Jaisalmer Diary - The story of 14 C&MU

This is an account of the operations at 14 C&MU Jaisalmer.  The IAF's victory at Longewala was achieved from Jaisalmer Air Force Base during the 1971 War under the leadership of then Wg Cdr M S Bawa (4494) F(P). This article provides a "War Diary" style narration of the day by day events as they unfolded. 


WAR DIARY14 CARE & MAINTENANCE UNITJAISALMER  

10 Sep 71 - WC Cdr MS BAWA, VM, assumed the charge of Base Commander 14 Care & Maintenance Unit, vice Flt Lt NK SHARMA. The unit still had many Installations under construction and Its offices and sections deployed on peace tame basis . This C&MU vas called upon to play the role of a MINI WING. The Base Commander who vas fully aware of the short—comings of the system started streamlining the new emerging Wing. The task vas none too easy as the sections had no Section Commanders. The first and the main objective was to gearup the Wing to the maximum required degree of operational preparedness. The most vital of all these were (a) Ground Defence (b) Air Defence (c) Communication, (d) Radio Aids and (e) the MT. The dynamic lead given by the Base Commander compelled the to forge ahead and soon it was humming with activity. The original strength of personnel which vas totally inadequate to accomplish the required task vas slowly being Inflated with officers and men of various branches and trades

Bawa-WgCdrThe men were to be replaced fortnightly to recoupe from the fatigue of this drab and dry town, which had little to offer other than abundance of sand and hot burning air. Faster than men were the stores to arrive. The wagons arrived in large numbers, but there were very few vehicles and personnel to unload them. It was a challenge which had to be met irrespective of the time involved. These essential stores added additional risk, as such had to be dispersed In a planned manner. The vital and vulnerable technical equipment had to be moved to underground complexes. Base Operations room, which had never functioned at this base had to be started from the scratch. The administrative set up and its allied sections had to be moved under tentage. The concealment of these posed a major problem as the terrain offered scanty shrubbery. Regular programe of camouflaging the stores, equipment and tentage was initiated and every morning one hour vas devoted to camouflaging, till satisfactory standards were reached. While the Radio and Navigational Aids rose to the occasion, the telephone communication with the rear base lagged far behind and remained unreliable for a long time. The phone call through civil could mature in a minute, while the service line did not respond for hours and days together. The Base Commander in one of the Station gatherings, in order the motivate his men, gave a fiery and belligerent speech, out-lining the purpose or their gathering at this Mini Wing. During his speech, he clearly stated that "Gentlemen we are here to restore those ten Million people back to their homes , who have been rendered homeless , who are deprived of their self-respect, honour, wives ,chlldren, the near and the dear ones. If you do not react now, the coming generations will hold their heads in shame for lack of action on our part. We have come here to achieve this aim end whatever be the cost, we shall not return without it. I ask you all this, but offer you nothing In return. am more aware of your needs and the sub-standard facilties, but I assure you that I shall make every endeavour to provide you what I can, what cannot I shall not hesitate to project to higher authorities. To Infuse the spirit of dedication the Base Commander summed it up by giving a slogan :

“ SAR FAROSHI KI TAMANNA AB HAMARE DIL MAIN HAIN,DEKHNA HAI KITNA ZOR BAZUA KATIL MEN HAIN” 

(We have decided to lay down our lives In pursuit of our aim, now we have to see how much strength the enemy possesses to deny us our AIM. With this in the minds of every—one, there was no requirement for any one to be told as to what is to be done. People worked with a smile from morning to night without complaint) 

17 Sep 71 - The Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal PC LAL paid a visit, which vas only a week after the Base Cmdr's arrival. He had little to point out, as far ag work done was concerned. He paid a visit to the TUBE WELL which was to be inaugurated by him. He expected the water to come up and greet him, but the soil was far from generous. Some more drilling remained to be done and finally the water struck at 905 feet. The Station hummed with activity for a fortnight and the Sections gradually found their places of work. The fortnightly rotation of manpower posed a problem to the Base Cdr as he had to infuse the same spirit in the new arrivals. There was no choice for him but to meet every—one who came new to the Station, to infuse the same spirit to maintain the tempo of work required. While the technical side was getting its due the administrative side was staggering and lagging behind, as there were no reinforcements there. Our dependence on Class IV civilians was never so greatly felt, as they were required co run the essential services such as sanitary and messes .

15 Oct 71 - The long awaited detachment of 122 5qn comprising of 2 Hunters arrived from AF Station, jamnagar.

The Ground Defence of the Air Field was the responsibility of 27 Madras Coy Commanded by Major jaitly.

