THE INDO-PAK WAR (1965)
Preview – State of the Corps in 1965. OPERATIONS IN KUTCH : Op ‘Kabadi’ – Loss of Biar Bet – Cease Fire & Op ‘Ablaze’. SIGNALS IN THE KUTCH OPERATIONS : Sigs Dte & Southern Comd – ‘K’ Sector Sig Coy – 50 (I) Para Bde Sig Coy. PAKISTAN’S OPERATION ‘GIBRALTAR’ : Activities of Gibraltar Force – Capture of Hajipir Pass – Ops in Tithwal Sector. SIGNALS IN OPERATION GIBRALTAR : 19 Inf Div Sig Regt – 68 (I) Inf Bde Sig Coy – 25 Inf Div Sig Regt – 163 Inf Bde Sig Sec – 191 (I) Inf Bde Sig Coy. PAK OPERATION ‘GRAND SLAM’ & RESPONSE BY XV CORPS : Pak Offensive in Chhamb – The Battle of OP Hill – The Kishanganga Bulge. SIGNALS IN OPERATION ‘RIDDLE’ - XV CORPS SECTOR : Western Comd Sigs – Western Comd Sig Regt – Western Comd Mob Sig Coy – XV Corps Sigs – XV Corps Sig Regt – ‘Y’ Comn Z Sig Regt – ‘T’ Comn Z Sig Regt – ‘J’ Comn Z Sig Regt – 19 Inf Div Sig Regt – 191 (I) Inf Bde Sig Coy - 10 Inf Div Sig Regt – 41 (I) Inf Bde Sig Coy – 25 Inf Div Sig Regt. OPERATIONS IN XI CORPS SECTOR : Planning and Preparatory Moves – 15 Inf Div – 7 Inf Div – 4 Mtn Div – Battle of Asal Utar – 67 Inf Bde – 23 Mtn Div. SIGNALS IN OPERATION ‘RIDDLE’- XI CORPS SECTOR : XI Corps Sigs – XI Corps Sig Regt -‘Z’ Comn Z Sig Regt –15 Inf Div Sig Regt – 50 (I) Para Bde Sig Coy – 7 Inf Div Sig Regt – 4 Mtn Div Sig Regt – 2 (I) Armd Bde Sig Coy. I CORPS OPERATIONS IN SIALKOT SECTOR : Planning and Build up for Op ‘Nepal’ – 1 Armd Div – 6 Mtn Div – 26 Inf Div – The Cease-Fire. SIGNALS IN OPERATION ‘RIDDLE’- I CORPS SECTOR. : I Corps Sigs – I Corps Sig Regt – 6 Mtn Div Sig Regt – 26 Inf Div Sig Regt – 1 Armd Div Sig Regt – 14 Inf Div Sig Regt – 1 Air Sp Sig Regt – Air Fmn Sigs. OPERATIONS IN RAJASTHAN SECTOR : 11 Inf Div. SIGNALS IN RAJASTHAN SECTOR : 11 Inf Div Sig Regt. CONCLUSION
The genesis of the Indo-Pak War of 1965 lay in Pakistan’s desire to fulfill her ambition to annex Jammu & Kashmir and complete the task that remained unfinished in 1947 when hordes of tribal raiders had entered the State and reached the outskirts of Srinagar. The military aid received by Pakistan from USA; India’s defeat at the hands of China in 1962 and her subsequent pre-occupation with her northern borders; the completion of the Ichhogil Canal astride the road axis to Lahore; and American military aid to Pakistan changed the military balance between India and Pakistan, giving the latter an impression that the time was ripe for inflicting a crushing defeat on her bigger but militarily ‘weaker’ neighbour.
As a prelude to the main offensive,
carried out an incursion
in Pakistan Kutch in April 1965 with the intention of
testing her newly acquired American weaponry, especially the Patton tank, and
to gauge ’s
mobilized her troops and moved them to concentration areas near the border in India Punjab, as part of Operation ‘Ablaze’. After some skirmishes and the loss of a few
posts like Biar Bet the hostilities in Kutch
ended and a cease-fire was accepted by both sides, largely due to the efforts
of the British Prime Minister. After a meeting between Prime Minster Lal
Bahadur Shastri and President Ayub Khan in in June 1965 both sides agreed to
withdraw their troops from the border and the tension ended. With rare
allowed her main strike force, 1 Armoured Division, to remain in India Punjab instead of withdrawing it to its base in . Jhansi
launched Operation ‘ Pakistan Gibraltar’, sending thousands of infiltrators into Jammu
& Kashmir in the first week of August 1965 to carry out sabotage,
subversion and indoctrination of the local population, encouraging them to
overthrow Indian rule.
launched counter-infiltration operations and liquidated most of the raiders,
with a large number going back or being captured. Some important military
offensive operations were conducted by Indian forces in Kargil, Tithwal and
Punch sectors to seal the infiltration routes. India also captured the
strategically important India in August 1965. Hajipir
After the failure of Operation ‘
Gibraltar’, went ahead with the second
phase of her offensive, code named Operation ‘Grand Slam’. This was a bold
armoured thrust aimed at the capture of Akhnur, near Pakistan , in order to effectively isolate
Naushara, Rajauri and Punch and threaten the Indian line of communications to
the Jammu . The Pak offensive was launched
on 1September 1965 and Chhamb fell to the enemy on the first day itself.
However, Pakistani forces could not maintain the momentum of the offensive which
came to an abrupt halt on 6 September when Kashmir Valley launched her own offensive in
the Lahore Sector by XI Corps followed a day later by the I Corps offensive in
sector, as part of Operation ‘Riddle’. This forced Sialkot to pull out the bulk of
her armour and artillery as well as some infantry, virtually stalling her
offensive in Pakistan .
Jammu and Kashmir
The offensive by XI Corps started on
6 September 1965
and that of I Corps a day later. The three divisions of XI Corps – 15, 7 and 4
– commenced their advance concurrently on different axes achieving complete
surprise on the enemy. A brigade of 15
Division crossed the Icchogil canal and reached the outskirts of . However, the division
did exploit its initial success due to a defeatist attitude in the higher leadership,
resulting in the replacement of the divisional commander. The only major
success was the capture of Dograi by 3 Jat on Lahore 22 September 1965, in which the unit suffered
heavy casualties. Advancing on the Khalra-Lahore axis, 7 Division had some
initial successes, including the capture of Barki on 11 September after a stiff
fight. 4 Infantry Division ran into the enemy’s 1 Armoured Division which had
concentrated at Kasur for a major offensive into . This inadvertent spoiling
attack by 4 Division delayed the Pak offensive by 24 hours. This enabled 4
Infantry Division and 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade to take up defences in
area Asal Uttar behind Khemkaran, where in an important action fought on 10
September, almost four tank regiments of the enemy were destroyed, rendering
the Pak Armoured Division virtually ineffective for the rest of the war. India
The main Indian offensive by the newly raised I Corps, comprising 1 Armoured Division and three infantry/mountain divisions – 6, 14 and 26 - to cut off
from Sialkot was
launched on 8 September. Both 6 and 26
Divisions secured their initial objectives but the progress of 1 Armoured
Division was slow, mainly due to lack of bold higher leadership and
coordination between the brigades. After a major tank engagement on 11
September, 1 Armoured Division captured Phillora. Two days later, 6 Mountain
Division captured Pagowal. The next major armour engagement occurred at
Chawinda where a series of actions was fought between 14 and 17 September. The cease fire was announced two days later,
ending operations in this sector. Lahore
In the Rajasthan sector which had been placed under Southern Command just before the commencement of the 1965 war, some minor operations were conducted by 11 Infantry Division, which did not result in any significant gains. While Indian troops captured
Pak forces were able to capture Munabao on our side. Gadra City
The cease fire was declared on
23 September 1965, after a UN
resolution that was accepted by both sides. Subsequently, the Soviet
Union offered to mediate. Prime Minister Shastri and President
Ayub met at
on Tashkent 4 January 1966
and signed an agreement, giving up all territory captured or occupied during
the war. The crucial Hajipir pass was returned to for the second time, while
Pak forces vacated all area captured by them in Chhamb. Unfortunately, the
Prime Minister died in Pakistan
a day after signing the agreement. Tashkent
The Corps of Signals played a prominent role in the Indo-Pak War of 1965. The performance of signals units is all sectors was, by and large, excellent and was commended by the formation commanders. However, there were a few instances of communication failure, mostly at brigade and battalion level.
For ease of understanding, the operations have been covered sector wise, with the operational details being covered first, followed by the activities of Signals in the particular sector or corps zone. Before dealing with the actual history of the war, the state of the Corps in 1965 has been described briefly.
State of the Corps in 1965
Lines, wireless/radio, very limited radio relay and signal despatch service (SDS) were the means of communications in use during the 1965 War. Field signal units were authorised line, wireless (mostly high frequency) and SDS resources in their establishments. Radio relay as a means of communication was not authorised to field signal units, except mountain divisional signal regiments. A few radio relay sections had been raised, but these were mostly for line of communication functions. In the mountain divisions, signal units were equipped with better radio equipment, cables and above all radio relay. The brigade signal sections were upgraded to brigade signal companies. However, reduced transport affected their capability when deployed in the plains.
Lines were usually the primary means of communication in all operations of war except in mobile battle. These included permanent lines (PL) hired from Department of Posts & Telegraphs (P&T) or Army owned; and field cables (field/carrier quad, D3/D8 as also assault cables). Cable WD1 with sleeves jointing and a proportion on dispenser packs began to be received as part of
aid, after the 1962 war and later manufactured in the country. The field cables
were laid from vehicles and on man pack/ animal pack, depending on the terrain.
In snow bound areas yaks and in the desert camels/camel carts were also used at
times. PVC cable was used for multi air line (MAL) routes on poles. Carrier
equipment could be mounted on such routes. In forward areas, at places, earth
return circuits and magneto exchanges were still in use. US
Carrier equipment such as apparatus carrier telephony (ACT) 1+4, ACT 1+1 and voice frequency telegraphy (VFT) equipment such as S+DX, transistorised versions, manufactured by Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) Bangalore started to replace old valve based similar equipment of World War II vintage. The new versions were much lighter and easier to align. A very useful but old piece of equipment was balance and bypass filter unit (BBFU), with which the audio channel could be dropped at intermediate locations while the carrier channel was strapped through. Vintage equipment like superposing units was also in use. Carrier and VFT equipment were mounted in specialist vehicles called TEVs (terminal equipment vehicles). TEV Type ‘C’ was used at corps level and TEV Type ‘D’ at division. Though teleprinters were in use at division and upwards, the fullerphone was still in service mostly in brigades and installations having less signal traffic, for clearing messages using Morse code.
Radio, more widely known as wireless, was an important means of signal communications for the field force, as alternate to lines. At corps, division and brigade, high frequency wireless were in use. Forward of battalion, both high frequency (HF) and very high frequency (VHF) sets were authorised. The wireless sets in the HF range were medium power sets SCR 399 and RS 53, both of World War II vintage. Wireless sets C11/R210 and 62 were the low power sets in use, with a few radio sets 19 and 52, work horses of World War II. After the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962, some mountain divisions were equipped with the AN/GRC 9, received as part of
military aid, which could also be powered with hand generators. VHF sets AN/PRC
25 and AN/PRC 10 were also inducted in mountain divisions. The VHF set C42 was
in use in some armoured formations having Vijayanta tanks. Radio sets 31 and 88
were authorized to infantry battalions. Generally, the wireless equipment was
bulky and heavy. US
Radio relay had been used by the US Army Signal Corps during World War II to a limited extent. A few AN/TRC radio relay sets were available to the Corps in late 1950s. These sets were difficult to align and not stable. Trials with new radio relay equipment were undertaken in early 1960s after which C41/R222 started being received. Radio set FM 200 was also under trial. A radio relay section was authorized in the establishment of a mountain division signal regiment. In1965, radio relay resources were limited and were mostly kept centralised. R’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment at
few radio relay sections, which were held centrally as Army HQ reserve. Delhi
According to the prevailing law, the Department of Posts & Telegraphs (P&T) had a monopoly over all communications in the country and no other organisation could set up any static communication network. Telecommunication equipment such as switchboards was manufactured in P&T workshops. Public sector companies such Indian Telephone Industries and Bharat Electronics, manufactured carrier and radio equipment. The Corps of Signals was heavily dependent on the P&T and its infrastructure for back bone/static communications. Similar was the case with exchanges, telephones and local lines. There was structured and formalised liaison between Corps of Signals and P&T officers at various levels, from Army HQ downwards.
Being a commercial organisation, the P&T Department was not keen to develop line and other communications in border areas. The Army was therefore permitted to construct permanent line routes for its use in such areas. There was a spurt in construction of permanent line routes by the by Corps after the 1962 War, as new roads were constructed and troops deployed along the northern borders. The scheme was termed BOPEL (Border Permanent Lines). Similar action was also taken in remote areas in Jammu &Kashmir,
Rajasthan, Gujarat and the North-East.
In 1965, P&T long distance communications in
were derived on coaxial
cables, permanent line routes and a few microwave links. However, in India Punjab, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir, where most of
the fighting took place, there was hardly any microwave link till then.
Circuits were extended from P&T carrier stations to Signals installations
mostly on underground copper cables. A
few Signals personnel were located at P&T carrier stations for liaison, to
expedite rectification of faults and reorientation of communications. Signals
personnel also ensured that Army’s channels were not unauthorisedly monitored.
In field areas, at places, P&T carrier and VFT stations were housed inside
The Corps of Signals had set up its own strategic radio network as standby/ complementary to P&T based backbone communications. In addition to linking stations/formations in the chain of command, certain important stations from internal security point of view were also linked on STRAN as also locations where major Army training establishments were located. Circuits derived on STRAN were extended to signal centres over underground cables/ permanent line and remote controlled from there. Most of the radio links worked on schedule but were periodically fully loaded with traffic.
Medium and high power radio sets like SWAB 8, SWAB 11, HS 31, 53 (all British) and SCR 399 were in use offering radio telephony, radio telegraphy and Morse facilities. Separate transmitter and receiver stations existed at important military locations, well away from inhabited areas, spread over scores of acres, to accommodate equipment, personnel and large HF aerials like rhombic and folded dipoles. Overhead protection was catered for a portion of transmitters/ receivers as a safety against air attacks. Defence Security Corps personnel were authorised to guard such installations.
The Corps of Signals operated a countrywide train despatch service (TDS) to most military stations in
connected by rail and carried official mail. Private mail was handled by the
Army Postal Service. Compartments were reserved in trains and mailbags were
exchanged at railway stations enroute, with personnel of local signal units.
Where train services were not available, Army vehicles were used to carry mail
and the service was called MDS (motor despatch service). In cases, mail was
also carried in aircraft, which was termed ADS (air despatch service). When signal
message traffic was excessive, messages of lower precedence were also sent
through SDS and termed ‘live traffic’. It reduced load on signal centre staff
including cipher staff. Within formations, SDS was run using vehicles. While
SDS runs were on schedule basis, normally once or twice a day, special despatch
riders (SDRs) mounted on motorcycles/ jeeps cleared important mail including
operational orders/instructions, as and when need arose. India
There were no secrecy devices in use over P&T and Army’s systems and radio equipment in 1965. The only instrument available was the archaic Ultaphone, which provided very low-grade privacy over telephones. The scales of issue of even this equipment were meagre. The enemy could therefore pick up a great deal of intelligence by monitoring our radio and radio relay links and at times by tapping lines in forward areas.
World War II vintage book cipher and Type ‘X’ machines were still in use. The encryption and decryption process was slow and time consuming. As tension along the borders built up, the cipher traffic increased considerably and the limited cipher staff could not cope up with the load. To obviate this, security classification of telegraph circuits derived on lines using VFT equipment was upgraded, taking into account the security in the areas through which the lines passed. Also restrictions were placed on officers authorised to originate messages.1
In January 1965 a company of the Indus Rangers of Pakistan occupied Kanjarkot, a ruined fort about a mile south of the border on the north-western fringes of the Rann. A meeting of the commanders of the border posts held on 15 February failed to resolve the issue. It was then decided to evict the Pakistani intrusion from Kanjarkot and 31 Infantry Brigade was ordered to move from Ahmedabad to Bhuj. On 21 February Major General P.C. Gupta, GOC Maharashtra & Gujarat Area issued Operational Instruction No 1 (Operation ‘Kabadi’) to Brigadier S.S.M. Pahalajani, Commander 31 Infantry Brigade, to evict the Pakistanis from Kanjarkot. An infantry battalion (17 Rajputana Rifles less a company) was already in Bhuj.
retaliated by moving 8 Frontier Force of 51 Pak Infantry Brigade Group to Kadan
on 6 March and reinforcing Kanjarkot and Rahim-ki-Bazar. The Indus Rangers were placed under the
operational command of Major General Tikka Khan, GOC Pak 8 Division, who was
tasked to take retaliatory measures against the Indians. Pakistan
Lieutenant Colonel (later General and Chief of Army Staff) K. Sundarji, commanding 1 Mahar and the officiating brigade commander, recommended the immediate capture of Kanjarkot but this was not approved by the government. Instead, it was decided to set up the Sardar post, manned by the State Reserve Police about 500 yards to the south-west of Kanjarkot, to block the Pakistani route of ingress.
retaliated by establishing
a platoon post at Ding, to the north-east of Sardar post. On 9 April Pakistan
launched an attack on Sardar post, which was beaten back with heavy casualties.
The Pakistani casualties were 34 killed including four officers, while the Indians
lost four policemen killed and five wounded. Though the attack was repulsed,
the police personnel withdrew to Vigokot and Sardar post was occupied by 1
Mahar from Khavda on Pakistan 12
April 1965. Shortly afterwards Brigadier Pahalajani, who had
returned and assumed command of 31 Brigade, ordered 1 Mahar to vacate Sardar post.
At this stage there was a reorganisation of the Indian forces in Kutch. Kilo Sector
under Major General P.O. Dunn was set up to command the Indian forces in Kutch. 50
(Independent) Parachute Brigade was moved from and placed under command Kilo Sector. Agra
Loss of Biar Bet
After the unsuccessful attempt to capture Sardar post,
reinforced the sector with
an infantry brigade and two regiments of armour. On the night of 23 April, Pakistani forces
launched an attack supported by armour on Sera Bet held by B Company of 3 Para,
which had to withdraw in the face of assault by tanks. The Pakistanis suffered
almost 100 casualties, killed and wounded, while the Indian casualties were
relatively minor – one killed, two wounded and nine missing. On the night of 26
April Pakistani forces attacked Biar Bet, which was held by A Company of 3
Para. The attack was launched by armour in the assault role accompanied by
infantry mounted in armoured personnel carriers. Again the Indians fought
valiantly but could not withstand the weight of the armour and were forced to
A unique feature of the operations in
was that neither side used its air force. It is reported that the Pak Air
Chief, Air Marshal Asghar Khan rang up his Indian counterpart, Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh on 14 April 1965 and
suggested that aircraft of both countries should not fly over the ‘disputed’
area of Kanjarkot as this might escalate the conflict. This was agreed to by
Arjan Singh with the proviso that transport aircraft and helicopters would
continue to be used for supply and casualty evacuation. As a result, none of
the two sides used aircraft in an offensive role during the conflict.
Cease Fire & Operation ‘Ablaze’
The occupation of Biar Bet by
alarmed Indian political
leaders and the public, who recalled the defeat suffered by Pakistan at the
hands of India
less than three years earlier. There was considerable pressure on Prime
Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to evict the Pakistani aggression from Indian
soil. The Army Chief, General J.N. Chaudhury, advised the government not to
undertake military operations in China Kutch as this
would result in pulling out troops from the Punjab
and the North East, which were strategically more important. The Rann of Kutch had no strategic or tactical significance
and after a month the area would become impassable due to the monsoons. He
recommended that if necessary,
should react by launching an offensive against India in Pakistan Punjab,
which would result in more profitable gains and force to
vacate the incursion in Pakistan Kutch. Having seen the
result of disregarding military advice in 1962, Shastri accepted the advice of
the Chief. Shortly after wards, Operation ‘Ablaze’ was put into effect, under
which Indian formations moved to their battle locations in Punjab.
reacted by a reciprocal deployment of troops on her side of the border. During
this otherwise peaceful confrontation, Brigadier Vijay Ghai captured three
Pakistani posts in the Kargil sector on Pakistan 17 May 1965. These posts were later vacated after the
cease fire came into effect.2
The deployment of troops by
and India along
their borders was viewed with alarm by the Western powers. Due to the efforts
of Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Pakistan , both countries agreed to a
cease fire which came into effect on UK 29 April 1965. In June 1965 Prime Minister Shastri and President
Ayub met during the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in and signed a
general agreement on the demarcation of the boundary in the London Rann
of Kutch. By July 1965 both sides had withdrawn their troops to
their permanent locations. However, as a mark of prudence, allowed 1
Armoured Division, its main strike formation, to remain in India Punjab
instead of returning to its base at ,
which was located at a considerable distance from the border. Jhansi
suffered more casualties in Pakistan Kutch (34 killed
and 150 wounded) than
(15 killed and 40 wounded), it regarded itself as the victor. More important,
it had been able to gauge the strength and resolve of the India ’s
political leadership and her armed forces. The lack of criticism from the USA
on the use of American equipment such as the Patton tanks in spite of an
undertaking not to use them against India gratified Pakistan, who was now
convinced that she could do so again if the need arose. The lack of a military
response from India
was seen as a sign of weakness of the political and military leadership. Most important,
the Pakistani soldier felt that he had got the better of the Indian jawan, confirming the impression formed
after the performance of the latter in 1962 in the conflict with India . The
stage was set for the Operation ‘ China Gibraltar’,
the ambitious plan to annex the Kashmir.
SIGNALS IN THE
Signals Directorate & Southern Command
Major General R.N. Batra, O.B.E. was the SO-in-C and Brigadier I.D. Verma was the Deputy Director Signals. Colonel K.S. Garewal, subsequently replaced by Colonel Harchand Singh, was the Deputy Director Telecommunications, responsible for all communications and equipment in the Army. From February 1965, when the trouble in
started, all out efforts were made under by them to provide signal resources in
terms of manpower and equipment to Southern Command. Urgent action was taken to
raise new signal units viz. I Corps Signal Regiment, 10 and 11 Divisional
Signal Regiments. To meet any war situation that might arise, steps were also
taken to procure additional equipment and make up deficiencies of men and
equipment in units. Meetings were held with P&T Department officials to
arrange additional circuits, exchanges and additional permanent line stores and
spares for P&T equipment. General Batra and his staff visited formations
and signal units to ascertain their operational requirements and ensure maximum
Brigadier Prem Singh was CSO Southern Command, located at
. He did not have many field signal
units in the command, as the operational role was limited. Once the trouble in Poona Rann of Kutch started, he had to gather resources from
all over including from other commands and Army HQ to meet the sudden
‘K’ Sector Signal Company
When the operations in
Kutch commenced in early
1965, there was no field formation to control them. As mentioned earlier, the
first operational instruction was issued by HQ Maharashtra & Gujarat Area
on 21 February 1965.
Even after the establishment of ‘K’ Sector under Major General P.O. Dunn, there
was no dedicated signal unit allotted to the force. The responsibility for planning
communications for the operations fell on Lieutenant Colonel H.C. Heffernan,
Deputy Chief Signal Officer (DCSO) Maharashtra & Gujarat Area. Subsequently
Lieutenant Colonel P.K. Unni was appointed DCSO ‘K’ Sector. Based on a signal
appreciation prepared by Colonel Heffernan, the ‘K’ Sector Signal Company was
organised on an ad-hoc basis. In
addition, the resources of 31 Brigade Signal Company, commanded by Major
Ganapathy and later of 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company
commanded by Major Y.S. Awasthy, were also pooled for communication tasks in
Major R.K. Verma was commanding ‘K’ Sector Signal Company. Captain Bhupal, the SO 3 (Signals) in HQ Southern Command was posted as the company officer. He was replaced by Captain S.K. Paranjape in May 1965.
Ahuja was also posted to the
company as officer-in-charge signal centre, Khavda. Lieutenant Harbans Singh, Technical
Officer Telecom (TOT) was based at Bhuj and was responsible for engineering
extension of circuits from the P&T hub at Bhuj to Khavda. The company also
had two subalterns, Lieutenants S.S. Shina and S. Rao. These two dynamic and diligent young officers
were the backbone of all the field work including line construction and
maintenance, radio relay engineering, routine administration etc. Captain
K Sector Signal Company was an ad-hoc mix of personnel, equipment and vehicles milked from about two dozen units mostly in Southern Command. These resources were either on loan or attachment for various periods during the period February to July 1965, and lacked cohesiveness and commitment. The state of morale was also low, the administration of personnel being in a pathetic state. The men were dispersed at various detachments in an area 150 X 30 kilometres with hardly any communication amongst themselves. Captain S.K. Paranjape recalls spending a whole day carrying cash in the morning from Khavda on the pay day and distributing pay to about a dozen detachments located at different places along a route of 150 kilometres and returning late in the evening with some of the cash back from them to send their money orders. The procedure was repeated every month. Officers spent endless hours in making parade states of personnel and equipment.
Due to sparse population in the region, the P&T Department had not developed communications in
Kutch and Barmer. The first requirement was to provide reliable
line communications from Bhuj to Vigakot, the likely battle location of HQ 31
Infantry Brigade. Fortunately, a P&T permanent line (PL) route existed
between Bhuj and Khavda. To bridge the remaining distance of 65 kilometres between
Khavda and Vigakot, a poled PVC route was ordered to be constructed within a
week. Captain V.A. Balasubramanyam, who was made responsible for the task,
recalls that the construction of the route was not an easy task. The personnel
were drawn from several units in ,
Delhi and Bombay Goa. Movement beyond Khavda was restricted and could only
be carried out at night. Since troops and military vehicles were not permitted beyond
Khavda, the personnel had to wear civil clothes and use civilian transport. There was no vegetation anywhere and direction
had to be maintained with the help of a compass. Being close to the border, there was a risk
of straying across if they lost their way. Within a week the route was completed
and put through. The line was laid initially on ground and subsequently built
up into a poled PVC route. Carrier and VFT equipment were mounted at both ends
to derive additional channels. The channel from Vigakot was directly extended
to . Subsequently this line served as the main
artery for operations in this sector.3 Poona
A line route being constructed in the Kutch Sector, 1965
After a visit by the SO-in-C to Bhuj on 12 April, some readjustments were made to improve the communication support being provided to ‘K’ sector. A command net with control at Khavda where HQ ‘K’ Sector was located was established with 31 Infantry Brigade and 50 Parachute Brigade as out stations. In addition a direct radio link was established with
and a radio net linking Khavda, Delhi ,
Bhuj, all using radio set SCR 399. Forward radio links used radio sets 19/19HP
and 62. A radio relay chain linking Bhuj with Vigokot via Khavda was
established after the arrival of radio relay sets from the Trial and
Demonstration Unit at Bombay
under Captain (later Lieutenant General and SO-in-C) S.C. Ahuja. SDS was provided between Poona, Bombay,
Ahmedabad, Bhuj and thence onwards to
Khavda, using a mix of rail and air despatch services, mechanical
transport being used forward of Bhuj. Delhi
After the cease fire in
between 9 May and 5 June 1965,
Major Bhupal Singh and his men constructed an AB/BC copper route between Khavda
and Dharamsala. Due to the swampy ground, 120 swamp sockets were used in a
short distance of eight kilometres. Another 48- kilometre long route using 70
lb. cadmium copper was constructed between Bela and Shanthalpur in 14 days,
starting 16 June 1965. About 20 kilometres of the route was laid
over marshy ground, using 5½ foot long angle iron pickets, with the rest of the
route being constructed on multi air line (MAL) poles.
50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company
This company was commanded by Major Y.S. Awasthy with Captain M.S. Ahluwalia as the second-in-command. The other officers in the company were Captain D.K. Uberoy, Lieutenant M. Bhatia and Second-Lieutenants C.J. Appachu and Krishan. The company was in Pauri in the Garhwal Himalayas attending Exercise ‘Pratigya’ along with the brigade headquarters in early April 1965 when it received orders to move to Ahmedabad for the
Kutch operations. Returning post haste to its base at on 10 April, the
advance party under Captain M.S. Ahluwalia was despatched next morning, the
rest of the company moving by rail two days later along with HQ 50 (Independent)
Parachute Brigade. On 18 April the
vehicle column under Lieutenant M. Bhatia and Second-Lieutenant C.J. Appachu
left Ahmedabad and concentrated at Khavda by 19 April. The company had to lay
lines between the brigade headquarters and battalions as well as between
battalion headquarters and the 10-12 companies deployed 5-6 miles away. On 23
April Second Lieutenant Appachu, Naik Surjit Singh and Naik Surat Singh were
laying the lines from Dharamsala (3 Para) to Pt. 84 and Biar Bet (C and D
Companies of 3 Para). On reaching Pt. 84, Appachu noticed some men in Khaki and
realised that they were Pak personnel, Indian troops having vacated the area
under pressure during the night. He was ordered to fall back and had a narrow
escape. Describing the incident, Major General M. Bhatia writes: Agra
“The line laying commenced in the evening of
April 1965. It should have finished well before mid night, but
there was no news of Appachu. I then moved out for a search and found Appachu
and the line party around Point 84 searching for someone to hand over the line
to. The gunners arrived next morning and all hell broke loose. A Pak helicopter
arrived on the scene and people panicked, the gunners left their guns and ran
back, spreading alarms of an attack. Utter chaos ensued. Meanwhile Appachu and
the line party retrieved what they could to safer distances. This included a
gun of the 17 Para Field Regiment”.
