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.
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
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
||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.
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.