16 Oct 71 - With-out prior intimation to the Base Cdr, 27 Madras Coy was asked to pull out and was replaced by 123 Inf Bn (TA) Coy Commanded by Capt KOCHAR. These sudden changes posed unnecessary and extra work for the Base Cdr.

19 Oct 71- 105 GL Section Type arrived from ATW and established Itself next to the operations Room.

20 Oct 71 -12 Air OP Flight vas added to the family of 14 Care and Maintenance Unit. GOC 12 Inf Div Maj. General Khambatta, In whose support the Wing was to function, landed at this Base on his way to his forward location.

21 Oct 71 — A troop Of 152 AD Regt (L/ 60 guns) headed by Lt ANSARI took complete control of Air Defence at this airfield

22 Oct 71 — The surveillance and Recovery Radar of 15 Wing (P 30 sets) vas received which vas required to become the eyes and ears of this Base. Its cargo was too large to be handled easily. The operational site for its deployment was already selected and without loosing much time the Radar was deployed. The change from BARELLY to jAISALMER was too much for anyone's
liking, however FATE ACCOMPLI had to be accepted by every-one. The poor state of equipment forced the unit to remain non-operational for nine complete days. Besides the local market the resources of JODHPUR had to be taped to put this equipment on the air In quick time.

23 Oct 71 - The Chief Minister of Rajasthan paid his second visit to the area to apprise himself of the rapid build up of this forward base.

26 Oct 71 - The Chief of the Army Staff, General SFFJ MANTYSHAW paid a short and hurried visit to the area to address all Officers of 12 Inf Div.

31 Oct 71 - The surveillance and recovery Radar came on the air for the first time and maintained watch at scheduled hours. 

3 Nov 71 - ADDC at JODHPUR ordered Its first ever scramble after sundown at 1801+ hrs, without even ascertaining the night recovery fae111t1es existing at this base. The mission vas abandoned after a wild goose chase as the aircraft did not have night Interception capability and were merely asked to return to Base. The Base Commander vas aware of such contingencies and he wasted no time an rounding up personnel for a quick lighting up of the runway goose—necks, which were already in position and were being checked every day. To add excitement to the recovery of these aircraft the local Radar reported a hostile track following this mission at 600 Knots. The mission was immediately asked to carry out a hard turn by the Base Commander and maintain altitude (10,000 feet). The hostile track turned out to be spurious pick up by radar. The mission vas asked to descend to circuit height. On arrival of the mission the runway was lit, and switched off manually as the mission turned off the runway after landing. This quick and unscheduled lighting of the runway at short notice infused great confidence in the pilots at the Base.

The first joint Air Cooperation exercise “NON PLUS" was conducted.

8 Nov 71 - The Defence Minister Mr. JAGJIVAN accompanied by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan Mr. BARKATULLA KHAN visited the Station and addressed all ranks apprising them of the latest border situations and our operational commitments in the area. He reemphasised his earlier statement that “This time the battle will be fought on the enemy's soil"  

18 Nov 71 - The second Joint Amy Air Cooperation exercise “SKY HAWK” was conducted, successfully.  

28 Nov 71 - The Prime Minister Shrimatl INDIRA GANDHI visited the area and had a brief chat with the Base Cdr.

On the heels of the Prime Minister arrived the Chief of the Air Staff. He also took the opportunity of addressing all ranks and apprised them of the latest situation. He exphasised that a high degree of preparedness vas to be maintained, as the enemy vas likely to resort to a pre-emptive strike at any time. The initiative lied with him, hov long and when he would resort to it, only the history would tell. However he minced no words to state that "He would like, If the war came, a short, crisp and a decisive battle." He wished all, GOOD LUCK.

2 Dec 71 — Quite unmindful of the prevailing situation on our borders , arrived the Air Headquarters Team, headed by Air Cdre VM BHATNAGAR, to assess the requirements and make fresh recommendations for the establishment of a CARE AND MAINTENANCE UNIT. The Base Cdr in his opening address highlighted the role of these forward bases during operations and strongly recommended that these be turned into full time Mini Wings with full manpower, communication, MT and associated facilities. This he said, would yield dividends during operations. The Impressions gained after the conference were that this revision was more likely to be downwards than wards

3 Dec 71 - At about 1800 hrs besides the normal happenings of the day came the flash call from Air Cdr KANWAR SINGH AOC RAJASTHAN informing PAKISTAN'S pre-emptive strikes on our airfields , followed by a Command call and a Radio announcement. This Station vas already geared up and vas expecting such a pre-emptive strike to take place any time between the 2nd and with of December. All actions were initiated and available forces asked to standby and undertake offensive actions on receipt of word “SANSAR” 

The day light had already gild past when the word "SANSAR” was received. The receipt of the word vas promptly acknowledged. Total black out measures were already inforce for the last 15 days. The Ground Defence and the Air Defence were more than alert. The night vas spent in waiting but the enemy did not show up.