In view of the changed operational situation, on
24 April 1965
Captain Ahluwalia moved to Dharamsala and line parties under Naib Subedar Sohan
Singh and Naik Balaram laid lines to 2 Para and 4 Para. In the evening, 11
wireless detachments and one battery charging detachment were also moved to
Dharamsala. By 0800 hours on 25 April the advance signal centre and all radio
and line communications were established at Dharamsala. The next few days were
spent in burying the lines, constructing over head shelters for weapon pits,
signal centre and the wireless pit. On 11 May Brigadier Prem Singh, CSO Southern
Command, visited the company and gave a pat on the back to the linemen and
operators for their splendid performance. On 19 May Major Vinod Kumar, the OC-
designate, arrived at Khavda. He took
over command of 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company on 23 May
1965, relieving Major Y.S. Awasthy who
proceeded to take over command of 10 Mountain Division Signal Regiment on
An interesting incident pertaining to that period has been narrated Major General Vinod Kumar in these words:-
At Dharmsala, all the units deployed themselves along a nullah and its branches parking most of their stores and heavy/bulky stuff on the nullah bed. Just as we were all congratulating each other and patting ourselves on the back for excellent camouflage and concealment effect, that night there was a sudden ‘cloud burst’, and in no time the nullah was all over with torrential floods and current speed of tens of knots. Everything was washed away – ammunition boxes, vehicles, rations, POL barrels, and lots more (some of these items were recovered two days later several kilometres downstream).
The Brigade Command Post, the Brigade Officers Mess and the Brigade Commander’s caravan had been sited on a small island inside the nullah. They were the first to get cut off. There was constant danger of the Brigade Commander and many others getting washed away too in the swirling waters constantly on the rise.
Fortunately, the field cables laid for local lines held on and the exchange was functional all this while. The rescue parties were organised hurriedly, who moved holding the cable, braving the fury of the flood and brought back all the beleaguered personnel to safety. This incident remained a hot topic of casual conversation (and brag too) with several variations even at
till we all got engrossed with Operation ‘Riddle’. Agra
was the code name given to the audacious Pakistani plan to seize Jammu & Kashmir
by force. According to the plan, several small groups of armed infiltrators
were to cross the Cease Fire Line and enter the Valley between 1 and 5 August 1965.
Simultaneously, Pakistani attacks would be launched in the Jammu Sector, tying
up Indian forces in Chhamb and isolating Rajauri and Punch. The Jammu-Srinagar
and Srinagar-Kargil roads would be cut, isolating , which would be captured with the
help of the local population. The Gibraltar Force comprised almost 9,000 men,
drawn from the Azad Kashmir battalions, Special Service Group and Mujahids.
They were divided into a number of columns or forces, named after well known
Islamic heroes such as Tariq, Qasim, Khalid, Salahuddin, Nusrat, Ghaznavi,
Murtaza and Babar. The operation was under the command of Major General Akhtar
Husain Malik, GOC Pakistani Forces in Pak Occupied Kashmir.4 Srinagar
Gibraltar’ was daring and brilliantly conceived. However,
it had an inauspicious beginning. On 5 August 1965 two armed
strangers wearing green salwar kameez
uniforms accosted a Kashmiri lad named Mohammed Din who was grazing his cattle
near Gulmarg and offered him 400 rupees in exchange for some information. The
young man agreed, and returning ostensibly to do the needful, rushed to the
police station at Tangmarg. The information soon reached the Army which
promptly sent a patrol that neutralized the infiltrators. In a similar incident
in the Mendhar Sector, some suspicious looking armed men offered a bribe to a
local named Wazir Mohammed, who agreed to get the information but made his way
instead to HQ 120 Infantry Brigade which sent a patrol of platoon strength
under Captain C.N. Singh to investigate. In the ensuing encounter with the
infiltrators the officer and three Indian soldiers were killed, the raiders
escaping after leaving a large amount of ammunition and personal equipment.
Three days later two Pakistani officers, Captains Ghulam Hussain and Mohammad
Sajjad were captured near Narian. Their interrogation revealed that they were
the leading elements of the ambitious plan to capture Jammu & Kashmir –
Operation ‘Gibraltar’ – that had been planned several months earlier and forces for which were trained at various
locations in Pak Occupied Kashmir from May 1965 onwards.5
Though surprise was lost on
5 August 1965, the infiltrating columns
succeeded in entering Indian territory at
several points and became active from 6 August onwards. The Tariq Force damaged several bridges on
the Kargil -
highway, raided the Border Roads camp at Doras and damaged the Ganderbal
powerhouse and waterworks near Srinagar .
The Qasim Force entered the Gurais Sector and raided HQ 268 Infantry Brigade
and a gun position. In the Tithwal Sector the Khalid Force attacked the base
camp of 8 Kumaon at Naugam and killed the CO, Lieutenant Colonel M.V. Gore. It
also raided an ammunition dump at Chowkibal and a vehicle convoy. Entering the Valley through Gulmarg, the
Salahuddin Force raided a police station in Srinagar and an ammunition depot at Khundru,
in addition to fomenting incidents in Pahalgam, Anantnag, Shupian and Badgam.
Some infiltrators fired on the airfield, airport road and Tattoo ground at Srinagar , creating panic
among the civilian population. The Nusrat, Ghaznavi and Babar forces operated
in Punch, Rajauri and Chhamb areas and succeeded in establishing sanctuaries in
Budil, Mandi and Riasi.6 Srinagar
Overcoming the initial shock, Indian troops reacted swiftly. Some battalions of the Punjab Armed Police were flown into
on 7 August followed by others by road. On Srinagar 11 August, 163 Infantry Brigade arrived in from Leh. In
addition, two additional battalions – 4 Sikh Light Infantry and 2/9 Gorkha
Rifles were moved to Srinagar .
41 Infantry Brigade from Palampur was moved to Tangmarg and 52 Infantry Brigade
was moved from Srinagar
to carry out anti-infiltration operations under 25 Infantry Division in Rajauri
Sector. Even as the Army was grappling with the situation, the State Government
panicked and sent an urgent request to Jammu
that the Army should take over the State and declare martial law. After
consulting the Army and Corps Commanders, Lieutenant Generals Harbaksh Singh and
K.S. Katoch, the Army Chief advised the Government that this was not necessary
and adequate measures were being taken to restore the situation in the State.
To relieve 19 Infantry Division from security duties and permit it to undertake
counter-infiltration tasks in the Valley, HQ SRI Force was established in
Srinagar on 14 August under the command of Major General Umrao Singh, the
tactical headquarters of 19 Infantry
Division moving back to Baramula. Delhi
On 15 August there was a major incident in the Chhamb sector that witnessed the clash of regular troops from both sides. In an attempt to perk up the spirits of the disheartened infiltrators
launched a limited offensive supported by heavy artillery, which shelled the
Indian post at Dewa, where an Indian artillery dump was located. A stray shell
killed Brigadier B.F. Masters, Commander 191 Infantry Brigade, along with
several other officers of the brigade orders group. Four officers, one JCO and four
OR were killed, while two officers and 38 OR were wounded. Most of the
casualties were from 14 Field Regiment, whose six guns were put out of action.
Brigadier Manmohan Singh, Commander 162 Infantry Brigade was immediately moved
to Jaurian to take over 191 Infantry Brigade, which was reinforced with another
battalion, 2 Sikh, from 26 Infantry Division.7 Pakistan
The loss of surprise in the initial stages of Operation ‘
Gibraltar’, lack of local
support to the infiltrators and the response of the Indian troops resulted in
the operation losing steam by the middle of September 1965. It was decided to
carry out counter-infiltration operations to evict the infiltrators, seal the
routes used by them and destroy their bases in Pak Occupied Kashmir. Towards
this end several offensive operations were undertaken in August 1965. Two of
the most important were the capture of the Hajipir pass and eviction of the
Pakistani forces west of in the Tithwal
The road connecting Uri and Punch passed through the strategically important Hajipir pass, at a height of 8,650 feet, which was the main route of ingress into the
valley. It was being used for
replenishment of the infiltrating columns and a number of logistical dumps with
stocks of arms, ammunition and supplies had come up in the vicinity. It was
decided to capture the pass, in order to block this major route of infiltration
and destroy the administrative installations in the Hajipir bulge. A pincer
attack from two directions was planned, with one brigade ex-19 Infantry
Division launching an attack from the north along the road from Uri, and
another brigade ex-25 Infantry Division from the south, along the road coming
from Punch. The task of capturing the feature from the north was assigned to 68
Infantry Brigade, under the command of Brigadier Z.C. ‘Zoru’ Bakshi, who had
had proved his worth as a commander, winning decorations in Burma during World
War II, in Jammu & Kashmir in 1947-48, and in Congo in 1962. To indicate
the confidence he enjoyed of the higher command in the Army, the operation for
the capture of Hajipir was code named Operation ‘Bakshi.'
68 Infantry Brigade was allotted five infantry battalions viz. 1 Para, 19 Punjab, 4 Rajput, 6 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles and 4 Sikh Light Infantry for the operation. For artillery support it had 164 Field Regiment, equipped with 25 pounder field guns, 144 Mountain Battery, and a troop of medium guns ex-39 Medium Regiment. Bakshi's plan for the operation envisaged a two-pronged attack, from the north, to be conducted in three phases, which was to commence on
24 August 1965.
Due to heavy rain on 23 August, all the nullahs (streams) along the right axis were flooded. Consequently, the attack was postponed by a day and was launched on the night of 25 August. By 0130 hours on 26 August, 19
had captured Pathra. However, it could not proceed further to Bedori due to the
rugged and precipitous terrain and stiff resistance by the enemy, and fell back
to Pathra by first light. On the right axis, 1 Para launched their attack on
Sank as planned but were held up by intense enemy fire and suffered about 30
casualties. Bakshi decided to attack Sank again, using 1 Para, and requested divisional
headquarters to assign the task of capturing Bedori to 161 Infantry Brigade.
The attack by 1 Para on Sank went in at 2230 hours after a heavy artillery barrage. By first light on 27 August, Sank had been captured. The enemy vacated the feature, leaving 15 dead. 1 Para did not lose the momentum, and continued to press on. By , they had secured Sar and Ledwali Gali. Bakshi now decided to exploit the success he had achieved on the Sank approach, and ignore the Bedori approach till the situation became clearer. Hajipir pass, being in depth, was not expected to be occupied by the enemy, ab initio. However, the enemy had by now been alerted, and would have started moving additional troops to reinforce the feature. Once it was reinforced, it would no longer be within the capability of a brigade to capture the pass. He decided to go for the pass directly, without waiting for Bedori to be cleared. This meant a frontal assault from the north under enemy observation and fire and could result in heavy casualties.
Bakshi spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Prabhjinder Singh, CO 1
Para, and told him
that he was looking for a suitable officer to capture Hajipir pass. Prabhjinder
suggested the name of his second-in-command, Major Ranjit Singh Dayal. Bakshi
personally briefed Dayal on the mission, advising him to avoid the direct
approach and capture the knolls on either side of the pass from an unexpected
direction. He was given an infantry company, with an additional platoon. An
artillery officer would accompany him, as the forward observation officer
(FOO). Another company of 1 Para was earmarked to reinforce the company after
it had captured the pass. At the end of his briefing, Bakshi told Dayal, "If
you succeed, the credit will go to you. If you don't, I will accept
responsibility for the failure."
Dayal left with his column at last light on 27 August. He was accompanied by Captain Vaswani, as his second-in-command, and Second-Lieutenant J.S. Talwar of 164 Field Regiment as the forward observation officer (FOO). Descending from Ledwali Gali, the company crossed the Haidarabad nullah, and, began to climb, avoiding the track. Soon, it started to rain and the valley was covered with low clouds and mist. At about 2000 hours they reached a house, which was found to be occupied by ten Pak soldiers, who had fallen back from Bedori and were resting for the night. After they were disarmed, they were pressed into service for carrying loads. Soaked to the skin and utterly exhausted, the men kept on moving throughout the night, weighed down by heavy loads.
At about 0430 hours on 28 August, the company hit the old Uri - Punch road, where Dayal decided to give the men a much-needed break. Resuming the advance at 0700 hours, the company moved towards the objective. After about an hour, the leading platoon came under intense machine gun fire from the western shoulder of the pass. Leaving the leading platoon and the FOO to keep the enemy engaged from the front, Dayal took the balance of the company to the right, and began climbing up the western shoulder of the pass. Having reached the top, they rolled down, completely surprising the Pak soldiers, who took to their heels without offering any resistance. By 1100 hours on 28 August, Hajipir pass had been captured. Twelve Pakistanis, including one officer, were taken prisoner. There was not a single Indian casualty. The capture of Hajipir was an important victory for
and a big blow to India .
The credit for the success went to Dayal, who had led his men resolutely, and
to Bakshi, who had not only conceived the bold plan but had executed it
brilliantly. Both were awarded the Maha
Vir Chakra for the daring operation.8 Pakistan
Operations in Tithwal Sector
The limited offensive in the Tithwal sector involved the capture of a number of tactically important features, in order to dominate the area. On
23 August 1965, a combined patrol composed of 2
Rajput and 3/8 Gorkha Rifles secured the Ring Contour across the cease-fire
line. This was the first position in enemy territory captured during the 1965
operations. Although no opposition was encountered on the objective, the enemy
shelled the position throughout the night, but the Rajputs and Gorkhas held
their ground. During the following night 1 Sikh less two companies, supported
by 138 Mountain Battery and 17 Field Battery from 7 Field Regiment, attacked and
captured the Pak post on Richhmar Ridge, held by a platoon plus of the enemy.
On night 25/26 August, 1 Sikh attacked and captured the formidable Pir Sahiba feature, which was held by an enemy company. A subsequent task given to the battalion was the destruction of the
Fortuitously, the bridge prepared for demolition
by the enemy was struck by lightning and blew up, rendering the operation
unnecessary. Nauseri Bridge
On the night of 3 September, 3/8 Gorkha Rifles, supported by field, mountain and light artillery, attacked the massive Sunjoi feature, and captured it using Khukris The enemy launched two furious counter-attacks on night 4/5 September and 6/7 September, which were both repulsed. Enemy casualties were one officer and seven OR killed, with own losses being one officer and one OR. The battalion next attacked the enemy post at the Ring Contour overlooking the
. The attack was
launched on the 10 September and the feature was captured after fierce
hand-to-hand fighting. The withdrawing enemy destroyed the Mirpur
On the night of 20 September, 4 Kumaon captured Pt. 9013, after three hours of heavy fighting during which the enemy lost 55 killed, including one officer. The capture of Pt. 9013 gave Indian troops complete domination of the Mirpur area up to Jura Bridge on the River Kishanganga.9
SIGNALS IN OPERATION
19 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The brunt of enemy armed infiltration and activity along the Cease Fire Line was faced by 19 Infantry Division, which was guarding approaches to the
. The division launched major
offensives in the Kishanganga and Hajipir bulges, as also to capture some
important features and areas in Tangdhar and Kupwara Sectors. The
responsibility of providing communications during the counter infiltration
operations in August 1965 primarily devolved on 19 Infantry Divisional Signal
Regiment, which was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel S.L. Juneja. Fortunately, he had a good rapport with the divisional
commander, Major General S.S. Kalaan, as well as the staff, which included a
signal officer, Lieutenant Colonel H.S. Kler, the GSO1 (Operations). Kashmir Valley
The first report of sighting armed infiltrators in Gulmarg area was received on
5 August 1965. Second
Lieutenant O.P. Mehta was immediately dispatched from Baramula with the GOC’s
rover to Tangmarg, where the GOC was then located. It was decided to send out
two columns, one from 7 Field Regiment and the other from 6 Bihar,
to search and destroy the infiltrators. Since the column from 7 Field Regt did
not have a radio set, the manpack set detachment from the GOC’s rover,
comprising Lance Havildar J.P. Vaid and Signalman Babu Kamble was sent with the column, with a radio
set AN/GRC-694. On 6 August, the
detachment at Tangmarg was reinforced with a terminal equipment vehicle (TEV),
a line detachment and one RS C11/R210 under Major R.S. Chimni and Second
Lieutenant P.K. Ghosh, who established a signal centre at the Dark Bungalow.
Second Lieutenant P.S. Parmar was ordered to move from 268 Infantry Brigade to
Tangmarg with additional line detachments which extended line communications to
Baramula and Gulmarg. Srinagar
At about 1130 hours the 7 Field Regiment column encountered the infiltrators. Using his manpack set Havildar Vaid was able to call for artillery fire from the battery of which had already moved to Tangmarg. The artillery fire wounded many of the infiltrators, who scattered leaving behind their arms, ammunition, rations and clothing. A line party under Havildar Jagjit Singh laid field cable till mid night in spite of coming under fire twice. A column of 13 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles was sent to general area Toshamaidan with a wireless detachment comprising Naik Raj Kumar, Lance Naik R.S. Saini and Lance Naik Gurmith Singh with a radio set AN/GRC- 694. They remained at a height of 8500 ft. for five continuous days and provided good wireless communication. New lines were laid by parties led by Lieutenants Ghosh and Parmar. The CO himself stayed at Tangmarg for three days to oversee the communications. On 10 August, the Signals personnel at Tangmarg moved back to Baramula, after handing over to 68 Brigade Signal Company, which was placed under command.
A line party at work in the Uri Sector, 1965
Monitoring of enemy radio links by all brigade signal companies and the ‘I’ Section of the unit was started from 12 August and interception reports passed to all formations and 3 Wireless Experimental Centre at
. On 15 August lateral radio
communications were established to 93 Srinagar
Brigade at Punch, Sri Force and 68 Brigade. A civilian tampering with local lines at Pattan was apprehended by the CO. On the same day a signal detachment was sent with the column of 4 Sikh Light Infantry tasked to search the Naugam area, where the raiders had attacked the 8 Kumaon base and killed the CO two days earlier. On 16 August a tank column was also sent to Naugam to evacuate the casualties of 8 Kumaon. The signal centre at Tangmarg was taken over by 41 Brigade Signal Company which came under command, 68 Brigade Signal Company moving back to Khrew.
On 19 August a wireless and a line detachment was fired at by infiltrators, two of whom were apprehended and handed over to the Intelligence Branch. A Pak soldier with RS AN/GRC-9 was captured at Chor Panjal and brought to the divisional headquarters for interrogation. On the same day 68 Brigade Signal Company was ordered to move to Pattan for Operation ‘Bakshi’ (capture of Hajipir pass). Planning and arranging communications for this highly critical operation became the foremost pre-occupation of the unit. A bid was made for radio relay detachments, quad cable and dispenser packs. Cable WD-1 was wound on reels No. 2 for use in mountainous terrain. Colonel Juneja visited all battalions earmarked for the operation and checked their signal equipment and stores. To ensure foolproof communications, a wireless detachment and a line detachment was attached to each unit.
Colonel Juneja conceived an innovative signal communication plan for the capture of Hajipir pass and subsequent link-up between Uri and Punch. A switching centre was established just south of Uri, which proved extremely effective and useful. It catered for a small signal centre, ten line exchange, despatch riders, battery charging, line and radio detachments. To offset the shortage of charging engines, central battery charging was organized at the switching centre. This catered for the needs of the battalions in the forward areas who could get their fresh batteries from the switching centre in exchange for their rundown ones. These were collected on a clean exchange basis when their supply columns passed through. The switching centre was connected to Baramula by two permanent line pairs, one of which was taken over from the P&T Department for this operation. Two other pairs belonging to the Electricity Department between Baramula and Mahura were extended to the switching centre by quad cable. This arrangement allowed for provision of hot lines from the divisional operations room to the brigades taking part in the operations as also for HQ Artillery Brigade.
Radio communications to the five brigades under command 19 Infantry Division and 93 Infantry Brigade of 25 Infantry Division were provided in an unorthodox manner by splitting both command (D1) and traffic clearing (D2) nets into two separate nets. Thus, 68, 93 and 161 Brigades came up on D1A and D2A nets, while 41, 104 and 268 Infantry Brigades were outstations on D1 and D2 nets. Two RS 19 were deployed in 161 Infantry Brigade area to simulate induction of an additional infantry battalion in Uri sector.10
Telephone exchange of 19 Inf Div Sig Regt, 1965
Signal Instruction No3/65 for Operation ‘Bakshi’ was issued on
23 August 1965. By 24 August the signal centre for 68 Brigade
had been established, charging and wireless sets humped up and jamming of enemy
wireless nets commenced. On night of 24/25 August laying of lines beyond our
posts on the Cease Fire Line commenced by ‘C’ Section of the unit and line
detachments of the brigades. Lines were
laid towards Pir Sahiba (104 Brigade), Sank and Ledwali Gali (68 Brigade). In
addition hot lines were laid between the divisional operations room and those
of 68 and 161 Brigades. Wireless
communications was established and kept on listening watch, to be opened in
case of disruption of lines.
On 25 August the Pir Sahiba post in Tithwal Sector was captured by 1 Sikh of 104 Brigade. A Pak signal instruction recovered during the battle was extensively used by own signal units in Operation ‘Bakshi’ and subsequent operations, for interception of enemy links. On 26 August lines were extended to Sank and Ledwali Gali immediately after their capture by 1 Para. The same day Signalman Babu Ram of 268 Infantry Brigade Signal Section was killed in action at Kupwara. On 29 August after the capture of
, a lane was cleared of mines and a
cable detachment under Naib Subedar Siv Raman Nair started to lay the line,
accompanied by the CO. At 0200 hours on 30 August Lieutenant Parmar left with a
line party for Hajipir pass accompanied by the Quartermaster, Captain Pandey.
The unit sent cooked food by helicopter to 1 Para, which had captured the pass.
By 31 August communications had been extended to Hajipir pass. A Pakistani
officer, Captain Masood, who had been captured during the operation was kept in
the unit quarter guard that night. Hajipir Pass
There were two stalwarts of the Corps of Signals in 19 Infantry Division on command/general staff appointments, whose deserve mention. Lieutenant Colonel H.S. Kler, a paratrooper, was the GSO 1 (Operations) in the divisional headquarters. A dynamic signaller, Kler was of tremendous help to the unit. Brigadier S.N. Antia was commanding 268 Infantry Brigade which undertook successful operations against the infiltrators at a number of places. He was shortly thereafter promoted to major general and given command of a division.
The Signal Centre flag atop Hajipir Pass, 1965
68 (Independent) Infantry Brigade Signal Company
Captain Shamsher Singh was the brigade signal officer of 68 (Independent) Infantry Brigade, known as the ‘Bakarwal Brigade’, as it was always on the move, on training and exercises in the mountains, like the Bakarwals (shepherds). For Operation ’Bakshi’, 68 Brigade had been allotted five infantry battalions and an artillery regiment, which entailed considerable additional communication responsibility. A few weeks before the operations, American equipment, particularly radio sets AN/GRC-9, which could be easily man packed, were withdrawn and replaced with the heavier C11/R210. As a result, the old but tried radio set 62 was the mainstay of wireless communication during the operation.
Once the operation was launched on
August 1965, the brigade commander, Brigadier Bakshi, mostly
remained well up and ahead in the brigade tactical headquarters, which included
a Signals element comprising radio detachments, a small exchange, line detachment
and battery charging facility, all on man/mule pack basis. This enabled
Shamsher, who was part of this setup, to know the latest tactical picture and
the thinking of the brigade commander. In addition to the standard radio
communications i.e. D1 and B1 nets to division and battalions, an extra radio
set 31 was kept open to listen in on the assaulting battalion’s forward net, so
that the brigade commander could gain first hand knowledge and ‘feel’ of the
battle. A radio set was also used to listen in on the net of Pak battalion
being attacked, to gain information about the actions being taken or
contemplated by the enemy. Some Pak radio sets AN/PRC 10 collected on capture
of Hajipir pass came very handy for this purpose during subsequent operations.
Line communication was extended to all battalion headquarters even while they were attacking. Field cables were laid along mountain tracks and cross-country at great heights. Personnel of 68 Infantry Brigade Signal Company worked tirelessly, faced dangers alongside the infantry battalions and showed tremendous spirit and devotion to duty even when under shelling and small arms fire. An incident described below is indicative of the spirit and devotion to duty of the signal company.
Late one night in when the battle for a feature called Gittian was in progress, Brigadier Bakshi had bedded down in a Bakarwal hut. During naps, he heard whispers around him. On enquiry, Shamsher told him that he was organizing a line party to go out to repair a line, which was not through. Bakshi instructed Shamsher not to move about in the dark as enemy troops were in the area and instead send out a line party at first light. Soon he dozed off to be woken after some time by the telephone ringing and was surprised when Shamsher told him that the line was through. Bakshi asked him if he if he had taken out a line party. The officer answered in the affirmative. Bakshi asked him why he had gone out at night to repair the line against his instructions. Shamsher answered, “Sir, if I had not done so, you could not have collected information from your HQ or the battalions. How could you then give orders? We all know that you need not be in the frontline facing shells and bullets. You are doing your duty and I have done mine”.11
Describing the incident many years later, General Bakshi wrote to Shamsher: “I can still remember vividly the night at Hajipir when we were trying to snatch some sleep in that stinking cow-shed and you were trying to sneak out of the shed to repair a telephone line. You exposed yourself to grave danger to give me communications with my units. I was lucky to have you with me in that war.” Coming from a person of Zoru Bakshi’s well known reputation and stature in the Indian Army, this is high praise indeed and an accolade that would make any signaller proud. Sadly, Shamsher’s performance remained largely unknown and unrecognized – let alone a gallantry award, which he deserved, he did not receive even a ‘Mention-in-Dispatches’ or a lesser award.
Tac HQ 68 (I) Inf Bde atop Hajipir Pass, 28 Aug 1965. Brig ZC Bakshi, MVC in
the foreground. Capt Shamsher Singh in the far distance wearing a Balaclava
It was an intense and prolonged operation lasting nearly three weeks, on which the eyes of the whole Nation were fixed. Providing signal communications for such a large, difficult and important operation in high mountains was not an easy task. However, Captain Shamsher Singh, though having hardly three years service, functioned like a veteran of many wars and his performance can be rated as outstanding. All ranks of the signal company also worked admirably in face of danger, bringing credit to the Corps. Like Shamsher, the excellent performance of his men also remained unrecognised, and they have remained unsung heroes of the 1965 War.
25 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
Lieutenant Colonel Surjit Singh was Commander Signals, 25 Division deployed in Rajauri Sector in 1965. Major C.S. Joshi was the second-in-command and Captain P.K. Handa was the adjutant. The field officers in the unit were Major C.R. Ahuja; Major V.P. Singh and Major S.G. Rajopadhye. The officers in the brigade signal sections were Captain S.S. Kale (80 Infantry Brigade); Captain S.C. Anand (93 Infantry Brigade) and Captain H.S. Grewal (120 Infantry Brigade). The division was looking after a large area, extending from Sunderbani to Punch. HQ 80 Infantry Brigade was located at Naushera; 120 Brigade at Galuthi on road Rajauri-Bhimber Gali-Punch and 93 Brigade at Punch, along with respective signal sections. The primary means of signal communications was PL down to battalions and in some cases to companies and picquets as well. Radio was stand by and opened on schedule. SDS runs were undertaken daily.
The linemen had the most difficult task and had to repair the lines frequently, at times even without escort. Some acts of bravery and devotion to duty deserve mention. On 21 August, one of the convoys was ambushed between Bhimber Gali and Surankot. The signal detachment vehicle providing communications to the convoy was hit by small arms fire and grenades. The wireless operator, Signalman Basro Ram, was killed and two OR severely wounded. Havildar Hazura Singh, the NCO in charge of the signal detachment at Bhimber Gali, immediately rushed to the spot, passed information to higher headquarters and also repaired the line, which had been damaged by the infiltrators. He displayed commendable initiative and high sense of duty by himself going out to repair lines in areas infested by the enemy, not caring for his personal safety. His personal example was a great source of inspiration to his men.
In the 93 Brigade area, Signals personnel were deployed at all vital installations where there was any likelihood of damage. The security of the operations room was strengthened and signal cover was extended to all convoys, bridges and sensitive installations up to general area of Bafliaz, Krishna Ghati and Surankot. Due to shortage of equipment, some was readjusted through brigade resources and some more was released through staff channels on priority basis. The intelligence set up was activated and two protective patrols along with radio detachment personnel were sent to apprehend the infiltrators towards Mandi and interior of Bafliaz. The patrols were self contained and Signals were provided mules for carriage of the radio set, batteries and charging engine. Relay stations were established at Surankot and strict radio security and discipline was imposed to conceal the task of these two special patrols.
