THE INDO-PAK WAR – 1971 (WESTERN THEATRE)
Preview – Background – Indian Strategy. XV CORPS OPERATIONS IN JAMMU & KASHMIR : Battle of Punch – Battle of Chhamb – Operations in Other Sectors of Jammu & Kashmir. I CORPS OPERATIONS IN THE JAMMU SECTOR : 54 and 39 Inf Div – 36 Inf Div. XI CORPS OPERATIONS IN PUNJAB : The Battle of Dera Baba Nanak (15 Inf Div) – 7 & 14 Inf Div – Foxtrot Sector. OPERATIONS IN RAJASTHAN & SIND : 11 Inf Div – 12 Inf Div. CEASE FIRE AND SIMLA AGREEMENT. SIGNALS IN WESTERN COMMAND DURING OPERATION CACTUS LILY : Western Comd Sigs – Western Comd Sig Regt –Western Comd Mob Sig Coy-XV Corps Sigs – XV Corps Sig Regt – 25 Inf Div Sig Regt – 10 Inf Div Sig Regt -26 Inf Div Sig Regt – 3 Inf Div Sig Regt – 19 Inf Div Sig Regt – J Comn Zone Sig Regt – T Comn Zone Sig Regt – Y Comn Zone Sig Regt – 121 (Indep) Inf Bde Sig Coy – XI Corps Sigs - XI Corps Sig Regt – 7 Inf Div Sig Regt – 14 Inf Div Sig Regt – 15 Inf Div Sig Regt – 1 Armd Div Sig Regt – I Corps Sigs – 54 Inf Div Sig Regt – 36 Inf Div Sig Regt – 39 Inf Div Sig Regt – Z Comn Zone Sig Regt – M Comn Zone Sig Regt – 1 Air Sp Sig Regt – 1 Air Fmn Sig Regt – 51 (Indep) Para Bde Sig Coy. SIGNALS IN SOUTHERN COMMAND : Southern Comd Sigs – Southern Com Sig Regt – 11 Inf Div Sig Regt – 12 Inf Div Sig Regt – Q Comn Zone Sig Regt – 5 (Indep) Air Sp Sig Coy – P Comn Zone Sig Regt. CONCLUSION.
The war in Western Theatre started after air attacks by
on Indian airfields on Pakistan 3
December 1971. The same night, Pakistani troops shelled and
attacked Indian positions in Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab.
The attack on Punch, held by 93 Infantry Brigade of 25 Infantry Division, was
beaten back. Actions took place in adjoining areas during which Indian troops
captured some enemy posts. Another major action took place in Chhamb, held by
10 Infantry Division. The enemy attack was supported by armour and some Indian
positions were overrun. The battle lasted for several days and some localities
changed hands several ti`mes. The offensive ended on 12 December 1971 with minor gains for
In addition to Punch and Chhamb, smaller operations took place in other areas such as Partapur, Kargil, Tangdhar, Uri and Chicken’s Neck, which were part of 3, 19 and 26 Infantry Division sectors. Pt.
Kargil sector was captured by 121 Infantry Brigade Group of 3 Infantry
Division. In the Tangdhar sector troops of 104 Infantry Brigade of 19 Infantry
Division captured Kaiyan across Tutmari Gali. Another major achievement was the
capture of Chicken's Neck in Akhnur
sector by 19 Infantry Brigade of 26
sector, I Corps launched its offensive on 5 December. 54 Infantry Division with 16 (Indep) Armoured Brigade and 39 Infantry
Division with 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade advanced and captured their initial
objectives. After crossing the
minefields they beat back repeated attacks by enemy armour on the bridgehead.
During the Battle of Basantar on 16 and 17 December almost two tanks regiments
of the enemy were decimated. At the same time, 36 Infantry Division advanced
towards Shakargarh but came up against heavy opposition. In spite of several
attempts 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade could not cross the Bien river. The attack
on Shakargarh was launched by 87 and 115 Infantry Brigades on night of 14/15
December but got disorganised. Jammu
In the XI Corps sector (15, 7 and 14 Infantry Divisions) there were no major offensives by
or India .
However, important actions took place at Dera Baba Nanak, Ferozepur and
Fazilka. In the 15 Infantry Division sector, 86 Infantry Brigade (Brigadier
Gowrishankar, Signals) captured the Pakistani enclave at Dera Baba Nanak by 7
December. In 7 Infantry Division sector, the Pakistan
was lost to the enemy but Indian troops succeeded in capturing the Sehjra
bulge. In the 14 Infantry Division sector, some Pakistani enclaves south of the
Hussainiwala Bridge were eliminated and some posts
captured. In the Foxtrot sector, there was a serious reverse at Fazilka, held
by 67 Infantry Brigade. The main defences of the brigade on Sabuna distributary
were attacked and partially captured by the enemy, posing a serious threat to
Fazilka. Fortunately, the cease fire on 17 December frustrated the enemy’s
plan. Sutlej River
In Rajasthan, 11 and 12 Infantry Divisions were operating directly under HQ Southern Command which had moved to
operations. Advancing towards Nayachor along multiple axes, 11 Infantry
Division captured Khokhropar and Jodhpur by 5 December.
Purabat Ali was captured on 13 December and Nayachor contacted on 15 December.
However, the cease fire was announced before the attack could be launched. 12 Infantry Division commenced its offensive
on 4 December and captured Sakhirewalakot and Islamkot the same night. In
Longewala, a large column of enemy tanks was destroyed by the Indian Air Force
but the proposed offensive of 12 Infantry Division had to be called off.
However, 10 Para Commando raided Chachro and Birawah on 7 and 8 December and
took a number of prisoners. Gadra
As always, Signals played an important role in the success of the operations. Almost every signal unit in Western and Southern Commands was involved, some directly participating in the operations and others indirectly by providing manpower, equipment and transport. A considerable amount of advance planning and preparatory work was done at all levels, starting from Army HQ downwards. As a result, resources were rarely lacking, as happened in previous conflicts. A welcome sign was the positive attitude and cooperation extended by the P&T Department in provision of additional PL routes, trunk circuits and exchanges demanded by units, often at short notice. The part played by every major signal unit has been covered, to the extent permitted by constraints of space and availability of archival material.
The 1965 conflict with Pakistani ended with the cease fire on
23 September 1965, followed by the Tashkent Agreement of 4 January 1966. For the next
five years or so, the situation on the Western Front remained relatively quiet
and except for occasional minor incidents, the cease fire was not violated. But
the events that occurred in East Pakistan in
early 1971 resulted in an increase in tension on the western borders,
especially in Jammu & Kashmir. As the situation in East
Pakistan worsened, the likelihood of launching a pre-emptive
attack on Pakistan
in the west increased. Though India
began preparing for the liberation of India around April 1971, she
could not afford to let her guard down in other sectors. Even if Bangladesh had
adequate troops at her disposal, she could not increase the forces in Jammu &
Kashmir, because of the Karachi Agreement of 1948. These restrictions did not
apply to other sectors such as India Punjab and
Rajasthan, but here too
faced a problem, due to the large distances involved in moving troops from
their peace time locations to the borders. Another factor that inhibited
movement of troops to the border in anticipation of hostilities was that it
could lead to an apprehension that India was preparing to launch an
attack in the west, simultaneously with an attack in the east. On the other
hand, if adequate forces were not moved forward, the defence of the country in
the west could be seriously jeopardized. India
The movement of Pakistani formations to the border led to pleas to carry out similar deployments from Western as well as Southern Command. However, Army HQ accorded permission only after Pakistani moves and preparations for offensives reached an advanced stage. Even then, movement was allowed in a graduated and progressive manner. Considering the time required for defensive preparations such as development of defence works, laying of mines, dumping of ammunition and so on, the delay in movement of formations to their battle locations meant that they were ready only by mid November, whereas
was more or less ready to launch an offensive by mid October. This was a
calculated risk taken by Pakistan
to avoid any provocation or cause for misinterpretation to India . In
hindsight, if Pakistan
had decided to launch an attack a month earlier, Pakistan would have faced a grave
At that time, Western Command was responsible for defence of the territory from Ladakh down to Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, while Southern Command was responsible for the remainder of Rajasthan and
Gujarat (Northern Command was
created only after the war in 1972). The field formations under Western Command
were XV, I and XI Corps, while Southern Command had 11 and 12 Divisions. XV Corps,
which was responsible for the defence of Jammu & Kashmir, comprised 3, 19, 25, 10 and 26 Infantry Divisions. 3
Infantry Division was deployed in Ladakh, 19 Infantry Division in the Kashmir
Valley, 25 Infantry Division in the Punch-Jhangar area, 10 Infantry Division in
the Akhnur area and 26 Infantry Division in the Jammu area. I Corps comprising 36, 39 and 54
Infantry Divisions was responsible for the defence of the area
Samba-Pathankot-Gurdaspur. XI Corps
comprising 15, 7 and 14 Infantry Divisions and Foxtrot Sector was
responsible for the defence of Punjab and the
Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. In Southern Command, 12 Infantry Division was responsible for the Jaisalmer sector and 11 Infantry Division for the Barmer sector.
Formations all along the Western Front were to remain on the defensive initially. If
started the war, commands
could retaliate by going on the offensive and secure the limited objectives set
for them by Army HQ. Some local counter-offensives were to be undertaken in
Jammu & Kashmir, depending on where Pakistan launched its offensive. The
main Indian counter-offensive was to be launched by I Corps in conjunction with
some formations of XV Corps. I Corps was to advance to Pasrur. Depending on the
situation, 10 and 26 Infantry Divisions of XV
Corps were to form part of the offensive, advancing towards Pakistan Gujarat and Marala respectively. XI Corps was to be
prepared to launch a limited offensive opposite its sector. 1 Armoured Division
was earmarked as the Army HQ reserve to be made available if an offensive was
decided upon. In Southern Command, 11 and
12 Infantry Divisions were to be
prepared to undertake limited offensive operations, depending on where the
On the war breaking out, Western Air Command was to inflict maximum damage on the Pakistani Air Force, as well as render support to Western Army Command in its operations. Western Naval Command was to carry out a strong raid on
harbour, inflict maximum damage to installations and assets of Karachi ’s Navy. Western Command was commanded by Lieutenant
General K.P. Candeth, and Southern Command by Lieutenant General G.G. Bewoor.
Western Air Command was commanded by Air Marshal M.M. Engineer and Western
Naval Command by Vice-Admiral S.N. Kohli. Pakistan
XV CORPS OPERATIONS IN JAMMU & KASHMIR
Pakistani troops started shelling the Punch defences at about 2000 hours on
December 1971 followed by simultaneous attacks in different sectors.
The ferocity and repeated nature of attacks indicated that was
determined to capture Punch this time. 11 Pakistan
& Kashmir Militia was holding the Doda defended area, between the Darungli
Nallah and the Mandi Nallah. Soon after the shelling started, Gutrian was
attacked by the enemy. The defenders held their fire till the enemy reached the
minefield, when they opened up with everything. The enemy attack was beaten
back in the minefield itself. Again, at about 2330 hours, the position was
subjected to heavy firing from the enemy, followed by an attack from a
different direction, which was also repulsed. Subsequently, at about 0230 hours
on 4 December the enemy put in another
attack but this was also repelled with heavy casualties to the enemy.
Concurrent with the attack on Gutrian, the enemy attacked Shahpur and also
tried to raid the gun area. After the first attack was repulsed, the enemy
attempted two more attacks during the night on Shahpur, but these were also
beaten back with heavy casualties to the enemy. Jammu
When Gutrian was under attack, a platoon was sent from Thanpir which was held by a company minus of 11
& Kashmir Militia. During this
period, the enemy attacked and captured Thanpir on the morning of 4 December. He
also captured Chandak Spur and Nagali Spur, dominating the Jammu .