4 Dec 71 — The Station launched five command task missions (2 aircraft each) on targets such as JACOBABAD AIR FIELD, RAHIMYARKHAN SU and AIR FIELD. In addition close support sorties were carried out In the area where 12 Inf Div was supposed to launch an offensive enabling them to capture SAKHIREWALA and ISLAMGARH.

When 12 Inf Div was concentrating on their area of advance towards RAHIMYAR KHAN, the enemy sneaked in with one Regt of Armour and one Bde strength troops from GHABBAR Via BP 638 towards LAUNGEWALA. The leading column of tanks by—passed LAUNGEWALA post and was seen advancing towards RAMGARH, past midnight. This suspected movement, as identification was not possible, was passed by the Coy Cdr at LAUNGEWALA to the HQ. This did cause certain doubts in the Div HQ, but the same appeared to be discarded. The column of tanks decided to turn about a few k.m. short of RAMGARH, when they found their rear not catching up. This was the first fatal mistake committed by the enemy which subsequently changed the course of var. Had these tanks carried on, they would have easily over run RAMGARH, as there were no defences whatsoever. Return of these leading tanks towards LAUNGEWALA and the noise of more tanks rolling in compelled the Coy Cdr to apprise GOC 12 Inf Div again. On receipt of this message the GOC tried to get through to the Base Cdr, but to his surprise he found that the MUJAHIDS had already cut the telephone line at RAMGARH. This confirmed his doubts about the enemy Armour thrust at LAUNGEWAIA. The radio relay link was established between the GOC and Base Cdr in the early hours of 5 Dec 71 , wherein he described suspected Armour thrust at LAUNGL&IALA and wanted him to investigate. 

Total Sorties - 20

Claims made - Enemy Op and Bunkers hit ,

               130 Camels killed.

Ammunition expended — 30 MM HE 3000 Rds

                       Rocket 7-10-130.


5 Dec 71 - On receipt of regarding suspected movement of Armour the Base Cdr ordered missions to standby for TACR at first light. Air Op was also 

cautioned to carry out reconnaissance In the area and render any assistance required by the Hunters. The repeated tele— phone calls from the GOC 12 Inf Div left no doubt in the mind of Base Cdr about the helplessness of the Amy in the LAÜNGEWALA area, due to their scanty deployment and the pre occupation of Div with their much planned advance towards RAHIMYARKHAN.

LAUNGNALA post having come under Increasing enemy pressure made frantic calls for help from Div HQ. Div HQ had no options but to depend on the AIR FORCE to save the day. At about 0715 hours when the post was about to be over—run, the first Hunter mission arrived at the scene scanning the road from RAMGARH to LAUNGEWALA. The mission immediately reported the presence of T-59 tanks, confirmed also by the Air Op. The mission lost no time in engaging the tanks advancing towards the LAUNGEWALA post. The transmission of the Hunter missions were being monitored by the Base Cdr, who ordered the subsequent strakes without any delay. Missions were launched one behind the other in quick succession to beat and destroy the enemy’s amoured thrust.

This turned out to be a clean battle, one of its kind, between PAKISTAN amour and the INDIAN AIR FORCE. Never In the history before, a more decisive battle has ever been fought between the AIR alone vs. the ARMOUR as was done at LAUNGEWALA. 

With a total of Four Hunter aircraft available at the disposal of the Base Cdr, the Base vas able to launch 17 sorties destroying of the enemy's amour. The tanks were seen ablaze as reported by the Air Op and Coy at LAUNGEWALA.

An enemy Intercept by our Army In the evening revealed the sagging morale of the PAKISTAN ARMOUR indicating casualties In men and material and SOS call for close Air Support, without which armour advance considered ompossible, which is reproduced below :

“HAWAI NE NAK ME DAM KAR HAI HAWAI JAHAZ JATA HAI AUR DOOSRA ATTA BEES OOPER NACHTA HAI CHALIS FISADI FAUJ AND SAMAN HALLAK AUR TABAH HO CHUKA HAI AGHE JANA TO KEYA PECEE MURRNA BE MUSHKAL HO GAYA HAI JALDI HAWAI FAUJ MADAD KE LIYE BEJO WARNA VAPAS MURRNA NA MUMKIN HAI” 

Total sorties - 17

Claims made - Destroyed 15 tanks, 1 Amour Recee

               vehicle and 7 Trains. Damaged 23 Tanks .