A radio transmitter which was operating clandestinely in this sector was intercepted by 93 Brigade Signal Section. A close watch was kept on this link, and though the signal section did not have any sophisticated direction finding equipment, it was successful in locating this transmitter in one of the villages in area Krishna Ghati and apprehending the personnel operating the set.
In mid August 1965, CSO XV Corps sent a radio relay detachment (RS C41/R222) comprising two JCOs and 19 OR from XV Corps Signal Regiment, to establish a radio relay chain from Rajauri to Punch, as the road between the two locations and lines along it were being disrupted frequently and radio links jammed. The chain was successfully established with a relay at Bhimber Gali, which ensured reliable communications to 93 Brigade. A one to one channel was provided between the operations rooms at both ends. Power supply was a problem and the link was therefore opened on schedule to conserve generators. On 17 August, an enemy shell nearly knocked out the terminal at Punch. It was then shifted to the brigade tactical headquarters location and a power line laid from the civil power house in just four hours.
The radio relay terminals were equipped with ACT (1+4), manufactured by Indian Telephone Industries. An old valve version ACT (1+1) was modified for four-wire working and at Bhimber Gali, a channel each was patched through on line to 120 Brigade and 52 Brigade. These were early days of use of radio relay and such innovations were quite an achievement.
SDS runs were disrupted at times due to roads being cut and enemy action. Through the efforts of CSO Western Command an air despatch service (ADS) was organized to Rajauri and Punch, which ensured prompt delivery of official mail. This service was discontinued after the aircraft was damaged at Punch airfield due to enemy shelling on
A major offensive operation was undertaken by 93 Brigade to link up with 68 Brigade attacking from Hajipir side. Major C.R. Ahuja, OC 3 Company, assisted by Captain S.C. Anand, OC 93 Brigade Signal Section planned the communications for the operation. For the capture of Raja and Chand Tekri, lines were laid via Kasba. Raja was captured on the night of 5/6 September after a bloody fight and line was extended immediately. The lines were duplicated the next day. Signalmen Kanda Swamy Gounder Kesawan, Ajit Singh and Pritam Singh laid and repaired the lines under heavy fire and personal risk. For attacks by 3/11 Gorkha Rifles and 7 Sikh on the night of 21/22 September, lines were laid and maintained under Havildar Shamsher Singh. The NCO showed great qualities of leadership under fire and inspired his detachment. On capture of Kahuta, a carrier quad route was laid under command of Naik Uttam Chand along a route under observation of the enemy.
163 Infantry Brigade Signal Section
163 Infantry Brigade was located at Leh. As soon as the information about armed infiltration into the Valley was confirmed, the brigade was moved to
and concentrated there by Srinagar 11
August 1965. Captain K.K. Ohri was commanding 163 Infantry Brigade
Signal Section. The task assigned to the brigade was the destruction of
infiltrators south of road Srinagar-Gulmarg, excluding city and protection of the airfield
and other installations. Srinagar
Operations were immediately launched to seek and destroy the infiltrators and ensure protection of the airfield as also the Ordnance installations at Khunmuh and Khundru. Subsequently, combing operations were launched to flush out the infiltrators from the area and nab them by holding passes on the Pir Panjal range. A large number of infiltrators were killed and captured by the brigade. These operations required mobile radio communications and Captain Ohri organised his resources admirably. He ensured that good communications were provided even on man pack basis and at high altitude. With the help of DCSO Kashmir and Ladakh, line communications were ensured to troops deployed for the security of Ordnance installations.
191 (Independent) Infantry Brigade Signal Company
This company was raised as 191 Brigade Signal Section at
on Poona 5 September 1949 and later
moved to Akhnur. In 1955, personnel of this company and those of 93 Brigade
Signal Company at Punch were interchanged en block, to enable Punch Brigade
personnel to serve in the plains. They had been in Punch since 1947-48, as
Punch Brigade was the old Jammu & Kashmir State Forces Brigade and the
personnel belonging to erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir State Forces had remained
posted to the same Section!
In 1965, the company was located at Akhnur under the command of Major B.K. Mathur with Second Lieutenant M.S. Bakshi as his second officer. During Operation ‘Ablaze’ the brigade had moved to Troti, returning to Akhnur in late July 1965. The company had 90 percent of its authorized manpower and adequate signal equipment for its communication commitments. However, a large percentage of the personnel were raw soldiers having joined recently from the STCs. On 9 August the affiliated artillery unit, 14 Field Regiment arrived at Akhnur.
On 15 August, Pak artillery shelled Dewa near the Cease Fire Line where Tactical HQ 191 Brigade was located. To provide communications for the attack that had been planned for 15 August, four radio detachments (for 6/5 Gorkha Rifles, 3 Mahar, 15 Kumaon and commander’s rover) and one line party under Second Lieutenant M.S. Bakshi had been concentrated at Dewa. During the shelling the exchange bunker, commander’s rover and the line party truck received direct hits and were completely destroyed. The permanent route around Dewa and Chhamb broke like dry twigs. Second Lieutenant Bakshi and one OR were killed and four OR wounded. Almost all the signal equipment and vehicles held by the company were destroyed. Lance Naik Damodar Singh, though himself seriously wounded, picked up four wounded soldiers and drove them to the advance dressing station at Aknur, 30 miles away. On reaching Akhnur he himself collapsed due to heavy bleeding. He was later awarded the COAS Commendation Card for his devotion to duty.
Brigadier Vinayak Mehta, CSO XV Corps, quickly augmented the resources of the company, moving radio and line resources from Corps units. One line party was attached to repair the damaged PL routes, while three line parties were provided for laying cable routes. One SCR 399 radio detachment was sent as an outstation on the C1 link, along with an air support tentacle. One line party and one radio detachment were also given for artillery communications. Two officers, Captain M.G. Kapoor from 26 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment and Second Lieutenant Curion Joseph from Y Communication Zone Signal Regiment were attached for two weeks. These timely reinforcements were of great help in getting the company back on its feet in a short time.
The company commander, Major B.K. Mathur was a bold and fearless officer, who set extremely high standards and led from the front. Two incidents that occurred during this period deserve mention. On 20 August when 2 Sikh lost wireless contact during their attack on Post 710, Mathur led a small line party under heavy enemy fire and provided line communication to the post even before it was secured. This personal example inspired the men under his command to carry out their tasks even under enemy fire. On 30 August Naib Subedar Ram Chand, Havildar Krishan Lal and Lance Havildar Bhattacharjee volunteered to repair the 28 kilometre long cable route from Dewa to Kalidhar without any protection or rations. The area was hilly and infested with active infiltrators. Before they could complete their task, Pakistan launched a massive attack on 1 September 1965 and the party returned to Akhnur.
PAK OPERATION ‘GRAND SLAM’ & RESPONSE BY XV CORPS
Pak Offensive in Chhamb
Stung by the failure of Operation ‘Gibraltar’ and the successful counter infiltration operations undertaken by the Indian Army in Hajipir and Tithwal, Pakistan decided to launch an offensive by regular forces. Code named Operation ‘Grand Slam’, the massive offensive was launched with a powerful armoured-cum-infantry force in the Chhamb-Jaurian region with the aim of capturing the strategic town of Akhnur and the bridge, with a view to cutting the Jammu-Srinagar highway. If successful, this would result in complete isolation of the Kashmir Valley as well as bottling up the Indian forces Naushara, Rajauri and Punch. The defence of the Chhamb sector was the responsibility of 191 (Independent) Infantry Brigade Group which was directly under HQ XV Corps. Brigadier Manmohan Singh had taken over the command of the formation on 15 August 1965, following the death of Brigadier Masters in enemy shelling a few days earlier.
In the early hours of 1 September 1965 Pakistan launched a three-pronged attack with a force estimated to be a division of infantry and two regiments of armour. The attack was preceded by an intense artillery and mortar bombardment on Mandiala and Chhamb which continued up to 0630 hours. Simultaneously, the enemy mounted an offensive in area Pir Maungawali, overwhelming the forward companies of 15 Kumaon and reaching within 500 yards of the brigade headquarters. By nightfall the Pakistanis had succeeded in driving a wedge between Mandiala and Chhamb. Considering the grave danger to HQ 191 Infantry Brigade, orders for its withdrawal were issued at 2100 hours. The brigade headquarters, 6 Sikh Light Infantry, 15 Kumaon, 14 Field Regiment and the surviving elements of C Squadron 20 Lancers withdrew to Jaurian, leaving behind 3 Mahar, 6/5 Gorkha Rifles and remnants of 3 Jammu and Kashmir Militia to hold their defences in area Kalidhar.
In view of the depleted strength of 191 Brigade, 41 Mountain Brigade had also been ordered to occupy Jaurian, with both brigades being placed under 10 Infantry Division, which was made responsible for the defence of Akhnur. Acting with commendable speed, 41 Mountain Brigade was reasonably dug in on Troti Heights, west of Jaurian and prepared to face the enemy by the morning of 3 September. Meanwhile, the Pakistanis had consolidated their positions along river Manawar Tawi and by 1930 hours on 2 September, they had crossed the river unopposed and established a bridgehead. Next evening, at about 1900 hours the enemy mounted a major attack on Jaurian with approximately 30 tanks, supported by infantry and artillery. To tide over the critical situation, 28 Infantry Brigade consisting of 2 Grenadiers and 5/8 Gorkha Rifles was rushed in and ordered to hold a delaying position on the general line of Fatwal Ridge, approximately 10 kilometres west of Akhnur and east of Jaurian by first light on 4 September.
After the failure of his attack on 3 September, the enemy launched another attack on Jaurian position at about 2300 hours on 4 September with one armoured regiment and two infantry battalions. After heavy fighting during which three forward company positions of 41 Brigade were overrun, the situation was stabilised through counter-attacks. The Army Commander, who was present in Akhnur during the critical stage of the Jaurian, approved the withdrawal of 41 Mountain Brigade during the night to Akhnur. Passing through Fatwal Ridge position which had been occupied by 28 Infantry Brigade on the previous night, 41 Mountain Brigade withdrew during the night of 4/5 September. A regrettable episode was the abandonment of their guns by 161 Field Regiment during their withdrawal. Though orders were issued for their retrieval, this did not come about due to intensive Pak shelling.
It was appreciated that the only way to relieve Pakistan's pressure in this sector was to mount a full-fledged offensive in the more sensitive Lahore and Sialkot sectors, from where Pakistan had thinned out forces, especially heavy armour and artillery, for the Chhamb offensive. The Army Chief discussed this option with Prime Minster Lal Bahadur Shastri, who gave him carte blanche in the matter. Soon afterwards, Indian troops crossed the border and launched offensives in the Lahore and Sialkot Sectors in Pakistan on 6 September 1965. As expected, Pakistan reacted immediately, pulling out troops from Chhamb. This put paid to her ambitious plans for the capture of Akhnur and isolation of Indian forces in Jammu and the Kashmir.
Along with the offensives of I and XI Corps in Sialkot and Lahore Sectors, XV Corps also launched counter-offensives in the Chhamb Sector. However, these did not make much headway and both 28 Infantry Brigade and 191 Infantry Brigade Group were halted by intense artillery and tank fire. After stabilization of the position a fresh offensive was launched on 9 September with 2 Grenadiers of 28 Infantry Brigade attacking Chak Karpal and a company of 15 Kumaon and two troops of armour under 191 Infantry Brigade threatening the objective from the rear. However, both attacks failed. The Grenadiers disintegrated under the weight of intense artillery and medium machine gun fire even as there were forming up for the assault, suffering heavy casualties – 14 killed, 46 wounded and 12 missing. The 15 Kumaon company ran into a column of Pak Shermans supported by infantry and recoilless guns and returned to base, after losing three AMX tanks.
On 10 September 1965, 41 Mountain Brigade was moved to the XI Corps Zone of operations. This took away the strike potential of 10 Infantry Division and the battle shifted towards the north of Chhamb. Pakistan made repeated attempts to dislodge the Indian troops from the Kalidhar Ridge. On 14 September, Indian patrols reported that the enemy had infiltrated a sizeable force of regular troops and Mujahids in general area Manani-Gulaba Chappar. For clearing this intrusion, two battalions, 1/1 Gorkha Rifles and 3 Kumaon were employed. On 20 September, 28 Infantry Brigade was warned for a likely offensive task in Dagger area. This task was later changed for an offensive task along the road Akhnur-Jaurian on the night of 22 September. However, before the operation could be launched the Cease Fire came into effect.12
The Battle of OP Hill
The battle of OP Hill took place after the cease-fire had come into effect on 23 September 1965. Located on the south-west of the road Mendhar-Balnoi, the feature comprised a complex of hills that was mentioned in official correspondence as 'OP Hill' since it dominated the road and gave a clear view of the Indian defences. In early August 1965 Pakistan had occupied the feature and gradually developed it into a battalion defended area, while the Indian troops were busy dealing with the infiltrators. After the cease fire Pak troops continued to occupy the feature and resorted to shelling of 2 Dogra base at Balnoi and Picket 636. They also interfered with the movement of vehicle convoys and large bodies of troops by day on road Mendhar-Balnoi.
After parleys with the United Nations observers had failed to produce any result, GOC 25 Infantry Division decided to evict the enemy from OP Hill and gave this task to Brigadier B.S. Ahluwalia, Commander 120 Infantry Brigade,. A brigade attack was launched on 2 November 1965 by 2 Dogra, 5 Sikh Light Infantry and 7 Sikh attacking in three phases. After two days of heavy fighting, OP Hill was finally captured, though at heavy cost. Three Maha Vir Chakras were awarded during the operation, including Lieutenant Colonel Sant Singh, CO 5 Sikh Light Infantry. Two Vir Chakras were also awarded.
The Kishanganga Bulge
When cease-fire was declared, Indians troops were in complete control of the area east of River Kishanganga, but the enemy had still to be cleared from the area between Pt. 9013 and Bugina to straighten the Kishanganga Bulge. This task was given to 4 Kumaon and 3 Sikh. 3 Sikh was· tasked to destroy the Shahkot bridge. By 0330 hours on 26 September, a company of the battalion had occupied the area which dominated the road across the Kishanganga river and the Shahkot bridge, which was made of concrete and steel rope suspension and was heavily guarded by Pakistani troops, entrenched in concrete bunkers. Initial attempts to destroy the bridge by medium artillery did not succeed even after firing the whole day on 26 September. Another attempt made by 3 Sikh to raid the bridge on 5 October was foiled by the enemy, who subjected the raiding party to heavy mortar and automatic fire. After several attempts the bridge was finally destroyed at 1800 hours on 12 October by D Company of 3 Sikh.
The task allotted to 4 Kumaon was to destroy the Jura Bridge. After an arduous 40 kilometre march the assault force reached the 4780 metre high Bimla Pass on 5 October. During the next three days, the battalion captured a series of features that dominated the bridge. The attack on the Jura bridge was planned on the night of 10/11 October. Before the attack could be launched the enemy, who had stealthily infiltrated three companies the Jura bridge, assaulted the Indian positions. The fighting continued till mid day, the Kumaonis beating back all the attacks. Realising that a direct assault on the Jura bridge was unlikely to succeed, it was decided to destroy the bridge by recoilless guns, which reached only in evening on 14 October. The recoilless guns began firing at the target and in the 7th round the bridge was destroyed on 15 October 1965. With this, the Mirpur-Bugina Bulge had been cleared of the enemy, and the Cease Fire Line realigned to follow the course of the Kishanganga. Indian troops were now in complete control of the Muzaffarabad-Kel Road, and the infiltration routes into Kargil and Gurais had been effectively sealed.13
SIGNALS IN OPERATION ‘RIDDLE’ - XV CORPS SECTOR
Western Command Signals
The 1965 War was primarily fought in Western Command. During peacetime, HQ Western Command was located at Simla. The territorial jurisdiction of the command extended from Himachal to Ladakh in the north, whole of Jammu & Kashmir,
and to western part of Rajasthan in the west. While XV Corps was deployed in
Jammu & Kashmir, with its headquarters at Udhampur, XI Corps was
responsible for the defence of Punjab and
western part of Rajasthan. Brigadier Ajit Singh was CSO Western Command; Lieutenant
Colonel D.A.J. Beeby the SO 1 (Signals); Major Shanti Swarup the SO 2(Communications);
and Major Bains the SO2 (SD).
CSO Western Command was responsible for all signal communications in the vast territorial jurisdiction of the command. Based on the operational planning and priorities, additional resources were allocated to various formations. Brigadier Ajit Singh ensured that additional resources were made available where ever needed, by moving these from one formation to the other, as the operations progressed. A major effort was required to provide communications to I Corps, which was under raising in Central Command and was to be inducted in Samba-Jammu sector for offensive operations. Blessed with a calm and composed nature, Brigadier Ajit Singh had the ability to get the best out of his team. He also enjoyed good rapport with the Army Commander, various formation commanders and senior staff. As a result, he was able to ensure high quality communications during the War.
Western Command Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Simla under the command of Lieutenant Colonel S. Tandon with Major P.S. Randhawa as the second-in-command. Other officers in the unit holding important appointments were Major R. S. Kardam (OC 1 Company); Major Balbir Singh (OC 2 Company) and Captain (later Lieutenant General and SO-in-C) A.J.S. Bhalla being the adjutant. The regimental headquarters was at Jutogh, but the signal centre and the exchange were at Simla. The regiment had to provide signal communications to HQ Western Command and from there to HQ XI and XV Corps, as well as static formations, logistics installations and certain important locations. These were spread over a very large area and at considerable distance, especially those in Jammu & Kashmir. While the signal centre staff comprised combatants, quite a few civilian switchboard operators, a number of whom were ladies, manned the exchange.
For Operation ‘Ablaze’, the unit was moved to its wartime location Ambala along with the command headquarters on 12 April 1965, returning to Simla on 12 July 1965. For Operation ‘Riddle’ the regiment again moved to Ambala between 2 and 4 September. A few days later, five operators of 87 Switch Board Operating Section from Southern Command reported on attachment. A number of additional speech and telegraph circuits to Fazilka,
Pathankot, Doraha, Kohara etc. were taken over. The exchange, signal centre and
cipher load increased considerably. Some additional operators were also made
available from Central Command and ‘R’ Communication Zone Signal
The lady exchange operators did a commendable job even when Pak planes dropped bombs on Ambala Cantt. Miss Marak, hailing from Meghalaya, was the senior lady exchange supervisor and did excellent work, for which she was awarded the Army Commander’s Commendation Card. The unit moved back to Simla between 24 February and
1 March 1965
after Operation ‘Riddle’ was over.
Western Command Mobile Signal Company
A need was felt as a result of experience gained in Operation ‘Ablaze’ to provide CSO Western Command with some mobile resources. To meet this requirement, 4 Company ‘S’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment located at Gauhati was allocated to Western Command. It moved to
(Anand Parbat) on Delhi 10 June
1965 and was re-designated as Western Command Mobile Signal
Company. In July, 85 Medium Radio Section (4 Set) and 8 Medium Radio Relay Section from ‘R’
Communication Zone Signal Regiment in Mobile
joined the unit. A month later, 22 Radio Teletype (RTT) Section from Eastern
Command Signal Regiment also joined the unit. The company was under the command
of Major S.K. Walia . Delhi
On 2 September, 8 Medium Radio Relay Section was attached to I Corps Signal Regiment for Operation ‘
In May 1966, Western Command Mobile Signal Company moved to Ambala Cantt., its
permanent location. In June 1966, 24 Medium Radio Section (4 Set) Nepal and 6 Medium Radio
Relay Section ex Western Command Signal Regiment became part of the unit. Mobile
XV Corps Signals
Brigadier Vinayak Mehta was the CSO, responsible for planning and providing signal communications to XV Corps. The area of jurisdiction covered whole of Jammu & Kashmir, from Ladakh to Pathankot. Operation ‘Ablaze’ between May and July 1965, proved to be a big boon. All communications for operational locations were tested. Construction of a number of additional PL routes was taken in hand and existing communications improved. During Operation ‘
Corps had to deal with large armed infiltration and was involved in very heavy
fighting. It also faced the situation posed by the Pak offensive in Chhamb and
induction of formations such as 10 Infantry Division. Providing communication
infrastructure for I Corps for its offensive operations was a big challenge for
XV Corps Signals. Great credit is due to the CSO and his team for providing
high-grade communications for operations involving intense fighting all over
the corps zone.
From August 1965 onwards, CSO XV Corps had the following signal units under him for communication tasks:-
· XV Corps Signal Regiment at Udhampur (Lieutenant Colonel B.S. Paintal).
· DCSO Kashmir & Ladakh at
(Colonel R.S. Tiwana). Srinagar
· ‘T’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment at
(Lieutenant Colonel S.N. Vishwanath).
· ‘J’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment at Kargil (Lieutenant Colonel J.S. Nanda).
· Y’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment at
(Lieutenant Colonel S.K. Batra) Jammu
· 3 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment at Leh (Lieutenant Colonel M.S. Tawatia).
· 19 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment at Baramula (Lieutenant Colonel S.L. Juneja)
· 25 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment at Rajauri (Lieutenant Colonel Surjit Singh)
· 26 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment at
(Lieutenant Colonel P.K. Mukherji). Jammu
· 121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Signal Company at Kargil (Major Dhani Ram)
· 68 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Signal Company, near
(Captain Shamsher Singh) Srinagar
· 163 Infantry Brigade Signal Section (Captain K.K. Ohri).
· 191 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Signal Company at Akhnur (Major B.K. Mathur)
In addition to the above, the following units were inducted as the operations progressed, coming under the jurisdiction of CSO XV Corps:-
· 10 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Y.S. Awasthy) was inducted and located at Akhnur.
· 28 Infantry Brigade Signal Company (Major S.C. Roy) was inducted in 10 Divisional Sector.
· 36 Infantry Brigade Signal Company (Major A.J.S. Bhalla) was raised at Rajauri in August 1965.
· 41 Infantry Brigade Signal Company (Major V.K. Khanna) located at Palampur, first moved to Jammu, next to the Valley, then to Chhamb Sector and later to XI Corps, as part of 41 Infantry Brigade.
· 52 Infantry Brigade Signal Company (Major K.S. Maini) was inducted in 25 Infantry Division Sector.
XV Corps Signal Regiment
Till mid 1965, ‘Y’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment was providing signal communications to HQ XV Corps at Udhampur. The regiment was split in two and XV Corps Signal Regiment was raised at Udhampur, taking over the responsibility of providing communications at the corps headquarters, while ‘Y’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment was moved to Jammu. Lieutenant Colonel B.S. Paintal took over command of the unit on
August 1965 from Lieutenant Colonel S.S. Dhaliwal. The other
officers holding key appointments were Major R.S. Wadhwa (second-in-command);
Major O.P. Kapoor (1 Company); Major A.J.S. Kahlon (2 Company); Major R.N.
Lambah (3 Company); Captain S.K. Jandial (Adjutant); and Captain Bhagat Singh
The primary means of trunk communications in Jammu & Kashmir was lines. Most of the circuits were hired from the P&T Department and some were also derived on BOPEL routes, using Army’s own carrier and VFT equipment. At Udhampur, the civil carrier station was located in the Army signal centre, which helped in maintaining very close coordination. P&T personnel rose to the occasion and met demands placed on them expeditiously. Shri R.P. Saini, RSA, deserves special mention.
In spite of long distances and mountainous terrain, line circuits to
Rajauri, Pathankot, Srinagar
and Akhnur were quite stable. During winter, the PL route across Banihal was
disrupted at times. The communications to Kargil and Leh were adversely
affected due to long distance, very rugged terrain, heavy snow and avalanches.
Radio and radio relay therefore played an important role, beyond Udhampur. The
concept of ‘hot line’ teleprinter circuits was tried out between the corps and
command headquarters. Essential elements of the signal centre and radio links
were moved to underground facilities, to safeguard against any air attacks. Jammu
4 Medium Radio Relay Section was deployed to provide the radio relay chain between Udhampur and Srinagar via Patnitop and Banihal as also between Srinagar and Kargil via Gulmarg and Dras. Once the operations started, these radio relay chains were wound up and the resources re-deployed to meet urgent operational requirements of 25 Infantry Division and I Corps. On 21 August, a radio relay detachment consisting of two JCOs and 19 OR was sent to 25 Infantry Division for providing radio relay communications in the Rajauri-Punch sector. Two days later another detachment consisting of one officer and seven OR was sent to Pathankot for carrying out trials between
and that location. On 6 September, a day before the commencement of the
offensive by I Corps, two radio relay detachments consisting of one officer and
15 OR were sent to I Corps Signal Regiment for providing radio relay
communications between Pathankot and HQ I Corps. Major Amarjit Singh Kahlon,
who had been trained in Jammu ,
was sent to I and XI Corps to advise them on stabilising their radio relay
The unit provided additional resources to 191 Infantry Brigade Signal Company on 17 August, to make up losses suffered on 15 August as a result of shelling by the enemy in area Dewa. Resources were also provided to ‘T’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment for providing communications to HQ SRI Sector on its raising. A radio detachment of the unit led by Lance/Naik Pratap Singh Rialch provided first-rate communications across very rugged terrain to Pran Force, which flushed out infiltrators from area Riasi-Budil. On 15 September, Havildar Shiv Singh of the regiment while on a SDS run on road Jammu-Pathankot was killed during strafing by enemy aircraft. A line party led by Second-Lieutenant Man Prasad laid a carrier quad route on 13 September in one night, along the northern bank of Ranbir Canal between Jammu and Akhnur, as an alternate to the permanent line route, which had been damaged due to enemy shelling.
‘Y’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Udhampur until mid 1965, when it moved to
on raising of XV Corps Signal Regiment.
The CO was Lieutenant Colonel S.K. Batra. Its role was to provide signal
communications at Jammu
and along the L of C to Banihal, rearwards to Pathankot, along roads
Dhar-Udhampur, Udhampur-Riasi-Sunderbani-Siot as also to Akhnur-Naushera-
Rajauri. As a sequel to Pak infiltration in Chhamb Sector and damage suffered
in Dewa, an officer was attached to 191 Brigade Signal Company for a short
period. A SCR 399 medium power wireless detachment was also provided to the brigade
for communications to HQ XV Corps. The wireless vehicle was subsequently
destroyed as a result of enemy
When the enemy launched an offensive in Chhamb on 1 September, Major J.C. Sarin with some signal resources was placed at Akhnur from 2 to 7 September to provide communications to Tactical/Advance HQ 10 Infantry Division, until the arrival of 10 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment. Two line parties were also deputed to maintain the PL between Akhnur and Jaurian.
To cater for communications for I Corps, which was to be inducted in the Jammu- Samba area for offensive operations, a number of steps were taken. A large number of channels were arranged from
carrier station and the signal centre at Jammu
was geared up to handle I Corps traffic till the corps signal regiment was
established. Some circuits were re-engineered on PL along road Pathankot-Dhar-
Udhampur, which was less vulnerable than the route along the road
Pathankot-Jammu, which was close to the border. Jammu
It was considered necessary to augment the signal resources of I Corps for its offensive. ‘Y’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment was therefore placed under operational control of I Corps from
9 September 1965. The unit constructed a number of poled
carrier quad and 70 and 200 lb. cadmium copper spaced cable routes in I Corps
Zone, which were used to provide carrier and VFT circuits between HQ I Corps
and its formations. A nine-mile long two pair copper PL route was built between
Bishnah and Pindi. Two line construction sections were attached to the unit
from XV Corps Signal Regiment and ‘J’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment
respectively during the period August-October 1965.
‘T’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit under the command of Lieutenant Colonel S.N. Vishwanath was located at
. Its role was to provide signal communications
at Srinagar to HQ 31 Communication Zone Sub Area and HQ SRI Force, which was
raised on 14 August 1965. It was also responsible for communications forward to 19 Infantry Division, up to Zojila
on the route to Leh, rearwards to
Banihal and to formations, units and training establishments as also logistics
installations located in the area. The regiment prided itself by associating
its identity ‘T’ with ‘THROUGH’, the Corps motto. Srinagar
Once the Pak infiltration came to light on 5 August, the unit had to provide communications to a number of mobile columns sent to flush out infiltrators. Radio communications were established for troops deployed for the defence of key installations like the airfields at
and Awantipur and Ordnance depots near Srinagar .
Radio communications were arranged for the two infantry battalions earmarked
for the protection of the L of C Banihal-Srinagar-Leh. In addition, the
regiment had to ensure local defence of a large sector against threat from
armed infiltrators. A dedicated radio net was also established for anti-para
48 Line Construction Section was deployed for the maintenance of PL between
(Gumri). Just before the operations started, the section was tasked to
construct an additional PL pair between Srinagar
and Zojila, to be extended to Leh by ‘J’ Communication Zone Signal
Regiment. The section was divided into
self-contained detachments located at Ganderbal, Kangan, Gund, Gagengeer,
Sonamarg and Baltal. From 5 August onwards the line parties were frequently fired
upon by the infiltrators. On 9 August the infiltrators attacked the bridge at
Woyle and the line was damaged due to enemy mortar fire. Personnel of 48 Line
Construction Section put through the line under mortar and small arms fire.
