HERITAGE

There was persistent lobbying and discussions in the Indian Parliament from 1936 onwards for establishing a dental service for Indian troops. Eventually, in June 1940, the Govt agreed to establish a dental branch of the IMS (Indian Medical Services) and designated it as IMS (D). In Aug 1940, the first selection board was held at GHQ India. As per Army Headquarters, India Letter No Z-20769/DMS dt 17 January, first batch of 7 officers were granted Emergency King's commission and the 'Indian gentlemen' were ordered to join various establishments on 1st of Feb 1941.

"First 7"

. Dr Kartar Singh
. Dr Mahmud Ahmed
. Dr Raj Sethi
. Dr Sheikh Nazir Mohammed
. Dr Munnawar Quereshi
. Dr Vere Oswald Aratoon
. Dr Joginder Singh

Lt Kartar Singh

view file

Parchment emergency
commission bestowed
to Lt Kartar Singh
by His Excellency
George VI on
26th August 1942

These doctors were given 4 weeks basic military training and then sent to the British Army Dental Centres at Dehra Dun, Rawalpindi, Poona and Quetta. Eligibility for the IMS (D) was restricted to British subjects of Indian domicile or subjects of Indian states who were under 45 yrs of age and had adequate dental qualifications. They joined as lieutenants and were on probation for 3 months. The dental teams served in different theaters of war in World War II like Burma, Siam, Singapore and Hong Kong in Far East, in Persia and Iraq in the Middle East; Tripoli, El Alamein, Greece, Italy and France in Europe. In 1946, King George VI granted the 'Royal' prefix to the Army Dental Corps (British) for the exceptional performance in World War II and the Corps had a new badge. The IMS(D) got its own badge- a laurel wreath, surmounted by a crown, with the inscription 'IADC'. The officers were promoted to captain (the highest rank open to them) after 1 year service and were employed for the duration of the war or as long as their services were required. Subsequently, various army dental centres for Indian troops were established at Indian Military Hospitals, most of them with one chair, but a few larger ones had few chairs apart from the dental officer. Each centre was authorised a clerk, a sweeper and a ward boy of the Indian Hospital Corps. Dentures were fitted at the nearest dental mechanical unit set up for British troops. There was a shortage of equipment and the dentists had to work in shifts. The work of the first dental officers of Indian troops was highly appreciated despite constraints and soon their strength was raised to 23 in order to keep pace with wartime mobilization. Mobile dental units were formed to provide dental cover to forces in the field and generally one was allotted to each group of two Indian general hospitals. Their equipment, packed in wicker and cane panniers and wooden boxes, were bulky and heavy to carry and proved quite unsuitable in a hot and humid climate. Indian firms failed to produce quality products; so the units remained dependent in on imported equipments.