Ammunition Expended : 30 MM HE -4000 Rds

                       Rocket T-10-180.

At the fall of the day the following message was received from GOC 12 Inf Div Maj RF KHAMBATTA : 

From : 12 Inf Div Main                                      DTO : 052130

To   : 14 C&MU                                              o - 2030
Info : AOC Raj


PERSONAL FOR WC CDR BAWA FROM GOC ( . ) HAVE FNCELLENT CO-OPTIATION AND SUPPORT TODAY ( . ) SHOOTING BY YOUR BOYS MOST ACCURATE RESULTING IN DESTROYING NUMNER OF ENEMY TANKS AND BLUNTING HIS ATTACK (.) PLEASE CONVEY MU APPRECIATION AND THAT OF MY TROOPS TO PILOTS (.) CONGRATULATIONS ON EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE (.)//

When the enemy was busy attacking other airfields In the Western Sector JAISALMER lay waiting for the second night with its Air Defence elements on the highest alert.  

 Tank-Longewala

A destroyed T-55 tank near the Longewala Post. 

6 Dec 71 — At about 0130 hrs the Div Cdr informed the Base Cdr, that "Since you are hurting the enemy most and if he has a determined Cdr, It is likely that he attempt a thrust with a Sqn of tanks to neutralise the air field”. He apprised the Base Cdr the route enemy was likely to follow and said that this was his personal appreciation and expressed his inability to offer anything to counter this thrust. The Base Cdr coolly inquired as to "What would you like me to do?' On this he advised the Base Cdr to keep some listening posts to hear the noise of advancing tanks, if any. To which the Base Cdr quickly retorted" "What do you expect me to do next and surely you do not want me to quit." However the morale of the Station was high and the Base Cdr was not one bit perturbed about this imaginary armour threat. - The Anti Aircraft Guns were asked to standby for any short notice deployment for countering the armour threat, if at all it developed at night.

The much awaited BOMBER RAID at night was reported heading towards JAISALMER by Army at about 0440 hrs. Since the guns were already free and on high alert, the Base Cdr just stood at CAP controller position standing by to give orders for the guns to fire. On hearing the noise of the approaching aircraft engine's (piston) the guns were ordered to open fire.

The aircraft made a hasty retreat by putting on a sharp bank and off-loading all its weapon load of BOMBS (31 In number) just outside the perimeter. One of the Bombs hit the under-ground power cable and a telephone pole, thus disrupting the much needed telephone communication and
main power generations. The station had to revert to stand-by power supply, and cope with no telephone facility for the next six hours.

The Base Cdr ordered the first light TAC-R on all routes leading into JAISALMER to dispel any doubt of the armoured thrust attempting to capture the airfield. These TAC-Rs revealed no sign of armour and the Comd missions kept in pending, the Base mounted pressure once again at LATJNGLVALA. The tanks were picked up one by one and were hit repeatedly till they started to burn. By the evening nearly 37 tanks lay burning/damaged and scattered In this belt of THAR desert. The battle of IAUNGEWÆALA infact was over. LAUNGEWALA in JAISALMER district of Rajasthan became the biggest graveyard of PAKISTAN Amour. As was expected PAKISTAN met its waterloo. This vas because the Air Force took timely and decisive action before the thrust could assume menacing proportion. Emboldened by their experience of 1965 War, Pakistan mounted one of its biggest offensives on our positions at LAUNGEWALA with a fleet of about 45 tanks. With such a massive striking power at their disposal PAKISTANI's thought that they would get an easy walkover to the GOLDEN CITY OF JAISALMER. The victory here could help PAKISTAN to shield its setbacks on other fronts. The Battle of LAUNGEWALA villiage thus be remembered, not only by our people for the victory achieved by our AIR FORCE but also by the PAKISTANI ARMOUR for the defeat suffered by them in this THAR desert out-post. 

Total sorties - 18

Claims made - Destroyed 3 Tanks, 12 vehicles

               Damaged — 6 Tanks

Ammunition expended - 30 mm HE 2690 Rds

                       Rocket T-10-102.