Again on 6 September the infiltrators laid an ambush near Gund for a convoy
after cutting the telephone line. The line party nearby constructing the third
pair repaired the line in the face of enemy fire. Whenever communication duties
allowed, the personnel of this section also joined in anti infiltration
49 Line Construction Section was allotted to I Corps in the first week of September 1965. It constructed a number of PL and PVC routes in the thick of operations of I Corps. 58 Line Construction Section was attached to 19 Infantry Division and did commendable work in ensuring line communications to places like Pattan, Kupwara, Chowkibal, and Bandipur. It also worked on constructing the line route to Hajipir and Kahuta, at times under fire. 69 Line Construction Section was deployed between
and Banihal. 16 Line Section looked after the local communications at and
around Srinagar, including vital installations, formations and units in the
vicinity of the city. Srinagar
‘J’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Kargil under the command of Lieutenant Colonel J.S. Nanda. It was responsible for communications between Zojila and Leh and line routes in Ladakh. The regiment also operated signal centres at Kargil and some locations along the L of C to Leh. It also provided wireless communications and SDS. During Operation ‘Ablaze’, the regiment provided cable, line and a wireless detachments to 121 Brigade located at Kargil. The unit also assisted the brigade by carrying badly needed mortar ammunition to two high features close to Kargil, which facilitated the capture of Pak picquets. In one case, four Jeeps of the unit were used to carry the ammunition on a very narrow and tricky mountain track at night and without headlights. On the return journey the Jeeps brought down battle casualties.
9 August 1965, the
detachment of the unit located at along with Punjab
Armed Police Personnel was fired upon. A warning had
been received by the detachment a few
minutes earlier that another
bridge at Pashkyum had been attacked. The detachment was therefore ready. In
the exchange of fire, a JCO of Punjab Armed Police was killed and a head
constable was injured. Though none of the personnel of the detachment were
wounded, there were bullet holes in their vehicle and tents. Shamsha
19 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The part played by the unit in Operation ‘Bakshi’ for the capture of the Hajipir pass has already been described earlier. After the commencement of the Pak offensive code named Operation ‘Grand Slam’, the focus shifted to the Chhamb – Jaurian sector, and the Valley was relatively quiet. However, the unit remained busy in building up communications to threatened sectors. On 3 September carrier quad cable was laid up to Silikot, where HQ 68 Infantry Brigade had moved after the capture of Hajipir. The same day line communication was extended to Sanjoi, which was captured by 3/8 Gorkha Rifles after a hand to hand fight.
On 4 September Second Lieutenant O.P. Mehta proceeded to Sank with direction finding equipment, a second set being sent to Rustom on main pack basis. Signalman K.N. Bhat was wounded and evacuated to the military hospital in
During the next few days carrier quad was laid to Khojabandi signal centre
established by 68 Infantry Brigade Signal Company and from there to the
battalions - 1 Para, 6 Dogra and 19 Srinagar Punjab. By
20 September the PVC route to Hajipir had been completed. After the linkup
between 68 and 93 Infantry Brigades, communications were established with
Kahuta on line and wireless, the radio sets being lifted by helicopter. On 23 September 1965, the day the cease fire was announced,
Signalman Kulbhadur Thapa was wounded while laying cable beyond Demari
A number of congratulatory messages were received from GOC 19 Division during the course of and after the War. The one received on 1 October read, “Communications at all times given to the forward most troops have been very good. Good show, keep it up”. The good work of the unit was recognised by several awards, including ‘Mention in Despatches’ to Lieutenant Colonel S.L. Juneja; Lieutenant Pritam Singh Parmar; Subedar Harbans Lal Ratra; Naik Chandrasekhar Pillai and Signalman K.B. Thapa.
191 (Independent) Infantry Brigade Signal Company
The brunt of the Pak offensive in the Chhamb sector on 1 September 1965 was faced by 191 (Independent) Infantry Brigade which pulled back from Mandiala during the night through 41 Brigade at Troti and took up defences at Akhnur. During the day, line communications forward of brigade headquarters suffered heavy damage due to shelling and tank movement. By the afternoon, only the lines to 15 Kumaon and Akhnur- Udhampur were still working. These two lines were also cut later but repaired expeditiously. Major B.K. Mathur ensured that radio communications functioned efficiently during this critical period when the whole brigade was bearing the impact of the Pak offensive.
On 6 September, XI Corps launched its offensive in the
sector and the enemy pulled out some
armour and artillery from Chhamb to meet this threat. This information was
picked up by Signal Intelligence units and XV Corps ordered 28, 41 and 191
Brigades to launch a counter offensive towards Jaurian. The attack started on 7
September but due to stiff resistance by the enemy, hardly any progress could
be made. 191 Brigade was again pulled back to Akhnur on 13 September. It was
moved to Tanda towards Sunderbani and tasked to look after the hilly Kalidhar
During this period, Naib Subedar Ram Chand, the senior JCO of 191 Brigade Signal Company personally led line parties through enemy infested areas several times. He was ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ for his acts of daring. Another incident worth recounting took place on 20 September, when the bridge on the Tawi on the road from Sunderbani to the two battalions deployed on Kalidhar was damaged due to shelling and along with it the lines also got cut. Lance/Havildar S.S. Bhattacharjee tied the cable to his body, swam across the fast flowing Tawi three times while the area was under shelling and restored line communication to the forward battalions. This act of daring at grave risk of life was recognised by the award of the Chief of Army Staff’s commendation card.
Though the cease fire came in effect on
23 September 1965, operations did not stop and some
battalion size attacks were put in to evict Pak encroachments in the Kalidhar sub
sector. During one such attack on a feature called Malla, Major Mathur
accompanied 6 Sikh Light Infantry with a line party and radio detachment and
was able to pass minute to minute information to the brigade commander. The H
hour had to be changed twice at very short notice and Major Mathur ensured that
the information was speedily passed to the artillery and others, thus
contributing to the success of the operation. As a follow up of the Tashkent
Agreement, Pak and Indian Troops withdrew to positions held before the War.
Accordingly, on 26 February
1966, the brigade reoccupied its original sector in Chhamb,
including the area that had been overrun during the Pak offensive. This
entailed laying large number of cable routes, installing exchanges and
providing radio communications over long distances.
Major B.K. Mathur showed great qualities of leadership and courage during the operations. He was always cheerful and exhibited a bold spirit, which was infectious. His motto was to ensure that communications were always through, in keeping with the Corps ethos. For his several acts of bravery and providing reliable communications under trying and dangerous conditions for operations lasting over two months, he was awarded the Sena Medal.
10 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was raised at Yol in February 1965 under XI Corps, as 11 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment. From 2 May to
2 July 965, it was deployed in Punjab
during Operation ‘Ablaze’, after which it joined its parent formation at . The CO was
Lieutenant Colonel Y.S. Awasthy who had assumed command of the unit in end May
1965. The other officers holding key appointments were Major A. Sen
(second-in-command); Captain S.K. Vij (HQ Company); Major S.K. Sikka (1 Company);
Lieutenant K.B. Vohra (RR Section); Second- Lieutenant K.S. Grewal (adjutant); and
T.R Mehta (quartermaster). The officers in the brigade signal companies which
joined the unit during the operation were Majors B.N. Mathur (191 Brigade);
S.C. Roy (28 Brigade); K.S. Maini (52 Brigade) and Second- Lieutenant Harmohan
Singh (Artillery Brigade). Bangalore
During Operation ‘Riddle’, the unit left for Pathankot on 25 August along with HQ 10 Infantry Division and arrived there on 6 September 1965. It moved to Akhnur the same day. Though the unit at this time was part of 10 Infantry Division, its official designation remained as 11 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment. The divisional commander had arrived earlier to carry out reconnaissance and was without his headquarters. On 1 September, after Pak launched the offensive in Chhamb and the situation became critical, he was ordered to take over command of all troops in Chhamb-Akhnur Sector. He had to function without the signal regiment for six days, while intense fighting was going on in Area Troti-Jaurian. During this period, Major J.C. Sarin ex-Y Communication Zone Signal Regiment located at Akhnur provided communications to the divisional commander and his truncated staff.
The situation improved somewhat on arrival of 10 Divisional Signal Regiment on 6 September evening. However, the unit was short of equipment and did not have its full complement of manpower. A central battery exchange located at Akhnur was used for providing telephones to important subscribers of HQ 10 Infantry Division. The trunk lines to Udhampur,
the brigades and Sunderbani were terminated on this exchange. The unit was in the thick of battle as soon as
it reached Akhnur and events moved quickly. While radio communications worked
throughout, the lines got damaged frequently due to shelling and move of tanks.
The line section was kept busy repairing lines and re-orienting them as the
brigades changed locations. After the Tashkent Accord, the unit moved out to
area Pathankot. It was subsequently reorganized on 28 February 1967 and its
designation officially changed from 11 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment to
10 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment. Jammu
41 (Independent) Infantry Brigade Signal Company
41 Infantry Brigade was an independent brigade located at Palampur. Major V.K. Khanna was in command of the signal company with Lieutenant Bhutkar as his second-in-command. Once the extent of armed infiltration into Jammu & Kashmir was known, the brigade concentrated at Phalora near
on Jammu 9 August 1965 and was nominated as the corps
reserve. Subsequently the brigade was moved to Tangmarg and took over the existing
communications to ,
Baramula and Gulmarg. It also established radio communications to picquets
along the Cease Fire Line. Srinagar
On 31 August the brigade moved to Udhampur. Next morning it was ordered to move to Akhnur with all speed after alarming reports were received regarding a major offensive by Pak in Chhamb and enemy armour breaking out towards Mandiala. The brigade arrived at Akhnur at 1130 hours on 1 September and was immediately placed under 10 Infantry Division. It was ordered to occupy a defended sector in area Troti, astride road Akhnur-Chhamb, west of Jaurian. 41 Brigade Signal Company arrived at Troti at 1900 hours the same day.
The PL pair, which was being used by 3 Punjab Armed Police located at Jaurian Rest House for rearward communications was taken over and extended to Troti, establishing direct speech communication with Akhnur. A radio set was opened on C24 net and radio communications established with the HQ XV Corps. Lines were also laid to the infantry battalions and gun areas, though it was extremely difficult to locate them, since the unit guides being new in the area themselves were not sure of the locations. 191 Brigade withdrew through Troti during the same night.
On 2 September, Pak Sabre jets strafed Jaurian and fired rockets. As a result, nearly two miles of PL was completely destroyed. Rearward communications were disrupted and field cable was laid to patch up the line. Radio communications to Akhnur and Udhampur remained commercial and lines were built up on poles, where possible, since the cable was being cut frequently due to move of own tanks. A tentacle for close air support communications arrived the same day, but the detachment did not have frequencies and code signs. Demands for close air support were therefore passed on C 24 link. However, when the aircraft came over target, these could not be contacted on the ‘ground to air link’. A general bomb line was therefore given to the aircraft beyond which they could take on targets.
On 3 September at about 1500 hours brigade patrols contacted enemy tanks. There after the enemy repeatedly attacked the brigade defences at Troti, the attacks extending into the night. Enemy shelling around the brigade headquarters and gun areas was accurate and lines suffered extensive damage. At 0400 hours on 4 September, orders were received that the brigade could pull back at the discretion of the brigade commander. However, since daylight was approaching, it was decided to stay put and pull out during the next night. Enemy infantry and tanks supported by heavy artillery fire launched a number of attacks during the day and some positions of 1/8 Gorkha Rifles and 9 Mahar were overrun but were recaptured by counter attacks.
Radio communications in the brigade and rearwards functioned throughout. However, the lines got damaged time and again due to shelling and move of tanks. The brigade started withdrawing at 2000 hours on 4 September, passed through 28 Brigade at Fatwal Ridge behind Jaurian and concentrated at Akhnur. The company retrieved all its technical equipment, while pulling out from Troti. The next two days were spent in planning for a counter offensive. On 9 September orders were received that 41 Brigade was to take part in the divisional attack on Jaurian. Major Khanna along with the brigade operations group went to 28 Brigade to study the Signals aspects so that he could and plan for the offensive. However, at 0900 hours the orders were changed and the brigade was ordered to join 26 Infantry Division.
The brigade arrived at Miran Sahib at 1515 hours and to everyone’s surprise received fresh orders to move to Amritsar, where it reached next morning and was placed under 15 Infantry Division. It was ordered to relieve 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade occupying defences in area Khasa along the Grand Trunk Road. Communications were taken over and changes effected where required. On 12 September, the brigade was placed directly under HQ XI Corps. Orders were received on 16 September for the company to reorganize as an independent brigade signal company.
On 18 September, the brigade was placed under command 4 Mountain Division deployed in Asal Uttar Sector. 41 and 29 Brigades were given the task of capturing Khem Karan. Major Khanna met Commander Signals 4 Mountain Division (Lieutenant Colonel R.C. Rawat) and discussed the signal plan for the new task of the brigade. Commander 41 Brigade issued his orders for the attack on Khem Karan at 1000 hours on 21 September. The signal detachments left for the assembly area at 1430 hours and established communications to the battalions. Rearward communications included speech circuits to HQ 4 Mountain Division and HQ 29 Brigade; and a radio relay and a wireless link to the divisional headquarters. The attack on Khem Karan was launched in the evening and continued at night. A radio and line detachment was attached to each assaulting battalion. Lines were laid as the two battalions advanced. The lines worked up to the forming up place but thereafter these were badly damaged due to shelling. Radio communications on B1 Link, however, functioned throughout. The attack only had limited success and Khem Karan could not be captured.
Commenting on the frequent changes in the location and designation of the company, Major General Khanna, who was then commanding the company, writes:
At Palampur and Akhnur it was a mountain brigade signal company since there was no concept of an independent mountain brigade signal company. Later on we became an infantry brigade signal company as our brigade also became an infantry brigade. Subsequently 41 Brigade again became a mountain brigade but fresh orders came changing our WE and re-named us as independent infantry brigade signal company. We had the unique distinction of a mountain brigade being supported by an infantry brigade signal company. Another feature was that though 41 Brigade had become integral to 4 Division we were not part of 4 Divisional Signal Regiment as per AHQ orders. This was more so since Signals Directorate could not keep pace with the fast changing scenario of 41 Brigade. As OC of signal company, I was directly under the CSO. We however had the best of relations with the divisional signal regiment.
25 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The role of the unit during counter infiltration operations has already been described. The Pak offensive on 1 September was launched in Chhamb, to the south of the sector occupied by 25 Infantry Division. The Indian counter offensive also took place at a distance from the division’s area of responsibility. Consequently, the unit did not play a major part in Operation ‘Riddle’. However, the personnel were kept busy carrying out maintenance of lines, which were prone to frequent interruptions. Ironically, some of the major operations in this sector took place after the Cease Fire had been declared.
9 September 1965, Naik
Tushar Kanti Sen located at HQ 120 Brigade at Galuthi, was ordered to repair
lines to two infantry battalions and Rajauri, which had suddenly developed
faults. He and his two colleagues were given an escort of a CRP (Central
Reserve Police) Section. After travelling a few miles, Naik Tushar noticed that
the road had been breached and telephone wires deliberately cut. He ordered the
CRP Section to deploy and along with two other linemen went to repair the
lines. As they moved forward they were fired upon from the nearby high ground.
Naik Tushar told the CRP Section to return the fire, crawled forward to the
nearest pole with the other linemen, quickly raised the ladder and tapped the
line. Getting through to the brigade headquarters, the NCO briefed them about
the situation and enemy location. Artillery fire was quickly brought down and
Naik Tushar gave corrections to the guns to adjust the fire. He remained
steadfast and faced the enemy till an infantry platoon and an artillery officer
arrived, who engaged the enemy and killed nearly 40 of them. It was later
revealed that there were approximately 200 infiltrators in the area and the
bold action by Naik Tushar thwarted the designs of the enemy to lay a major
ambush for convoys coming from Punch.
Naik Tushar Kanti Sen was awarded the Sena Medal for his act of bravery
in the face of the enemy and danger to his life.
Another important operation was the capture of OP Hill in Mendhar Sector on the night of 2/3 November 1965, to evict the enemy. Three battalions - 5 Sikh Light Infantry, 2 Dogra and 7 Sikh took part in the brigade size attack launched under Commander 120 Brigade. 5 Sikh Light Infantry commanded by the legendary Lieutenant Colonel Sant Singh (he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for this battle and won the same award again in 1971), played a leading role in the success of the operation. He explained that he was through on radio all the time during the bloody battle with the companies directly and the brigade headquarters. Naik Uttam Chand and Lance/Naik Joga Singh provided line communications to the battalion during the attack. Signal communications for this operation were planned and executed under Major C.S Joshi the second-in-command of the unit. Major S.G. Rajopadhye (1 Company) and Captain H.S. Garewal (120 Brigade Signal Company) were responsible for the communications during the operation, which was commended by the brigade commander. An important task was the interception and jamming of enemy nets. Throughout the war, arrangements were made for intercepting enemy radio links and important intelligence passed to the Staff. For the OP Hill operation, enemy frequencies were identified after monitoring and these were jammed during the attack, using SCR 399. A deception plan was also put in effect in area Jhangar.
As a result of the Agreement at
both sides agreed to withdraw from areas captured. Indian and Pakistan Signals
laid lines in affected sectors between commanders of both sides to coordinate
the withdrawal. At Naushera, the line was laid under Captain S.S. Kale up to
North Check Post near Jhangar. The line was joined with the cable laid by Pak
Signals. Major Harbhajan Singh (later Lieutenant General and Signal
Officer-in-Chief) was the brigade major of 80 Infantry Brigade and used this
line to interact with his Pak counter- part. A line was also laid in Punch
sector to the Pak side. These lines were wound up after all actions on Tashkent
Agreement had been implemented. Tashkent
OPERATIONS IN XI CORPS SECTOR
Planning and Preparatory Moves
According to the plan made by Lieutenant General Harbaksh Singh, GOC-in-C Western Command, simultaneous offensives were to be launched by I and XI Corps I order to divide the enemy reaction and reduce the possibility of a counter attack. In the event, the offensives had to be staggered due to the delay in move of formations of I Corps that were located at a distance from the area of operations. This gave Pakistan the margin of time to launch her offensive first, which was brilliantly repulsed by XI Corps.
Lieutenant General J.S Dhillon was the GOC XI Corps. The divisional commanders under him were Major General Gurbakhsh Singh, M.V.C. (4 Mountain Division); Major General H.K Sibal, M.V.C. (7 Infantry Division) and Major General Niranjan Prasad (15 Infantry Division). In addition, he had Brigadier T.K. Theograj (2 Independent Armoured Brigade).
The tasks assigned to XI Corps by HQ Western Command were to secure the line of the
, establish certain bridge heads
across the canal and pose a threat to Ichhogil Canal .
After their withdrawal from concentration areas occupied during Operation ‘Ablaze’,
formations of XI Corps had returned to their permanent locations in the Lahore Punjab. HQ XI Corps was in , while the divisions - 4, 7 and 15
- were located in Ambala, Ferozepore and Jullundur
respectively. The units of 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade were in Amritsar , Nabha and
Sangrur, while 67 Infantry Brigade was in Patiala . Jodhpur
The go-ahead for commencement of the operations was received from Army HQ on
3 September 1965 and the
move of the formations from their interim locations commenced at first light
next morning. In the interest of security no vehicles were permitted to cross
the Beas before last light on 5 September,
leaving them with just nine hours of darkness to get into their assembly areas
for the attack that was scheduled to go in at 0400 hours on 6 September. In
order maintain secrecy, the move of the operational headquarters of Western
Command from Simla to Ambala was held back till the last minute. To further deceive
the enemy, the Army Commander and several senior officers of HQ Western Command
agreed to attend a large civilian lunch party in Simla in the afternoon of 5
15 Infantry Division
The task allotted to 15 Infantry Division was to secure Pakistan territory up to east bank of Ichhogil Canal and capture the important bridges on the GT Road, Ichhogil Uttar and Jallo. The advance commenced at 0400 hours on 6 September as scheduled and achieved complete surprise. The advance was led by 3 Jat of 54 Infantry Brigade, under Lieutenant Colonel D.E. Hayde, who had taken over only the previous evening. Advancing rapidly the battalion assaulted and captured the enemy post at Gosal by 0630 hours, clearing the
within the next 30 minutes. At the same time the Dogra company accompanying the
battalion surprised the Pakistani Rangers at Wagah and captured the post. At 0800
hours 15 Dogra with C Squadron 14 Horse set off towards the bridge over the
Ichhogil at Dograi. The Pak Air Force was quick to react and carried out
intensive air strikes with rockets, machine guns and bombs on 3 Jat and 15
Dogra, causing heavy casualties. village of Dial
Due to a breakdown in the wireless link, HQ 54 Infantry Brigade was not aware of the success achieved by 3 Jat, which linked up with 15 Dogra at about 0930 hours. The brigade commander, Brigadier M.S. Rikh, who went forward to contact 3 Jat, met CO 15 Dogra, Lieutenant Colonel Inderjit Singh, who informed him that his battalion had suffered very heavy casualties at Wagah and he was not in a position to carry out his task. It was later found that this account was exaggerated. However, based on the information given by Colonel Inderjit, Brigadier Rikh modified his plan and ordered 3 Jat to capture the bridge near Dograi, asking 15 Dogra to firm in at Dial.
Led by the intrepid Desmond Hayde, 3 Jat raced forward and captured the east bank of the
about 200 yards north
of Dograi. The Jats then swung southwards and captured the GT Road Bridge at 1130
hours. The leading elements of the battalion crossed the canal and reached the
Bata shoe factory on the outskirts of Ichhogil
which was to be the limit of the bridgehead. By this time enemy air attacks had
taken a considerable toll of the advancing troops. Almost the complete F
Echelon of 3 Jat had been destroyed and the battalion was short of ammunition
and essential supplies. Even the brigade headquarters was attacked, the brigade
major’s jeep and office 3 Ton vehicle both being blown up. Rattled by the enemy
air strikes and unaware of the momentous success achieved by 3 Jat – the
wireless link was still not through – Rikh ordered the battalion to withdraw to
Gosal Dial. In the bargain, the gains achieved by a brilliant feat of arms at
Dograi by 3 Jat were frittered away. Colonel Hayde, who was wounded during the
attack, was awarded the MVC and Subedar Khazan Singh received the VrC. The
casualties suffered by 3 Jat were 25 killed, including one officer and one JCO;
and 78 wounded, including three officers and three JCOs.15 Lahore
Indian troops on the outskirts of Lahore, 1965
At this stage, the corps commander gave a fresh set of orders according to which 54 Infantry Brigade was to capture Dograi and 38 Infantry Brigade was capture Bhasin, sending a battalion to capture Bhaini-Malakapur. The divisional commander vehemently protested against this, both verbally and in writing, arguing that the diversion of 38 Brigade to secure Bhasin and Bhaini-Malakapur would hamper his advance. He also reported that the situation in his sector was desperate due to heavy casualties, and that no further offensive action was possible. Alarmed at this report, the army and corps commanders rushed forward and met the divisional commander at near Attari at 1400 hours on 6 September. A quick on the spot assessment revealed that the situation had been grossly exaggerated by Major General Niranjan Prasad, who appeared to have been demoralized by the recent events. He was asked to pull himself together and carry out the assigned tasks with vigour.
On the GT Road axis, 38 Infantry Brigade was to capture Dograich-Bhasin and secure the East bank of Ichhogil Canal, in Phase II of the operation on the night of 6/7 September. In view of the set-backs already encountered, the task of the brigade was modified and it was ordered to secure the east bank of
in general area of
the aqueduct. The brigade moved after last light on 6 September on man-pack
basis via Wagah-Singhpura along road Pul Kanjri, but could not make much
progress, in spite of lack of opposition. The formation advanced some distance
and firmed in there. Ichhogil
Not knowing the whereabouts of 38 Brigade due to disruption of the wireless link, the divisional commander along with a small party set off to locate them at night. Unfortunately, they ran into an ambush and were captured by the enemy, though General Prasad managed to escape in a jeep. However, 12 men and four jeeps fell into enemy hands. One of the vehicles had Prasad’s memo pad and a personal file containing references to his representations against his removal from the command of 4 Mountain Division in 1962.
gleefully announced the incident and broadcast extracts from his personal file,
causing embarrassment to Pakistan .
Soon afterwards, Prasad was relieved and Major General Mohinder Singh assumed
command of 15 Infantry Division. On 7 September Brigadier Rikh, Commander 54
Brigade was wounded and evacuated, being replaced by Brigadier S.S. Kalha, the
Commander Corps Artillery of XI Corps. India
On 7 September, fresh orders were issued to 38 and 54 Infantry Brigades to complete their allotted tasks by first light of 8 September. Commander 38 Brigade ordered 1/3 Gorkha Rifles to advance north of the road and attack the bridge on 8 September. But the enemy reacted fiercely and the attack failed. From this date till the cease-fire, 38 Infantry Brigade remained in the same area, but was unable to secure the east bank of the
. Brigadier Pathak was subsequently
punished and demoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. On the 54 Infantry
Brigade front, the attack was planned for the night of 7/8 September on the
canal bridge and rail bridge with 13 Punjab on the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC)
axis and 3 Jat forming a firm base while 15 Dogra were to exploit from west of
Gosal Dial village on the main GT road with the assistance of A Squadron 14
Horse after first light on 8 September. A and B Companies of 13 Ichhogil Canal Punjab reached the objective and completed digging of
fire trenches by first light. The enemy withdrew from the canal road bridge but
reinforced the railway bridge. When D Company advanced to the railway bridge,
it came under heavy army shelling. By first light, Pak armour also arrived, and
13 Punjab withdrew without orders.
During 8, 9 and 10 September, Pakistan maintained pressure on all the Indian positions by raids, artillery shelling and armour attacks, which were repulsed with heavy losses to the enemy, except on the Ranian axis. On 10 September, in face of enemy pressure the remnants of 1 Jat and 6 Kumaon withdrew to Lopoke; and Ranian and Kakkar fell into enemy hands. The same day, 96 Infantry Brigade was relieved by 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade (Brigadier A.M.M. Nambiar) and placed under command 15 Infantry Division for securing the right flank of the divisional sector and preventing any ingress of Pak armour from the Syphon area. It was then moved to area Kohali to restore the situation on that axis and be prepared to advance up to
bridge at the earliest. Ichhogil Canal
After its arrival at Hudiara Drain on 10 September, 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade was first given the task of capturing Bhasin by first light 14 September. However, after being relieved by 41 Mountain Brigade on 13 September, the brigade was given new tasks of securing Pak territory up to Ichhogil Canal, and capturing the Jallo bridge intact by last light 16 September, which was later extended to last light 17 September, at the request of the brigade commander. Moving along the drain on both sides of the UBDC, 2 Para reached the junction of Khaire distributary and the canal and advanced towards the objective, suffering heavy casualties from enemy fire. Undeterred by the stiff opposition, 2 Para assault elements reached the Jallo bridge, to discover that it had already been destroyed by the enemy. The demolition party detailed for the bridge also came under heavy fire and two sappers were killed and six wounded. At the same time 6 Para attacked the rail bridge at about 0030 hours on 17 September and occupied it. Though both battalions captured their objectives they were subsequently withdrawn to the area Bhamma-Bhatha to occupy a defensive position, due to ambiguity in orders issued by the brigade commander. In the bargain, valuable territory captured at great cost was vacated. For withdrawing his troops without orders, the brigade commander was replaced.
On 21/22 September, 15 Infantry Division made a fresh attempt to get to the Ichhogil Canal. According to the plan, 54 Brigade was to recapture the Dograi area; 38 Brigade was to advance to the canal in its area and 96 Brigade was to secure the Syphon area to the north. While 38 and 96 Brigades could not secure their objectives, 54 Brigade succeeded, despite heavy odds. Once again 3 Jat under the inspiring leadership of Colonel Hayde recaptured Dograi on 22 September and held it against repeated counter attacks by the enemy. Both the Jats and the Pakistanis suffered heavy casualties in this battle. For its gallant performance, 3 Jat received three Maha Vir Chakras and a number of other gallantry awards.16
7 Infantry Division
The advance of 7 Infantry Division commenced at 0530 hours on
6 September 1965.
The leading elements of 48 Infantry Brigade Group (Brigadier K.J.S. Shahaney)
contacted enemy defences at Hudiara at about 0700 hours coming under heavy,
long-range automatic fire from enemy positions in Hudiara, Nurpur and Hudiara
Drain. By this time, 17 Rajput had captured the enemy border post east of
Bedian, achieving complete surprise. By
1030 hours 6/8 Gorkha had secured Hudiara village. A frontal attack on Hudiara
Drain being ruled out due to accurate artillery and small arms fire from the
enemy, it decided to launch an attack from the left, eliminating enemy
resistance at Nurpur and up to a distance of 1000 yards from the west bank of
Hudiara Drain. The task was entrusted to 5 Guards, which launched its attack on
Nurpur at 1330 hours on 6 September. The enemy put up stiff resistance but the
Guards persisted. Early next morning, the enemy withdrew, after blowing up the
bridge over the Hudiara Drain. 48 Infantry Brigade then firmed in while 7
Divisional Engineers started constructing a bailey bridge on the Hudiara Drain.
