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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Major Shamshad sums up Battle of Chawinda

MEN OF STEEL-MAJOR SHAMSHAD ALI KHAN KAIMKHANI


MAJOR SHAMSHADS SUMMING UP LETTER OF AUGUST 2008

MEN OF STEEL by Major Shamshad Ali Khan Kaimkhani (Retired),majshamshad@hotmail.com,25 Cavalry
MEN OF STEEL

By

Major Shamshad Ali Khan Kaimkhani (Retired)

majshamshad@hotmail.com

25 Cavalry

This was first sent to daily DAWN but they did not have the guts to publish it on grounds that it involved the president and the army.


The other day I came across a book entitled ,' MEN OF STEEL,'. President General Mushrraf has graced the book with Foreword while the preface has been written by General Khalid Mahmud Arif (Retired). The book is based on war diaries supposed to had been maintained by the units and the staff or the general (late ) Abrar Hussain who commanded 6 Armoured Division in 1965 on Chawinda sector. I cannot reason out as to why the book has been published now when the event is forty years behind at this point of time. As there is nothing in the book that would have jeopardized the security of the country, it should have come out immediately after the war. That was the time when it could provided opportunity to higher command( there is nothing for junior leaders in the book) to learn from the experience of the one who had fought the greatest tank battle after world war- II. That would have saved us of many debacles in 1971 and especially the ones committed in Sialkot sector on western front The book has five parts. Part three (25% of the book) is the description of the events on the battlefield that is of interest to students of military history. 75 % of the book comprises of background and statistics regarding composition of units /formations, casualties in men and material on both sides, names of commanders, list of recipients of gallantry awards, photographs and such like details.



I feel that late general Abrar Hussain has not authored the book because he was known to be of the type who would never indulge in such a travesty. General K.M Arif appears to be the ghost author of the book.

I was a participant in the events on battlefield mentioned in part 3 of the book and have a different version.

To give authenticity to my narration, which will be diametrically opposed to the one given in the book, it is necessary to state that I was directly involved in the events as a troop leader in C squadron of 25 cavalry and squadron commander twice on extreme critical moments on the battle field. I was face to face with enemy every day throughout the war. My location from day one had been at Gadgor, Phillorah, Chawinda and Butter Dogranmdi where the battle was fought. It is regretted that I did not have the good luck to see a red tab or even a staff officer on front line during entire war.

From the text of part three it is clear that the general left his Headquarter, at Bhollowal ten miles behind the front line, for the first and last time in a helicopter on 11 September in the evening, By that time our two regiments , Guides and 11 Cavalry, had been badly mauled.. The right time for the general to leave his HQ was in the morning when he got the news that 11 cavalry was under pressure. Had he been at Chawinda at 1100 hours he could have directed and controlled the efforts of the three regiments and saved the day. By the evening, while sitting in the caravan, he had launched two more regiments, Guides and 25 cavalry. Guides was launched at a time( about 1100 hours) when 11 cavalry had retreated and Indians had taken up defensives position to shoot up Guides who attacked with high spirits on their first day in action. Some fine men and officers were lost in this action due to the apathy of commanding officer who launched the regiment in haste, without artillery and infantry support contrary to the dictates of terrain.. Lethargy and incompetence of HQ 6 armoured division resulted in our defeat at Phillorah which was the greatest tragedy on this front.

As if that was not enough, 25 cavalry was launched at 1600 hours with a mission to occupy Phillorah track crossing which was reported not occupied by the enemy. Thanks to our stars and battle experience of preceding three days that we got away with loss of only one tank when we hit against enemy defenses at Phillorah at 1700 hours. This is a classic example how to destroy one's forces piecemeal.













Now a word about the title of the book.



General Musharraf in the introduction of the book has mentioned that he was proud to be apart of the force called MEN OF STEEL by its commander. It implies that late general Abrar had ascribed the title of MEN OF STEEL to his own formation. This never happens, it amounts to praising oneself. Such an absurdity was not expected of general Abrar who, I am told , was a different breed.

Titles or honors are always awarded by higher authorities .It was 25 cavalry alone which was referred to as men of steel by General Ayub Khan during the course of his talk on the eve of his visit to the regiment immediately after ceasefire, in acknowledgement of our performance. This had happened on Pasrur airstrip where we were camping .Army, Naval and Air Chiefs were also present. Since the president was not to visit any other unit or formation head quarter, all officers in the area were called at the airstrip.

There are tangible, discernable and universally accepted actions of 25 cavalry on the battlefield that justify the suffix ' men of Steel' with its' title. The actions precisely and in short are;

1-It was 25 cavalry alone which clashed headlong with an armored division , north of Fhillorah crossing at 0800 and pushed it back to Gudgor (2.5miles) by 1200 hours.

2-we attacked, captured Gudgor at 1700 hours and pushed the enemy further back by three miles to Chobara.,

3- we kept the enemy at bay for another two day with no additional force in our support. Air support was of course there.

4- On night 10/11 September we were sent to Pasrur for rest and refit On this point of time we were placed under command 6 armoured division which had taken over Chawinda sector.

5- At about 1100 hours on 11 September C squadron 25 cavalry found itself deployed behind Chawinda with a mission to stop the enemy at all cost that was believed to be advancing behind our force that had retreated from Gudgor-Phillorah area in the morning. In fact Div HQ had accepted the loss of Chawinda and therefore we were deployed behind that town to stop the enemy advance towards Pasror.

