This squadron was never meant to come to India in the first place it was destined for Rangoon but a series of mishaps and last minute change of plan led this squadron to be deployed in Calcutta (Kolkata). Balloon Squadrons do not exist anymore since the rules of war and the tools of war have subsequently changed and slowly these regiments were retired from active service.
The deployment of this squadron in my city of Kolkata came at a time when the fear of a Japanese attack was imminent. Contrary to the common belief Kolkata was not the only city to be bombed by the Japanese; cities like Vishakhapatnam, Kakinada and Chennai were also attacked. What was common between these cities were that all of them were major ports and the Japanese Imperial Army wanted somehow to break the supply chain of war supply to China which was a major front and was giving a tough fight to the Japanese aggression.
This blog is dedicated to the men of the 978 Balloon Squadron who despite the limited resources and the limited manpower took the challenge on their shoulder and with balloons defended my city.
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In this region of Andhra Pradesh, the popular tourist destinations are Belum Caves and Gandikota. Gandikota is more famous for its Grand Canyon-like gorge than the fort which people visit as a side show. Unless you are travelling to these two places as a weekend getaway in your car you would need to stay somewhere and this is exactly where our next tourist destination comes. The name of the place is Gooty or I think I should call it Gutty as this is what the locals refer to this place as.
My trip to Gooty was part of a tour to Belum Caves – Gandikota Gorge – Gandikota Fort. Gooty is a small town and the railway station is one of the diesel loco shed in the line between Chennai and Mumbai thus there is a sizeable population of railway employees who reside in quarters all along the railways station. The main Gooty town is however around 4 – 5 kilometres from the station.
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It was in the year 2014 and I still had not decided where to go along with my family for Puja vacations. “Gurudongmar” my colleague whispered in my year, “have you been there?” he asked. Honestly, I had been thinking about it for quite some time but the thought of climbing up to an altitude of 17,800 feet gave me cold feet knowing that during my Nathula Pass trip which was at around 14,000 feet I had acute altitude sickness. After a lot of convincing I finally booked a trip to North Sikkim covering Lachen –> Gurudongmar Lake –> Lachung –> Zero Point.
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This is my first blog where I am writing about a failed attempt to discover something new. Well not exactly new as it was already well investigated by a professor and also had been highlighted in some newspapers and online magazines. I wanted to pick up where the professor had left and waned to create a detailed blog about it.
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