7 Dec 71 - A message was received from the Army at about 0420 hrs about the approaching Low level Bomber Raid. The Base Cdr. once again ordered the(SOP) to engage the aircraft, but the' aircraft managed to slip through the barrage of fire at very low height flying along the taxi-track. This raid caused a minor damage to the taxi-track which vas quickly repaired the next day. The gunners claimed that they had hit the aircraft but no signs of wreckage were spotted either from the ground or air. The kill vas not granted to the gunners. 

During the day the Base launched 20 Hunter sorties , pounding the area between LAUNGEWALA, BP 638 and GHABBAR, depriving the enemy of its much needed vehicles and guns which lay burning. These facilitated our pilots in navigating to the area. During the first mission of the day and very first mission of Wing Commander CONQUEST OC 122 Sqn from jAISALMER, while engaging the enemy tank he sustained bullet Injury on his foot from one of the small arms fired by the enemy. He safely brought the aircraft to Base. He was immediately evacuated to and the injury declared as minor.

At about 1900 hrs. the MUJAHID movement was suspected behind the Bomb dumps. Due to darkness no visual contact could be made, however foot noises were heard and on this the Ground Defence opened up. The firing lasted for about 5 minutes, the MUJAHIDs hastily withdrew leaving behind two dead camels

Total sorties - 22

Claims made - Destroyed 5 Goods Wagons ,

               3 Tanks, 5 Artillery guns ,

               28 vehicles and one oil tanker.

               Damaged 1 Factory and 1 Tank.

Ammunition expended - 30 mm HE — 2233 Rds

                       Rocket - T-10-109.

 

8 Dec 71 - The Station launched a total of I4 sorties in pursuit of its aim to destroy the enemy.

Total sorties - 14

Claims made - Destroyed 4 Goods Wagons ,

               16 vehicles and 1 Tank,

               Damaged 1 Diesel engine of Train,

               1 Gas plant, 1 Railway Shed, I Goods Train and 1 Tank.

Ammunition expended - 30 HE 11+32 Rds

                       Rocket T-10-76. 

 

At about midday a flash message from the Chief of the Air Staff received. The message and the reply by the Base Cdr is reproduced below : —

From : Air HQ NEW DELHI

To   : AF Stn JAISALMER

FOR OC FROM CAS (.) PLEASE CONVEY MY CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS TO OFFICERS AND MEN OF 122 SQN (OTU) FOR THEIR MAGNIFICENT PERFORMANCE YESTERDAY WHEN THEY VIRTUALLY WIPED OUT A REGIMENT OF T-59 TANKS NEAR LAUNGEWALA (.) THE DEFENCE MINISTER CMA THE ARMY CHIEF AND GENERAL BEWOOR ALL JOIN ME IN CONVEYING THEM OUR BEST WISHES FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS (.) //////

From : 14 C&M U

To   : AIR HQ (VB)

FOR CAS FROM BASE COMMANDER (.) REF YOUR AM/09/DEC/06 THANKS FOR THE KIND APPRECIATION (.) MORALE IS VERY HIGH (.) /////

 

Since the force was supplemented with additional aircraft from JAMNAGAR raising the total force to 14 Hunter aircraft, the Base Cdr found the inadequate utilisation of this force and flashed a message to TAC Comdr 7 TAC Gp capt MM. ARORA, the text of the message is reproduced below : 

From : 14 C&M U

To  :7 TAC

ARORÄ FRCM MINI ( . ) NOT BEING UTILIZED FULLY (.) REQUEST MORE UTILIZATION (.)

 

 Engineer-Visit

After the war - visit of WAC AOC-in-C Air Marshal M M Engineer to Jaisalmer. Wg Cdr Bawa seen right most. Air Marshal Engineer is saluting. Wg Cdr M N Singh OC Flying in beret.   

9 Dec 71 — The Station launched a total of 22 Hunter sorties and 2 casualty evacuations by Mi-4.

Total sorties - 24

Claims made - Destroyed 9 Tanks,

               3 Artillery Guns, 32 Vehicles,

1 Armour personnel Carrier, and
1 Artillery ammunition dump.
Damaged 3 Tanks and 6 vehicles. 

Ammunition expended - 30 mm HE 2556 Rdg

                       Rocket T-10-109.