After five hours of my insistence that Chawinda was vacant, at 1700 hours we were ordered to advance and occupy Phillorah, which according to high command was not held by the enemy. What happened later is along story but it should suffice to say that we hit enemy defenses in Phillorah where tank to tank battle ensued. In the process our one tank with crew was destroyed. The skirmish proved to be a deterrent and the enemy did not advance any further that day.

6- On12, 13,14,and 15 September C squadron along with 3FF was defending area in the north and up to Jassoran in the west of Chawinda. It was through this area that the enemy attempted, for four days, to penetrate but could not succeed.

7- On 16th the enemy launched an armored Brigade to out flank Chawinda and attacked Butter Dograndi in the rear of that town. They succeeded because the task force commander (who later retired as Major General Wajahat Hussain), failed to coordinate with 24 Bde and left Jassoran unoccupied providing a gap through which the enemy infiltrated and turned our flank. We suffered heavy losses. Seven tanks were destroyed including two of 33 TDU. In the evening we attacked Butter Dugrandi supported by artillery. . Destroyed two enemy tanks and some infantry. Under very critical circumstances we stopped the enemy at Butter Dograndi that was determined to reach Pasror that day. Artillery played effective roll but never fired on enemy tanks with open sights on that day as mentioned in the book. We never allowed enemy tanks to reach that close to our gun areas.





8- It was a troop of 25 cavalry and company of 3 FF who again attacked (without artillery) Butter Dograndi, midway to our main objective Jassoran, on the morning of 17th and mounted enemy trenches north of the village. Although we suffered heavy losses and could not reach the objective, our offensive action forced the enemy to vacate Butter Dograndi and withdraw to Jassonan in the evening and eventually across the railway line Chawinda –Sialkot.(quoted from official history of 17 Poona Horse that was controlling the operation on Indian side).

9-It was 25 cavalry again, along with 3 Ff who repulsed an infantry brigade attack on night19/20 September. Although some of their troops had crossed over the railway line and hit the track behind Chawinda at milestone 5, our tanks fired from behind railway line and forced the enemy to withdraw, leaving behind dead and wounded.

Now where does the 6 armour division appear in this scenario? It has always been a troop or squadron action through out war accept 11 September that was a fiasco .I can confront any one who can prove me wrong.



Now the story as to how did 6 armored division became'Men Of Steel'.

I served in 6 armored division, of which 25 cavalry was a part , till September 1971. No one called the Division as men of steel it was only 25 cavalry alone. I was shocked when I visited HQ 6 armoured Div after Indian captivity in 1974. I saw on the name boards of staff officers written 'MEN OF STEEL' on top. No body could explain how it happened. Knowing general K.M.Arif I can say that he is behind this happening supported by general Wjahat Hossain(retd) who was commanding 6 Armored Division in 1973-74.

To face the enemy is the professional obligation of a soldier. To be killed in action, get wounded and fall prisoner is very much a normal happening in the life of soldier and there is nothing to be proud or ashamed about it. This ancient and universal concept of soldiering does not hold good in Pakistan. Here a soldier sitting in trench and killed by artillery fire can be given gallantry award and also proclaimed a national hero. A gallantry award is justified only for an act performed beyond call of duty and in the face of enemy.

Major K.M. Arif never left the Divisional HQ which was 10 miles away from front line and the Div Commander left only once in the evening of 11 September, as mentioned an the book, when fighting had subsided. Obviously both of them do not deserve the gallantry award.

Major Khalid .Mahmod Arif ( Later general) was GSO-2 operation of 6 armored division in 1965.

.In 1974 he was a Brigadier and held very powerful position in GHQ.

To justify undeserved gallantry awards that he and the Div commander had received and also to cover-up the blunders committed by Div HQ, he floated the word that general Mosa Khan had called 6 armored division as men of steel at Pasror airstrip. Knowing his vindictive nature nobody could dare oppose him.

On his signal this word was continuously and systematically given currency for 20 years. It is possible that he provided documentary support to this misdeed while he was in power.



It is time that we stopped fabricating and twisting history to serve the vested interests and record true fact for our posterity.

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COLONEL SARDAR YAHYA EFFENDIS SUMMING UP OF 2008 AFTER READING BRIGADIER SIMON AND MAJOR SHAMSHADS LETTERS OF 2008







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THE GENERAL WHO FAILED WHEN VICTOY WAS AT HIS FEET









ONE OF THE MOST PHENOMENAL FAILURES OF 1965 WAR--MAJOR GENERAL RAJINDER SINGH SPARROW COMMANDER FIRST INDIAN ARMOURED DIVISION WHO MISERABLY FAILED IN WINNING THE 1965 WAR,WHEN ON 8TH SEPTEMBER 1965 DESPITE A PHENOMENAL SUPERIOROTY OF 5 TO 1 IN TANKS AND 15 TO 1 IN INFANTRY HE FAILED TO OUTFLANK A LONE TANK REGIMENT 25 CAVALRY OF PAKISTAN ARMY









THE TANK REGIMENT COMMANDER WHO EXHIBITED EXTREME COUP D OEIL AND DEPLOYED HIS REGIMENT TO STOP A WHOLE TANK DIVISION,NOT KNOWING WHT WAS IN FRONT OF HIM


LIEUTENANT COLONEL NISAR AHMAD COMMANDANT OF 25 CAVALRY WHO ENTIRELY ON HIS OWN JUDGEMENT DEPLOYED 25 CAVALRY ON BROAD FRONT AND BROUGHT THE INDIAN FIRST TANK DIVISIION TO A HALT










1 comment:

  1. Why was Colonel Nisar not awarded a Nishan I Haidar....

    ReplyDelete