Brigadier Shahaney, himself a Sapper, prevailed on the young Engineer officer
at the bridge site to construct a causeway on priority for the jeeps carrying
recoilless guns. This delayed the work on construction of the bridge.17
Placing under his command the Central India Horse (CIH) equipped with
tanks, General Sibal ordered Brigadier Lerb Ferris, Commander 65 Infantry
Brigade, to resume advance at 0700 hours on 7 September. However, the causeway
and a bailey bridge were ready only by 1545 hours, after which 9 Sherman with B Squadron
CIH advanced and secured Barka Kalan. The enemy put in an immediate counter-attack,
but it was beaten back. After reports being received that Madras
was also held by the enemy, 16 village of Barka Khurd Punjab attacked
and captured the village on 9 September. Continuing its pressure on the enemy,
65 Infantry Brigade advanced further for the capture of Barki and east bank of . Ichhogil Canal
The attack on village Barki was launched at 2000 hours on 10 September by 4 Sikh, after an intense preparatory bombardment by Indian artillery. When the assaulting troops were very close to the objective, CIH less two squadrons moved forward to provide fire support after the artillery fire had lifted. Due to the continuous Indian armour fire at night, the Pakistanis thought that India had brought in new tanks with night-firing capability and abandoned Barki at 2100 hours after suffering a large number of casualties. When permission was given to the Pak troops to collect the dead bodies of their comrades from the battle-field, they took away four truck-loads of corpses, including the dead body of Major Aziz Bhatti, who was posthumously awarded Nishan-i-Haider, Pakistan's highest gallantry award.
Supported by the divisional artillery, 16
Punjab now advanced to complete Phase 2 of the plan. It
passed through Barki at and secured the east bank of
by 2340 hours. The enemy ran in panic and demolished the bridge at Barki before
withdrawing. In this battle, Lieutenant Colonel S. C. Joshi, VrC, commanding
the Central India Horse, who had dismounted from his tank and was trying to
guide it forward, was killed in a mine blast. During the night of 10/11
September, a medium battery was moved up to counter-bombard enemy guns, some
shells falling on Ichhogil Canal
also. This not only silenced enemy guns effectively, but was also a
contributory factor for the exodus from Lahore .
4 Mountain Division
4 Mountain Division under Major General Gurbaksh Singh had been reorganised and specially trained for mountain warfare after the 1962 operations against the Chinese in NEFA. It was located in Ambala and the Simla Hills when it was ordered to move for the operations in the Khem Karan sector. The tasks allotted to the Division were to secure Pak territory east of the Ichhogil Canal south of Bedian right up to the Sutlej; destroy the bridge over the Canal on the Kasur Khem Karan Road; and to occupy a divisional defended sector to contain a likely offensive by Pak 1 Armoured Division and an infantry division astride the Kasur-Khem Karan and Gandasinghwala-Khem Karan axes.
The operations commenced at 0500 hours on 6 September. 9 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles of 62 Mountain Brigade captured Rohi Nala on the main axis at about 0915 hours while 13 Dogra secured area Rohiwal by 1030 hours. Two battalions of 7 Mountain Brigade, 7 Grenadiers and 4 Grenadiers, also advanced towards Ballanwala and Theh Pannun respectively. By 1130 hours 4 Grenadiers secured the line of Rohi Kala and east bank of Ichhogil Canal from Theh Pannun southwards. However, 7 Grenadiers could not capture Ballanwala, which was heavily defended. The battalion made another attempt at 0200 hours but failed. The enemy reacted quickly. At 1530 hours 13 Dogra was subjected to heavy artillery fire prior to a counter-attack by the enemy. The battalion abandoned the position and disintegrated as a unit. Throughout the night all defended localities and gun areas were subjected to very heavy, accurate and sustained artillery fire. By first light on 7 September, it was discovered that 7 Grenadiers and two companies of 1/9 Gorkha Rifles had also abandoned their positions. At about 0700 hours, 9 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles was encircled by enemy armour and strafed by the enemy aircraft. The CO and one company withdrew, leaving the rest of the battalion to its fate.
The situation in 4 Mountain Division appeared to be desperate. Not only had the division failed to carry out any of its tasks, two and a half battalions had disintegrated, leaving about three and half battalions that were still holding their positions. The corps commander recommended that the division be replaced by another formation, but this was ruled out by the Army Commander after a personal visit to the division to assess the situation. The divisional commander was confident that he would be able to pull his troops together and re-establish command and control. He was as good as his word, and the division performed creditably in the crucial actions that took place during the next few days.18
Battle of Asal Utar
By the morning of 8 September, 4 Mountain Division had hastily occupied a defended sector at Asal Utar with the three and a half battalions that were still functional and the armoured regiment that was available. At 0930 hours approximately two squadrons of Chaffees approached the divisional defended sector through Ballanwala on a reconnaissance-cum-probing mission. Approaching on a broad front, they surrounded the Indian defended localities, and from their right flank attempted to infiltrate to the gun areas. In the action which followed, the enemy lost two Chaffees and withdrew. Again at 1445 hours, they carried out a reconnaissance in force with a regiment of Pattons and over-ran the position of 1/9 Gorkha Rifles. 9 Horse now played an important role in stopping the enemy in front of the Indian defended sector. A diversionary attack by Pattons fell on 4 Grenadiers and the gun area, but it was halted in area Rattoke. The enemy tried to by-pass the defended sector on the north, but a squadron of 3 Cavalry in the area Bhikhiwind had anticipated this move and was ready to receive them. It moved down immediately and attacked the enemy, inflicting heavy casualties and forcing him to withdraw.
After this reconnaissance in force by the enemy, it became evident that a major armoured thrust was likely to take place next day. Immediately, 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade was ordered to concentrate 3 Cavalry less a squadron from the area Chabal Kalan and Rajatal and 8 Cavalry less a squadron from the Amritsar by-pass area to the 4 Mountain Division sector. All moves were completed smoothly on the night of 8/9 September, and the defences were strengthened by laying more mines. At 0200 hours on 9 September the enemy combat group of two Patton regiments, making use of moonlight and infra-red equipment, attacked 18 Rajputana Rifles. The Indian artillery brought down heavy fire and the infantry engaged the attacking enemy with recoilless guns. Though the enemy tanks had a free run, they failed to dislodge the Indian defences and the attack was beaten back.
On 9 September, 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade was placed under command 4 Mountain Division. Orders were issued that the Indian armour would function at night, and 9 Horse would stay in forward defended localities and gun area in an anti-tank role. The enemy made another attempt during the night to over-run 18 Rajputana Rifles’ positions. However, the battalion held fast and the enemy was engaged by medium artillery and tanks, located in forward defended localities. At 0330 hours the enemy infantry, brought up in armoured personnel carriers, probed forward, but, on hitting the mine-field, withdrew, and a lull followed. Pakistan carried out reconnaissance in force with tanks throughout the latter part of night of 9/10 September.
The final enemy attack came at 0700 hours on 10 September. A strong enemy combat group attacked the position held by 4 Grenadiers, but the attack was foiled by Indian artillery and a squadron of 3 Cavalry that was patiently waiting for an opportune moment, and opened up once the enemy Pattons came out of a sugar cane field, exposing their broadsides. After the failure of the attack on 4 Grenadiers, the enemy made another outflanking movement towards Mahmudpur-Dibbipura, aiming for the gun area. The enemy column was shadowed by 3 Cavalry and was attacked from three sides. Trying to extricate themselves from the trap the Pattons got bogged down in the mud and were shot like sitting ducks by Indian tanks and recoilless guns. This broke the back of Pakistan’s 1 Armoured Division which was forced to pull back in complete disarray. The infantry played its part and Havildar Abdul Hamid knocked out three Patton tanks with his recoilless gun before losing his life. He was awarded a posthumous Param Vir Chakra.
The battle of Asal Utar turned the tide of the war in 1965. Pakistan’s 1 Armoured Division was decimated, with it evaporating her hope of a decisive victory over India. In three days of fighting at Asal Utar, Pakistan lost 97 tanks, including 72 Pattons. This included the entire tank fleet of 4 Cavalry, whose CO, 12 officers and several soldiers surrendered en masse on the morning on 11 September. The casualties suffered by 4 Mountain Division were 60 killed, 206 wounded and 93 missing, in addition to 10 tanks. The losses of 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade were one OR killed with two tanks destroyed.
After the withdrawal of the bulk of the Pakistani armour, 4 Mountain Division was ordered to re-take Khemkaran. Gurbakash gave the task to 7 Brigade, which was given two battalions, 4 Sikh and 2 Mahar, for the operation that was launched on 12 September. The Sikhs were used on an outflanking movement, while the Mahars put in a frontal attack on the Khemkaran Distributary position. Unfortunately, about two companies of Sikhs were captured by the enemy; while the Mahars supported by Deccan Horse, could not overcome the position, despite some initial success and suffering heavy casualties. The brigade put in a second attack, which also failed. Subsequently, 4 Division was given two new brigades, viz. 29 Brigade and 41 Brigade, but lost 7 Brigade. The division launched yet another attack on Khemkaran on 21 September, but even this could not make any headway, the enemy determinedly holding the position with a strong brigade group with armour.
67 Infantry Brigade
GOC XI Corps tasked Brigadier Bant Singh, Commander 67 Infantry Brigade Group, to defend the area from Harike headworks to Anupgarh in Rajasthan. On 6 September, the enemy shelled Indian defences in the Sulaimanke sector followed by three attacks on night of 7/8 September on 14
Punjab which were
all repulsed. On 8 September, Pak F-86 jets bombed 2 Maratha positions, which
were also subjected to artillery fire. During the night of 9/10 September, the
enemy attacked 14 Punjab defensive position in
Fazilka and captured a platoon locality, which was recaptured after a counter-attack.
During the period 12-18 September, there was intermittent shelling by both sides. On the night of 19/20 September, 2 Maratha at Hussainiwala was attacked by an enemy infantry battalion supported by tanks. The Pakistanis also attacked the Bhagat Singh Samadhi area at Hussainiwala and destroyed the memorial. However, the main attack was repulsed and the Indian garrison at Hussainiwala was reinforced with two infantry companies and two troops of armour from Fazilka.
23 Mountain Division
23 Mountain Division, commanded by Major General D.K. Palit, VrC, was located in Rangia in
September 1965. After the Pak attack on Khem Karan, the division minus 30
Brigade moved by train and detrained at Assam .
In lieu of 30 Brigade, the division was allotted another brigade, but one
battalion was taken away to Hudiara for operations. Although earmarked as Army
HQ Reserve, this division was located within the Western Command Theatre. Ludhiana
During 15-18 September1965, the division was asked to be prepared for launching an offensive in the Kasur area with a view to drawing out Pak I Corps from
However, this was subsequently cancelled as it was planned to launch 23
Mountain Division across the Lahore Ravi in Dera Baba
Nanak sector to hit the Pak forces from the south. This was considered necessary to stimulate the
progress of the Indian offensive in the
sector and also to open a line of communication along the same axis to
supplement the replenishment of I Corps from the east. Sialkot
On 20 September, orders were issued to the division to concentrate in Dera Baba Nanak area by 26 September. As the Division did not have any armour, one squadron of PT-76 tanks was provided. Since the task required the crossing of the river
Ravi, and as the formation had no river-crossing
experience, it was asked to practice the same on the Sutlej.
However, all these preparations proved futile, as the cease-fire took place on
23 September 1965.
SIGNALS IN OPERATION ‘RIDDLE’: XI CORPS SECTOR
XI Corps Signals
Brigadier K.S. Garewal (later Lieutenant General and SO-in-C) took over as CSO XI Corps in the first week of August 1965. He had, however, to return to Signals Directorate soon afterwards to finish certain important actions dealing with Plan AREN. Before returning to
Brigadier Garewal discussed the operational requirements with the corps
commander, his staff and senior signal officers, and revalidated the existing
signal plan for the Corps. The lines and wireless diagrams of XI Corps are
given below:- Delhi
On 2 September, the Signals branch was asked to prepare a signal instruction to be issued along with the corps operational instruction. Since details of the operational deployment and tasks were not known, it was decided to issue the signal instruction in two parts. Part I contained what could be foreseen and was not location specific i.e. general policy, wireless diagram, frequency assignment, authentication sheets, codes and ciphers, scale of line communications and SDS plan. Part II covered detailed line communication plan, routing and engineering diagrams and SDS time table. Part I was issued on 3 September and Part II on
4 September 1965.
Lines were to be the primary means of signal communications supplemented by radio relay. On 2 September orders were received for attachment of 9 Medium Radio Relay Signal Section ex ‘R’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment with XI Corps Signal Regiment. Patti was developed as a switching centre and a civil as well as military carrier centre. Radio relay equipment (Radio Set C41/R222) was new to the unit and only limited training had been carried out. A link was established between Main HQ XI Corps and Patti and from Patti to 4 and 7 Divisions. A radio relay chain was also established to 15 Division. Radio relay proved highly stable and at places became the mainstay of communications.
XI Corps Signal Regiment
Lieutenant Colonel D.B. Lahiri was commanding XI Corps Signal Regiment at
. The other field officers in the
unit were Major N.T.C. Nambiar (second-in-command); Major R.S. Arora (1
Company); Major Sarjit Singh (2 Company); and Major Gurdev Singh (3
Company). Based on the visit of the SO-in-C
during Operation ‘Ablaze’, some new radio sets, line equipment and radio relay
stations were issued to the unit in the first week of August 1965. The unit was
also given orders to reorganise based on three companies as opposed to four
companies till then. During the month of August, the regiment was busy
reorganising and training on new equipment including radio relay. Jullundur
On 2 September evening, the CO was summoned by the corps commander, Lieutenant General J.S. Dhillon and informed that hostilities with Pakistan were imminent and that the corps headquarters would move out to its operational location on 5 September. Signals could send small parties to make preliminary arrangements but all work was to be done during hours of darkness. General Dhillon mentioned that formations will not be moving to any concentration areas but directly to operational locations.
On return to the unit, the CO gave orders for a crash exercise. On 3 September Major Sarjit Singh, OC 2 Company and the GSO 1 (Operations) proceeded on a reconnaissance of the new site of the corps headquarters at Rayya. The GSO 1(Operations) decided to locate both the main and rear headquarters in
However, Sarjit did not agree to this due to technical and tactical reasons and
informed the CO, who immediately apprised the corps commander of the
implications of the selected area. A fresh reconnaissance was ordered and this
time Colonel Lahiri himself accompanied the GSO 1. By the evening of 3
September, a new location about one kilometre from the carrier station near
Rayya, already established for the Army, was agreed upon.
The CSO, Brigadier Garewal, arrived from
on 3 September in the afternoon and was briefed by Colonel Lahiri on his return
from the reconnaissance. Garewal was of the view that it would be better if the
corps headquarters stayed put at Delhi
and moved only once the battle had stabilised. Meanwhile some mechanics and
linemen of the unit had started working to engineer circuits from the new
location. At 0400 hours next morning Second Lieutenant R.K .Gill, the TOT
(Technical Officer Telecom) gave a completion report to the CO that all
circuits were ready for activation from the new location. However, at 0900 hours Colonel Lahiri was
informed that the corps commander had accepted the recommendation of the CSO to
delay the move of the headquarters till the battle stabilised. He was directed
to bring back all the circuits from Rayya to Jullundur . Jullundur
Working throughout the night, the personnel of the unit completed the task of re-engineering the circuits. At 0600 hours on 5 September, the CO gave a completion report to the corps headquarters that all line communications had been re-routed to
. After checking the communications Colonel
Lahiri had just gone home for breakfast when he was again summoned to the corps
headquarters. When he reached there he was told by the corps commander that
there was yet another change and he had finally decided to move his headquarters
to Rayya. He told Colonel Lahiri that road space had been specially allotted
for his unit so that he could move at the earliest. He wanted direct
communications to Jullundur ,
and Ambala by 1600 hours, when he would arrive at the new location. Jullundur
The CO, dumb founded at the sudden change in the move plan, rang up his unit from the nearest telephone before rushing back to issue fresh orders. By 1030 hours Major Sarjit Singh had left with the advance elements and the rest of the unit vehicles were lined up and ready to move. Fortunately detailed reconnaissance and engineering of circuits from the new location had already been carried out a day earlier, and the communications were re-established from the operational location in record time. General Dhillon arrived at 1600 hours and asked to be connected to the Army Commander. The call was put through immediately. Shortly afterwards the GOC left for a visit to the forward areas accompanied by his rover. During the night the rover vehicle met with an accident near Tarn Taran, in which the rover operator Havildar Bhagat Singh was injured and evacuated to hospital.
Officers were placed on all axes along with line parties to extend lines to formations as these arrived. By about 0030 hours on 6 September, the line parties waiting on different axes for formations moving in contacted the advance parties. By 0200 hours all lines and radio relay links were through. Wireless links had been established and kept on listening watch. Wireless detachments from formations under command had been called earlier at the corps headquarters for tuning and netting as also marrying up. At 0400 hours when the shooting war started, radio silence was broken and wireless and radio relay communications established in addition to lines. A deliberate decision was taken not to activate rearward wireless links till 8 September. It had been planned to move the rear corps headquarters close to the main headquarters on 6 September. However, on request from the CO, its move was deferred by three days.
XI Corps was heavily dependent on the P&T for trunk communications. Mr. Harkrishan Singh, the Divisional Officer, Telegraph at
was appointed the Department’s
liaison officer to XI Corps. He and his staff provided excellent support in
engineering and re-engineering trunk communications. These remained stable
except the ones to 4 Mountain Division, which were disrupted quite often due to
intense fighting, shelling and move of tanks. As a result, radio relay and
wireless had to be relied upon for communications to 4 Mountain Division. At
one stage, in response to an urgent request from their CO, XI Corps Signal
Regiment gave them four radio relay sets on loan for three days. The CSO, who
had not been informed, was ‘livid’, but decided to overlook it. His annoyance
was justified – the sets were returned only after the cease fire. Jullundur
Lahiri recalls an interesting incident to prove that luck favoured his unit during the war. The corps commander was concerned about the location of Pak 1 Armoured Division, which could launch a potent offensive into the corps zone. The war was two days old and Lahiri was standing near the signal centre when he saw Brigadier P.S. Grewal, the Brigadier General Staff almost running towards the CSO. The two met and then the CSO also almost ran towards the signal centre. On seeing this, Lahiri ran towards him. Brigadier Garewal gave him a signal and said, “Clear it to 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade immediately- it’s Flash”.
Lahiri did not look at the message. He knew that the line to 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade was under repair and so he made a dash to the C 2 link about 150 yards away and told the operator to clear the message immediately. The operator said that he had just then agreed to the request of the operator on the other end to close down for 30 minutes for change of batteries and adjusting the aerial. Lahiri told the operator to call 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade all the same. Luckily the other end operator had not yet switched off his set. The ‘Flash’ message, just two lines, was cleared immediately in clear. Its contents were: “Enemy Armoured Division thrust had begun. Position own forces in pre determined locations as already decided, in shortest possible time to thwart the enemy Armoured Division thrust”.
An important drill started by Colonel Lahiri was the ‘Technical Stand To’. As is well known, all units in operations carry out ‘Stand To’ early in the morning and in the evenings, when all personnel man their trenches/weapon pits and are in a state of readiness to face any attack. In case of Signals, it was considered necessary that they in addition have a ‘Technical Stand To’. With experience, it was concluded that between 0100 and 0330 hours signal traffic was minimal. It was therefore decided to start the Signals ‘Technical Stand To’ at 0200 hours. During this Stand To, equipment was checked, batteries changed and all circuits lined up, so that when the commanders and staff got active early in the morning and desired to make telephone/radio calls to obtain latest situation reports, all the communications were working at optimal efficiency. Another reason was that enemy and own troops usually launched attacks in the early hours and it was necessary that communications should be optimised before such happenings. However, care was taken to ensure that all the circuits to each formation were not disturbed at the same time due to testing/aligning.
It was a challenging task to provide communications to XI Corps, which was involved in very intense fighting. XI Corps Signal Regiment under the command of Colonel Lahiri acquitted itself creditably, earning praise from commanders as well as staff. Lieutenant K. Veluswamy and Subedar Major Pritam Singh were ‘Mentioned in Despatches’. In addition, a number of Chief of Army Staff Commendation Cards was awarded. The corps commander visited the unit after the hostilities were over and at a grand ‘Sainik Sammelan’ presented an impressive trophy. While addressing all ranks he said, “Your performance during the Indo-Pak War was so superb that it has never been equaled by any signal regiment in any war, at any place and time”.
Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at
under Lieutenant Colonel C.P. Katarya. It was responsible for operating the
signal centre at Jullundur
and providing communications to administrative installations of XI Corps. 2 Company of the regiment was located at
Pathankot. In August 1965, 3 Medium Radio Relay Section ex Central Command
Mobile Signal Company was moved to the unit. On 2 September, the unit was
placed under the technical control of CSO XI Corps. 11 Line Section which was
constructing a PL route in Jammu & Kashmir returned on 9 September. Jullundur
A radio relay terminal in the open, 1965.
Before the 1965 War, there were two line arteries towards the border from Jullundur viz. Jullundur- Beas- Amritsar and Jullundur-Hoshiarpur-Dasuya-Pathankot. In July 1965, it was decided to build another PL route between
and Gurdaspur via
Dasuya-Mukerian-Naushera. There was no bridge on the Jullundur Beas
at Naushera and this posed a big problem as the river was swollen due to the
monsoon rains. Brave linemen of the regiment under Lieutenant M.S. Toor
succeeded in putting across four wires after a few unsuccessful attempts and
the route was completed with the help of the P&T Department by the end of
Orders for establishing AMAs (Army Maintenance Areas) at Moga and
were received on 1 September. A 40-line F&F (Field & Fortress)
exchange, signal centre and radio detachments were put in place by the evening.
On 2 September, CSO XI Corps ordered laying of a carrier quad cable between
Patti and Valtoha, the projected location of HQ 4 Mountain Division. The task
was completed by 4 September. The unit was also tasked to establish a number of
additional speech and telegraph circuits from , primarily for logistic entities.
On 5 September, speech and telegraph circuits for field formations were
re-engineered from Jullundur . However, soon thereafter it was decided to
move the corps headquarters to its operational location at Rayya. By the
evening, most of the speech and telegraph circuits were transferred to the new
Pak Air Force bombed Adampur airfield and communications were disrupted. The unit had to send line and radio detachments to restore the communications with
. On 12
September a radio relay link was established between the airfield and Jullundur signal centre.
Two terminals ex 6 Medium Radio Relay Section were sent from Western Command
Signal Regiment for this purpose. In addition a 40 lb. 40 pair underground
cable was laid to the carrier room at Adampur, from the main road Jullundur-Hoshiarpur. Jullundur
On 15 September two untoward incidents occurred. The daily motor despatch service (MDS) vehicle carrying official mail between
and Fazilka was ambushed near
Jalabad at night. Craftsman Amarjit Singh Sikri and the driver Signalman B.C.
Roy were taken prisoner. The bullet ridden jeep and the mail bag were recovered
by a guard of the Punjab Armed Police, when he challenged the vehicle being
driven under the control of Pak infiltrators, who disappeared with the Indian
prisoners. On the same day, a Pak plane strafed the MDS vehicle plying between Ludhiana and Pathankot. The
courier and the driver were wounded.
At the commencement of hostilities, the technical control of 2 Company of the unit located at Pathankot, which was earlier with CSO XV Corps was transferred to DCSO Punjab & Himachal Pradesh Area. After the induction of I Corps, communication load at Pathankot increased considerably. This company also became a reporting and staging centre for signal detachments and personnel moving in. A large number of messages and official mail packets accumulated due to lack of information about change of locations of units and formations. Considerable signal equipment meant for other units also remained uncollected. CSO Western Command arranged an additional officer from Army HQ Signal Regiment to take care of this load. On
September 1965, DCSO Andhra Pradesh Independent Sub Area was moved
from Secunderabad to Pathankot to coordinate signal communications in that area
and 2 Company was placed under him.
Once the cease fire came in to effect on 23 September, the unit was ordered to assist the P&T Department in constructing a number of PL routes in area Dera Baba Nanak-Gurdaspur, Dasuya and Mukerian. 4 and 11 Line Construction Sections of the unit along with 51 Line Construction Section ex ‘T Communication Zone Signal Regiment (XV Corps) completed the task by
1 January 1966.
On 11 October, CSO Western Command ordered laying of submarine cable across major rivers and nullahs in
Punjab at seven places.
This step was taken to cater for any damage to PL existing across various
rail/road bridges due to enemy air bombardment. 645 Army Troops Engineers were
detailed to carry out the task along with Signals and the P&T Department. Each cable drum weighed 21 tons and it took
several days to lay the cable, depending on the width of the river and state of
approaches. Getting the cable from Ordnance depots, unloading from wagons,
transporting them to the laying sites and the actual laying along the riverbeds
and burying were some of the challenges that were met with ingenuity. Four
crossings were completed by 5 November and the remaining by 7 February 1966.
Headquarters United Nations
and Pakistan Observer Group (UNIPOM) was established at India to supervise the cease fire. The
unit was made responsible for providing static signal communications to HQ
UNIPOM. Their messages to Desert Force UNIPOM at Jaisalmer and Barmer were
cleared via Amritsar .
The unit performed creditably during the 1965 war, particularly since it was spread out throughout the corps zone. In recognition of the services rendered, Lieutenant Colonel C.P. Katarya was ‘Mentioned in Despatches’.
15 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
15 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was under raising at Dehradun when it was ordered to move to
Punjab for Operation ‘Ablaze’ in April 1965. The CO was
Lieutenant Colonel S.L. Norton, the other field officers being Majors B.N.
Satyamurti, K.S. Bindra and M.S. Saharan. After termination of Operation
‘Ablaze’ the unit was located in
in July 1965, along with 54 Infantry Brigade Signal Section. The other two
brigade signal sections, affiliated to 38 and 96 Infantry Brigades, were at
Dalhousie and Yol respectively. Shortly before the commencement of the
operations, 38 Infantry Brigade moved to Amritsar
along with the signal section. Amritsar
The operational location of Main HQ 15 Infantry Division was a few miles ahead of
along the Grand Trunk Road. Lines
were provided to Amritsar
military exchange, the two infantry brigades, Rania, artillery brigade and rear
divisional headquarters. The battalion
in Rania was brought on D1 net. Wireless silence was broken as soon as the
troops crossed the border at 0400 hours on Amritsar 6 September 1965. Wireless was the primary
means of communications for the advance up to .
Unfortunately, there was a critical failure of wireless communication in one of the brigade nets on the first day itself. Leading the advance of 54 Infantry Brigade on the
3 Jat captured Gosal Dial and Dograi, crossed the
and reached the out skirts of Ichhogil Canal .
However, the battalion’s wireless link with the brigade headquarters broke down
as soon as it commenced its advance. By a strange co-incidence, the artillery
forward observation officers with 3 Jat were also not in communication with
their guns. The brigade commander, being unaware of the spectacular success
achieved by 3 Jat, ordered the battalion to withdraw to Gosal Dial. This
unfortunate decision that had far reaching implications would perhaps not have
been taken if the wireless communications had not failed. This has been
commented on by several authors, including the CO of the battalion. According the Army Commander, the brigade commander’s
being out of touch with the leading battalion was ‘an inexcusable lapse’ and by
asking 3 Jat to fall back ‘a cheap victory had been thrown to the winds.’19 Lahore
The unit had its share of casualties during the operations. On 8 September Lance Havildar Budhiballabh Gahrola was killed in enemy action. On 15 September Havildar Lekh Raj was killed by an enemy shell while repairing a disrupted line in a forward location. The unit was plagued by casualties even after the cease fire. On 10 October Lance Naik C. Rajamanickam died in an accident while on duty. On 13 October Signalman Mirendra Mohan Banerjee while on escort duty accidentally fell down from the running train near Sanahwal and died. On 22 October Naik Mukhtiar Singh of 81 Field Regiment Signal Section died.
However, the unit had the distinction of winning for the Corps the only Vir Chakra during the Indo- Pak War of 1965. Lance Havildar K.G. George had been working diligently for several days, repairing lines damaged by enemy action. On the night of 8/9 September, he went beyond the call of duty and at the risk to his life established line communications to a forward battalion during the enemy’s counter attack. For displaying conspicuous courage and dedication to duty in leading his line party under constant heavy shelling and strafing from the air and restoring disrupted line communications for a number of days, he was given the immediate award of a Vir Chakra. The citation for the award is reproduced below:-
50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company
After taking part in the Kutch operations, 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company returned to Agra. It was only after the commencement of operations that it was ordered to move to
on 7 September. On arrival at Delhi
next morning, it was located near the parade ground in Delhi Cantt. The same
evening orders were received for the brigade to move to Tarn Taran for
Operation ‘Riddle’. Moving by road as well as rail, the brigade concentrated at
Khasa on Delhi 10 September 1965.