While these main attacks were going on, an enemy battalion infiltrated and
secured the Kalai Bridge , cutting off the main
road communication to Punch via Surankot. The task of clearing Thanpir of the
enemy was given to 13 Mahar, which captured Chandak Spur by last light on 4 December.
Continuing its advance, the battalion captured the complete Thanpir position by
last light on 5 December. Kalai
The area between Betar Nullah and Darungli Nullah was held by two battalions, with 6 Sikh holding the northern part and 8 Jat the southern part. At 2000 hours on 3 December, the enemy started shelling the forward positions. Between 2230 and 2330 hours, the enemy attacked the helipad, Tund and Chichian Bandi but the defending troops beat back the assault. The enemy launched a second attack at about 0300 hours on 4 December, but was again repulsed. A little later, the enemy launched a daylight attack on picquet 405. Apart from the defenders' weapons, Indian Air Force aircraft also strafed the enemy. However, the enemy managed to capture the helipad position. Picquet 405 was reinforced with two platoons from 8 Jat and Tund was by a platoon from 6 Sikh. During the night of 4/5 December, the enemy launched a number of attacks on Picquet 405, but these were also beaten back with heavy casualties to the enemy. On the morning of 6 December the enemy withdrew from the helipad, which was re-occupied by 6 Sikh. Thereafter, the enemy offensive petered out. The enemy made two more attempts to capture the helipad on 10 and 16 December, which were repulsed with the help of accurate artillery fire.
The area between Tatan Di Rangur and Betar Nullah was held by 1/4 Gorkha Rifles, on the picquet complex Durga, which included a picquet Langoor that dominated the Betar Nullah approach. Along with the main attack on picquet 405 the enemy launched an attack on Langoor at about 2330 hours on 3 December, which was beaten back. A second attack at 0300 hours next morning got fairly close to the picquet but this was also beaten back. The enemy shelled picquet 413, Durga and other picquets but did not attempt any attack on these. On the night of 8/9 December, 1/4 Gorkha Rifles carried out a raid on the enemy and occupied Mumtaz, a piece of ground ahead of Durga.
Along with the main attack on Punch, the enemy launched attacks on the picquets covering the shoulders of the
, but failed to capture them. The
brigade was ordered to capture Daruchian, a feature which dominated the enemy's
line of communication to Kotli. On 10/11 December, 21 Mendhar Valley Punjab
captured some posts around the place. On the night of 13/14 December, 14
Grenadiers attacked the Daruchian position repeatedly but as the enemy had been
alerted, the attacks were beaten back. During this period, a group of 9 Para
Commando raided a place called Mandhol, deep inside enemy territory and
destroyed an enemy gun position, killing a number of enemy gunners. Elsewhere
in the divisional sector, 4/9 Gorkha Rifles captured a place called Sukhanban
on night of 11/12 December.2
Due to its strategic importance, Chhamb has always been a key objective for
who succeeded in capturing it during the 1947-48 and 1965 wars. In the 1971 war
launched a sizeable attack and captured this area. Unlike in 1965 when Pakistan had to
return Chhamb after the cease fire, in 1971 Pakistan was allowed to retain the
Chhamb area to the west of Pakistan ,
where Pakistani troops had reached when the war ended. Munnawar
In 1971, two brigades (191 and 28) of 10 Infantry Division were responsible for the defence of this area. The other two brigades (52 and 68) of the division were located outside Jammu & Kashmir. By 15 October, 191 Infantry Brigade· was moved from its peace time location in Akhnur to the Troti area while 28 Infantry Brigade remained deployed on picquets in th0e Kalidhar area. However, shortly before the commencement of hostilities, 191 Brigade was ordered to occupy defences on the west of the Munnawar Tawi on
1971. At the same time, 52
Brigade was ordered to move forward to the area east of Munnawar Tawi and south
to cover the border, while 68 Brigade was ordered to move to the Jaurian area
for counter attack tasks. On the night of 3/4 December, some medium artillery
was also moved forward and the divisional headquarters moved to Andarwal.
On the evening of 3 December, after the bombing of a number of Indian airfields it became clear that a major attack in the Chhamb Sector was imminent. BSF posts were withdrawn after dark. At about 2100 hours,
started shelling the defended localities. The shelling lasted for an hour or so
after which tank noises were heard from several areas and screens were withdrawn
around 2130 to 2200 hours. With the withdrawal of BSF posts, a gap of about Pakistan 600 yards was created
along the line of control between Red Hill and Pir Jamal. At about 2130 hours, a
platoon screen at Pir Jamal was also withdrawn. Advancing through the gap of
about 800 yards
that was now available, Pakistani troops contacted the main positions in the 5
Sikh defended area by 2330 hours. Attacks were also launched against positions held
and 4/1 Gorkha Rifles and in the hill sector held by 28 Infantry Brigade. Assam
The line of communication to Dewa through Mandiala North in the 5 Sikh area was cut and Mandiala was overrun by 1230 hours on 4 December. Moel in 5 Sikh area and Bokan and Burejal in 5
overrun the same afternoon. Manawar and Jhanda in the 4/1 Gorkha Rifles area
were also attacked during the day. To counter the enemy moves on 4 December,
one company of 9 Para Commando and one troop of C Squadron 9 Horse were moved
to the east bank of the river during the night and were deployed to cover the
Mandiala crossing. 68 Brigade was ordered to move 7 Kumaon to the Kachreal area
and 9 Jat to Kalith. Assam
During the night of 4/5 December, two enemy battalions advanced through the Sukhtar Nullah with the intention of attacking Kachreal heights. During the attack, the enemy hit the two forward batteries of 216 Medium Regiment and two companies of 7 Kumaon, causing complete confusion. The CO and four officers of 7 Kumaon were wounded and the battalion fell back. The depth medium battery had to fire over open sites during which some of the forward guns were damaged and the tanks got separated from the infantry. Next morning, elements of 9 Jat and A Squadron of 72 Armoured Regiment cleared the enemy from the eastern bank. During the same night the enemy pushed back the troops at Mongolian but failed to capture Dewa and Red Hill.
On 5 December, Pakistani attacks on positions 5 Sikh and 5
were beaten back. Mangotian was re-captured by elements of 4/1 Gorkha Rifles
supported by tanks of 72 Armoured Regiment in the morning. The enemy attacked
Mangotian and Jhanda later in the evening but was repulsed. On night of 5/6 December,
the enemy persisted with his attacks. In the 5 Sikh area, Point 994 was attacked
twice and captured but was re-captured by a counter attack by a company 5/8
Gorkha Rifles and two troops of 9 Horse. In the 4/1 Gorkha Rifles area, Jhanda
and Manawar were attacked but these were repulsed. In the 5 Assam area, the
enemy captured Ghogi but 5 Assam
counter- attacked and recaptured the position. The enemy attacked once again
but was repulsed in the early hours of 6 December. Assam
On 6 December, the enemy captured Gurha in the 5 Sikh area at 1530 hours but the position was recaptured at 1800 hours by a company 5/8 Gorkha Rifles with two troops of 72 Armoured Regiment. In the 5
Ghogi and Barsala were captured by infantry and armour after assaulting across
a dummy minefield. Mandiala South was captured by 1730 hours after repeated
attacks by the enemy. With the pressure
mounting by the enemy, at 1600 hours Commander 191 Brigade ordered 4/1 Gorkha to
fall back to line Manawar-Singri and 5 Assam to line Singri-Point Assam 303. A Squadron 9 Horse was
to deploy south of Chhamb to protect Chhamb and the Mandiala crossings. As
there were no prepared positions, and due to enemy interference, considerable
confusion was created during the withdrawal. Finally, 191 Brigade was ordered
to withdraw across the Munnawar Tawi by the divisional commander on the night
of 6 December. The area to the east of was securely held by
52 and 68 Infantry Brigades. 191 Brigade
was withdrawn into the original defences in the Troti area and was in position
by morning 7 December. Before the withdrawal, the bridge at Mandiala was blown
up by the brigade. Munnawar Tawi
On the night of 7/8 December at about 0130 hours the 10 Garhwal Rifles company at Chhatti Tahli was attacked, but the attack was beaten back. At about 0230 hours the enemy attempted to secure crossings at Mandiala, Chhamb and Darh but these were repulsed. At about 1800 hours on 8 December, the enemy attempted to secure the
crossing by attacking in the 10 Garhwal
Rifles area but was evicted by an immediate local counter attack. The 9 Jat
company opposite the Raipur
crossing was also attacked and a portion of the locality overrun, but the enemy
was thrown back by a local counter attack. During daytime of 8 December, the
enemy continued to attack in the Raipur
and Darh crossings areas but did not press home the attacks. In the 28 Infantry
Brigade Sector, however, the enemy attacked Dewa in strength and captured it by
about 1445 hours. On 9 December, the enemy continued with his attacks at the
different crossing places, particularly Mandiala, Darh and Sainth, but these
were beaten back by the battalions concerned. Raipur
On the night of 9/10 December, the enemy continued his build up and attacked in the
crossing area. After securing a foothold in the 9 Jat area, the enemy attacked
the 10 Garhwal Rifles company from the
north and overran it. In the 68 Brigade
sector, the enemy attacked in the Chhamb and Darh crossings area during the
same night. Some activity was also shown in the Mandiala crossing area. The
attacks in the Chhamb and Mandiala areas were foiled but the enemy secured the
Darh crossing in the 9 Jat area. Subsequently, the enemy enlarged his
bridgehead by capturing the depth company position of 9 Jat. Thus, by early
morning of 10 December, the enemy was
in possession of a reasonable lodgment covering the Darh and Raipur crossings. Raipur
At about 0800 hours on 10 December, a counter attack was launched with 3/4 Gorkha Rifles less two companies and elements of 9 Horse and 72 Armoured Regiment. The tanks got bogged down in the soft ground and the infantry could only get up to a place about
1000 yards from the
objective. There was considerable confusion with regard to the strength and
further intentions of the enemy and it appeared that the divisional commander planned
to withdraw to the old main position. However, Lieutenant General Sartaj Singh,
GOC XV Corps, ordered that there will be no withdrawal from the present positions.
At about 1520 hours the corps commander arrived in the divisional sector and
assumed charge of the situation. He countermanded all orders for any rearward
moves including reconnaissance parties. He also ordered counter attacks to be
launched by elements of 52 and 68 Brigades to recapture Darh and crossings area and
throw the enemy back across the river. His arrival on the scene acted as a
tonic and restored the morale of the troops. The counter-attack was launched
during the night and the objectives were secured by 0030 hours on 11 December. After
this, the enemy offensive petered out.3 Raipur
Operations in Other Sectors of Jammu & Kashmir
While the battles of Punch and Chhamb were the major operations in Jammu & Kashmir, smaller operations also took place in other areas such as Partapur, Kargil, Tangdhar, Uri and Chicken’s Neck, which were part of 3, 19 and 26 Infantry Divisional sectors. These are covered in the succeeding paragraphs.
