [ field service marching order ] with weapons and bayonets strapped to the waist belt  . When  we reported at the RV [rendezvous] point at 4 am  to the Instructor on completion of the mission ,  the instructor asked for a report that all is clear and there are no injuries to any one or losses of  any personal items issued for the training .  At this stage ,  Rao found out that his bayonet is missing from the strap attached to his waist belt  .

The instructor shouted at Rao and pulled him up along with the patrol leader cadet  who should have checked this before leaving any location where the team rested en route .  Seeing the mood of the instructor ,  Rao innocently  suggested   ”  Don’t worry sir about the loss , I will pay for it !! ”  .  The instructor just exploded and answered ” You idiot and clown ,  like hell you will pay for it !! go back on your haunches along with your buddy , the patrol leader on the route you came and find the bayonet and bring it before day break ! OK  ,  is that clear ? ”

Rao brought the bayonet  by day break as ordered and we  all sighed in great relief !! . I met Rao as a colonel  in the Army HQ  after 20 years where he was   a staff officer in the Army Training Directorate   and we spoke about the above incident over a cup of hot coffee with a lot of nostalgia .

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