The signal company was under the command of Major Vinod Kumar, with Captain
D.K. Uberoy as the second-in-command. The other officers in the company were Captain
M. Bhatia, Lieutenant C.J. Appachu and Lieutenant Krishan.
50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade was initially deployed in Area Hudiara as the corps reserve and later placed under 15 Infantry Division. On the night of 11/12 September the brigade was moved to Pulkanjiri with the task of capturing Bhasin. On 13 September, the task was changed to that of securing the road bridge at Dograi. It was also asked to capture intact the
and the rail bridge over the Jallo Bridge . The attack was launched on night
16 September and the bridges were captured by first light on 17 September. Ichhogil Canal
Lieutenants Bhatia and Krishan were in charge of communications with 2 Para and 6 Para during their attacks on their respective objectives. The lines to the forming up place were through even before the assaulting battalions reached there! The line parties extended the lines beyond the forming up place as the battalions moved forward and kept on passing information to the brigade headquarters. The B1 net with the battalions also worked throughout using wireless set 62. Lieutenant Appachu was the rover officer and accompanied the brigade commander, Brigadier A.M.M. Nambiar. A dedicated speech line was also provided to the commander’s rover in addition to wireless communications.
Narrating the story of the capture of the
, Major General M. Bhatia writes:- Jallo Bridge
Jallo Bridge was about 5-7 kms from our HQ on the Ichhogil Canal. The communication plan was real great ….we were to establish a communication centre mid way from where we were to lay lines to the battalion going in for the attack. The lines would be to the FUP initially and thereafter extended wherever the battalion was. I was in charge of this forward communication centre ….we were to give a running commentary of the attack and its progress to the Brigade HQ. Three line parties under the three lieutenants started laying lines once darkness set in. The situation was extraordinary – here were the Signals personnel moving about in ‘no man’s land’. At one point two line parties crossed each other and I had a miraculous escape…Krish heard sounds coming from a direction, he thought it was an enemy patrol and took position to fire. As I turned the corner of the building, I don’t know why but I just whispered Krish’s name… fortunately he heard me and when I met him I found him cold!!!. He told me that if I had not spoken he would have shot me; range was 2-3 yards, his sten was on automatic.
The brigade signal company suffered a few casualties. On 17 September Signalman S.S. Mane manning the radio detachment with 6 Para sustained major injuries. On 21 September Naik Edward who was part of the radio detachment with 411 Para Field Company was killed due to shell wounds. Signalman Hukam Singh was killed on 22 September while laying lines.
7 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was raised at Ferozepore Cantt on
1 July 1963 as a mountain divisional signal regiment and
subsequently reorganized as an infantry divisional signal regiment on 1 May 1964. It was
originally tasked to provide signal communications from Madhopur to Ganganagar,
the area of operational responsibility of its parent formation. On arrival of
15 Infantry Division in
in April 1965, the unit’s area of responsibility was reduced. Originally the division
had 48, 54 and 65 Infantry Brigades on its Order of Battle. Subsequently, 54
Brigade moved out and for some time the division had only two brigades. In July
1964, the newly raised 29 Brigade was allotted to the division. During 1965,
the regiment had 29, 48 and 65 Infantry Brigade Signal Companies. The unit was
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel S.N. Barooah, with Major Sucha Singh being the second-in-command.
The other field officers in the unit were Majors A. Basu (1 Company) and J.S.
Duggal (2 Company). The brigade signal companies were being commanded by
Captain J.S. Cheema (29 Brigade); Maj J.S. Ahluwalia (48 Brigade) and Major
Kashmira Singh (65 Brigade). Amritsar
During Operation ‘Ablaze’, the division was deployed in Bhikiwind-Patti sector and the unit was able to rehearse its operational role and communication lay out. For Operation ‘Riddle’, the unit moved from Ferozepore to its operational location on
5 September 1965. By 1100 hours the step up
divisional signal centre was opened at a place called Narla about three miles
short of the international border. Line communications were established with
the brigades, rear division headquarters at Patti and with the base at
Ferozepore. With the increase in movements of tanks and B vehicles the lines
started snapping very frequently and the line parties remained on their lines
to carry out repairs as faults occurred, instead of coming back to the unit.
Strict wireless silence was observed with control sets kept on listening watch.
Most of the outstations had netted before leaving the base; those grouped later
were quickly netted in harbour without radiating.
Wireless silence was lifted at 0400 hours on 6 September and all stations were through. The battle for Hudiara started. There was some confusion about 17 Rajput that was detailed for flank protection. Since it was located away from 65 Brigade, its parent formation, it was not clear whether the battalion was to come up on the brigade or the divisional net. The brigade did not want to lose control over the battalion though it did not give it any resources for rearward communications. The regiment sent a locally modified 1 Ton Wireless Truck fitted with radio set C11/R210 to enable 17 Rajput to come up on the D-1 link. However, the truck could not proceed beyond Wan police post where the battalion rear was located as the whole area was subjected to very heavy shelling. The divisional commander was very keen to speak to battalion commander, who was in position near Bedian bridge about two miles ahead. A remote control unit which was made out of an H1 unit to work with C-11 Sets (no unit J’s were available with the unit) was quickly installed on the line between the battalion’s main and rear positions to solve the problem. This line was duplicated at the first opportunity. Soon the enemy shelling started playing havoc on all lines. Lines were often disrupted but an efficient fault control organization and the unbounded zeal of the linemen kept the communication going. The artillery brigade lines were the worst affected, but the divisional line detachment and the ‘H’ Section linemen and kept the regimental and fire order lines operational.
On 9 September the unit had its first battle casualties, when enemy aircraft launched attacks on the divisional headquarters as well as the forward brigades. Signalman Driver Jasudan Khosla of 29 Infantry Brigade Signal Section and Lance Naik Driver Rajagopal of 65 Infantry Brigade Signal Section were killed in action. Major A. Basu recounts his experience during the air attack:-
Pakistani Star fighters, flown by young Bangladeshi pilots (many of them were brought down by ack ack Bofors located at Dograi and pilots bailing out) almost regularly flew sorties over our area. One morning (after 3/4 days of battle) I was returning from the Div HQ when the air–raid alert sounded and I was caught in an area where there were no trenches or shelter nearby. I hugged the ground quickly as per our training, lying prone absolutely motionless. Soon a fighter flew over me strafing. I heard the noise and I saw a line of dust progressing with the bullet noise just about a metre or less near my side. Soon the aircraft was gone and the all clear was sounded. I got up and went to my company without any reaction. Much later I realized about the consequences, in case the line of dust that went by my side during strafing was a metre closer.
An important event on 10 September was the occupation of Barki up to the east bank of the
by 65 Infantry Brigade. The line was extended to the brigade headquarters
forward position at Barka Kalan by the evening under difficult conditions. Next
day, a new direct line to Barka Kalan was put through. This line was laid away from the road with
the intention of making it overhead at the earliest opportunity. Working through heavy shelling and bombing,
the line detachment made the line overhead in about three days. At many place new poles had to be erected but
for 5 miles on the Pak side of the border the poles of the PL route were
used. Ichhogil Canal
On 12 September lateral lines between the infantry brigades and artillery brigade were completed. On the same night a special task force created from 48 Infantry Brigade was sent to capture Jhaman. In the evening Second Lieutenant Bhupinder Singh, OC Line Section took the line from Khalra exchange to the brigade tactical headquarters. This was a difficult task as all movement had to be done stealthily at night and the tracks were very close to enemy territory. The Punjab Armed Police guides panicked and pushed off at the first sound of firing. Moreover when the line was taken to the point ordered by the divisional headquarters, there was nobody there. Bhupinder left the line detachment at the place indicated and began to hunt for the brigade tactical headquarters in pitch darkness. However, the line was through before the commencement of the operation. The enemy had come to know about the move and at pounded Khalra with heavy artillery. This shelling cut the line at places but it was soon repaired, Bhupinder remaining on this line throughout the night. A radio set C-11/R210 was also provided on D1 net for the task force but it was not permitted to go up to the tactical headquarters as the station was mounted on a one-ton vehicle and had to remain a mile behind. The attack was not successful and the wireless truck was brought back in the morning keeping the line in position for any future use.
On 18 September orders for a special task force operation were issued. The task was to clear the area between Hudiara and Bedian and then to occupy Rajoke and Dholan to assist 4 Mountain Division’s operation against Khemkaran. An exchange was placed at Wan and 17 Rajput, 82 Light Regiment, and several logistic elements were put on the exchange. The old 17 Rajput line was used to connect this exchange with the main divisional exchange. Also from this exchange a line kept on trailing behind the task force commander as he moved forward.
Wireless communications experienced considerable static and atmospheric interference. There was serious interference between Indian and Pak command radio nets. However, a policy of live and let live was followed by Signals of both sides and each side normally waited for the other to finish its transmission before initiating own calls! Surprisingly, after the cease fire, Signals of both sides got more aggressive and often interfered with other’s wireless communications.
The advance made by 7 Infantry Division was limited and the divisional headquarters did not move during the operations. This reduced the communication challenges for 7 Infantry Division Signal Regiment to some extent. Second-Lieutenant Bhupinder Singh, Naik P. Kalan and Lance/Naik Rajagopal were ‘Mentioned in Despatches’, the last one posthumously.
4 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Ambala under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.C. Rawat, with Major H. Subramanian as the second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were Majors R.B. Babulkar and J.S. Dhillon. The officers in the brigade signal companies were Major Yatindra Pratap (62 Brigade) and Major N.K. Rastogi (7 Brigade). The third brigade of the Division - 33 Mountain Brigade – did not take part in the operations. Being a mountain division, equipped and trained to fight in the mountains, 4 Division lacked anti-tank resources and had comparatively lighter artillery guns. However, just before the war, infantry battalions were issued 106 mm recoilless guns. In terms of signal resources, it was equipped with
origin equipment like radio sets
AN/GRC 9, with hand pedal generators, better telephone exchanges, cable WD1,
VHF radios like AN/PRC 25 and AN/PRC 10 and above all it had radio relay
equipment. The division had the luxury of having a radio relay link to both
4 Mountain Division concentrated in Khem Karan sector during the night of 5/6 September, after an approach march of nearly 200 miles. The main divisional headquarters was located at Warnala and rear headquarters at Tung. The line section and skeleton signal centre had arrived the previous night and laid lines to the projected locations of brigades and other entities and these were through by 1800 hours on 5 September. The brigade signal companies and rest of the regiment arrived around . Line communications were available to commanders and staff on arrival.
7 and 62 Mountain Brigades launched the offensive on 6 September and initial surprise was achieved. 62 Mountain Brigade attacked astride Kasur axis and 7 Mountain Brigade was further north. Wireless silence had been imposed and was lifted at 0430 hours. Though C1, C2 and D5 wireless links were through, the D1 link to 7 and 62 Mountain Brigades and 9 Horse got through only at 0830 hours due to non receipt of the signal operation order and late arrival of wireless detachments. Radio relay terminals of the unit had been deployed in area north of Simla and reached only on 6 September. The radio relay link with 62 Brigade was established soon thereafter but the one to 7 Mountain Brigade did not get through due to a technical problem. The link became functional only at 2300 hours after the CO visited the brigade and a new terminal was sent to them on his orders.
By mid day on 6 September, most of the initial objectives had been captured. After being initially surprised, Pak troops regained balance and in the afternoon counter attacked with infantry and armour and resorted to heavy artillery shelling. Lines extended to forward battalions were damaged due to enemy shelling and move of vehicles. On the night of 6/7 September, there was further shelling and attacks by Pak infantry and armour to throw back the Indians as also to establish a bridgehead across Rohi Nala. During the night, two battalions of the division – 13 Dogra and 7 Grenadiers - left the line and withdrew, closing down their wireless links to the brigade headquarters.
The main divisional headquarters moved near village Boparai by 0200 hours on 8 September and line communications were re engineered to new locations of brigades and 9 Horse. Rear divisional headquarters stayed put at the original location. To minimise damage from shelling, wherever possible lines were laid on the enemy side of water channels.
The decisive battle of Asal Utar took place on 10 September. Major Naresh Rastogi, OC 7 Brigade Signal Company, has described the events of 9 and 10 September in the following words:
09 Sep. Next morning the enemy came close to probe our defences, but 4 Grenadiers were ready. Especially, CQMH Abdul Hamid had destroyed three tanks, for which on the recommendation of the Bn Cdr, Brig Sidhu asked me to send an ‘Emergency’ Signal, recommending him for Maha Vir Chakra. In the mean time some tanks outflanked us from the West but were stuck up in the flooded fields where the drains had been ruptured by the Artillery fire. They surrendered to the Infantry Pl of 4 Grenadiers sent to round them up.
10 Sep. Early morning, plenty of smoke and dust, but the enemy was halted at a distance only. Later we learnt that their commanders expecting the road to Delhi to be clear were advancing in jeeps protected by armour, to reach Harike. CQMH Abdul Hamid again destroyed one tank, but was killed on the spot. Cdr asked me to send a ‘Flash’ message to read ‘Param Vir Chakra, posthumous’ in place of ‘Maha Vir Chakra’. Luckily the same evening AIR announced his decoration and Pakistan Radio, the decoration, Hallal- e –Zurrat, for their GOC. Brig Shami, their C Arty was killed and his jeep with his body was captured along with their Op Order and fully marked Arty map. The body of another Cdr, perhaps the Armd Bde Cdr had been taken away.
In the afternoon, one Pakistani tank had reached behind our location but was abandoned when bogged down on a bund near the water tank along the road. We had a shower of machine gun fire from behind. Everyone lying doggo thinking the end of our stories, since surrounded by enemy tanks. Somehow I heard some shouting and thinking it to be our own troops, I crawled forward along the grove to meet them with a soiled so-called white kerchief. Maj Vohra (?) of 3 CAV had been told that our position had been overrun so they came to liberate us. Luckily we escaped again, this time from our own fire.
Radio relay and wireless were the backbone of signal communications down to brigade level during intense fighting on 8, 9 and 10 September. Due to milling around of nearly 300 Indian and Pak tanks, other vehicles and intense shelling, lines got damaged frequently. Though a great deal of effort was put in to repair the damaged lines these could not be kept through for long periods. Since radio relay was only available at divisional and brigade headquarters, wireless was the main stay at regiment/battalion level. However, at times jamming was experienced from the enemy and in the evenings and at night there was considerable atmospheric interference also. Duplicate command nets were established using VHF radio sets (AN/PRC 25 and AN/PRC 10) and proved invaluable.
After being placed under 4 Mountain Division on 8 September, 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade came up on D1 wireless link and a radio relay link was also established. The brigade headquarters was through on line as well. However, the brigade commander functioned mostly from his tactical headquarters using his rover set.
Having blunted the Pak offensive, 4 Mountain Division planned to recapture Khem Karan and all ground up to
. 7 Mountain Brigade with 9 Horse
was ordered to mount the attack on 12 September. Though initially some success
was achieved, due to inadequate resources and stiff resistance, the attack was
called off. 4 Sikh was handpicked and hurriedly brought in from 7 Infantry
Division to infiltrate behind enemy lines during the night, as part of this
operation. The battalion succeeded in infiltrating unnoticed but as dawn broke,
it bumped straight into an enemy tank harbour. Considerable numbers of
personnel were taken prisoner. Second Lieutenant Darshan Singh of 4 Mountain
Division Signal Regiment was detailed to accompany 4 Sikh in this audacious
operation and was made in charge of signal communications to the battalion. He
was initially reported missing but was able to rejoin the unit on 13
September. On 18 September, Lance
Havildar Narinder Singh of 62 Mountain Brigade Signal Company was killed due to
shelling. Ichhogil Canal
The final attack to recapture Khem Karan was launched on 21 September. 41 Mountain Brigade from
sector and 29 Infantry Brigade
earlier deployed at Dera Baba Nanak were made available to 4 Division for the
operation. However, the attack had very limited success. Line, radio relay and
wireless were provided and functioned well. Lines were extended up to the
assembly areas and communications for artillery support ensured. Amritsar
An EFS repairs a charging set in the field, 1965
4 Mountain Division Signal Regiment acquitted itself well in face of intense enemy shelling and infantry and tank assault. Communications were always available to commanders and staff and proved to be a battle-winning factor. The divisional commander, Major General Gurbaksh Singh, presented a trophy to the unit after the War. During the presentation he said, “Pak Army launched their major offensive during the War in Khem Karan Sector using its US equipped 1 Armoured Division and 11 Infantry Division. 4 Mountain Division was inferior in equipment and had less strength. That the Division was able to blunt this offensive and decimate Pak Armour with excellent command and control, is a glowing tribute to the Divisional Signals.” The unit was awarded four ‘Mentioned in Despatches’, including one to Major R.B. Babulkar, who commanded 1 Company. The casualties suffered by the unit were three OR killed and six wounded.
Major (later Major General) Yatindra Pratap was commanding 62 Mountain Brigade Signal Company during the operations. He has described his experiences in the following words:-
Before moving from Kasauli, I had married up the radio detachments for rear links with the respective infantry battalions. Similarly I had sent the line party commanders with the battalion commanders to see their assembly areas on 5 Sep 1965. This resulted in lines being laid to these places before troops moved in. Of course it is a different story that the troops in their rush to cross the start line, totally bypassed the assembly areas. To my horror, the control station for battalion radio net, and rear links to division did not catch up with brigade headquarters by H hour. We had to take attacking battalion on my brigade commander’s rover set. We came up on all radio nets later in the morning and remained functional, till my rear link with 9 JAK went off air due to injury to the radio operator and his brief separation from the adjutant. The line were finally put through to attacking battalions as soon they firmed in their limited objectives and remained through till the last light, when these were disrupted by heavy artillery fire. Soon after last light the battalion commanders ordered radio sets to be switched off.
Our withdrawal from Khem Karan to Asal Utar was so fast, with enemy following us that we could not reel any lines laid for attack. Once we occupied defences around Asal Utar, our communications remained through. To save our lines from enemy shelling, we laid them in irrigation drains, on enemy side. In no time, there were plenty of WD 1 line laid by Signals, Gunners and Infantry on either side of road and tracks. Nobody had time to label these. In case of faults, linemen always preferred to lay fresh lines instead of finding and repairing faults in the existing ones. In these operations, the Company lost three men killed, one taken prisoner of war and any number injured. We lost three trucks to enemy air strafing.
2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade Signal Company
2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade was directly under HQ XI Corps and played a crucial role during operations in Khem Karan sector. Brigadier T.K. Theograj was the brigade commander and Major Gurdial Singh was commanding the signal company.The brigade moved to its operational location on 5 September 1965, from Patiala, Nabha and Sangrur. Line communications were established to all units as these arrived. The XI Corps offensive started at 0430 hours on 6 September. However, the brigade was not actively involved at this stage of the operations. The brigade headquarters was split into tactical and main headquarters. The brigade commander had a rover detachment and the GSO3 had a duplicate rover set with him in the tactical headquarters near village Cheema.
The enemy’s 1 Armoured Division launched fierce attacks from 7-10 September. On 8 September wireless communications between tactical and main headquarters was broken due to heavy interference. A step up detachment was sent to act as a relay station between the two headquarters. The area between village Dialpura and Bhikiwind proved to be dead ground for wireless communications, which was maintained by setting up a relay station. On 9 September communications between HQ XI Corps and Tactical HQ 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade was disrupted due to heavy jamming and interference. Another step up wireless detachment was sent to main headquarters to act as a relay station. The wireless vehicle was strafed at Bhikiwind crossing but no damage was done to the men and equipment.
Brigadier Theograj exercised command and control using his rover wireless set in an unorthodox manner. The
COs of armoured
regiments and the artillery regiment mostly remained with him at the brigade
tactical headquarters, along with the signal company commander. The presence of
the COs of units enabled the brigade commander
to get first hand information about the progress of the battle from them. He
was able to pass orders to them directly, saving a lot of time. This also
ensured that there were no clashes between tanks of own formation and everyone
knew and understood the overall battle situation and brigade commander’s
mind. Of course, the absence of the COs from their units during battle was undesirable, from
the point of command and control and morale. In the event, this unorthodox procedure
seemed to work and did not evoke any criticism.
On 11 September, the major portion of the brigade was ordered to move to 15 Infantry Division as a precautionary measure against armour threat that was believed to be developing in the
brigade returned to its original location near Dibipura on 13 September. An
ad-hoc armoured force called Bharat Force was created under Colonel Bharat
Singh, the deputy brigade commander. Communications were arranged for this
force. Some of the brigade units took part in 4 Division attacks to recapture
Khem Karan on 12 and later on 22 September.
However, no major armour action took place after 11 September 1965. Amritsar
On 21 September one company of 19 Maratha Light Infantry supported by one troop of 7 Cavalry attacked from Rattoke. The wireless vehicle of 7 Cavalry got stuck in one of the canal distributaries. As a result the regiment remained without communications for two hours. The communications were restored by sending a standby wireless vehicle from the signal company.
Naib Subedar Karnail Singh, the Foreman of Signals, was an outstanding technician. He repaired a number of radio sets not only at brigade headquarter but in the armoured regiments even while the battle was in progress. The repairs were undertaken a number of times in forward positions as quite a few radio sets developed faults during the Asal Uttar battle due to rough terrain and enemy action and there was no time to bring the sets back. He was awarded the Sena Medal for his services. Major Gurdial Singh was ‘Mentioned in Despatches’, along with two other personnel.
I CORPS OPERATIONS IN
Planning and Build up for Operation ‘
The decision to launch the Indian counter-offensive was taken on
3 September 1965, soon after the Pak
offensive in the Chhamb Sector. The original plan to launch I and XI Corps
simultaneously had to be amended due to the wide dispersion of the formations
of I Corps, which had been raised only few months earlier in May 1965. In the
event, XI Corps operations were launched on 6 September while those of I Corps
commenced on the next night. In hindsight, this proved to a blessing, as it
resulted in the crippling of ’s
1 Armoured Division, which could have turned the tide of the war. Pakistan
I Corps was a newly raised formation, under the command of Lieutenant General P.O. Dunn. The divisions under I Corps were 1 Armoured Division (Major General Rajinder Singh, MVC); 6 Mountain Division (Major General S. K. Korla, DSO, MC); 14 Infantry Division (Major General R.K. Ranjeet Singh); and 26 Infantry Division (Major General M.L. Thapan). Having been raised only in mid May 1965, the Corps was plagued with all the teething troubles common to a new raising. Of its four divisions, two were new and truncated. 6 Mountain Division had been raised in 1963 and had been deployed on the Himalayan border ever since. It was neither equipped nor trained for plains warfare. 14 Infantry Division was still in the process of raising and when called up for action, had to make frantic efforts to assemble the formation headquarters and units from outstations. Only 1 Armoured Division and 26 Infantry Division were suitably located and trained for the type of operation that had been envisaged. The corps had no third line transport; civil vehicles had to be commandeered to fill in this gap in the administrative chain.
The task assigned to I Corps was to isolate Sialkot from Lahore, by driving a wedge into the area of Daska, north of Gujranwala. The operation was given the code-word ‘
According to the corps plan, 26, 6 and
14 Infantry Divisions were to secure Anula and Bajragarhi; Maharajke and
Charwa; and Zaffarwal respectively by first light 8 September. 1 Armoured Division
was to advance and capture Phillora and Pagowal by last light the same day.
Subsequently, the Armoured Division was to advance to Chawinda, and thereafter
on relief by 14 Infantry Division, was to advance further south, for which
detailed planning was to be done later.20 Nepal
By last light 7 September 1965, I Corps was ready to cross the international border on a frontage extending from west of Basantar River to Suchetgarh. The formations were deployed according to plan except for 14 Infantry Division, which could not be concentrated to participate in the establishment of the bridgehead as its 58 Infantry Brigade employed for the security of Madhopur road bridge and the headworks could not be relieved from Pathankot for this role. Also, 28 Infantry Brigade, which had been promised to the division, could not be made available, as it was involved in the Chhamb sector. Still, promptly at 2300 hours on 7 September, 6 Mountain Division and 26 Infantry Division crossed the international border into
to mark the commencement of Operation ‘ Pakistan '. Nepal
To carry out its assigned task, 6 Mountain Division assigned Charwa to 99 Mountain Brigade and Maharajke to 69 Mountain Brigade Group in Phase I of the operation. Two battalions of 99 Mountain Brigade launched attacks on enemy positions on the flanks of the village Charwa, clearing them by 0300 hours next morning. Exploiting their success, the assaulting battalions pushed forward beyond their objectives to cover the roads coming into Charwa from Maharajke, Chobara and Ikhnal. Commencing their attack on Maharajke at the same time, 3
and 9 Kumaon of 69 Mountain Brigade secured the right half of the objective by 0300
hours. In the second phase of the
attack, 4 Madras
was temporarily held up by heavy enemy fire. The CO, Lieutenant Colonel H.L
Mehta, rushed forward to lead the assault and the objective was secured by 0530
hours. However, the gallant CO fell to
an enemy bullet. He was awarded the MVC posthumously. Madras
26 Infantry Division, tasked to capture Anula and Bajragarhi, launched an attack with two brigades on the night of 7/8 September. By 0200 hours on
8 September, 162 Infantry
Brigade had captured Point 857 and Wains, astride the main Suchetgarh-Sialkot
road. In a simultaneous attack, 168 Infantry Brigade captured Anula and
Bajragarhi by 0530 hours without much fighting. Thus, both 6 and 26 Divisions
succeeded in taking their initial objectives on schedule.
1 Armoured Division
1 Armoured Division (Major General Rajinder Singh ‘Sparrow’) was located in
reached Ramgarh area for operations on Jullundur 5 September 1965. The task allotted to the division was to
capture Phillora-Pagowal by last light 8 September 1965. According to the outline plan 1 Armoured
Brigade (Brigadier K.K. Singh) was to advance on axis
Ramgarh-Kangre-Sabzkot-Chobara-Phillora while 43 Lorried Brigade (Brigadier
H.S. Dhillon) was on axis Salehriyah-Sabzipur-Cross Roads-Mastpur-Pagowal.
At 0600 hourson on 8 September, 1 Armoured Division crossed the border in two columns, 43 Lorried Brigade on the right and 1 Armoured Brigade on the left. The left column of 1 Armoured Brigade advanced rapidly until 0930 hours when the leading armour (16 Cavalry) encountered some enemy tanks, recoilless guns and dug-in infantry in area Gadgor. About the same time, 17 Horse encountered a similar opposition in area Tharoh, south-east of Phillora. A serious tank-to-tank battle ensued, in which the enemy air force also took a hand. However, in the melee both regiments failed to determine the strength of the opposing armour and could not out-manoeuvre the enemy. The brigade commander ordered 17 Horse to withdraw from Tharoh to counter what he thought was a serious tank threat on the left flank to area Pindi Bhago. 16 Cavalry was also disengaged and deployed along Hasri Nala.
The advance of 43 Lorried Infantry Brigade came to a halt after some tanks of 2 Lancers got bogged in the quagmire created by a heavy shower of rain the previous night, and had to be diverted to an alternative route via Ramgarh. The brigade cleared Salarian and captured Cross Roads. Subsequently, it was ordered to advance via Maharajke-Kaloi and capture Pagowal. Advancing on the morning of 9 September, the brigade secured Kaloi but could not get to Pagowal. Heavy enemy shelling and air attacks throughout 10 September followed by heavy rain made all tracks unfit. This coupled with the indifferent state of communications in enemy territory, caused a virtual breakdown in administrative support. The division decided that it could not continue its advance, and spent 9 and 10 September reorganising and replenishing.
After an extensive reconnaissance on 9 and 10 September, the divisional commander located an opening in area Rurki-Kalan to the north. He decided to abandon the earlier plan of advancing to Phillora via Gadgor. Instead, 1 Armoured Brigade would switch from the left to the right, regroup and advance to Phillora via Maharajke – Rurki Khurd. The ground in this area was full of paddy fields and sugarcane plantations and there was the risk of tanks being bogged down. However, General Rajinder Singh chose to mount the attack from this unexpected direction in order to achieve surprise.
The assault on Phillora commenced at 0600 hours on 11 September after a brief but intense pre-H hour bombardment. As 1 Armoured Brigade reached the line Libbe - Nathupur-Saboke, there was a serious clash with the enemy armour. Carrying out an outflanking movement, 4 Horse compelled the enemy to withdraw from the eastern side. 43 Lorried Brigade then tried to launch an attack on the Phillora position, but due to enemy's heavy artillery fire and strafing, could not press on. The brigade then cleared the villages Khananwali and Wachuke. By 1530 hours on 11 September, Phillora Cross Roads was secured. Operating on the right of 4 Horse, 17 Horse took part in the battle, displaying great gallantry and aggressiveness. In a classic tank engagement with the enemy at a range of only 100 yards that lasted for about 45 minutes, 17 Horse destroyed 28 tanks of the enemy, losing only one of its own. After the capture of Phillora, the enemy tried to dislodge the brigade but could not succeed. It also transpired that GOC 15 Infantry Division, who was trying to land in the Phillora area by helicopter was shot up by 17 Horse and killed.
Attempts to capture Pagowal with 62 Cavalry on 11 September did not succeed and the task was given to 6 Mountain Division. On
13 September, 69 Brigade of this division under Brigadier E.A.
Vas, supported by 62 Cavalry, captured Pagowal against heavy opposition. The
enemy reacted by raining approximately 1000 shells into the brigade sector
within two hours, but the troops held their ground. A Pakistani attempt to
launch a counterattack from the south-west with approximately two squadrons of
Patton tanks supported by infantry was foiled by own artillery and tank fire.