The Partapur sector under Colonel Udai Singh was responsible for the Shyok and Nubra river valleys lying to the north of Leh, across the Khardungla pass. Some picquets area was occupied by a company of Karakoram Scouts of Pakistan, with about two companies held in reserve. To remove the threat to the isolated Partapur Sector, Colonel Udai Singh was assigned the task of capturing Turtok. The operations commenced on the night of 7 December, with five companies of Ladakh Scouts and about 500 personnel of the Nubra Guards. Though the enemy offered stiff opposition, Turtok was captured by first light on 14 December, followed by the capture of Thang on 17 December. During the operation Indian troops advanced about
along the and captured over 800 square
kilometres of territory. Shyok River
In Kargil, the enemy was occupying some features that dominated the strategically important Srinagar-Leh highway. Of these, the most important was north of the Shingo. The area was the responsibility of 121 Infantry Brigade Group which was under 3 Infantry Division. The brigade was given the task of capturing the Brachil pass-Hathi Matha area and clearing the picquets that dominated the road. Since Pt. 13620 was very strongly held, it was decided to tackle the position from the rear. During the night of 7/8 December, 2/11 Gorkha Rifles and 9 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles occupied some features and captured a number of enemy posts, effectively isolating Pt. 13620, which was finally captured by the Gorkhas in the afternoon after being subjected to air strikes. While the attack on Pt. 13620 was in progress, 18
Punjab attacked and captured Brachil pass after bitter
fighting on 7 December. This was followed by the capture of several important
posts by 7 Guards on 8 December. After a long approach march, 5/3 Gorkha Rifles
captured Hathi Matha from the rear on 17 December, when the ceasefire was
The Tangdhar sector was held by 104 Infantry Brigade of 19 Infantry Division. In order to deny approaches to the
through the Kashmir Valley
and the Tutmari Gali, several operations were carried out on the outbreak of hostilities.
On 5 December, 8 Rajputana Rifles captured Gasla Top and Ring Contour. On 12 December,
3 Nastachun Pass Bihar captured Wanjal. 9 Sikh was given the
task of capturing Kaiyan, across Tutmari Gali. The battalion captured several
important posts in the Kaiyan bowl. On the night of 14/15 December, 9
Sikh attacked and captured Nankot, after a long and difficult approach march.
Subsequently, 4 Mahar also captured certain important positions in the Kaiyan
area and held firm against counter attacks by the enemy.
In order to eliminate the threat to Akhnur through the salient known as Chicken's Neck, the task of capturing it was given to 19 Infantry Brigade which was part of 26 Infantry Division. On the night of 5/6 December, 9 Para Commando captured the Saidpur ferry while 3/5 Gorkha Rifles captured Khoje Chek and Gondal ferry, cutting off the enemy's routes of withdrawal and reinforcement. Concurrently, 7/11 Gorkha Rifles captured Tibba during the night of 5/6 December. In the next Phase, 11 Guards captured Chanor followed by Phuklean after overcoming some resistance. Later, they exploited up to the western extremity of the salient. With the capture of Chicken’s Neck, the threat to Akhnur was removed and 9 Infantry Brigade was in a position to pose a serious threat to Marala Head Works.4
I CORPS OPERATIONS IN THE
The Jammu- Pathankot-Gurdaspur region was strategically important for
as well as India .
It included the Indian base of Pathankot, through which the rail and road
communications pass to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Another important area
was the Shakargarh bulge, which could be used to disrupt the line of
communications to Jammu & Kashmir and also pose a threat to Pakistan Punjab from the north. The responsibility for defence of
the area was with I Corps, the bulk of whose troops were located far away from
the area of operations in cantonments in Central and Southern
India. Only 39 Infantry Division was available within the general
area, under command of XV Corps, till
the arrival of I Corps. Though Western
Command had made plans for launching an offensive, Army HQ had directed that
they were to remain on the defensive till attacked by . It
was also mandated that no loss of territory was acceptable. Pakistan
Army HQ accorded permission on 4 October for deploying troops all along the border and orders for induction of troops into different sectors were issued on
12 October 1971. Starting their moves from their peace
time cantonments on 13 October by road and rail, formations of I Corps
completed their concentration by 26 October. 54 Infantry Division was made
responsible for general area Samba up to Bein river; 39 Infantry Division for
the area between Bein and Ravi rivers; and 36
Infantry Division for the area south of Ravi
river from Sherpur to Thakurpur. The offensive task of I Corps was breaking
into the Shakargarh salient south of Degh Nadi and capturing Zafarwal-Dhamthal-Narowal;
and subsequently, securing the line Marala-Ravi link canal and later Pasrur.
I Corps’ original plan for its offensive envisaged launching 54 and 36 Infantry Divisions between Degh Nadi and Ravi river, supported by 16 and 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigades, after the enemy reserves were committed south and east of Degh Nadi. These plans were later modified, based on reports of some enemy movements. The sector west of Degh Nadi was styled as 'X' Sector comprising 168 and 323 Infantry Brigades. Subsequently, 33 Infantry Brigade of 39 Infantry Division was moved to Punch, depleting the strength of the division and restricting its ability to carry out its original task of advance to Pasrur.
On 3 December, GOC I Corps issued his orders based on the modified plans. 54 Infantry Division with 16 (Indep) Armoured Brigade less 16 Cavalry was to advance between Degh Nadi and Karir river with a view to capturing line Laisarkalan-Bari Darman, then Supwal and Barwal, and to be prepared to capture Deoli and Mirzapur. 39 Infantry Division comprising 72 Infantry Brigade ex-36 Infantry Division and 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade less 14 Horse was to advance between Karir and Bein rivers and capture Shakargarh. 36 Infantry Division less 72 Infantry Brigade and 14 Horse were to advance across the
Ravi on axis Thakurpur-Nainakot-Nurkot and capture
54 and 39 Infantry Divisions
54 Infantry Division and 39 Infantry Division less a brigade commenced their offensives at 2000 hours on
5 December 1971. Both divisions advanced across minefields and
secured their initial objectives, beating back repeated counter-attacks at
various levels. In the process, they
suffered heavy casualties but made good progress, along with 36 Infantry Division
front. On 16 December they encountered very strong defences and a major tank
and infantry battle developed. At 1050 hours, two armoured regiments of Sialkot ’s 8
(Indep) Armoured Brigade launched a counter attack and a fierce tank-to-tank
battle ensued. Pakistan ’s 13
Lancers and 31 Cavalry lost a total of 30 tanks on the first day against ten
tanks lost by 17 Horse. The enemy counter-attack was beaten back and the
bridgehead was reinforced by Pakistan ’s
16 (Indep) Armoured Brigade. The enemy launched
no less than six counter-attacks but all were repulsed. This battle later came
to be known as the Battle of Basantar.
Major Hoshiar Singh of 3 Grenadiers and Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal
of 17 Horse were awarded the PVC for gallantry of the most exceptional order,
the latter being posthumous.5 India
36 Infantry Division
36 Infantry Division was to launch its thrust from Landi and capture Shakargarh and Nurkot and to subsequently capture Shakargarh. By the night of 7/8 December, 115 Infantry Brigade and 14 Horse were inducted into Lasian bulge. After capturing the border outposts on 8 December, the troops captured Bakarwal, Hir, Dhadwal, Sadial, Karwal and Nargal on 9 December. The bridgehead was enlarged and a class 40 bridge constructed the next day, along with the capture of Kathel. On 11 December, Sultanpur and Nainakot were captured.
On 11 December, 14 Horse commenced its advance towards the
Encountering minefields on the axes leading to Nurkot-Shakargarh, the regiment
carried out an outflanking move from the south towards Fatehpur Afghanan. By 1130 hours on 12 December, 14 Horse contacted the east bank of the Bein
River, but failed to cross it due to heavy tank, missile and artillery fire
from the west bank. However, Fatehpur Afghanan and Saroch Brahmanan were
secured by 10 Guards and 4 Guards respectively in the afternoon. By
the evening of 12 December, 14 Horse
was deployed in area Bisso Buzarg Saroch Brahmanan, securing both the northern
and southern flanks. In the 87 Infantry Brigade sector, 14 Rajputana Rifles
captured Garota and lkhlaspur. At this stage, 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade and 1 Mahar joined 36 lnfantry Division through the
Lasian bulge. 87 Infantry Brigade group
was also placed under 36 Infantry Division and ordered to secure the east bank
of the Bein River along the axis
Ikhlaspur-Shakargarh. Bein River
On 12 December, orders were issued for crossing the
. 2 (Indep) Armoured
Brigade less one regiment was to effect a crossing in area Bisso-Buzarg, while 115 Infantry
Brigade and squadron 14 Horse was to hold the east bank of the river along axis
Nurkot-Shakargarh. However, 2 (Indep) Armoured
Brigade could not find a suitable crossing place. It was then decided to attack
Shakargarh on the night of 14/15 December.
The attack was launched by 87 and 115
Infantry Brigades but due to heavy shelling by the enemy, the attacking
battalions got disorganized and the attack did not materialize. In conjunction
with the operations of 36 Infantry
Division, 72 Infantry Brigade of 54 Infantry Division was to establish a road
block in area Km 38/39 on road
Shakargarh-Zafarwal, but this too did not happen. Once again, it was decided to
launch an attack on Shakargarh on the night of 17/18, but this became redundant
due to the cease fire on 17 December.6 Bein
XI CORPS OPERATIONS IN
The state of
and the adjoining Ganganagar district of Rajasthan is strategically important
since an offensive by the enemy in this sector leads to the heartland of and to
the capital city of India .
It also has several important objectives close to the border such as Gurdaspur,
Ferozepur, Fazilka, Abohar and Ganganagar. In addition, there are important
objectives in depth such as Amritsar ,
Jullundur and Bhatinda. The defence of the sector was the
responsibility of XI Corps based in Ludhiana .
XI Corps had under it three infantry divisions, a sector headquarters and an independent
infantry brigade. 15 Infantry Division was responsible for the area between
Gurdaspur and the Grand Trunk (GT) Road opposite Amritsar; 7 Infantry
Division for the area between GT Road and
Ferozepur; 14 Infantry Division less a
brigade for the area between Ferozepur and Fazilka; 67 Infantry Brigade for
Fazilka and 51 (Indep) Parachute Brigade for the defence of Ganganagar. In
addition, 163 Infantry Brigade was
moved from Ladakh and made responsible for the defence of Suratgarh area.
Foxtrot Sector was responsible for the Fazilka-Ganganagar sector. 14 (Indep) Armoured
Brigade was also under command of the corps. 1 Armoured Division, the Army HQ
reserve, was located at Jullundur ,
with an advance headquarters at Kot Kapura. Amritsar
did not launch any major
offensive in this sector, nor did XI Corps undertake any major offensive enemy territory,
several important actions took place at Dera Baba Nanak, Ferozepur and Fazilka.
Apart from these, both sides took some minor actions in other places in order
to improve their defensive posture. Pakistan
of Dera Baba Nanak (15 Infantry Division) Battle
There was a bridge over the
Ravi near Dera Baba Nanak, where had a
fairly large enclave on the south bank, for defence of the bridge. The enclave
was developed into a strong defensive position with pill boxes, wire and mines.
The responsibility for defence of the sector was with 86 Infantry Brigade,
commanded by Brigadier K. Gowrishankar, from the Corps of Signals. As soon as hostilities commenced, he was given
the task of eliminating the Pakistani enclave at Dera Baba Nanak. For this
purpose he was allotted 71 Armoured Regiment and 21 (Indep) Artillery Brigade.
He planned to carry out the operation by attacking from the flanks and the
rear. 10 Dogra and 71 Armoured Regiment less a squadron were to capture the
depth bund, rail bund, road bund and river bund from the east; 1/9 Gorkha
Rifles was to capture Dusi bund; and 1 Rajput with a squadron of 71 Armoured
Regiment was to subsequently to clear the Ranger posts at Kokhare and Sandhawan
Commencing it attack on the night of 5/6 December, 1/9 Gorkha Rifles captured Colonel's Hut by 0100 hours and 'T' junction at 0600 hours. With the enemy's attention diverted, 10 Dogra launched its attack at 0330 hours and captured its objectives after fierce fighting in the early hours of 6 December. The enemy panicked and blew up the bridge over the
. The enemy launched a counter
attack on the night of 6/7 December but was beaten back. Subsequently, 86
Infantry Brigade cleared all Pakistani posts on the southern and eastern side
of the river in the area. As a result of this operation, 86 Infantry made the
area secure against any Pakistani offensive. However, as the bridge was blown,
any scope for Indian troops launching an offensive to join with I Corps was lost.
