Military & Aerospace

The 1965 War with Pakistan-III
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Issue Book Excerpt: In the Line of Duty | Date : 14 Feb , 2011

Colonel Bharat Singh. He was Colonel A at my Headquarters at Simla. It was thlYfirst day of the War with Pakistan, when I got a report that the 90mmander, 1 Horse, with 15 Infantry Division had not been well and as a result, he had issued an order to his Tank Regiment ill writing, not to take their tanks nearer than 2000 yards up to the Ichhogil Canal. He warned that the Pakistanis had Patton tanks, which had better range and a better calibre of gun compared to the Shermans which 1 Horse possessed. I intended to replace this officer, when Colonel Bharat Singh trooped into my office and volunteered to go and take over 1 Horse, which he had commanded once. I considered his rank of a full Colonel, and also thought of the five AMX Tanks (brand new) which had been left behind by the Pakistanis, in their foolish dash over the Dera Baba Nanak bridge. I offered to send him as a Force Commander, of the armour in the area of the GT Axis, including 1 Horse and the 5 AMX tanks belonging to the enemy, provided he found the crew for them from 1 Horse. He was to lead his tanks himself right up to the Ichhogil Canal!

 I appeared on the scene and asked Shamsher Singh to put on the badges of rank of a Major, as Second­in-Command of the battalion, and to assemble as many of his men as he could at Bhikhiwind, until I had thought of a new Commanding Officer.

Captain Shamsher Singh Minhas. He was Adjutant of 4 Sikh during their attack on Barki, and was wounded in his thigh by a bullet, during that action, but had refused to be evacuated beyond his Battalion Aid Post. Within two days the battalion had a mishap in the Khem Karan Sector and most of them, including the Commanding Officer, were taken prisoners-of-war. I appeared on the scene and asked Shamsher Singh to put on the badges of rank of a Major, as Second­in-Command of the battalion, and to assemble as many of his men as he could at Bhikhiwind, until I had thought of a new Commanding Officer. I did this as I was Colonel of the Sikh Regiment at the time.

Lt Col Karnail Singh Sidhu. In an attempt to find a new Commanding Officer for 4 Sikh, after their mishap in the Khem Karan Sector, on my return to my Headquarters that night, I rang up the Commandant of the Sikh Regimental Centre, at Meerut. Putting him in the picture, I requested him to send as many reinforcements as he could, of officers, JCOs, NCOs and men, from any battalion, to Bikhiwind, post haste. At the same time, I also rang up Lt Col Karnail Singh Sidhu, at that time commanding the Sikh TA Battalion in Delhi, who I knew had commanded 4 Sikh before, and asked him if he was ready to take over 4 Sikh.

Book_in_the_line_of_dutyAnd although categorised by the Army Medicos as Category ‘E’, he said, he was feeling well enough to take over the battalion. So, I asked him to take a jeep and reach Bhikhiwind as soon as possible, and report to me direct, on telephone, within 48 hours, that 4 Sikh were ready for action. And he did so. Within a month a vacancy occurred in one of the Brigades in the Akhnoor area, and I asked Karnail Singh Sidhu to put on the badges of rank of a Brigadier and take over that Brigade. And he did.

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    This is relevant here.——
    22 —– It therefore is inconsistent with the facts on ground when Lt Col (retd) Syed Shahid Abbas (Nine Crucial Hours – When Courage Outmaneuvered Strength) writes that ‘‘after the declaration of ceasefire on 23 September as per the information received from across the border, the Indians had suffered 400 casualities’’. Equally incongruous is that Gen Harbaksh in his book ‘War Despatches’ (Para 43,Page 49 ) mentions —‘’General Officer Commanding 7 Division appreciating that 48 Infantry Brigade had suffered fairly heavy casualities in the battle for Hudiara Drain, switched 65 Infantry Brigade Group into the lead—‘’ . This was certainly not the case as we shall see later on. Infact the same can be verified from 48 Infantry Brigade records and from the casuality returns of 7 Infantry Division even today.
    33 There were casualities on both sides but nothing like the four truckloads of corpses including the dead body of Maj Aziz Bhati—‘’ lifted from the battle field by the Pakistanis after permission was given for collection of their dead.’’ This excerpt as mentioned in Para 47 Page 53 by Gen Harbaksh in his book ‘War Despatches’ needs to be corrected.

    Further reading

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