With the repulse of this counter-attack, 69 Mountain Brigade had consolidated
the defended sector around Pagowal.
Plans were now made for the capture of Chawinda. Briefly, the plan was that 4 Horse was to advance from Chahar and cut the Badiana-Pasrur and Chawinda-Pasrur roads in the area of the railway line Sialkot-Narowal. Thereafter, 17 Horse was to advance to Alhar from Gil and then swing towards Kalewali-Chawinda. 16 Cavalry and 2 Lancers were to provide flank protection from the west and the east. Once the armour had created a favourable situation, 43 Lorried Brigade was to attack Chawinda. The operation was to take place on 14 September.
Chawinda was held by about two regiments of armour and infantry. The operation commenced on 14 September but due to stiff opposition, 1 Armoured Brigade could only secure some of the objectives, viz. Wazirwali and Alhar railway station. Kalewali was secured by 5 Jat but was taken back by enemy armour. However, in the early hours of 15 September, the Jats recaptured Kalewali.
Owing to the heavy opposition encountered at Chawinda, the corps commander appreciated that unless a strong force was established behind Chawinda and the position cut off, it would not be possible to capture the town. Accordingly, 17 Horse and 8 Garhwal Rifles group was ordered to establish itself in the area Jassoran-Butur Dograndi area on 16 September. On the morning of 16 September, 17 Horse with a company of 9 Dogra captured Jassoran, after suffering heavy losses. The Garhwalis managed to reach Butur Dograndi after suffering heavy casualties, including the loss of their CO, Lieutenant Colonel J.E. Jhirad. However, Butur Dograndi changed hands several times, with the enemy ultimately retaking part of the position. 43 Lorried Brigade was then ordered to launch their attack on Chawinda on 17 September. However, as the troops were far back and could not fetch up in time, the attack was called off. During the heavy tank battles, Lieutenant Colonel A.B. Tarapore of 17 Horse was killed. He led his regiment with great distinction and gallantry and inflicted considerable tank losses on the enemy. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra.21
6 Mountain Division
The Chawinda position proved to be a tough nut to crack. The corps commander decided to put in an attack with 6 Mountain Division, with armour in support. For this purpose, 6 Division received two brigades of 14 Division, viz. 35 Brigade and 58 Brigade. The attack was to go in the early hours of 18 September, but had to be postponed, to facilitate adequate reconnaissance. Meanwhile, Jassoran and Butur Dograndi were lost, despite determined resistance and heavy losses among the Garhwalis. However, 20 Rajput from the Lorried Brigade recaptured the position on the night of 18/19 September.
6 Mountain Division mounted the attack as planned on the night of 18/19 September. Surprise had been lost and the enemy started shelling the forming-up places, dislocating the attack from the very beginning. However, 35 Infantry Brigade did achieve partial success in its assault; 6 Maratha were able to capture their objective while 5 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles encountered heavy enemy resistance. At first light, enemy tanks opened up from Chawinda. It was found that enemy was using tanks as pill boxes from inside the town and the defences were well dug in and organised in depth. Heavy casualties were sustained and the troops were compelled to fall back on Jassoran. Two companies of 6 Maratha which had fought their way to Chawinda railway station had to be extricated with the assistance of 4 Horse.
The situation on the 58 Infantry Brigade front was even worse. Enemy shelling was so heavy that it unnerved the troops, causing confusion and loss of control. The leading troops lost direction, and 14 Rajput barged into a neighbouring position in Wazirwali held by a company of 5 Jat and a squadron of 2 Lancers of 43 Lorried Brigade. Stunned by the unexpected opposition en route to their objective the Rajputs dispersed in confusion. Two companies of 4 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles (the other assaulting battalion) which had managed to reach Chawinda were thrown back by the enemy. By this stage, all control at battalion and brigade level was lost and the formation ceased to be a cohesive force. Commander 58 Infantry Brigade ordered 3/1 Gorkha Rifles, the reserve battalion, to restore the situation, but it did not succeed in the face of intense artillery and tank fire. The failure at Chawinda automatically ruled out further operations for the capture of Badiana and Zararwal.
In his scathing comments on the reasons for the debacle at Chawinda, the Army Commander, General Harbaksh Singh, writes: “This battle is a classic study in command failure and poor execution. Lack of control at Corps level paved the way to defeat - an indifferent leadership at lower levels made disaster inevitable. The depressing combination decided the fate of the battle and foredoomed the outcome of the entire campaign".22
26 Infantry Division
On the far right flank, 52 Mountain Brigade was nominated to capture Tilakpur and Muhadipur on the Chaprar-Sialkot road on the night of 17/18 September 1965. The D Day was, however, postponed by a day to conform to operations at Chawinda. In a well executed outflanking manoeuvre, 52 Mountain Brigade launched the assault from the right rear at 2230 hours on 18 September. The enemy, though taken by surprise, quickly rallied round to offer stiff resistance. By 0300 hours on 19 September, areas Mile 8 Road Sialkot-Chaprar, Tilakpur and Muhadipur had been captured. The enemy reacted sharply to the loss of these villages by bringing down heavy artillery and launching a number of determined counter-attacks with infantry and armour groups. But Indian troops stuck on doggedly to their positions and repulsed the assaults with heavy loss to the enemy.
The most serious of these counter-attacks was launched on the night of 22/23 September. The enemy demonstrated against 1 Madras at Tilakpur, but carried out the actual assault against 10 Mahar from the area west of the road. A penetration was effected into the left hand forward company, posing a direct threat to the battalion headquarters at Muhadipur. After a brief but bitter fight, the enemy withdrew in confusion. Indian artillery took full advantage of the inviting targets offered by the disorganised, retreating enemy and inflicted heavy casualties, which included 150 killed and seven tanks destroyed.
On 22 September, a message was received from Army HQ s ordering a cease fire with effect from 0330 hours on
23 September 1965.
The orders were communicated to the troops who were, however, cautioned to
remain vigilant. It was apprehended that enemy forces might put in a series of
strong offensive actions in a last-minute bid to save face and strengthen their
subsequent bargaining capacity. In the event, this proved to be a correct
surmise. The Pak Army made frantic efforts to recapture lost areas in the
intervening period up to the deadline for the cease-fire. The most desperate of
these attempts was the assault on village and railway station of Alhar, which
was repulsed with heavy casualties to the enemy. Pak artillery continued
shelling in the entire area of operation until the very last. Indian guns
retaliated suitably. At 0330 hours on 23 September 1965, the last of the shells was fired and
all became quiet.
When the cease-fire came into effect, I Corps had approximately 500 square kilo-metres (about 200 square miles) of Pak territory under its control. It had also taken a heavy toll of enemy armour. The number of enemy tanks destroyed was estimated to total 144, of which 31 lay scattered in enemy territory firmly held by
captured equipment included 11 tanks and a large quantity of arms and
ammunition. The number of enemy troops killed was placed at 693, while the
prisoners with the corps numbered 448, including 310 civilians. I Corps' losses
in armour were 29 tanks destroyed and 41 damaged. Casualties in personnel were
heavy: 38 officers killed, 116 wounded, nine missing; 29 JCOs killed, 76
wounded, eight missing; 508 OR killed, 1688 wounded and 410 missing. India
SIGNALS IN OPERATION ‘RIDDLE’ - I CORPS SECTOR
I Corps Signals Regiment
I Corps Signal Regiment was a newly raised unit, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C.S. Randhawa, who was due to retire at the end of October 1965. During Operation ‘Ablaze’, the unit had moved from
to Pathankot, from where it was sent to Varanasi
towards the end of July 1965. Due to these moves, elements of the unit and
stores were strewn over a number of places. Ordnance depots had sent stores to Jhansi and Pathankot
and these were being redirected to Varanasi .
Even after the regiment moved from Jhansi
to its concentration area for Operation ‘Riddle’, quite a few stores continued
to reach Jhansi .
The CO-designate, Major B.C. Banerjee, arrived in the unit on 28 August. Three days later, Colonel Randhawa left on leave pending retirement, as there was no indication of the impending all out war. The move orders for Operation ‘Riddle’ were issued at a conference the very next day i.e.
1 September 1965. Most of the elements were to
move by rail and a few by road. The first train left at 1300 hours on 2 September. The main
headquarters elements detrained at Pathankot during the night of 4/5 September
and drove to Jhansi .
Reconnaissance for selecting the location for main corps headquarters was
carried out and site selected on 5 September. Jammu
The unit had very little equipment fitted in vehicles except wireless sets. Items like exchanges, carrier and VFT equipment and teleprinters for the signal centre had to be unpacked and placed in vehicles/dug outs. The rear headquarters was located at Mirthal, a distance of over 75 miles. The offensive was due to be launched on night 6/7 September, leaving very little time for the unit to get organised. The road party, which left
2 September, fetched up in the operational location on 10 September, three days
after the offensive was launched! Jhansi
CSO I Corps (Brigadier H.S. Bains, VrC) issued the first signal instruction on 5 September 1965. With effect from 9 September, ‘Y’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment located at Jammu was placed under CSO I Corps, considerably augmenting his resources, particularly of lines. 49 Line Construction Section ex ‘T’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment (XV Corps) constructed a permanent line pair from Tawi bridge in
to Kaluchak as also a number of PVC and other routes in I Corps area of
operations, once the offensive got under way.
1 Company, 1 Air Support Signal Regiment reported arrival on 6
September. On the same day, orders were issued for the move of two radio relay
terminals ex 6 Medium Radio Relay Section (Western Command Signal Regiment) to
I Corps. Later, on 20 September, 8 Medium Radio Relay Section ex ‘R’
Communication Zone Signal Regiment, which was attached with XI Corps Signal
Regiment was also moved to I Corps.
I Corps Signal Regiment was not fully geared for operations initially. However, within a few days the situation improved as line arteries started to be built, technical equipment stabilised and personnel returned from leave. HQ 26 Division,
and Pathankot were connected on PL.
Initially only field cable was laid to HQ 1 Armoured Division and 6 Mountain
Division. Wireless silence was in force, which was lifted as 6 Mountain
Division and 26 Infantry Division crossed the border in the evening on 7
September. Wireless worked well thereafter and remained the main stay of
communications under fluid battle conditions. Jammu
As operations progressed, it became clear that a carrier/ switching centre would be required at Charwa. Two carrier quad cables were laid between Kaluchak and Pindi. Subsequently, spaced PVC cable routes were constructed between Kaluchak-Vishnoi, Charwa-Sabzpir and Vishnoi-Charwa. ‘Y’ Communication Zone Signal Regiment constructed a multi air line route between Charwa and Maharajke and a PL pair was also extended from Vishnoi and Pindi. Line routes were thus extended to headquarters of divisions as these moved forward and laterals were also provided between formations. SDS was used extensively to clear important despatches, documents and also low precedence signal traffic.
Initially, a radio relay link was established only to Pathankot with a relay at Samba. As more resources became available, radio relay links were established with all divisions. These proved to be very reliable, except for initial technical hiccups, due to the equipment being newly introduced. Fullerphones were used for clearing signal traffic between corps and divisions. Teleprinters worked to HQ Western Command and Army HQ.
6 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment
6 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment was raised at
on Bareilly 20 April 1963, out of assets of the Indian
contingent that had served with the UN Peace Keeping Force in . During
Operation ‘Ablaze’, the unit was deployed in Congo Punjab
from 8 May to 8 July 1965,
and returned to
thereafter. The CO was Lieutenant
Colonel P.K. Unni with Major H.M. Goyal as the second-in-command. The other
field officers in the unit were Majors Iqbal Singh, T.D. Radhakrishanan, S.N.
Bhardwaj and V.B. Sarin. The officers in the brigade signal companies were
Major K.K. Puri and Major Joginder Singh. A signal officer, Lieutenant Colonel
G.S. Sidhu, was the GSO 2 (Operations) in HQ 6 Mountain Division. Bareilly
In mid August 1965, the unit was staged forward to Ambala along with the parent formation. Towards the end of August, on receipt of the operational instruction for Operation ‘
the divisional commander, Major General S.K. Korla with senior commanders and
staff carried out reconnaissance of the area of operations. The advance parties
left for Pathankot by road on 2 September, followed by the main body next
morning. On arrival at Pathankot the unit was moved to Jasmirgarh where the
main divisional headquarters was located, the rear headquarters being at Kathua.
Next afternoon the main divisional headquarters moved to Hiranagar, in view of
the task given to 6 Mountain Division to ensure the safety of road
Pathankot-Jammu which was to be used for the induction of I Corps. On 5 September the main divisional headquarters
was moved further ahead near village Pindorian.
HQ I Corps had not yet arrived. The PL pairs running along the main Pathankot-Jammu
highway were utilised to link up with Jammu, Pathankot and lines extended to 6
Artillery Brigade, 69 Mountain Brigade and 99 Mountain Brigade. By 6 September
lines were extended to all brigades in their concentration areas. Nepal
6 Mountain Division was given the task of capturing villages Maharajke and Charwa and establish a bridgehead for the break out by 1 Armoured Division on 8 September. The task of capturing the two villages was assigned to 69 and 99 Brigades respectively. The brigade signal companies were briefed about their operational tasks by the CO and a signal instruction was issued. The attack was to be launched after last light on 7 September. However, in the morning of the same day Pak aircraft strafed the main and rear divisional headquarters and the divisional troops. Seven OR of the unit were wounded during the attack which also damaged three unit vehicles and one wireless set 19.
The attack was launched at 2300 hours on 7 September as planned. The enemy was taken completely by surprise, thanks to the security precautions taken by the formation. By 0330 hours next morning 99 Brigade had captured Charwa after a grim battle. By 0530 hours 69 Brigade had also captured Maharajke. Wireless communications functioned throughout and lines were extended behind advancing battalions as also brigades and were always through. Elaborate arrangements had been made to ensure speedy fault rectification. According to the Army Commander, the battles of Charwa and Maharajke are classic examples of meticulous preparations and flawless execution of a deliberate night attack.
After the capture of Maharajke and Charwa, 35 Infantry Brigade was ordered to move forward and clear the cross roads near Sabzipur, which was to act as a firm base for the assault by 1 Armoured Division. On 8 September one OR was wounded due to strafing near Sibbu Chak. One line vehicle with all its equipment was burnt completely. On 9 September the main divisional headquarters moved to village Naria. On 11 September after the battle of Phillora, certain regroupings were carried out and new tasks assigned to formations. 99 Brigade was placed under 1 Armoured Division and ordered to move to Phillora; 69 Brigade was tasked capture Pagowal; and 35 Brigade was to continue to occupy Sabzipr. Commencing its advance at first light on
13 September, 69 Brigade
secured the intersection of roads Maharajke-Pagowal-Badia and Phillora-Sialkot
by 0700 hours. During the day the enemy
launched several counter-attacks which were beaten back. Finally Pagowal was
captured at last light on 13
September 1965. Communications during these operations were
excellent and there were no disruptions. However, there were a few casualties
in 99 Brigade Signal Company on 12 September, when one OR was killed and three
On 16 September the corps commander reviewed the situation and assigned new tasks to the divisions. According to the revised plans, 6 Mountain Division was to capture Chawinda on the night of 17/18 September. For this operation, 35 and 58 Brigades of 14 Division were placed under command and 99 Brigade reverted to 6 Mountain Division, though it remained committed for holding Phillora. The main divisional headquarters moved to Sabzpir. The attack had to be postponed by a day due to the move of 35 Brigade from Gangore to Phillora ordered by 1 Armoured Division due a misunderstanding. Further confusion was created by the withdrawal of its troops from Jassoran and other pivots by 1 Armoured Brigade on 18 September, resulting in 35 Brigade ordered to secure it at the last moment. The attack on Chawinda was launched on night 18/19 September but failed, due to loss of surprise, lack of coordination and strong reaction by the enemy.
Before operation, the resources of 35 and 58 Brigade Signal Sections ex 14 Division had to be augmented as they did not have adequate wireless and equipment. There were difficulties of coordination as the regrouping happened at very short notice. However, there were no major breakdowns in communications. After the unsuccessful attacks on Chawinda, 6 Mountain Division took over the defence of areas captured and extensive line laying was undertaken to have reliable communications. On 21 September Subedar Hari Singh of 69 Mountain Brigade Signal Company and two OR of 99 Mountain Brigade Signal Company were killed due to enemy action. In addition six OR of 69 Mountain Brigade Signal Company were wounded. On
22 September 35 Infantry Brigade Signal
Section was established in area Monga after its capture. The main divisional headquarters was strafed
by enemy air craft at midday and one OR was wounded.
A DR is offered refreshments by village damsels in Punjab, 1965
6 Mountain Division Signal Regiment suffered rather high casualties during the operations: six killed and 20 wounded. However, the unit’s contribution did not go unrecognized – it received no less than eight ‘Mentioned in Despatches’. The recipients were Lieutenant Colonel P.K. Unni; Major Joginder Singh; Subedar Major M.C. Nelson; Naib Subedar K. Apukuttan Nair; Havildar M. John; Havildar K.R.P. Shinde; and Lance Naiks Keshar Singh and Amar Singh.
26 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
26 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was located at
the command of Lieutenant Colonel P.K. Mukherji, with Major Har Krishan as the
second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were Majors M.
Sathesan, Y.G. Gore (later killed in action), K.C. Sud and Surpet Singh, the
last two joining after the commencement of the operations. The officers in the
brigade signal sections were Captain D.K. Dubey (162 Brigade); and Major
Harbhajan Singh (168 Brigade). Jammu
The task allotted to 26 Infantry Division was to contain the enemy forces in area
and protect the
right flank of the main thrust by 1 Armoured Division towards
Phillora-Chawinda. It was planned to launch the attack on the night of 7/8
September, with two brigades up (162 and 168), to coincide with the attack of 6
Mountain Division on Maharjke and Charwa. The formations moved to their
concentration areas on 3 September. The main divisional headquarters was
deployed at Kharian, near Ranbir Singh Pura, where 19 Brigade was located. The
other two brigades, 162 and 168, were located at Suchetgarh and Chakroi
162 Brigade crossed the border at 2300 hours on 7 September and launched an attack on its objectives, Point 857, Unche Wains and Niwe Wains. By first light the objectives had been captured. Communications functioned well except for the second phase of the attack, when the communications with 1 Sikh Light Infantry failed, leading to a change in orders by the brigade commander. 168 Brigade also launched its attack at the same time and captured Anjula and Bajragarhi by first light, the opposition being light. Lines were extended to both brigades but were frequently disrupted due to heavy shelling that continued after the objectives had been captured.
Line parties sent out to restore communications had to work under enemy fire, sometimes sustaining casualties. On 9 September Signalman Inder Singh Manhas was killed by enemy shelling while working on a line. On the same day, Second-Lieutenant Sharma, the second-in-command of 162 Brigade Signal Section was sent out to repair the line to 1 Sikh Light Infantry. He reported that due to heavy shelling it was not possible to proceed further and asked for further instructions. He was told to finish his task allotted to him, which he did. Next day, the CO personally went forward to check on the lines to the brigades, and ordered additional line detachments to maintain the forward lines.
Subsequently local actions took place in the divisional sector. On
12 September, 52 Brigade was moved from 25 Division and
placed under command 26 Division. It was
tasked to capture areas Tilakpur-Muhadipur in conjunction with the attack on
Chawinda. The brigade made good progress and the enemy reacted strongly. By the
time the cease fire took place on 23 September, 26 Division had secured its
objectives, in spite of strong enemy reaction.
Since the division advanced only a few miles and was located close to
operational area, the communication support was relatively easy. The brigade
signal sections provided sound communications for various battalion and brigade
attacks, though there were a few breakdowns. Communication support for the
advance of 52 Brigade from the north was also well planned and executed.
The unit had its share of casualties during the operations. On 13 September enemy aircraft bombarded the rear location of the unit. Three OR came under the debris caused by the bomb explosion and suffered injuries. On14 September, Major Y.G. Gore was shot by infiltrators near Ranbir Singh Pura. He was evacuated to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. The officer had joined the unit just eight days earlier on 6 September, on promotion.
1 Armoured Divisional Signal Regiment
On termination of Operation ‘Ablaze’ in July 1965, 1 Armoured Divisional Signal Regiment did not return to its permanent location at
but remained at Jhansi .
The unit was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel K. Balaram, with Major
K.F. D’Lima as the second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were
Majors P.R. Vishvanathan (1 Company); I.S. Wadva (2 Company); and R.C. Patra
(HQ Company). The officers in the brigades were Majors Sudarshan Nayar (1
Armoured Brigade) and D.R. Dev (43 Lorried Brigade). Captain Raman Gambhir was
the adjutant and Captain M. Sudhakaran was the quartermaster. Jullundur
5 September 1965 the unit moved to its
concentration area south of Mile 113 on Road Samba- Jammu. The next day the divisional
commander issued verbal orders for Operation ‘ ’, which envisaged 1 Armoured
Division to advance and capture Phillora and Pagowal by last light on 8
September. On 7 September the CO issued his orders for the operation. The unit
also issued Operation Order No. 1, giving out details of the communications to
be provided. In addition to the HF (high frequency) D1 net a VHF (very high
frequency) D1A net using wireless set C-42 was also established, perhaps for
the first time. The GOC’s command tank and 4 Horse group (unit rear link) were
also included on D1. Two radio
detachments with wireless sets C-42 and C11/R210 respectively were provided by
the unit to 4 Horse as rear link on D1 A and D1 nets respectively. Nepal
Wireless silence was lifted at 2330 hours on 7 September and communications on wireless were established. The advance commenced at 0600 hours
8 September 1965. D1 (HF)
and D1A (VHF) nets worked satisfactorily.
For the first time two command RT nets were provided for the general
staff. The divisional headquarters
operations room however found it difficult to man both the nets
simultaneously. The same difficulty was
experienced by the staff at brigades.
However this difficulty was overcome by getting the staff to communicate
on the D1 (HF) net only and use the D1A (VHF) net as standby.
As the distance between brigades and the main divisional headquarters increased, by 1100 hours the communications on D1 (HF) became weak but command and control was effectively maintained through the GOC’s rover set which was located in the forward battle area. On D1A (VHF) net also the signals began to get weaker as ranges increased beyond line-of-sight. The aerials being used were the manufacturer’s eight feet rod aerials with the antenna tuning unit. The problem was overcome to some extent by using an innovation known as the ‘Balaram aerial”. These dipole rod aerials had been designed by Lieutenant Colonel K. Balaram and manufactured locally when the regiment was located in Punjab during Operation ‘Ablaze’ and comprised a rod dipole aerial mounted on a 36 feet tall mast. The VHF signals immediately improved to strength five by using the new aerial. Communications on the D1A net remained stable during both day and night over longer ranges than was otherwise possible with the eight feet rod aerials of the wireless set C-42.
Other than D1 and D1A, problems were also encountered on other radio nets. The D2 net worked well. However on D4 net, 43 Lorried Infantry Brigade could not get through due to a faulty wireless set. D3 links with 6 Mountain Division and 14 Infantry Division were not established. Similarly, C-1 was working but C-2 was not through.
By 1000 hours the advance of 43 Lorried Infantry Brigade had been stalled, while that of 1 Armoured Brigade axis proceeded according to plan. The situation in the evening was a bit worse, with 43 Lorried Infantry Brigade being not through on D4 as well as D1A. However, D2 net continued to function well. Next morning three wireless sets 19 Mk 2 were collected from the Ordnance Field Park and handed over to 43 Lorried Infantry Brigade Signal Section. By last light on 9 September, the divisional headquarters had moved forward in preparation for the advance to Phillora.
10 September 116 Infantry
Brigade was placed under command 1 Armoured Division. Frequencies and link signs were issued to the
brigade signal section. The advance for the
capture of Phillora was resumed at first light on 11 September. During the
battle of Phillora communications functioned well and there were no major
failures. Enemy aircraft carried out several attacks on the divisional main and
rear headquarters, but there was no damage to Signals elements. On 11 September
Signalman Ram Nandan Singh of 43 Lorried Infantry Brigade Signal Section was
killed by enemy shelling. On 12 September Naik Nadarapu Venkanna, of 1 Armoured
Brigade Signal Company was killed in action.
The same night Naib Subedar Ayyadurai and Havildar Raghbir Singh with an
escort party were sent area to Charwa to deliver link signs and frequencies to
the Divisional Commander’s command tank and repair the wireless set 19 that had
Nk NK Singh and Sigmn Ram Singh, Ram Bilas and MV Peter of 1 Armd Div Sig Regt laying cable near Phillora.
On 13 September the unit commenced its move to Charwa, located about a mile across the border in Pak territory. The road was very dusty and movement was slow, since most of the time vehicles had to move in first gear. Military requisitioned civil trucks moving in the opposite direction as well as some overtaking the convoy split the unit convoy in parts. As a result some vehicles diverted from the actual route and ultimately fetched up at the harbour at 0630 hours, nearly four hours after the rest of the main body. On arrival in harbour at 0230 hours communications on D1 HF and D1A VHF had been established. Shortly afterwards, D4 to rear divisional headquarters and C1 and C2 to I Corps were also through. However, D3 was not through with 6 Mountain Division.
Line communications with HQ I Corps could not be provided due to shortage of carrier quad cable. The CO suggested a circuit utilization plan to the CSO. The proposal was to derive a circuit between main corps and main divisional headquarters by using a balance bypass filter unit (BBFU) at Rear HQ 1 Armoured Division and ACT 1+1 at either end. The following circuits could then be provided:-
· Main I Corps to Main 1 Armoured Division – One speech on carrier and one telegraph on fullperphone through
· Main I Corps to Rear 1 Armoured Division – One speech on audio and one telegraph on phantom fullerphone
· Rear 1 Armoured Division to Main 1 Armoured Division – One speech circuit on audio and one telegraph circuit on phantom fullerphone.
Shortly before the attack on Chawinda on 14 September a radio relay terminal was provided by CSO I Corps for communication from Main HQ 1 Armoured Division to HQ I Corps. A speech circuit was put through at 0800 hours on 14 September. However, the incoming speech at I Corps end was poor, which improved with the intervention of the CSO.
After the failure of the attack on Chawinda the divisional headquarters continued to be located at Charwa, 43 Lorried Brigade at Phillora and 1 Armoured Brigade north of Phillora. The state of communications on 16 September was not very good, with some of the links not functioning due to extended ranges or lack of equipment. Line had been laid to 58 Infantry Brigade, 1 Artillery Brigade and rear divisional headquarters. However, there was no line communication with 1 Armoured Brigade and 43 Lorried Infantry Brigade. Brigadier Ajit Singh, CSO Western Command and Brigadier H.S. Bains, CSO I Corps visited the unit during the day to discuss its communication problems.
The second attack on Chawinda by 6 Mountain Division also failed and the attack on Badiana by 1 Armoured Division could not be mounted due to a series of misunderstandings. From 19 September onwards there were no major actions, though measures to improve communications continued. On 21 September the CO went to Tactical HQ I Corps with the intention of setting up a fullerphone circuit between Main 1 Armoured Division and Main HQ I Corps, by engineering a bypass through two superposing units at the tactical headquarters location. The fullerphone circuit was tested on one pair of quad cable between Main HQ 1 Armoured Division and Tactical HQ I Corps. However, the signal centre at Main HQ I Corps was not ready for the test. After briefing Lieutenant Prasad at Tactical HQ I Corps regarding the connections required to the fullerphone circuit going, Colonel Balaram returned to the unit. Next day, Major K.F. D’Lima proceeded to the corps forward exchange at Pindri to arrange establishment of a fullerphone circuit between Main HQ 1 Corps and Main HQ 1 Armoured Division. By the evening the fullerphone working between the unit and the corps forward exchange had been tested. However, it could not be extended to Main HQ I Corps due to the carrier quad pair that was being used between the two locations being faulty. The circuit was transferred to a PVC pair and started working. Unfortunately, the PVC pair developed a fault and the circuit could not be established.
The cease fire came into effect on
September 1965. On 7 October the unit suffered a misfortune when the
SDS jeep met with an accident on road Samba- Jammu. Lance Naik V.P. Appukuttan
Nair and Signalman B. Narayanan died on the spot, while Signalman Kamta Prasad
was injured. Colonel Balaram, who had ably commanded the unit during the war
left on 9 November 1965, handing over to Major K.F. D’Lima, who was promoted
and appointed the new CO.
14 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
14 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was under raising at Saugor when it received orders to proceed to the concentration area to take part in Operation ‘Riddle’. The CO was Lieutenant Colonel R.A. Mousinho, with Major B.B. Sarin as the second-in-command and Major N.B. Phansalkar commanding 1 Company. Second Lieutenants D.C. Dutta and A.S. Shaikh were commanding 58 and 116 Infantry Brigade Signal Sections respectively.