Apart from these operations, a number of border posts and other useful areas
were captured by 15 Infantry Division in Ajnala, Fatehpur, Burj, Ranian, Attari
and Rajatal areas.7 Ravi River
Brigadier Gowrishankar was awarded the MVC for this operation. (He later became a lieutenant general and died in harness as Security Advisor to the Government of Punjab). His photograph and citation are given below:-
Brigadier Krishnaswamy Gowrishankar was in command of 86 Infantry Brigade responsible for the defence of Dera Baba Nanak on the western front during the Indo – Pak war 1971. His brigade was given the task of capturing a well prepared and heavily fortified locality held in strength by the enemy. Brigadier Krishnaswamy Gowrishankar showed boldness and originality in planning of the brigade attack. During the attack he was always in the forefront, directing operations and exercising personal control, undeterred by heavy tank, medium machine gun and artillery fire. By his presence with the forward troops, sharing their hardships and dangers, he not only inspired confidence but was able to modify the plans to ensure speed and maintain momentum of the attack. He displayed conspicuous gallantry, outstanding leadership, personal bravery, great determination and utter disregard to personal safety. His skill and inspiring presence ensured success of this attack with heavy losses to the enemy. For displaying exemplary valour, leadership, professional skill of the highest order and utter disregard to his personal safety Brigadier Krishnaswamy Gowrishankar was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.
7 & 14 Infantry Divisions
In the 7 Infantry Division Sector, an Indian enclave across the headworks over the
at Hussainiwala was held by 15 Sutlej River Punjab. On the
evening of 3 December 3, the Pakistanis attacked the enclave after intense shelling.
The bridge was damaged and there were no tanks across the river. The CO, who was
on the eastern bank, did not go forward and lost control. The enemy was able to
overrun the position across the bridge though D Company fought gallantly. In
this sector another important area was the Sehjra bulge which was attacked and
captured by 1/5 Gorkha Rifles (FF). The
battalion crossed a river and attacked along the most difficult approach, taking
the enemy from the rear and achieving total surprise. 6 Mahar established road-blocks to cut off the
enemy’s route of withdrawal and 9 Sikh Light Infantry and 6 Mahar captured
adjoining posts. The operation was well executed
and any threat that the enemy could pose from the bulge was eliminated.8
In the 14 Infantry Division sector, some Pakistani enclaves south of the
were eliminated and
some posts captured. These included Basti Anok, New Kishore, Donabetu, Peroke,
Kotsahu, Ghatti Bharola, Churka and Amin Bharisi. This division had only two brigades,
the third (58 Infantry Brigade) having been given to 15 Infantry Division. Sutlej
In the Foxtrot Sector, a serious reverse took place in the Fazilka area held by 67 Infantry Brigade. Pakistan had a large enclave east of the Sutlej in the area of Suleimanke headworks, which not only provided depth to the headworks but also enabled her to launch an offensive into India if she so desired. 67 Infantry Brigade group of Foxtrot Sector was responsible for the defence of Fazilka, a major town located nearby. The main defences of the brigade were on Sabuna distributary, well ahead of Fazilka and also in depth. One battalion (3
responsible for the Sabuna distributary while the other two battalions were in
depth on the Sabuna drain. Covering troops comprising three companies of 3 Assam were put
out ahead at Pakka, Right Guide Bund and Bridge guarding Amroha approach. The
main defences on Sabuna distributary and Sabuna drain were strong, comprising
concrete pill boxes. Assam
On the evening of 3 December,
the Indian positions and followed up with an attack by armour and infantry. In
the initial rush, they secured the Pakistan and got to the
Sabuna distributary on the flanks. When the enemy was getting behind their
positions, the covering troops fell back right on to Sabuna drain! In the ensuing
panic 3 Beriwala
blew up all the bridges on the approaches to the Sabuna position. The enemy
pressed on and by 1930 hours secured a lodgment on the Sabuna drain, the depth
position. An immediate counter-attack was launched with a company of 4 Jat
supported by a squadron of 18 Cavalry on the Assam .
The tanks were bogged down and the Jats could only get a foot-hold on the eastern
side of the bridge. Some elements of 3 Beriwala Bridge were on the Sabuna distributor,
south of the Assam . On 4 December, 4
Jat was subjected to heavy shelling and vacated their position, but later got
back to it. Beriwala
There was considerable confusion and the brigade suggested that it should fall back on the inner defences of Fazilka. The Army Commander overruled this and ordered that the Sabuna drain position would be held at all costs. On the night of 4/5 December, 4 Jat once again attacked the Pakistani position but failed to capture it, though nine tanks were lost. The brigade was reinforced by 3/11 Gorkha Rifles from 116 Infantry Brigade and 115 Infantry Battalion (TA). The brigade commander was also replaced. On 6 December, the divisional commander who had gone forward was wounded but stayed on. 15 Rajput, who were relieved by 3/11 Gorkha Rifles, launched a counter attack on night of 8/9 December, but did not succeed. 15 Rajput captured Muazzam post on the night of 11 December and Ghazi post on the night of 13 December. However, the enemy launched a counter-attack and evicted the Rajputs from their positions. The enemy counter attacked the position held by 4 Jat several times, but could not dislodge the Jats. It was later learned that the Pakistanis planned to continue their attacks for capturing Fazilka, but the cease fire on 17 December prevented them from doing this.
The reverse at Fazilka was attributable to weak leadership and ineffective conduct of the battle. The large number of casualties suffered - 189 killed, 425 wounded and 196 missing - did not justify the results achieved. Although exaggerated reports indicated that two brigades attacked the 67 Infantry Brigade position, in fact it was carried out by elements of 105 (Indep) Infantry Brigade, which was the local Pakistani formation responsible for the defence of the area. Apart from Fazilka, further south near Nagi (opposite Jalwala headworks), there was a Pakistani intrusion, which was cleared by 4 Para.9
OPERATIONS IN RAJASTHAN & SIND
The border areas of Rajasthan and
Sind provinces of and India consist
of mostly desert terrain with very limited road and rail communications. Pakistan ’s Southern Command was
responsible for the area of Rajasthan and India Gujarat
with the exception of the Ganganagar sector of Rajasthan, which was the
responsibility of Western Command. It was appreciated that would
remain on the defensive in this sector and might only launch very limited
offensives in order to improve her defence posture. It was assessed that by
readjusting defences Pakistan
could muster a force of a division less a brigade and a regiment of armour to
launch an offensive against either Jaisalmer or Barmer. Due to the difficult
terrain opposite Pakistan Kutch and not much was expected in these
sectors except local offensives. Bikaner
Southern Command was responsible for operations in the sector and an advance headquarters was set up at
for the purpose,
which had under it 11 and 12 Infantry Divisions for operations. 10 Para Commando battalion was also allotted for
special operations. Kilo and Kutch Sectors were responsible for
the defence of Jodhpur
and Bikaner Kutch sectors respectively. These sectors
mainly had para military forces, though 13 Grenadiers, a camel battalion, was
allotted to Kilo Sector.
The Army Commander, Lieutenant General G.G. Bewoor, planned to initially deploy a brigade each in the Jaisalmer and Barmer sectors, to cover the concentration of the remainder of 11 and 12 Infantry Divisions from cantonments in the rear. Subsequently, the divisions were to be prepared to launch offensive operations into
territory. According to the plans, 12 Infantry Division was to advance on axis
Kishangarh--Rahimyarkhan, while 11 Infantry Division was to advance on the axis
Khokhropar-Gadra City-Naya Chor. The task given to 10 Para Commando was to raid
Chachro and Badin. Kilo and Pakistan Kutch sectors were
to carry out some local offensives, eliminate the enemy's border out posts and
improve their defensive posture. The firm bases were occupied by 26 October and
preparations completed by 3 December. After carried out strikes at the
airfields at Pakistan ,
Utarlai and Barmer on 3 December, Southern Command was instructed to put its
plans into operation. Jodhpur
11 Infantry Division
11 Infantry Division started its operations at last light on 4 December. Advancing from three directions, it captured Ratok, Relnor and Mankor in the north; Kajlor, Vitala and Khokhropar in the middle; and
and Khinsar in the south
by the evening of 5 December. Construction of a duck board track from Munabao
to Khokhropar and beyond towards Nayachor was started immediately. Concurrently,
work started on restoration of the railway track, which was found damaged in
places. Continuing its advance, the division captured Vasarabh, Sakana and
Parche ji Veri by last light on 7 December. The screen position opposite
Nayachor was pushed back on 10 December and Purbat Ali was contacted. This
position was strongly held by the enemy and an outflanking move by armour was
checked. Beyond this lay the Nayachor defences which were held by the better
part of a brigade. A deliberate attack was mounted on the Purabat Ali position
by the leading brigade and was captured after heavy fighting in the early hours
of 13 December. The enemy put in three successive counter attacks, but could
not recapture the position, suffering heavy casualties. Gadra
11 Infantry Division contacted the Nayachor defences on 15 December. Probing attacks and reports revealed that that the position was strongly held, having been reinforced by a brigade and an armoured regiment. Concurrent with the operations on the main axis, one brigade of 11 Infantry Division advanced in the south and captured
Kinsar, Dali, Chachro and Bagal by 10 December. One battalion was ordered to advance on axis Chachro-Umarkot,
to threaten the Nayachor defences from the south. The battalion captured Hingo
Thar about Gadra City 7 km
east of Umarkot on 16 December but
fell back on being counter attacked on the next day. In the north, 17
Grenadiers took over some of the captured areas and protected the approaches to
Miajar, although originally it was to advance on axis Relnor-Nayachor. The
attack on Nayachor could not be mounted due to the ceasefire on 17 December.
The performance 11 Infantry Division during the operation was commendable. In spite of the extremely difficult nature of the terrain which was devoid of communications and the hazards involved, the division had advanced fairly deep into enemy territory and posed a serious threat to the main enemy defences at Nayachor. Towards the end of the operation, the division was reinforced by a brigade from 12 Infantry Division, but it could not be utilized due to logistical problems involved and shortage of time.
12 Infantry Division
The operations of 12 Infantry Division started on the evening of 4 December and the leading brigade captured Sakhirewalakot and Islamkot the same night. Next morning, a company of 23
Punjab deployed in the area of Longewala reported some
tank movement opposite its area. Subsequently, the air observation post of the division
reported a 20-kilometre long enemy armoured column moving on track Kharotar-Ghabbar.
The Pakistani column came quite close to the Longewala post and shelled it
heavily. The isolated company of 23 Punjab was
in a precarious position but held on to its defences in a most gallant manner.
The divisional commander called for immediate air strikes by the Indian Air Force,
which responded with alacrity and flew 11 air strike missions from first light
onwards, inflicting heavy casualties on Pakistani armour, vehicles and troops.
The enemy plans for advance to Jaisalmer via Ramgarh were thus completely
frustrated. The air strikes broke up the enemy advance, which could have
resulted in a serious rout for own troops in this area. As a result of the
enemy action, the Army Commander decided to give up his plans for the offensive
in this sector and instead go on the defensive and consolidate the position. 12
Infantry Division launched counter attacks on 8 December and cleared the enemy
from Kharotar by the evening. Sarkari Ka Tibba was captured by the next evening.