 

Again at about midday a message wag received from AOC-in-C Western Air command Air Marshal MM Engineer text of which and the reply sent by the Base Cdr is reproduced below —

 

FROM : WAC

TO   : 14 C&MU

TO OC FROM AOC-IN-C. (.) THE ARMY CDR SOUTHERN COMMAND TELEPHONED ME TO CONVEY HIS THANKS FOR THE EXCELLENT WORK DONE BY OUR PILOTS IN RAJASTHAN SECTOR (.) I AM HAPPY TO NOTE THE AGGRESSIVE SPIRIT WITH WHICH THEY HAVE CARRIED OUT THE ATTACKS AGAINST THE ENEMY ARMOUR AND LINES OF COMMUNICATION (.) PLEASE CONVEY MY APPRECIATION TO ALL SQUADRONS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THESE STRIKES (.)////

OPS IMM

From : 14 C&M U
To   : WAC

AOC-IN-C FROM BASE COMMANDER (.) REFER YOUR AOM/08 DEC/08 THANKS FOR THE KIND APPRECIATION (.) MORALE IS VERY HIGH (.)

 

The MUJAHIDS in their attempt to neutralise the targets at the AIRFIELD tried to sneak In from the NORTH WESTERN side. They met again with hot reception of bullets and made a hasty retreat again leaving behind two dead Camels.


 

10 Dec 71 - The Station pumped in 8 Hunter softies on the heels of the enemy who was fast dwindlinq, which is quite evident from the number of sorties launched. In addition 2 Casuality evacuation sortis were again launched.

Total sorties – 10

Claims made - Destroyed 1 Artillery Gun,

               14 Vehicles and 1 Tank,

               4 vehicles and 2 trains.

Ammunition expended - 30 mm HE 878 Rds

                       Rocket T-10-72. 

 

11 Dec 71 — In view of the inadequate targets available in our sector, the station wag asked to support 11 Inf Div in NAYA CHCR Sector. The Station launched a total of 14 fighter and 5 Causality evacuation sorties.

Total sorties - 14

Claims made - Destroyed 3 Goods Trains carrying explosives and Ammunitions

Ammunition expended - 30 mm HE 40 Rds

                       Rockets T-10-48

 

12 Dec 71 — The enemy bomber visited again at about 0230 hrs, but was unable to lob any bombs inside the perimeter of the airfield. The Air Defence again pumped in few rounds to scare the enemy away.

The Hunters carried out 10 sorties in the 11 Inf. Sector destroying targets of opportunity in support of ground troops. In addition to this 4 casuality evacuation sorties were also carried out.

Total sorties - 14

Claims made - Destroyed 3 Goods trains ,

               2 godowns and 11 wagons carrying ammunition.

Ammunition Expended – 30 MM HE -687 Rds

                       Rocket - T-10-77.

 

13 Dec 71 — The Station again mounted pressure sorties in 11 Inf Div and 12 Inf Div sector in pursuit, of enemy which was hard to find set ablaze.

Total sorties - 11

Claims made - Destroyed 4 tanks, 2 Goods trains and 12 Goods Wagons

               Damaged 1 Tank, 2 Diesel Engines of Trains, 2 Goods Trains

               And 1 Petro Chemical Factory.

Ammunition Expended – 30 MM HE -1502 Rds

                       Rocket - T-10-67.

 Pilots-Jaisalmer

Pilots of No.122 (Ad-Hoc) Squadron seen in conversation during the visit of Air Marshal Minoo Engineer to the base.  Seen in the photo : Farokh Mehta (Stdg 2nd from left), Kukke Suresh (6th from Left), D K Dass (9th from Left) M S Bawa (10th from left - back to camera) Minoo Engineer (to the right of photo)

14 DEC 71 - Once again the Station launched 12 Hunter sorties to enable 12 Inf Div to gather. courage to make head-way into the enemy territory in pursuit of their AIM to capture RAHIMYAR KHAN. The Base Cdr. apprised the GOC 12 Inf that there was no enemy visible in their area of likely advance end there was not likely to be any resistance till RAHIMYAR KHAN. The Base Cdr. even offered to take him personally or any of his Bde Comdr/Col GS in a Hunter trainer with a fighter cover to enable him to assess the situation and force on towards RAHIMYAR KHAN. No encouraging reply vas received, which only showed the reluctance to move forward and an added excuse that one of his Bde was moved into Il Inf Div Sector. Historians will ask at a later date as to why 12 Inf Div was depleted of its forces when the enemy was completely destroyed opposite them and RAHIMYAR KHAN was within easy reach with complete situation In their favour.

Total sorties - 12

Claims made - Destroyed — 100 Goods Wagons and fuel tankers

               Damaged Goods Wagons and 1 railway building.

