The Challenge: Pakistan Attacks Indian Air Fields

Chapter Four:
The Challenge.
Attacks on IAF September 6th, 1965.

The Ground Situation -  Returning to the ground battle, the Pakistanis had taken Chamb and were on the west bank of the Manawar Tawi. The momentum of the attack was lost due to stiff resistance put up by the defenders. The Pakistanis had to briefly halt the offensive to regroup. They resumed their advance on September 3rd. By not maintaining the speed of the advance they lost the chance to take Akhnur. They attacked Jaurian on September 3rd and took it the next day. By September 5th, they were six miles from Akhnur. At this critical stage, the Army to relieve the pressure off Akhnur decided to open a new front at Punjab.

On September 6th, the Indian Army crossed the border on the Lahore-Kasur sector. XI Corps under the command of Lt. Gen. Joginder Singh Dhillon crossed the border and attacked on three prongs. Each prong in the form of one Infantry Division was supported by armour and artillery. The northern most attack, was along the Grand Trunk road to Lahore. 15 Inf Div under Maj. Gen. Niranjan Prasad advanced along this axis. 7 Inf Div under Maj. Gen. H.K. Sibal attacked on the Khalra-Burki axis, while the southern most attack was on the Khem Karan-Kasur axis with 4 Mtn Div under Maj. Gen. Gurbaksh Singh. This sector saw severe fighting that day. By the days end, 15 Inf Div managed to get up to the outskirts of Lahore, while 7 Inf Div captured Burki by the days end. 4 Mtn Div, after some initial success had to, in the face of enemy fire retreat back to its starting point.

It is pertinent here to write in detail about the famous Ichogil Canal between the Indian Border and the Pak city of Lahore. The Ichogil canal runs north south, more or less parallel to the border for about 70 miles from the River Ravi to the River Sutlej. This canal is a protective moat about a 140 feet wide and about 15 feet deep. It has a fairly high steep cement concrete sidewalls and strong fortifications along its embankments in the mode of pill boxes and gun emplacements. Though built in the name of irrigation, its primary aim was to be an obstacle to protect Lahore. And it was a formidable one for the army. It was a de facto bomb line for the IAF, throughout the war.

When 15 Inf Div advanced along the GT road, it came under air attack. As it was the most threatening, the PAF showered it with the most attention. The leading battalion of the division, 3rd Jat, came under air attack. PAF Sabres strafed and rocketed the battalions columns and the unit lost all of its RCL guns in the attack. The 3 Jat became the first Indian Battalion to cross the Ichogil Canal but had to withdraw following a strong counterattack by the Pakistani Armour, the unit couldn't face the attack in the absence of our own armour and to the fact that it lost all of its RCL guns, thanks to the PAF.

Experts have maintained that the withdrawal of 3 Jat was a serious setback. The PAF claiming partial credit for it. Throughout the day the PAF conducted some raids on our troops. Surprisingly the IAF was

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The only IAF pilot in the air when the Pathankot raid occurred was Flying Officer Michael McMohan, a rookie pilot with barely 50 hours on the Mystere. McMohan is at left in this photo taken at Nellis Air Force Base in 1963, when a group of IAF pilots flew the F-86 Sabre during an exercise with the USAF. McMohan went on to become Air Marshal and AOC-in-C South Western Air Command in 2001. (Courtesy: Flight Lieutenant (Retd) Desmond Peters)


Gun camera pictures of the Sabre  shot down by Flying Officer VK `Beaky' Neb. The doomed Sabre's pilot was Flight Lieutenant Yunus Hussain, flying as wingman to Squadron Leader Rafiqui. An MPEG movie clip may be accessed here.

65-SLdr-AKRawlley.jpg (7352 bytes)


Squadron Leader Ajit Kumar `Peter' Rawlley of 7 Squadron died when his Hunter struck the ground in a dogfight over Tarn Tarn on September 6th.



The wreckage of PAF Sabre (55-2545) piloted by Squadron Leader Rafiqui at Heren village. Rafiqui was shot down by Flight Lieutenant DN Rathore of 27 Squadron.


Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh shows the same piece of wreckage to the Defence Minister YB Chavan during his visit to Halwara after the war.



Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh chats with the successful  Hunter pilots, Flying Officer VK Neb and Flight Lieutenant DN Rathore of 27 Squadron during a visit to Halwara after the war.



A PAF C-130 dispatches SSG paratroopers during an exercise. PAF C-130s dropped paratroopers at Pathankot, Adampur and Halwara on the night of September 7th. The paratroopers were rounded up and taken prisoner within a day or two.

 The Pakistani Pilots and Aircrew shot down on September 7th at Halwara and Jamnagar
Sqn-Ldr-SA-Rafiqui.jpg (29077 bytes) Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Rafiqui (left) was credited by the PAF with shooting down two Vampires of 220 Squadron on September 1st. On Sept 6th, immediately after shooting down a Hunter flown by Flying Officer PS Pingale, Rafiqui was shot down (and killed) by Flight Lieutenant DN Rathore.

Flight Lieutenant Yunus Hussain (Right) flew as wingman to Rafiqui. He was shot down - by Flying Officer VK Neb of 27 Squadron flying a Hunter- as he pulled up from an attack on Halwara.

Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddique and Squadron Leader Aslam Qureshi, pilot and navigator respectively of the PAF B-57 Canberra bought down by AA fire at Jamnagar. On the right is the fascimile of Siddique's diary, recovered from the wreckage. Click on the image for a larger picture.


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