Thus, the entire area was cleared of the enemy. Later, it came to light that
the enemy had withdrawn from the area to his main defences.10
10 Para Commando raided Chachro on 7 December and took a number of prisoners. Birawah was raided on 8 December and some prisoners captured from there also. An ambush was laid on the track to Mithi, west of Islamkot, and a number of enemy troops were killed or captured. However, he raid on Badin originally planned was not carried out. Over all, the operations 10
Para Commando of proved to be useful. The CO,
Lieutenant Colonel M.K. Bhawani Singh, was awarded a well deserved MVC for the
CEASE FIRE AND SIMLA AGREEMENT
As soon as the war came to an end and
East Pakistan was liberated, unilaterally stopped
operations in the Western Theatre also on India 17 December 1971. Though was in an
advantageous position to continue operations in the west by using forces
available from the east, she did not do so as she had no interest in capturing
and retaining any territory in India West Pakistan. She
also held about 93,000 Pakistanis as prisoners of war. After the cessation of
proposed negotiations with India
through different channels, including the United Nations on Pakistan 14 February 1972. Although the
initial response of
was not positive, ultimately she agreed to talks at Simla. President Zulfiqar
Ali Bhutto of Pakistan
and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi met at and
Simla talks were held from 28 June to Pakistan 2 July 1972. After several rounds of talks and protracted
negotiations, an agreement was reached on the night of 2/3 July 1972.
During the 1971 war,
decisive victory over India
and a new nation came into being. Apart from capturing almost a hundred
thousand prisoners the Indian Army had occupied several thousand square
kilometres of Pakistani soil in Ladakh. When the talks were held in Simla it
was expected that Pakistan
would be able to wrest some major concessions from India and negotiate a permanent
solution to the Pakistan Kashmir problem.
Unfortunately, the Army was kept out of the negotiations and the Army Chief,
General Manekshaw was not consulted before or during the talks. Though Bhutto
and Indira Gandhi had informally agreed to accept the cease fire line in Kashmir as the international border, this was not reduced
to writing. As a result, the military gains, achieved at great cost in human
lives, were frittered away. When the Prime Minister returned from Simla, she
told General Manekshaw about what had transpired during the meeting. Bhutto had
told her that he had recently taken over and was not in a position to take
major decisions. He needed more time and promised that in six months everything
would be done as she desired.11
In accordance with the terms of the Simla Agreement, the process of delineation of the Line of Control was begun soon afterwards. The Indian team was led by Lieutenant General P.S. Bhagat, VC, GOC-in-C of the newly created Northern Command. The other members of the Indian team were Major General M.R. Rajwade, Chief of Staff Northern Command and Major General I.S. Gill, the Director of Military Operations at Army HQ. The Pakistani team was led by Lieutenant General Abdul Hamid Khan. The main task of the teams was to delineate the Line of Control along the entire border in
first meeting was held at Wagah, on Jammu and Kashmir 3 September 1972. This was followed by others, at , on 28 November
and 7 December, between the two Chiefs, Sam Manekshaw and Tikka Khan. The final
meeting at which the Agreement was signed, took place on Lahore 11 December 1972 at Suchetgarh. After
the delineation agreement,
returned 13,309 square kilometres of territory to India , while she got back 916 square
kilometres of territory. Pakistan
The prisoners taken by
were exchanged on Pakistan 1 December
1972. However, the withdrawal of troops of both sides had still not
taken place due to disagreement on the alignment of the Line of Control. There
was a deadlock due to conflicting claims of both sides over certain key areas,
including the near village
of Thako Chak and certain
features in Kaiyan, across the Tutmari Gali in Jammu Kashmir.
The enclave of Thako Chak in the Chicken's Neck had been occupied by during
the war. In the Kaiyan Bowl, a large area had been captured by an over
enthusiastic company of 9 Sikh, which was part of 19 Infantry Division. A small
hillock that had been reported as captured was discovered to be still held by
the enemy when cease fire was declared. The anomaly was discovered several
months later. To retrieve the situation, the divisional commander decided to
capture the feature. The strength on the feature was not correctly assessed and
the attack launched in May 1972 failed, with heavy casualties. Pakistan
To resolve the issue, General Manekshaw flew down to
had two meetings with his counter-part General Tikka Khan on 28 November and 7
December. Though the Prime Minister had authorised him to give up Thako Chak to
break the deadlock, General Manekshaw was not one to give up so easily.
Finally, he managed to get back Thako Chak, in return for some territory in
Kaiyan that was not as valuable. The withdrawal of troops commenced soon
afterwards and was completed by Lahore 20 December 1972.
SIGNALS IN WESTERN COMMAND DURING OPERATION ‘CACTUS LILY’
Western Command Signals
HQ Western Command was located at Simla in 1971. The CSO was Brigadier J.S. Kalra, the other officers in the Signals Branch being Lieutenant Colonel V. Balasubramaniam, SO 1 (Signals); Major Shivraj Kumar, SO 2 (Communications), Major Joginder Singh SO 2 (Staff Duties) and Captain Vijay Chandra, SO 3 (Cipher & Signal Security).
By the middle of 1971, it was known that operations for the liberation of
would be conducted
towards the end of the year. Plans for the operations in the Western Sector
began to be made concurrently with those in the Eastern Sector. The SO-in-C, Lieutenant General E.G
Pettengell and his deputy, Major General K.S. Garewal held several meetings
with the CSOs of Western and Southern Commands. They also visited the
formations that were likely to take part in the operations to find out their
problems at first hand. Unlike in the East, communications infrastructure in
West was well developed, especially after the 1965 war with Bangladesh . A
detailed assessment of the existing resources was carried out and steps taken
to make up shortages. Since almost every formation in the Army was likely to be
involved, there was little scope for diversion of resources or ‘milking’ units
in other sectors. To make up critical deficiencies in equipment, Ordnance and
production agencies such as Bharat Electronics Limited had to be tapped. The
shortages of manpower were made up by posting personnel from the STCs and
inter-unit transfers. Pakistan
As in previous operations, the communications infrastructure of the P&T Department was to form the backbone of signal communications, especially in
Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. A large number of
additional circuits had to be hired and several new PL routes had to be
constructed. These required coordination and liaison with the P&T
authorities at the highest level. The Deputy SO-in-C, accompanied by the Deputy
Director Telecommunications, Brigadier M.S. Sodhi and Mr. Shenoy, a member of
the P&T Board visited each sector personally to take stock of the existing
resources. Decisions to augment the infrastructure such as PL, carrier centres
and exchanges were taken on the spot and demands placed on the P&T
Department, which reacted with commendable enthusiasm and alacrity. Wherever it
was felt that the P&T would not be able to provide the required assets in
time, it was decided to provide these from Army resources. If PL could not be
laid in time, alternate means of communications such as microwave or radio
relay was explored.
In mid October HQ Western Command moved to its operational location at
Static communications at Jullundur
were provided by Western Command Signal Regiment, part of which was moved from
Simla for this purpose. In addition, Western Command Mobile Signal Company was
moved from Ambala to Jullundur
to cater for radio relay communications. By the end of October, the subordinate
formations had also moved to their operational locations. Main HQ Western
Command was at Jullundur ;
I Corps at Samba; XI Corps at Kotkapura and XV Corps at Udhampur. The
communications to Jullundur
and to subordinate formations were on line, using circuits hired from the
P&T Department. However, radio relay communications were established and
kept as stand by. Delhi
Western Command Signal Regiment
Western Command Signal Regiment was located at Simla, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ashutosh Kumar. The other field officers in the unit were Major M.S Gujral (second-in-command); Major B.K. Bhardwaj (1 Company); and Major H.G. Karkare (2 Company). The bulk of the unit was at Jutogh, where the living accommodation and transmitters were located. The signal centre and exchange were in Simla, alongside HQ Western Command, while the receiver station was at Sanjauli.
The unit moved to
on Jullundur 16 October 1971. The move included carriage of
all static signal equipment installed at the transmitter and receiver stations
at Jutogh and Sanjauli respectively. During the next few days, communications
for a full fledged command headquarters was set up at . Radio links for radio telephony
and teleprinter working were established with Jullundur , Simla, Udhampur, Kotkapura, Samba,
and Pathankot. A considerable amount of equipment was taken over from Z
Communication Zone Signal Regiment. This included six transmitters BC 610E, one
ET 4331and one RS 53. The forward links to the operational locations were kept
on listening watch, while the static links were used for clearance of traffic.
Radio silence was observed except for W-17 (RT net to Simla, Ambala,
Pathankot); W-18 (RTg net to Simla, Ambala, Pathankot); and A-37 (RTT link to Amritsar ). Delhi
Speech and teleprinter circuits were taken over from the P&T Department to the operational locations of formations and several other communication centres. By 25 October the unit had taken over all communications at
from Z Communication Zone Signal
Regiment, including the signal centre and exchange. A total of 12 teleprinter
and 39 speech circuits were functional. Equipment cipher line (ECL) was
transported from Simla to Jullundur
by helicopter and installed in the cipher office. To cater for the large number
of trunk lines additional trunk boards T43 were taken over from the P&T
Department. To ensure that communications were not disrupted due to enemy
action once the war started; alternate arrangements were made. An underground
operations room was wired up for eight telephones and five ECL positions. It
was tried successfully with the headquarters of the corps as well as with Army
HQ in Jullundur and
then handed over to the General Staff Branch. A dispersal hut was established
in which four transmitters were installed. External remote control lines from
transmitter hall to the dispersal hut were laid. In addition, diversity aerials were installed
for important radio links along with standby aerials. Standby power was
provided for the dispersal hut as well as the transmitter and receiver
The war started on
1971. Radio silence was broken at 1930 hours and all radio links
were activated. After the links had stabilised, they were closed down at with orders to outstations to
open on schedule and when line circuits fail. Thereafter all radio links worked
on schedule for two hours a day and two hours at night. For the first few days the line circuits
functioned well and there were no disruptions in communications. However, the
frequency on the link to Kotkapura was changed on 6 December, on 7 December, Samba on 8 December
and Udhampur on 9 December for security reasons. Strict blackout was observed
with black curtains fitted in the doors and windows of the signal centre. Amritsar
The first break in line communication occurred on 9 December when the coaxial system at
was down for
almost the entire day. The Amritsar VFT system was also down for about two
hours in the evening. On 10 December the RTT circuit to Kotkapura was not
through and had to be changed to RTg after which it worked well. There was a
problem with the power supply on 11 December when the 3 phase 50 KVA voltage
regulator installed by the MES stopped functioning. The regulator was by passed
and the radio sets worked on standby generator until a new regulator was
installed next day. The Jullundur
line circuit also gave trouble on 13 December but the RT and RTT links
functioned well and there was no break in communications. The signal centre and
exchange were both heavily loaded and were handling about 1,75,000 traffic
groups and 3,000 calls every day. The highest traffic handled was and 3,336
calls on 13 December and 1,90,944 groups on 14 December. The war ended on 18
December after which normal routine was followed, with the radio links
continuing to work on schedule. Delhi
Western Command Signal Regiment was a static unit, without the transport and equipment needed for a mobile role. However, the unit rose to the occasion and moved from Simla to
where the new command headquarters was
set up. A large quantity of equipment had to be moved, including transmitters,
exchanges and batteries from static installations. Especially commendable was
the role of the civilian switch board operators (CSBOs), many of whom were
women. Leaving their families behind, they volunteered to move to the war zone,
endured hardships such as separation from their children, crowded living
quarters and indifferent food. They also worked uncomplainingly for long hours,
often on two shift basis, ensuring that important calls were put through
without delay. Jullundur
Western Command Mobile Signal Company
Western Command Mobile Signal Company was located at Ambala under the command of Major R.E. Colombowalla. On
17 October 1971 the
company was ordered to move to its operational location at .