Ammunition expended – 30 MM HE - 1812 rds.

                       Rocket - T-10-47

 

15 DEC 71 - The Station mounted pressure along RAHIMYAR KHAN – ROHRI axis and NAYACHOR area to enable 12 Inf Div and 11 Inf Div to move forward and capture maximum territory in view of imminent fall of DACCA and subsequent likely CEASE FIRE in this area.

12 Inf Div Sector had complete air superiority right from the first day and now with the enemy's amour destroyed and due to complete rout In his rear as nothing vas allowed to move. The Base Cdr expected 12 Inf Div to make a definite headway making a wedge deep Into the enemy territory but the progress on the ground appeared to be hardly any. It appeared that
there was no will to do so.

During the course of the day a train carrying full Sqn of Armour was intercepted near KHAIRPUR. Large number of tanks and their ammunition and personnel were hit. For the first time the Hunters saw Air opposition in NAYACHOR areas and two MIG -19s were compelled to go into the ground In the last ditch maneuvers

About an hour before sundown there came a Flash message from COC 12 Inf Div informing about two STARFIGHTERS (104s) seen heading towards JAISAIMER. Since tie Base had seen no aerial combat so for the Base Cdr immediately had six Hunter aircraft in air to welcome the STAR FIGHTER but to his dismay no STAR FIGHTER showed up and he sent a message in reply to GOCs message – “Thank you for the Information. Reception Committee of six hunters disappointed"

Total sorties - 21

Claims made — Destroyed 6 Tanks, 3 Goods Trains, 21 Goods wagons .

               1 Diesel engine, 15 Vehicles and 2 aircrafts. Damaged

               1 tank, 26 Goods Wagons and 1 Goods Train.

Ammunition expended – 30 mm HE-2099 rds.

                       Rocket T-10-93

 

16 DEC 71 - The Base Cdr passed a message in the morning to all unit/section Comdrs that “He presents Bangala Desh to the nation on the eve of his Birth Day" and thanked all for showing grim determination to repell the enemy from our soil" The BANGLA DESH in actual fact fell at 1631 hrs. the same day and stalling of the events by the BASE CDR came true.

10 more Hunter sorties were launched with one Bombing raid at RETI JN. Due to the unreliability of the EMRU’s Bombing and NEPALM raids, though much desired by the Base Cdr, were not launched for fear of hang up. In addition to this one casualty evacuation sortie was also undertaken.

Our beloved Prime Minister Smt INDIRA GANDHI announced that unilateral ceasefire vas to be observed from 2000 hrs 17 Dec 71. This vas followed by a message from AOC—1n-C Western Air Command asking all AOCs/Stn Cdrs/Base Cdrs to cease all Offensive action after 2000 hrs 17 Dec 71 and authorised Base Cdrs to take any retaliatory action in self defence required under intimation to him.

Total Sorties - 11

Claims made - Destroyed 7 vehicles , 1 RcL Gun and 10 Goods Wagons .

               Damaged I Mil Spl Train and 4 Goods Trains.

Ammunition Expended - 30 mm HE-1459 - Rds

                       Rocket T-10-58

                       Bombs - 1000 Lbs -2.

17 Dec 71 — Since this vas the last day of the war and the cease fire was to come into force from 2000 hrs , the Base once again hammered at all enemy positions opposite 12 Inf Div and 11 Inf DIV area by launching 14 Hunter sorties .

Total sorties - 14

Claims made - Destroyed 46 Wagons , 16 Vehicles

               1 Train Engine and 14 Artillery Guns

Ammunition expended - 30 mm HE-1850 Rds.

                       Rocket T-10-28.

 

The ceasefire was accepted by PAKISTAN after this short, crisp and decisive encounter INDIA. PAKISTAN never expected even in his wildest dreams that he would have to suffer humiliation. at the hands of Indians.