The unit received orders to move on
September 1965. On 4 September the layout group comprising Major
N.B. Phansalkar, Second Lieutenant S.K. Sanan, Subedar R. Rangachari and 20 OR entrained
for Pathankot along with HQ 35 Infantry Brigade and 20 Rajput. Loading of the unit’s vehicles in flats and
stores in covered wagons continued throughout the day and was completed a
little after . The
main body of the unit entrained at 1430 hours on 5 September, along with the
divisional headquarters. The unit was still under raising and had less than
half its complement of men and equipment. The strength of the unit that moved
with the main body was seven officers, five JCOs and 261 OR. The situation was
aggravated by the departure of the second-in-command, Major B.B. Sarin on
posting to Police Wireless in
even as the rest of the unit was moving for operations. Delhi
The layout group reached Pathankot on 6 September and was directed to its location on the Basoli track. The flats carrying the vehicles arrived soon afterwards and were unloaded. A little after the train carrying the main body arrived at Pathankot. However, the Movement Control did not allow the personnel to detrain, since air strikes were expected from first light onwards. Finally at about 0600 hours on 7 September the train reached Sarna railway station and unloading commenced. By 1400 hours the unit had moved to its allotted area near Janglote. Telephone communications were established to 116 Infantry Brigade at Basoli track, which was connected to Rear HQ 14 Infantry Division located nearby; and also to
via the civil exchange at Kathua. 35 Infantry Brigade was located at Noria,
under 6 Mountain Division while 58 Infantry Brigade had still to arrive. Jammu
On 8 September wireless communication was established with HQ I Corps on C-1 and C-2 links. At this stage 35 and 116 Brigades were placed under command 1 Armoured Division for the operations for the capture of Phillora. On 9 September the unit moved to Samba where it remained until 11 September when it was ordered to move to Ramgarh. The main body left Samba at 1930 hours but reached Ramgarh only at 2200 hours, since most of the drivers were not proficient in convoy drills and driving at night without lights. After reaching Ramgarh the unit laid local lines to the divisional headquarters. At 0200 hours a line party was sent out to 116 Brigade under the command of Second Lieutenant S.K. Sanan. A line party was also sent to 58 Brigade at 0500 hours. These lines did not get through until the evening and at 2030 hours the CO together with Second Lieutenant G.D. Diwana and a line party left to check the lines to 58 and 116 Brigades and to provide lateral communications between these two formations. The line to 116 Brigade was through at on 13 September while telephone communication to 58 Brigade and lateral lines between the two brigades got through only by 1930 hours after the CO reached the location of 58 Brigade at Charwa.
On 14 September the CO came under fire twice from enemy aircraft. At 1330 hours while visiting the location of 58 Brigade he came under an air attack by two enemy Sabre jets in the area cross roads 800 yards north of Sabzpir. No casualties were sustained by the unit personnel. However, one jeep of the brigade signal section was slightly damaged. At 1700 hours while returning from Sabzipur the CO was again fired upon ineffectively from Charwa.
On the night of 14 September the unit moved to Dundial in Pak territory, arriving there at 2230 hours. For the first time the unit was able to get through to HQ I Corps on radio relay. The link could not be established earlier because of lack of aerial leads and connectors. The same night the unit strength was augmented by the arrival of three officers. The second-in-command, Major B.B. Sarin, who had left on posting to
returned as the officer whom he was to relieve was granted an extension up to Delhi 31 December 1965. Second Lieutenant R. Mehrotra joined the unit
on posting from 2 STC and Second Lieutenant N.V. Chalapathy returned from
For the battle of Chawinda that took place on 18 and
September, 35 and 58 Brigades were allotted to 6 Mountain
Division. During the attack,
Lance/Havildar Ram Singh Mehar and Signalman Surjit Singh Puri of 58 Infantry
Brigade Signal Company were killed in action from enemy shelling, while manning
the B1 link. On 21 September the unit moved back to Sabzipur. Telephone
communications were established with Tactical HQ I Corps and 116 Brigade. At
this stage 58 Brigade reverted from 6 Mountain Division was located at Gadgor.
The line party went out at 2100 hours on foot because of bad road conditions.
The line did not get through until next morning and at 0600 hours another line
party under Second Lieutenant Diwana was sent out. At 1400 hours Colonel R.A.
Mousinho himself left for Godgar and was subjected to shelling from enemy
medium guns enroute. The CSO and the CO visited 58 Brigade Signal Section in
the evening at their new location at Chobara. Telephone communications were
established to HQ 58 Infantry Brigade at 2000 hours on 22 September. Simultaneously wireless communication on D1
and D2 links were also established.
The unit remained at Sabzipur after the cease fire came into effect on 23 September. Though 14 Infantry Division did not play a major role in the operations of I Corps, its brigades were grouped with the other divisions for various actions. The unit was still under raising and handicapped by shortage of manpower, transport and equipment, which continued to trickle in even during while the operations were going on. There were very few experienced officers in the unit, and the brigade signal companies were commanded by subalterns. In spite of these limitations, the unit performed creditably.
1 Air Support Signal Regiment
Close air support to ground troops commenced in the evening on
September 1965, when enemy advancing columns in Chhamb were
attacked by Vampires. The Indian Air Force flew a total of about 800 sorties
during the war in support of the Army. However, as it took a long time for the
aircraft to arrive over the target, it was often difficult for the pilots to
recognise the targets and the effect of the attacks was not appreciable. Air
photographs took inordinately long to be received at tactical headquarters as
control of sorties and interpretation was exercised at army/command
Signal communications between the JOCs at corps headquarters and supporting wings/airfields did not function efficiently, which adversely affected planning of pre-planned demands. RT communications between the air control teams and fighter bomber aircraft also did not work in a number of cases. Some of the reasons were that the supporting aircraft flew too low, radio equipment had limited range and the air control teams could not locate themselves at vantage points or move cross-country with speed. Remedial measures, both technical and organisational were taken after the war and additional training conducted with the Air Force.
1 Air Support Signal Regiment was responsible for providing signal communications for immediate close air support to all formations in Western Command. The unit was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel S.P.S. Bedi. Before the war the regimental headquarters and 1 Company were located at Delhi Cantt., while 2 and 3 Companies were at Udhampur (under XV Corps) and Jullundur (under XI Corps) respectively. Orders were received on 1 September 1965 for the regimental headquarters to move to Ambala and 1Company to move to Kaluchak for impending operations of I Corps. On the same day orders were issued for detachment 4 Air Support Signal Company ex Central Command (six tentacles, one airfield detachment and one control detachment) to move to Ambala to supplement resources of 1 Air Support Signal Regiment.
While the company headquarters were located with respective corps headquarters, the tentacles moved and married up with formation headquarters/ units concerned by 5/6 September. During the operations, 1 Company with I Corps received 64 demands for immediate close air support but very few sorties materialised. In most cases, reason for refusal given was ‘Priorities Prevent’! The tentacle allotted to 1 Armoured Brigade of 1 Armoured Division was ambushed on night of 8/9 September near Charva along with administrative vehicles and one OR was missing for 15 days. Signalman Gurbachan Singh Jandu, the wireless operator with the tentacle allotted to 162 Brigade of 26 Infantry Division, was seriously wounded due to shelling while he was adjusting the length of the aerial. He died in the hospital on 15 September. Signalmen Lal Singh, Ram Lal Sheresta and Rattan Lal Sharma were injured in area Phillora due to shelling while working with 43 Lorried Brigade. The tentacle allotted to 58 Brigade of 14 Infantry Division was destroyed due to shelling near Alhar Railway Station while the brigade was advancing.
In 2 Company (XV Corps), the tentacle with 191 Brigade in Chhamb Sector was destroyed at Mandiala Crossing on 1 September during the Pak offensive. The operators were able to save the documents and worked from an ad-hoc tentacle. On 12 September, Signalman Ram Singh with 41 Mountain Brigade tentacle suffered facial injuries due to shelling. He maintained communications till the evening and refused to be evacuated. An ad-hoc JOC was established at 6 TAC for 3 Infantry Division for which the required communications were established by 2 Company.
3 Company with XI Corps established wireless communications with all the formations by 0800 hours on 6 September, wireless silence having been lifted at 0400 hours. The company handled 117 demands for close air support but very few were executed. The main reason for refusal was ‘Priorities Prevent”! Naik Dharam Vir, the detachment commander with 54 Brigade tentacle suffered injuries as a result of enemy shelling.
Air Formation Signals
The Chief Air Formation Signal Officer (CAFSO) was Colonel J.V. Pinto. 1 Air Formation Signal Regiment located at Delhi Cantt was responsible for providing signal communications at the airfields in Western Command. The unit was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel K.T. Bopaya. Companies of the regiment activated line and other communications at all operational airfields during Operation ‘Ablaze’ and later in August when the situation on the western border became tense.
Communications at some airfields like Pathankot, Adampur, and Halwara were affected by air strikes by the Pakistan Air Force. CSO Western Command helped a great deal in improving communications at and to Adampur and other airfields. Though there was hardly any ground action on the border with
Pakistan, Pak aircraft carried out a number of air strikes on
Indian airfields such as Kalaikunda, Bagdogra, and Barrackpore. The IAF also struck
airfield. Air Formation Signals maintained communications on affected and other
airfields in the East in spite of enemy air attacks. Chittagong
OPERATIONS IN RAJASTHAN SECTOR
11 Infantry Division
Till August 1965, the Rajasthan Sector (less Ganganagar Sector) was part of the operational responsibility of HQ Delhi and Rajasthan Area under Western Command. In September 1965, when the fighting in Jammu & Kashmir Sector intensified and Western Command found it difficult to deal with such a vast theatre, Barmer Sector was handed over to the Southern Command. Lieutenant General Moti Sagar, GOC-in-C, Southern Command, entrusted the task of tying down Pak Forces in Sind to 11 Infantry Division commanded by Major General N.C. Rawlley. When the war started 11 Infantry Division was at Ahmedabad, with 31 Infantry Brigade at Bhuj, 30 Infantry Brigade at Dhrangadhara and 85 Mountain Brigade at
30 Infantry Brigade under Brigadier J. Guha was given the operational
responsibility of Barmer Sector. The troops available to 30 Infantry Brigade
were 5 Maratha Light Infantry, 1 Garhwal Rifles, 3 Guards and D Squadron 13
On 4 September GOC 11 Infantry Division issued orders to 30 Infantry Brigade to capture Gadra City and establish a firm base in area Nayachor with a view to exploiting towards Mirpur Khas. The attack to capture Gadra City, which was planned for the night of 6/7 September, had to be postponed by 24 hours due to want of information about the enemy and lack of armour and artillery support. The attack on
was launched by 1 Garhwal Rifles, which captured the town by 1300 hours on 8
September. The town was held by a weak
battalion of Indus Rangers which did not offer much resistance. Gadra City
Another task assigned to the Brigade was to raid Dali on the road Gadra – Chhapar -Chachro. One company of 1 Garhwal Rifles with one section of camels (13 Grenadiers) and a detachment of medium machine guns and 3-inch mortars left
for Dali on 11 September after last light.
As the company neared Dali it came under enemy mortar and machine gun
fire. The company returned to Gadra City in the evening and
intimated that the sand dunes south and south-west of Dali were occupied by
approximately one company of Indus Rangers.
One company of 1 Garhwal Rifles occupied area Jessa-Ka-Par without any
opposition on 15 September. The advance towards Dali commenced on the morning
of 18 September, by a column consisting of two companies of 5 Maratha Light
Infantry and one company of 1 Garhwal Rifles. The force reached Dali at about
1100 hours and captured it without any opposition. The enemy, as was later
learned from an intercepted message, had anticipated this move and withdrawn to
The newly raised HQ 85 Infantry Brigade (Brigadier H.N. Summanwar) arrived at Barmer from Ahmedabad on 18 September. After regrouping of the forces, 5 Maratha Light Infantry and 17
came under the command of 85 Infantry Brigade while 30 Infantry Brigade had 3
Guards and 1 Garhwal Rifles. HQ 30 Infantry Brigade changed its location to
area north-west of Lilma railway station and HQ 85 Infantry Brigade moved into
Gadra area. Madras
On 21 September, a combined force of two companies of 5 Maratha Light Infantry and two companies of 17 Madras under their respective COs and a troop of tanks ex 3 (Independent) Armoured Squadron concentrated at Dali for further advance to Khinsar- Chhapar-Chachro. The enemy was holding defences in area Naupatia, Dhole-Ki-Beri and Khutkari with two companies of 18
Punjab and one
company of Indus Rangers. The combined Indian force
attacked the enemy positions at first light, capturing them by 1130 hours after
overcoming minor opposition.
Unfortunately, wireless communication between this force and HQ 85 lnfantry Brigade and its firm base had broken down. At 1630 hours the enemy commenced shelling Dali and this was followed by strafing after an hour. The counter-attack came at 1930 hours and Dali fell at 2030 hours on 21 September. The Indian position astride Naupatia was cut off and surrounded, and had to be abandoned. Due to the breakdown of the wireless link, HQ 85 lnfantry Brigade was not aware of the fall of Dali till some stragglers reported there. A patrol under Major C.K. Karumbaya was sent to Dali on 22 September. The patrol returned to base at and reported that Dali was in enemy hands. The COs of 17 Madras and 5 Maratha Light Infantry fell back and occupied Jessa-Ka-Par
Meanwhile, the divisional commander issued orders to 30 Infantry Brigade to capture Munabao by the first light on 23 September. However, before the attack could be launched, the cease fire came into effect. Immediately after the cease-fire, Pak troops violated the cease-fire agreement and resorted to large-scale infiltration into
Indian territory, occupying Miajlar, Sato, Chohtan,
Udisyar, Dedusar, Kelnor, etc. The Sodhi Column, Hammer Force and Bull Force,
formed to clear the Pak infiltrators from the Indian villages, succeeded in
their mission to a great extent. 1 Garhwal Rifles and 4 Maratha Light Infantry with
attached troops attacked Miajlar on 16 November and captured it, despite tough
resistance by the enemy. In the
Rajasthan Sector, the battle of Miajlar was the first well-planned,
well-executed and gallantly contested action in which Pak troops had to yield
after much loss of men and material. The Pak forces, especially the Indus
Rangers, fought boldly in this operation that took place after the cease-fire.
Apparently, Pakistan's intention was to capture as much Indian territory as possible in the Rajasthan Sector and to create panic and disorder in the area. At the time of cease-fire, India held about 390 square kilometres of Pak territory across the Barmer border, whereas Pakistan had occupied only a small Indian outpost at Munabao. Besides, a large number of police out-posts, which were occupied after the cease-fire by the Pak infiltrators, were ultimately vacated after the Tashkent Agreement.
SIGNALS IN RAJASTHAN SECTOR
11 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was raised as 10 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment at
on Ranchi 30 June 1964, with 71 and 83 Mountain Brigade
Signal Companies forming part of it. On 9 December 1964, the regiment moved from to Ranchi . While at the
new location, both the brigade signal companies were re-designated as 36 and 85
Mountain Brigade Signal Companies respectively. 195 Mountain Composite Brigade
Signal Section was raised at Bangalore and also became an integral part of this
unit. On 19 June, the unit less the brigade signal companies moved
to Khavda in Bangalore Kutch, under command of 11
Infantry Division. Subsequently, the unit moved to Ahmedabad, which became its
permanent location thereafter.
At the commencement of the operations in September, the unit was located at Ahmedabad, while the brigade signal sections of 30 and 31 Brigades were at Dharangdhra and Bhuj respectively. The third brigade signal section (85 Brigade) located at
joined the unit only on Belgaum 7
September 1965, after the commencement of the operations. The CO was
Lieutenant Colonel C. Soni, with Major A.G. Desai as the second-in-command. The
other field officers in the unit were Majors Shiv Raj Kumar (1 Company),
S.S.Das (2 Company) and S.K. Rawla (HQ Company). The adjutant was Second
Lieutenant P.Y. Poulose while the quartermaster was Major S. Ayaswamy.
The task given to 11 Infantry Division was to seal the
Kutch border and
conduct operations that would pin down Pak forces in Sind.
The sector assigned to the division was vast, extending from Khavda to Barmer
and north of Munabao. In order to accomplish the task, an offensive defensive
posture was adopted. P&T Department communications in the area were not
well developed. However, some improvements/additions carried out during the Kutch operations and Operation ‘Ablaze’ proved very useful.
On 2 September, 30 Infantry Brigade Signal Section moved from Dharangadra and 57 Engineer Regiment Signal Section from Ahmedabad to their concentration areas at
Gadra Road and Barmer respectively. By 4
September a speech channel between Ahmedabad and Barmer had been taken over
from the P&T Department. A few days later, Tactical HQ 11 Infantry Division
was established at Barmer. A detachment of one officer and 19 OR was sent to
Barmer to provide signal communications for this headquarters. On 7 September
an advance signal centre was established at Gadra Road in preparation for the attack
by 30 Infantry Brigade on . Gadra
The attack on Gadra was launched on 8 September and was successful. The same day a detachment of the mobile signal company from Southern Command that had been placed under 11 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was dispatched to Barmer. To derive additional channels, Major V. Mehta proceeded to
with one ACT (1+1) and one Jodhpur S+DX. On 9
September the train carrying the special courier was rocketed by enemy air
craft near Gagaria railway station.
Signalman Anand was seriously wounded and died later in the hospital on
the same day. Naik Mange Ram was injured,
but carried the mail on his person since the train service was discontinued
immediately. He delivered the mail at 30 Infantry Brigade Signal Centre after
walking a distance of about 17 kilometres without regard to his personal
On 10 September buried PVC cable was laid to patch up the disrupted PL route between Barmer and
Gadra Road. To boost up the strength at
Barmer, the unit sent 13 OR under an officer from Ahmedabad. Since movement by
road in the desert was difficult and the PL route ran along the railway line,
it was decided to establish a ‘Lineman Post’ at Gagaria railway station. Second Lieutenant Jagir Singh with eight
linemen and two from the P&T Department were sent to man the post on 15
September. The party was provided with one powered rail trolley to facilitate
their task. Shortly afterwards the CO visited Barmer. It was decided that
communications at Barmer and forward would be taken over by the unit, relieving
the mobile signal company. On 19
September Major Shiv Raj Kumar left for Barmer with one officer, one JCO and 41
OR. The same day, the unit took over the communications at Barmer, relieving
personnel of the Southern Command Mobile Signal Company. Shortly afterwards,
Major V. Mehta was appointed officiating Duty Signal Officer at the Ahmedabad signal
centre under operational control of 11 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment.
On 20 September, troops of 85 Brigade were inducted to relieve 30 Brigade for capture of Munabao. 85 Infantry Brigade Signal Company, which had moved from
via Ahmedabad, concentrated at Belgaum
along with the brigade headquarters. On Gadra City 21 September, 85 Brigade
took over operations in Dali sub sector, 30 Brigade moving to new positions in
area Munabao. After the capture of Dali, it was held by two companies of 17 . During the Pak counter attack, these
companies vacated the position and fell back to Jessa-ka-Par. However, the loss
of Dali was not known to HQ 85 Infantry Brigade till early hours of 22
September due to failure of the wireless link.
The cease fire was declared on
23 September 1965 but was
not followed in Rajasthan, where the enemy continued his attempts to capture
Indian positions employing regular troops, rangers, Mujahids and even
dacoits. Large scale infiltration by
Pak-Indus Rangers also took place just before the cease fire. Orders were given
to 11 Infantry Division to throw out all infiltrators covering an area of 300 kilometres. Operational tasks for the formation were
spelt out as holding the Rann of Kutch sector and the enemy territory captured
up to 40 kilometres deep as also to carry out long range attacks by troops up
to brigade level to evict enemy infiltration that had taken place on night
22/23 September. One brigade was to hold Kutch
sector, another to hold Gadra city while the third brigade less a battalion was
made responsible for the Jaisalmer sector.
Hammer Force, Bull Force, Sangram Force and Sodhi Column were organized
for these anti-infiltration operations. Three additional Rajasthan Army
Constabulary (RAC) battalions were placed under command.
On 23 September, two signal detachments under Second Lieutenant K.M. John were provided to the Sodhi column, consisting of one company of 3 Guards and one company of 1 Garhwal, operating directly under HQ 11 Infantry Division. The column was required to clear out Pak infiltrators from area Shobaia, Dedusa, Nawatala and Bijliap. In view of the extended ranges, a mobile wireless detachment with radio set C 11/R210 was sent to Chotan to establish a step up station for the column. To provide signal cover to the Bull Force, 11 Artillery Brigade Signal Section comprising one JCO and 28 OR was moved to Kalron Kataia on 6 October. Apart from wireless, extensive line communications was catered for the Bull Force by laying approximately 80 miles of field cable.
On 11 November, a signal detachment under Second Lieutenant John comprising two mobile wireless detachments and a cipher detachment proceeded to 1 Garhwal Rifles which was to form the Sangram Force. The task given to Sangram Force was to capture Miajlar post occupied by PAK infiltrators. The operation was carried out successfully. Due to the distances involved, wireless was the only means of communications with the force, which continued to operate for several weeks, its resources being supplemented from time to time. On 20 November another mobile wireless detachment with cipher cover was sent to a guerilla company operating under the Sangram Force in the Khavdala area. On 30 November 11 Artillery Brigade Signal Section moved with HQ 11 Artillery Brigade from Bull Force to Sangram Force, the former being sustained on wireless and daily runs of scheduled despatch service.
Apart from wireless, considerable amount of cable had to be laid for the anti-infiltration forces. By the end of 1965, about 80 kilometres of cable had been laid for the Sangram Force, all of it buried. Similarly, about 150 kilometres of field cable was laid to 4 Maratha Light Infantry, which formed the Bull Force. In addition, extensive cable had been laid in the divisional and brigade sectors. 30 Infantry Brigade Signal Section had laid 85 kilometres, all buried one foot deep; 85 Infantry Brigade Signal Company had laid 45 kilometres, 30 kilometres of which was buried; while 120 kilometres of PVC cable had been laid at the divisional headquarters and locality signal centres at Gadra Road and Girab.
During the operations in Rajasthan, 11 Divisional Signal Regiment had taken steps to mount medium and low power radio sets in 1- Ton vehicles and studied laying lines in desert terrain. In spite of this, sand dunes and desert tracks beyond
movement of radio vehicles. It was not an easy task to erect high aerials in
such terrain. Lines had to be laid on the ground and were often cut to shreds
by tanks and vehicles. The despatch
riders found it difficult to drive through such terrain and were vulnerable to
capture by enemy troops. These conditions adversely affected line and other
communications. Notwithstanding these problems, some innovative methods were
used. Wireless was the main stay due to a frontage of about 500 km and wide
gaps between formations. These were organised on geographical basis. A number
of mobile detachments were created and allotted to even company groups, at
This was the first major operation carried out in the desert and everything did not go as visualized. However, valuable lessons were learnt as regards communications. An assessment was also carried out of signal resources required in Barmer Sector, keeping in view the large distances. These helped in planning and creating sound communications infrastructure for the future.
The unit was known as 10 Mountain Divisional Signal Regiment though it was part of 11 Infantry Division during the War. To rationalise designations, the regiment was re-designated 11 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment on
1 November 1965. Similarly, 11
Mountain Division Signal Regiment, which was part of 10 Infantry Division, was
re-designated as 10 Infantry Division Signal Regiment.
The Indo- Pak War of 1965 is an important landmark not only in the history of the Indian Army but also that of the country. This was the first time after
troops were involved in intense operations in such large numbers over such a
vast area. Though the results of the War were inconclusive, the Indian Army
redeemed its honour and prestige that had been dented during the Sino-Indian
Conflict in 1962. It restored the faith of the public in the ability of the
Army to defend the nation from external aggression. Most important, it refurbished
the self assurance and confidence of the soldier in himself. As in 1947-48, Independence ’s designs to annex Pakistan Kashmir were foiled, this time more emphatically. The Pak
Army suffered a serious setback, the much flaunted superiority of its weaponry
and the fighting quality of its troops being disproved convincingly.
For the Corps of Signals, the 1965 War is of special significance. In all previous operations, the equipment available to the Corps was similar to what had been used during World War II. After 1962, there was a concerted effort to improve the quality of signal equipment. However, the new acquisitions were small in number, while indigenous development efforts were yet to fructify. As a result, in 1965 the situation had improved only marginally, and the Corps still depended on orthodox line communications, single channel HF radio and despatch riders. Some transistorised equipment had arrived in the previous years but these were given to formations deployed on the border with
, it being a condition of
military aid from China
that the equipment will not be used on the USA front. Radio relay had
been introduced but this too had been authorized only to mountain divisions,
with a small reserve kept for deployment on vulnerable lines of communication. As a result of the large scale expansion of
the Army after 1962, a number of units were under raising or had just been
raised. These had shortages of men and equipment and had not done any
collective training. The silver lining, however, was Operation ‘Ablaze’, during
which troops were deployed in their operational areas between May-July 1965.
This gave signal units a chance to practice their likely operational role and
identify shortcomings, which were rectified before the actual operations commenced
in September 1965. Pakistan
Due to constraints of technology and availability of equipment, the scales of communications that could be provided in 1965 were limited. It was not possible to provide one-to-one circuits between operations rooms, hot lines or dedicated direct communications between commanders, due to lack of channel capacity. VHF sets were at a premium and communications for mobile operations depended primarily on HF wireless. In spite of these technological and organisational constraints, the communications functioned well. However, there were a few cases of failure of communications between brigade headquarters and infantry battalions, some leading to changes of fortune in battle. Units often resorted to innovative and unorthodox methods to provide communications and tasks were completed with grit and determination, often in face of danger and risk to life.
The linemen of the Corps once again wrote a glorious chapter of devotion to duty in the face of enemy fire and vagaries of terrain and weather. Time and again, they repaired lines damaged by infiltrators, shelling, tanks, vehicles and landslides, swam across swollen rivers and laid or repaired lines in areas infested by the enemy. Another dedicated breed that had to remain outdoors were the desptach riders, who went about their task delivering, messages in all weather conditions and round the clock, searching out units and formations even under shell fire and often in darkness. Some came under air attacks and one was captured by enemy infiltrators. The wireless operators, particularly those with brigades and battalions and armoured regiments, manned their sets while under attack and shelling. A number of linemen, operators, despatch riders, and drivers made the supreme sacrifice.
Cipher and exchange operators had their own critical tasks cut out and did a commendable job. The traffic load increased many fold but the operators worked almost round the clock for weeks to clear the calls and messages speedily. The mechanics worked long hours and at times repaired equipment while tanks were actually engaged in battle or their locations being strafed or shelled. The brave deeds of the signallers were duly acknowledged, though understandably not all. One Vir Chakra. five Sena Medals, a considerable number of Mentioned in Despatches and a large number of Commendation Cards were awarded to the Corps personnel during the War. The casualties suffered by the Corps were substantial. Two officers, one JCO and 37 OR were killed, while 87 personnel were wounded.
An important factor in the marvelous performance of the Corps was leadership, at all levels. The SO-in-C, Major General R.N. Batra, had been at the helm for over four years. Having experienced the problems faced by the Corps during the
operations in 1961 and the war with in 1962, he ensured that
these were not repeated in 1965. His excellent rapport with the Army Chief,
General Chaudhuri and the staff at Army HQ ensured that the Corps got whatever
it asked for, and in quick time. His energy and dedication trickled downwards
and inspired CSOs at command and corps, as well as unit commanders to give out
their best. Credit must also go to the young officers of the Corps, who
compensated for their lack of experience with courage, grit and boundless
energy. They led line parties, manned rover detachments, supervised signal
centres and exchanges and often accompanied infantry battalions and special
task groups. All of them, without exception, performed magnificently, infusing
their men to rise to the occasion and ensure that communications are always
through, in keeping with the ethos of the Corps. China
ENDNOTES TO CHAPTER 5
This chapter is largely based on Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh’s War Despatches: Indo-Pak Conflict 1965 (New Delhi,1991); Gen K.V. Krishna Rao’s Prepare or Perish, (New Delhi, 1991 and Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh’s Corps of Signals History - 1965 Indo-Pak War (unpublished), 2004. Specific references are given below:
1. Lt. Gen. Harbhajan Singh, Corps of Signals History - 1965 Indo-Pak War (unpublished), 2004.
2. Maj Gen Lachhman Singh Lehl, Missed Opportunities: Indo-Pak War 1965, Natraj Publishers, Dehra Dun, 1997, p 119.
3. Colonel V.A. Subramanyam, A History of the Corps of Signals, Macmillan,
1986, pp.152-3 New Delhi
4. Lehl, p. 122
5. Lt. Gen. Harbakhsh Singh, War Despatches: Indo-Pak Conflict 1965 (New Delhi,1991); p. 26
6. Lehl, p. 123
7. Harbakhsh Singh, pp. 27-36
8. Maj. Gen. V.K. Singh, Leadership in the Indian Army – Biographies of Twelve Soldiers,
, Sage, 2005, pp. 338-345 New Delhi
9. Harbakhsh Singh, p. 53-5
10. Subramanyam, p.156
11. Lehl, p. 145
12. Harbakhsh Singh, p. 66
13. Harbakhsh Singh, p. 67
14. Harbakhsh Singh, p. 87
15. Brigadier Desmond E. Hayde, The Battle of Dograi, p.152
16. Gen K.V. Krishna Rao, Prepare or Perish,
, 1991, p. 132 New Delhi
17. Lehl, p. 200
18. Harbakhsh Singh, p. 103
19. Harbakhsh Singh, p.91; Hayde, pp. 89-90; Lehl, pp. 192-195
Rao, p. 138
Rao, p. 139
22. Harbakhsh Singh, p. 157