The move was completed by 21 October as ordered. Two radio relay
sections and one line carrier section were deployed at Jullundur . In addition independent
detachments were sent directly from Ambala to Dalhousie, Kasauli, Kotkapura,
Udhampur, Sambha, Bhatinda and Jullundur .
By 0900 hours on 22 October, radio relay links were established between Main HQ
Western Command at Amritsar ,
HQ I Corps at Sambha, Main HQ XI Corps at Kotkapura, HQ XV Corps at Udhampur
and Rear HQ XI Corps at Jullundur .
Relay stations were deployed at Dalhousie, Kasauli and Bhatinda. After
establishing communications the links were kept as standby to be opened on
On 7 November trials were conducted for the integration of Army radio relay net work with P&T microwave systems. The trials were carried from Pathankot to Dalhousie on radio relay and Dalhousie to
on microwave on an existing group. The equipment used was RS FM 200/C41 with
ACT (1+4)3A as channelling equipment. To
make this integration feasible some modifications were carried out on the ACT
(1+4)3A. On 14 November the modifications carried out were put into use and
final trials carried out. The circuit worked satisfactorily. The arrangement
was extended for all the four channels of the ACT (1+4)3A located at Dalhousie
and circuit extended to microwave station using 7 pair VIR of approximately 3½ kilometres with
an understanding with the P&T Department that in case of an emergency four
existing circuits from the microwave will be disconnected and patched on the
radio relay system. Jullundur
After commencement of the operations on 3 December the radio relay links functioned without any hitch. On 13 December the radio relay detachment at Bhatinda was ordered to move to Moga in order to improve the speech level of the link and for better communications with Main HQ XI Corps at Kotkapura. The new link was
– Kasauli – Moga – Kotkapura which
was found to be better than the one being used earlier. After the end of the
operations on 18 December the company continued to carry out trials for ECL
working on teleprinter circuits derived over radio relay between various
locations such as Sambha - Jullundur ,
Sambha –Udhampur, Sambha – Kotkapura, Amritsar
– Udhampur, Amritsar
– Kotkapura and Udhampur – Kotkapura. Amritsar
XV Corps Signals
HQ XV Corps was at Udhampur in 1971. The CSO was Brigadier S.L. Juneja, while Lieutenant Colonel K. K. Tuli and Major V.K. Puri were holding the appointments of SO1 (Signals) and SO 2 (Signals) respectively. The CSO drew up the signal plan for Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ in consultation with all the commanders and staff. The plan was approved by the Chief of Staff and discussed with the SO-in-C during the presentation held on
15 September 1971
The Deputy SO-in-C, Major General K.S. Garewal; Deputy Director
Telecommunications, Brigadier M.S. Sodhi and Mr. Shenoy, Member Operations, P & T Board, visited
Pathankot, Samba and Jammu on 21 and 22 October 1971. As a result of the
discussions held during their visit to 39 and 26 Infantry Divisions, several
important decisions were taken. Jullundur
Based on the Signals plan, which had been approved by the GOC, a signal instruction was issued on
1971. Subsequently, the
SO-in-C, Lieutenant General E.G. Pettengell also visited HQ XV Corps, 10
Infantry Division and 19 Infantry Division from 15 to 18 November 1971, during
which he discussed the communications plans with the formation commanders, CSOs
and unit commanders. These visits proved extremely useful since on the spot
decisions were taken and implemented expeditiously.
During November 1971 several measures were taken in preparation for the impending operations. Arrangements were made to provide telephones and military trunk facilities to various civilian officials and the control headquarters at various stations in Jammu & Kashmir for close liaison with the formation and unit commanders to regulate the affected civil population close to the border areas. To ensure that radio discipline was maintained, special monitoring detachments from the Central Monitoring Organisation were positioned at
, Sunderbani and Jammu , in addition to the ‘I’ sections of
divisional signal regiments. All Srinagar cipher tables were withdrawn
from all brigades along with zonal linex from all battalions. Special
instructions were issued for safe custody and handling of documents. Ad hoc early warning radio nets were
established all along the border posts. India
Radio silence was lifted on
December 1971 when the operations commenced and all radio nets were
activated. During the entire operation, signal communications worked well in
the whole theatre. SITREPs (situation
reports) were cleared within three hours and other operational messages in less
than 18 hours. There was a sharp increase in message traffic, cipher traffic
and trunk calls. While the message traffic doubled from 1,20,000 to 2,50,000
groups, the cipher traffic increased more than
twenty times, from 2,000 to 45,000. The on-line cipher traffic on ECL
also rose from 2,000 to 12,000. As regards trunks calls, these registered a two
fold increase from 1,200 to 2,400.
Radio and radio relay communications were extremely reliable and remained through at all time. Line communications was generally stable, except in 10 Infantry Divisional Sector, where the PL suffered heavy damage due to intense enemy shelling even when the shells landed at a considerable distance from the route. A line construction section was inducted to continuously carry out repairs on the route and restore communications on carrier quad which was buried. Young officers and linemen did a commendable job in carrying these tasks. The casualties sustained by Signals personnel in XV Corps Zone were not inconsequential - five killed, two missing (later declared killed) and 15 wounded, including one officer.
XV Corps Signal Regiment
XV Corps Signal Regiment was at Udhampur, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel G.A. Newton, with Major N.B. Phansalkar as his second-in-command. Other officers holding important appointments were Major S.A. Rao (1 Company); Major S.K. Sikka (2 Company); Major R.S. Jham (3 Company); Captain C.L. Kauldhar (HQ Company); Captain A. Fotidar (adjutant); and Captain Iqbal Singh (quartermaster).
During October and November 1971 the unit carried out preparations in accordance with instructions received from CSO XV Corps. A large number of new speech and telegraph circuits were taken over from the P&T Department viz. Udhampur – Jammu Speech I & II (26 Infantry Division Main); Udhampur-Akhnur Speech (10 Infantry Division Main); Udhampur-Akhnur Bridge and Udhampur-Samba Speech. At the same time, a number of circuits that were not required were handed back to the P&T Department. These included Udhampur-Simla Speech I & II; Udhampur-Jammu (Airfield) and Udhampur-Pathankot teleprinter circuits. Consequent to the move of Tactical HQ XV Corps, the Signals element comprising one radio detachment and one signal centre detachment was moved to Akhnur on
14 November 1971. One radio detachment also moved to Jindra to
provide communication on C-1 and C-2 links.
During the operations from 4 to 17 December communications functioned without any break. During battle telephone lines were damaged from enemy shelling and movement of own tanks. Though air support communications functioned well, the non availability of crystals and adequate channels for the RS GU 734 was a constraining factor. Instances were reported of the enemy trying to join our radio nets. There were also instances where the enemy had got hold of our frequencies used by the Forward Air Control (FAC) and directed our aircraft to our own positions. The air support tentacles were issued with Rs 62, which was found to be bulky and inhibited mobility.
25 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
25 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was located at Rajauri under the command of Lieutenant Colonel S.S. Grover with Major S.C. Mehra as his second–in-command. Other officers holding important appointments were Major Shri Krishan (1 Company); Captain J.S. More (2 Company); Captain Sudhir Kumar (3 Company); Captain A.G. Rajan (HQ Company); Major A.K. Mahajan (93 Infantry Brigade), Major Hari Singh (80 Infantry Brigade) and Major S.K. Seth (120 Infantry Brigade).
Preparations for the impending operations had been going on for several months but the tempo increased in November 1971, when the construction of underground splinter proof bunkers for signal centre, crypto centre and carrier room commenced. Radio relay trials from a new site within the unit were carried out and found successful. Dhanidhar Fort located on a hill across the valley at Rajauri about
4 km from the unit location
was planned to be used as a site for establishing radio relay repeaters and VHF
radio rebroadcast (RRB) station for the D1 and D1A links. To facilitate
extension of carrier tails and communication to the Fort, Second Lieutnant O.P.
Beniwal was tasked to carry out recconnaisance for laying of two pairs of PL
route from the divsional headquarters to the Fort on 22 November. The route was
laid the next day by utilising available
manpower including non combatants.
A large number of PL routes were completed, linking important picquets in the sectors of 80, 120 and 93 Infantry Brigades. After the induction of 33 Infantry Brigade on 25 November, a number of new PL routes were constructed linking its new location at Surankot with other formations and its own units. A large quantity of radio equipment was received from the Central Ordnance Depot, 25 Infantry Division Ordnance Maintenance Company and 1 Signal Park. This included several radio sets, line equipment and generators, which went a long way in making up the unit’s deficiencies of these critical items.
On 3 December the speech link to 10 Infantry Division was disconnected as the formation moved forward. All radio links including tentacles were activated at 2200 hours and kept on listening watch. During the night heavy enemy shelling in Punch and Naushera disrupted line communication to and within 93 Infantry Brigade. All trunk lines near traffic control post at Punch were destroyed. Telephone lines were also cut by infiltrators near
. The lines
were patched with field cable. A line party under
Havildar Murari carried out repairs of lines under difficult conditions and put
through the Punch -Mandi trunk line during the night. Second Lieutenant
Hoshiyar Singh with a line party went to Jhangar base for maintaining lines in
that area. Kalai
On 5 December a radio relay link was established with 33 Infantry Brigade by positioning the terminal at Jarnawaligali and extending link tails to the brigade headquarters location at Surankot. Line detachments were positioned at Thanamandi and at Narian for maintenance of the PL routes to Surankot and Tarala-Keri village respectively. An additional commitment given to the unit was to cater for communications to the Mike Sector that was created at Mandi comprising two units of Jammu & Kashmir Militia, and one each of the Border Security Force and the Indo Tibetan Border Police. A signal detachment under a JCO equipped with radio sets, telephones, cable and a 10 line exchange was sent in two vehicles provided by 93 Infantry Brigade Signal Company for this purpose. For operations in Thanpir area by 13 Mahar communications were established by 33 Infantry Brigade Signal Company on line as well as radio. Lines from Punch to Banwat were cut by three civilians believed to be Pak agents. They were were caught by linemen and handed over to the Police.
On 6 December a line detachment was sent from Rajauri to Naushera for maintaining the
Tarala-Siot Bridge PL route. In Punch, the local lines disrupted due to heavy shelling were
repaired and put through ensuring no major breakdown in line
communication. Construction work on new
PL routes was stopped and line resources were diverted for maintenance of
existing PL and field cable routes. In Naushera a line party led by an officer was sent from 80 Infantry
Brigade Signal Company to regulate the Jhangar-Kalsian base route. Non Schedule
Despatch Service with a protection party from brigade resources carrying
important messages was sent by OC 80 Infantry Brigade Signal Company to 425
Medical Battalion, 214 Transit Camp and Supply Company. On 7 December another field cable route was laid between Mandi and
Thanpir to provide communications to 13 Mahar. In Naushera a line party of 80 Infantry Brigade Signal Company was
sent to FDC to restore the lines damaged due to shelling.
In view of increase in communication commitments as a result of induction of additional troops, the unit asked for additional equipment which was loaned by other units under orders of CSO XV Corps. On 9 December five radio sets AN/PRC – 25 , (including two with booster) and
10 km of cable was sent to 93
Infantry Brigade Signal Company for the attack
by 21 Punjab
and 9 Rajputana Rifles. Some additional manpower made avilable by Y
Communication Zone Signal Regiment was also sent to the signal company. The CO flew
by helicopter to Punch to tie up communications details for offensive operation
of 93 Infantry Brigade that was to be launched on night of 10/11 December 1971.
On 10 December line parties of 93 Infantry Brigade Signal Company were positioned at Jhalas and Jhoola bridge for quick rectification of faults due to enemy shelling during offensive operations of 21 Punjab. In Rajauri a line party led by an officer was sent to
Upper Krishnaghati to
maintain trunk lines during an offensive operation for capture of Jungle Tekri
area. Mike Sector, which had started functioning at Mandi was provided
extensive communications on radio as well as line, from the divisional as well
as brigade headquarters, apart from cipher cover. Naib Subedar Gian Chand was made responsible for signal communications at
HQ Mike Sector.