 

 

 VijayStambh-Jaisalmer

Inaguration of Vijay Stambh memorial at Jaisalmer (Above) and as it is seen today (Below)

Vijay Smarak and Vijay Stambh at Jaisalmer AFS

 

POINTS TO BE EXAMINED

  1. NIGHT RAIDS -This Station had no night interception capability. L/ 70 Anti Aircraft Guns were not available. Enemy attempted a total of 11 night raids (3 low level and 8 high level). All low level raids met with hot, reception from L/60 guns. On high level raids no fire was opened in order to conceal location. A very negligible damage was caused by low level raids.
  2. GROUND DEFENCES - The domestic area had no ground defence element and had to be arranged locally through personal liaison.
  3. FORCE AVAILABILITY - Inadequate force vas made available to the Station till 7 Dec 71. Had the enemy mounted day light raids and provided air cover for his advancing Amour, perhaps the course of battle in this sector would have been different.
  4. MANPOWER AND EQUIPMENT – Inadequate man—power and equipment vas available due to Sqn's double commitments at JAMNAGAR AND JAISAILMER and second line facility at JAMNAGAR. The man-power had to be supplemented on the spot by releasing unskilled BORDER ROAD Labours to help the Armament Trade to cope up with pressure of work.
  5. WEAPONS - The Station mostly used HC-T-10 Rockets and 30 mm HE Bullets. On examination of the destroyed tanks it was revealed that the 30 mm caused maximum damage and vas solely responsible for setting the tanks on fire. The T 59 tanks carried extra barrel of fuel and fuel In their tanks which vas easily exposed to the front gun fire. A sequence belting with SAP/HE/Incendiary bullets be examined.
  1. BASE ACTIVATION - Activation of these C&MU’s and MEMU’s in the absence of their turning into regular MINI WINGS be more closely examined. Where heterogeneous man power from all over is to be pumped in, allied facilities, in regard to class IV be kept in mind. Inview of security and discipline on these forward bases no civilians Class IV be routed, only NC’sE be thought of.

On imminence of hostilities automatic grants/ sanctions for operating Officers and SNCOs messes be given to prevent any initial hardship and unnecessary paper work.

  1. COUNTER AIR MISSIONS - Two aircraft strikes at airfields are considered tactically unsound. The strikes should be not less than four aircraft and if the rockets are to be carried an escort be thought of , as the rocket launchers seriously impare the fighting capability of the aircraft.

 

TOTAL EFFORTS, AMN AND DAMAGES ENEMY AND OWN AT A GLANCE

Total No. of sorties  - 222

Total Qty. of Amn Exp - 30 mm HE - 26238 Rds.

........................Rocket T-10-1196

........................Bombs 1000 Lbs - 2

Own Losses            - NIL

Enemy Losses          - Destroyed: -

........................41 Tanks
........................2 Aircraft
........................126 Vehicles
........................13 Arty Guns
........................1 RCL gun
........................18 Goods Trains
........................190 Goods Wagons
........................2 Railway Engines
........................2 Godowns
........................10 Oil Tankers 
........................2 Ammunition dumps 
........................130 Camels.

Enemy Damages         - 37 Tanks

........................10 Vehicles
........................10 Goods Trains
........................1 Mil Spl Train
........................4 Train Engines
........................34 Goods Wagons
........................3 Factories

AWARDS & DECORATION

SI      Service      Rank      Name & Initials    Unit       Decorations/
No.     No.                                                   Award Earned

  • 4494 WG CDR   MS BAWA, WM         14 C&MU     AVSM
  • 4340 WG CDR    MN SINGH            “        M-in-D
  • 4692 WG CDR   DM CONQUEST         122 SQN     AVSM, VrC
  • IC-7470     MAJOR     ATMA SINGH         12 A O P     VrC
  • 5059 SQN LDR   RN BALI             122 SQN     VrC
  • 5270 SQN LDR   SDL TULLY           122 SQN      M-in-D
  • 4956 SQN LDR   FJ MEHTA             “           VrC
  • 5008 SQN LDR   GV HINGORANI         “           M-in-D
  • 5783 SQN LDR   JAGBIR SINGH         “           VrC
  • 6334 SQN LDR   DK DASS               “           VrC
  • IC-15466 CAPT       D MATHUR           12 A O P     M-in-D
  • IC-22304 CAPT       KC SHARMA           105 GLSEL     SM
  • 6742 FLT LT     KS SURESH           122 SQN       VrC
  • IC-16285 CAPT       PPS SANGHA         12 A O P     VrC
  • 8991 FLT LT     D YADAV             “             M-in-D
  • 8392 FLT LT     G KAPUR             “             M-in-D
  • 9447 FLT LT     R GOSAIN           “             VrC
  • 8378 FLT LT     MP PREMI           HTS           VrC
  • 14884  WO         GOSWAMI             122 SQN      M-in-D
  • 213462 SGT       HARIHARAN           12 A O P     M-in-D
  • 231205 CPL       VALADHANDAYUTHAN   “             M-in-D
  • 247447 CPL       PILLAI BP           “             M-in-D

               -----------------------

               + + + + + + + + + + + +

               -----------------------