In Upper Krishnaghati, Tactical HQ 33 Infantry Brigade moved forward and was terminated on the 9 Rajputana Rifles exchange. Communication details were tied up so that 33 Infantry Brigade could take over the operational control of Krishnaghati sector in case Punch sector was threatened by the enemy. Line communications was also provided to Tactical HQ 33 Infantry Brigade from Punch as well as Bhimbergali through 13
Militia. Radio relay from Rajauri was provided by establishing a terminal at Jammu Upper Krishnaghati. Net radio communications was provided
on the D-1 net, as well as the B-1 net of 93 Infantry Brigade, with another one
to one link to Surankot.
After the capture of Jungle Tekri by 21
Punjab on 11 December,
lines were extended and kept through inspite of heavy shelling by a line party
led by Second Lieutenant Ravindra Singh. In Bhimbergali
lines from T Junction to Krishnaghati came under
heavy shelling and were broken at several places. A line party from 120 Infantry
Brigade was sent and repaired all lines during the night. Three more line parties from 120 Infantry Brigade were sent to maintain PL routes from Balnoi to FDLs which were heavily shelled by the enemy. In Naushera a line was damaged due to heavy shelling on the night of 10/11 December in 80 Infantry Brigade Sector. A line party under Second Lieutenant Hoshiyar Singh repaired all the lines. Tactical HQ 80 Infantry Brigade was established at a forward location.
On 12 December Tactical HQ 33 Infantry Brigade moved back to Surankot. In Naushera, line parties from the unit were sent to lay lines for the impending offensive in 80 Infantry Brigade Sector. The early warning link in the divisional sector taken over by Air Force personnel, who were given two radio sets AN/PRC-25 for this purpose.
On 13 December Colonel Grover proceeded to Bhimbergali and Surankot alongwith the divsional commander to tie up communications for the attack by 14 Grenadiers. Due to heavy shelling by the enemy during the afternoon local lines in Punch town were disrupted. All lines were repaired and communication restored by 1600 hours by line parties of 93 Infantry Brigade. In Bhimbergali an additional radio set on D-1 was opened at Tactical HQ 120 Infantry Brigade for the attack at Daruchian. Another set was kept on listening watch on the forward net of 14 Grenadiers. In addition, B-1A link was opened with 14 Grenadiers, with the two flanking battalions on listening watch. In Naushera a line detachment ex 1 Company was sent for establishing line communications from Tactical HQ 80 Infantry Brigade for the impending attack. To cater for the operation in Daruchian by 14 Grenadiers, a 10-line exchange was set up for the brigade tactical headquarters from where PL was available to Bhimbergali and Balnoi. Field cable was also laid to 14 Grenadiers exchange and a line to the artillery brigade exchange at T Junction.
On 14 December trials were conducted to patch up 10 Infantry Division on radio relay. At Naushera additional divisional radio links were established with Tactical HQ 80 Brigade at FDL 546 for the impending offensive. Enemy shells fell in the MT park of 93 Infantry Brigade Signal Company at Moti Mahal and one shell hit the zero pole near the central battery exchange. Many lines were disrupted due to shelling but were quickly restored by line parties.
On 15 December the CO accompanied the GOC to HQ 80 Infantry Brigade for tying up communications for the attack. In Naushera, Second Lieutenant Hoshiyar Singh and Subedar Swaran Singh with linemen reached Kalsian base. They set up two 10-lines exchanges, an ad hoc air support tentacle and line communications with Rajauri. Radio communications were established by positioning the GOC’s Rover Group at Advance Tactical HQ 80 Infantry Brigade, which was to come up as an out station on the divsional HF and VHF nets. In Bhimbergali a radio detachament (C11/R210 and AN/PRC 25) from 120 Infantry Brigade Signal Company accompanied 6/11 Gorkha Rifles for the attack in 80 Infantry Brigade sector. Five officers joined the unit from the signal officers’ degree engineering (SODE) courses which had been terminated due to Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. They were Captains A.G. Rajan, J.S. More, N. Kumar, P.K. Sehgal and Raj Seth. With Major P.P.S. Yadav having joined a day earlier, the strength of officers saw a substantial increase.
On 16 December CSO XV Corps, Brigadier S.L. Juneja visited 80 Infantry Brigade, accompnaied by Colonel Grover. The FDC was established at Kalsian for 80 Infantry Brigade’s attack. Line communications to the advance FDC was provided by extending one of the support circuits derived from channelling equipment working between advance tactical headquarters at FDL 546 and the tactical headquarters of 80 Infantry Brigade. For the advance tactical headquarters, two speech circuits were provided with tactical headquarters at Naushera. One speech was on direct line while the second speech circuit was derived from channelling equipment. Line communications were provided for locations of all battalions which were to take part in the attack. ‘B’ Echelon was established at Fort Hill of Kalsian base with full communication set up. Second Lieutenant O.P. Beniwal with a line party of 11 linemen was sent to 80 Infantry Brigade Signal Company to assist in line communications for ‘B’ Echelon and the impending offensive.
On 17 December the unit received the sad news of two fatal casualties that occurred in Naushera. Havildar Roshan Lal and Naik Inder Singh of 80 Infantry Brigade Signal Company were killed due to a direct hit from an enemy shell at 1320 hours when restoring line communication at advance tactical headquarters. Soon afterwards the operations came to an end and a cease fire came into effect.
The excellent performance of 25 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment during Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ was commended by commanders as well as staff. This was due to advance planning, attention to detail and the high level of motivation of all personnel, the credit for which should go to the CO, his team of officers and the dedicated JCOs and OR of the unit.
10 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
10 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was at Pathankot under the command of Lieutenant Colonel V. Balachandran. The other field officers in the unit were Major R.S. Anand (second-in-command), Major M.S. Yadav (1 Company) and Major A.K. Mishra (2 Company). The officers in the brigade signal companies were Major Vishnu Haritats (28 Brigade); Major A.S. Sandhu (191 Brigade); Major Vinod Kumar (52 Brigade); Major H. P. Singh (68 Brigade) and Captain P.K Sharma (10 Artillery Brigade).
The unit mobilized for operations and moved to Akhnur on
October 1971. On arrival at the new location the unit established a
signal centre and exchange, on which local and trunk lines were terminated.
Speech circuits on line were available to Udhampur, , 28 and 191 Infantry Brigades, 10
Artillery Brigade and 61 Engineer Regiment. In addition a teleprinter circuit
was available to HQ XV Corps at Udhampur and telegraph circuits to the two
infantry brigades. Over the next couple of days, hotlines were provided to both
infantry brigades and the artillery brigade. Lines were also laid to 26 and 25
Infantry Divisions. Radio relay trials
were carried successfully with Udhampur. Jammu
3 November, 52 Infantry Brigade which had moved
to the operational area from its permanent location at Dalhousie a day earlier
was provided communication on line. On 5 November the CO, Lieutenant Colonel V.
Balachandran, proceeded on a route reconnaissance from Khunda to Chhamb and on
wards along the road to Manavar and Barsala. He was accompanied by Major M.S
Yadav, OC 1 Company and Captain U.P. Sangwan, in charge of the line detachment. Next morning the line detachment comprising
13 linemen under Captain Sangwan commenced laying carrier quad cable and
completed up to 11-Kilometre
milestone towards Chhamb. The cable had
to be buried at certain places. Continuing its work next day, the detachment built
overhead cable across Lokhikhad utilizing electric poles and ballies and
reached square Kilometre 9. On 8 November the cables were
laid overhead from Kilometre
9 up to village Palanwala. The same day
Akhnur H-1 system was established. Jammu
Cable laying continued during the next few days. One channel to Udhampur was connected from
on microwave and from Jammu to Akhnur on the H-1 system.
Communications were extended to 2 (Indep) Armoured Squadron and 510 ASC
Battalion from Rakhmuthi. During the night of 11/12 November two line
detachments, working under the command of Major R.S. Anand, laid Jammu 28 km of carrier quad
cable. The two detachments, one from the
unit and the other from XV Corps Signal Regiment, comprised 20 linemen and two
officers, Captain Sangwan and Second Lieutenant S. Bhatnagar. They built six
cables from Khunda to Palanwala.
Throughout the month of November the unit remained busy on tasks aimed at improving the communication network. On 2 December the reconnaissance and layout group of the main divisional headquarters left for the new operational location along with arrangements for step up communications. Next day, the step up signal centre was established at the new location. By the end of the day communications on line had been extended to HQ XV Corps, 52 and 191 Infantry Brigades, 10 Artillery Brigade and the rear divisional headquarters. The M3 group of the main divisional headquarters moved to the new location during the night.
On 3 December, after war was declared, a radio relay detachment was despatched to 191 Infantry Brigade. All radio links were activated and kept open during the night. Three line parties, each under an officer, were organised to carry out repairs on lines as soon as they occurred. Captain Varma of XV Corps Signal Regiment was made responsible for lines to XV Corps and lines on the southern axis; Second Lieutenant Bhatnagar for lines on the northern axis; and Second Lieutenant Vohra for patching forward lines from Anderwar to the new location. Due to enemy shelling, there were frequent breaks in lines to HQ 191 Infantry Brigade and 10 Artillery Brigade.
On 4 December radio relay communications were through with 28 and 191 Infantry Brigades. However, the link with 191 Brigade was disrupted at 1600 hours when the generator was hit by enemy shelling which also damaged the vehicle. Lance Naik R.K.R. Kurup who was in the vehicle was seriously injured and later succumbed to his injuries. There was another fatal casualty at about 2000 hours when Signalman T.R. Sharma 191 Infantry Brigade Signal Company was killed due to enemy shelling. At 2100 hours a spare radio relay detachment was despatched to HQ 191 Infantry Brigade. However, it could not cross the River Manawar Tawi due to enemy fire and had to return.
At 0700 hours on 5 December Major R.S. Anand left for HQ 191 Infantry Brigade with a step up D1, a radio set on commanders’ net and a spare radio relay terminal via the northern axis. However, he could not proceed as
was with the
enemy. He joined the GOC at Lam at 1000
hours and proceeded to HQ 191 Infantry Brigade at 1600 hours. The radio relay link
was finally through at 0330 hours on 6 December and the GOC spoke to the
brigade commander. The lines to HQ 191 Brigade and 10 Artillery Brigade were
frequently interrupted during the night due to enemy shelling and line parties
worked round the stock. Mandiala
Next morning, Major Anand left HQ 191 Brigade with the step up D1 and radio relay terminal. The radio relay vehicle got stuck near Chhamb and could not be recovered. Colonel Balachandran left for HQ 191 Brigade with AN/PRC 25 sets but could not cross the bridge which was under observed enemy fire. He proceeded on foot along Chhamb crossing. The line to 191 Brigade was put through and the GOC spoke to the brigade commander from FDC. At 2000 hours HQ 191 Brigade started withdrawing from Chhamb to Anderwal. The brigade signal company destroyed crypto material before withdrawal.
On 8 December carrier quad was laid to Troti to replace the WD-1 which had been laid earlier. Two speech circuits provided to 10 Artillery Brigade were put through at 1400 hours. At about 1600 hours the line party under Havildar Khan which was carrying out maintenance of the line to 68 Infantry Brigade came under heavy enemy shelling. Their jeep was hit and went up in flames. The line party continued to work and put through the line. The CO and CSO XV Corps, who were then visiting HQ 68 Infantry Brigade, met the line parties a few minutes later. Shortly afterwards, the radio relay link to HQ 68 Infantry Brigade was through and tails were extended to the exchange.
At 0600 hours on 9 December frequencies were changed for all radio links. The line parties under Captain Sangwan and Havildar Khan were positioned permanently at Khunda for maintenance of 68 Infantry Brigade lines. Hotlines were provided to 68 and 52 Infantry Brigades and 10 Artillery Brigade. Two more speech lines were put through to 10 Artillery Brigade on the southern axis PL route. In addition, laterals between all three brigades were provided.
10 December, 57 BSF battalion was netted on
D-1A link. The CO proceeded on northern axis to provide communications for the
combat group consisting of a squadron of the Central India Horse and a company
of 7 Grenadiers. On 11 December, Y Communication Zone Signal Regiment started
laying carrier quad between main divisional headquarters and 68 Infantry
Brigade on the northern axis. A tentacle vehicle with 68 Brigade was destroyed
by enemy shelling. On 12 December a
lateral line between 52 and 68 Brigades was provided on PL on the southern
axis. The carrier quad cable laid by Y Communication Zone from the main
divisional headquarters to 68 Brigade was also put through. Five officers
joined the unit on 15 December from CME and MCTE, where the courses had been
terminated in view of the war. However, operations ended the next day on 16
26 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
Before the commencement of Operation ‘Cactus Lily’, 26 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was located at
, under the command
of Lieutenant Colonel K.P.G. Kurup. The second-in-command was Major A.C.
Sikand, the other field officers being Majors V.C Waie and B.P Sehgal. Jammu
Early in November 1971 the main divisional headquarters was at Beli – Charana, while the rear headquarters was at Bahuwali Rakh. Speech circuits from the main divisional signal centre on line were provided to 19, 36 and 162 Infantry Brigades, 26 Artillery Brigade and 3 (Indep) Armoured Brigade, in addition to HQ XV Corps and flanking formations viz. 10 Infantry Division and 54 Infantry Brigade. Telegraph circuits to all brigades were on fullerphone, while a teleprinter circuit was provided to the corps signal centre. Radio relay links had been established to 19 and 162 Infantry Brigades, 3 (Indep) Armoured Brigade and HQ XV Corps. However, they were seldom used as the line circuits were stable and breaks in communication did not last long. Radio nets had also been established but complete radio silence had been imposed after
2 October 1971.
On 15 November the SO-in-C visited the unit. He was accompanied by CSO XV Corps and two staff officers from Signals Directorate. Around this time there were changes in the order of battle. 3 (Indep) Armoured Brigade was placed under command 10 Infantry Division, while Y Sector was placed under command 36 Infantry Brigade.
At about 0800 hours on 3 December the GOC in his morning conference said that an intercepted message indicated that
soon launch a pre-emptive strike. Later in the day it was learned that
Pakistani aircraft had attacked airfields at Pakistan and Pathankot. The following actions
were immediately taken:- Srinagar
· HQ 3 (Indep) Armoured Brigade moved to area Karanbagh. Speech and telegraph circuits were provided by reorienting existing PL.
· HQ 36 Infantry Brigade moved forward and to Bishnah. Communications were provided by extending PL on field cable from Gidar Galian to Bishnah and extending one line by Pindi route.
· HQ 162 Infantry Brigade moved to area Ranbir Singh Pura. Speech and telegraph circuits were extended on copper routes constructed earlier.
· 8 Cavalry moved to area Sunderpur and was placed under the armoured brigade. A line was provided to 8 Cavalry from 162 Infantry Brigade Exchange.
At about 0915 hours on 4 December, there was an air raid on
air field. However, no damage was caused. After last light, 19 Infantry Brigade
moved to its concentration area for Operation ‘Glow Worm’, the code name for
the capture of Chicken’s Neck. The brigade headquarters moved to area
Kirpalpur. Speech circuits for operations room and exchange were extended on
physical lines to the new location. Second Lieutenant Suraj Bhan with one line
party was sent to 19 Infantry Brigade to assist in laying lines for the
Next morning the CO personally went to the location of HQ 19 Infantry Brigade to coordinate the communications for Operation ‘Glow Worm’. He met the brigade commander and discussed the communication arrangements, including those for infantry tank cooperation. The attack on Chicken’s Neck was launched at 2000 hours by 19 Infantry Brigade along with 4 Dogra (36 Infantry Brigade), one commando group from 9 Para Commando and a squadron of 8 Cavalry. The GOC’s rover group was also at Kirpalpur with the brigade headquarters, for which a telephone line was extended from the brigade exchange. Radio was opened and kept on continuous listening watch. Radio relay was also opened for artillery communications for fire support and as standby to lines.
The operations continued throughout the night. Next morning at about 0730 hours a combat air patrol (CAP) consisting of two Hunter aircraft were in position over Chicken’s Neck. Air support communications were satisfactory and a GU 734 was provided to monitor transmissions between the pilots and the ground troops. At about 0800 hours four enemy Sabres appeared over the divisional headquarters and a dog fight with own aircraft ensued. The enemy aircraft fired rockets and machine guns but could not cause any damage. At about 0900 hours the CO left for 19 Infantry Brigade to supervise the build-up of line communications to the battalions advancing in Chicken’s Neck. For the next couple of hours there was a flurry of calls from GOC XV Corps, and also the
COS and BGS, which were put through to the
divisional commander. Fortunately, lines to HQ 19 Infantry Brigade remained
stable and there were no breaks in communication. But circuits remained busy
throughout and more than 80 calls were cleared in the exchange. At about 1830
hours information was received that area Chicken’s Neck had been captured and
mopping up operations were in progress.
On 7 December there were reports of heavy enemy pressure in 10 Infantry Division sector and sounds of intense artillery firing could be heard at Main HQ 26 Infantry Division. Line communications from HQ 19 Infantry Brigade were extended to 11 Guards, 7/11 Gorkha Rifles and 3/5 Gorkha Rifles in Chicken’s Neck. The line laying was seriously hampered by sporadic enemy shelling and intense air activity. Furthermore, the battalions did not indicate clearly their locations, which changed frequently. Soon after the lines had been laid, 7/11 Gorkha Rifles and 3/5 Gorkha Rifles moved out of Chicken’s Neck area rendering the line effort redundant. In area Chicken’s Neck the only remaining battalion of 19 Infantry Brigade, 11 Guards, had moved company groups to various ferry crossings on River Chenab, with the battalion headquarters located at Khoje Chak. In view of the distances involved following steps taken to provide line communications in the area:-
· One line party was requisitioned from Y Communication Zone Signal Regiment to lay carrier quad cable between Alfa Chanor and Phuklian over a distance of
For this purpose, 15 kilometres quad
cable was issued from the ‘C’ Section of the unit to the battalion.
· One pair of this carrier quad was connected to 11 Guards at Khoje Chak by patching on enemy PL. The second pair of the carrier quad was put through to the battery of 176 Field Regiment near Phuklian in order to provide communication to HQ 26 Artillery Brigade at Anorian Rakh. From Alfa Chanor to the battalion headquarters the carrier quad was extended on existing PL.
· Three line parties from ‘C’ Section were given to 19 Infantry Brigade Signal Company for laying lines in area Chicken’s Neck. One of these parties under Second Lieutenant Suraj Bhan was located with 11 Guards to lay lines to forward ferry sites with the help of the battalion signal platoon. The distance from the battalion headquarters to these sites varied from 10 to
15 kilometres and
was clearly beyond the capability of battalion signallers.
· HQ 26 Artillery Brigade was connected to 19 Infantry Brigade by reorienting the existing border PL Allamaidi - Kothi – Makhwal Khaika– Chanor – Kirpalpur.
During the next few days own and enemy air was very active. Numerous aircraft flew over the divisional sector at low level going to and from 10 Infantry Divisional sector. Line communications were sometimes disrupted but were quickly restored. On 10 December noise of intense artillery shelling was heard from 10 Infantry Divisional sector. There were a large number of telephone calls to HQ 26 Infantry Division for dispatch of reinforcements to 10 Infantry Division from HQ XV Corps as well as the concerned division and brigades. Line communications to 10 Infantry Division from Akhnur CB exchange were also disrupted. Fresh cipher documents were sent to all infantry brigades through Second Lieutenant V.F. D’Souza and Second Lieutenant Jagdish Singh.
On 11 December at about 1300 hours four Sabre aircraft bombed and strafed the air field and surrounding areas. However, there was no damage to personnel or installations. At 1400 hours HQ 168 Infantry Brigade was warned for move to 10 Infantry Division. On the request of OC 168 Infantry Brigade Signal Company for a second officer, Second Lieutenant V.F. D’Souza was sent. He reported to the company within two hours of the request being made. At 2300 hours, the orders for move of 168 Infantry Brigade were cancelled.
On 12 December Central
two companies of 7 Grenadiers rejoined from 10 Infantry Division. The same day
the cipher officer, Captain R.S. Nair, visited Chicken’s Neck. Earlier, some
cipher documents of Pak Rangers had been found hidden in the fields. These were
collected and brought back by Nair and later sent to CSO XV Corps after
obtaining the GOC’s verbal approval.
Later these documents were sent to Army HQ by special courier. HQ 39
Infantry Division assumed responsibility for the left flank and communications
were reoriented. On 13 December India 6 kilometres
of carrier quad cable was laid between Andrian Rakh and Ranbir Singh Pura to
extend the carrier quad cable to 162 Infantry Brigade as an alternative to
PL. Lateral communications between 162
Infantry Brigade and 26 Artillery Brigade were established. The forward PL to 19 Infantry Brigade was
terminated on 162 Infantry Brigade exchange.
On 14 December five officers joined the unit from the CME and MCTE where they were undergoing the degree engineering course. They were Captains Shaktawat, Aggarwal, Rajan, Bareja and Grewal. Aggarwal was posted to 26 Artillery Brigade Signal Section to take over from Captain S.K. Budhwar. Second Lieutenant Jagdish Singh and Captain Bareja were posted to 36 and 162 Infantry Brigade Signal Companies respectively as seconds-in-command.
On 16 December at about 0800 hours a transmission between
and Calcutta was
monitored regarding surrender of Pak forces in Dacca East
Pakistan. Soon afterwards it was officially learned that had
announced a unilateral cease fire from 2000 hours on India 17 December 1971. During Operation
‘Cactus Lily’, signal communications functioned well in spite of extended
ranges and wide dispersion of troops. Disruptions to lines caused due to
frequent moves and redeployment of armour and artillery were speedily
rectified. The capture of Chicken’s Neck was a very important victory for . Thanks
to advance planning and relentless efforts put in by all personnel of 26
Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment, communications during the operation were
Cable being reeled up from Chicken’s Neck Sector, 1972.
3 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was located in Leh, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel P.R. Visvanathan, with Major B.P. Mamgain as the second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were Majors R.P.S. Rathore, S.K. Dhawan and N.C. Daspal. The role of 3 Infantry Division in Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ was mainly defensive, since no major operations were conducted in this sector. A brief resume of the activities of the unit during the period are given in the succeeding paragraphs.
1 November 1971, Tactical
HQ 3 Infantry Division was established at Kargil, alongside HQ 121 (Indep)
Infantry Brigade. The Signals element sent with the tactical headquarters
consisted of one officer and 20 OR, along with necessary transport and
equipment. Shortly afterwards, 163 Infantry Brigade Signal Company moved out to
take part in Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ under F Sector. The communication commitments at the location
of 163 Infantry Brigade were taken over by 3 Artillery Brigade Signal Company.
To supplement its strength, five OR were sent from the unit to man the signal
communications at Upshi. The Ladakh Scouts Signal Company also moved out from
its permanent location along with HQ Ladakh Scouts, which was converted into an
infantry battalion and placed under command HQ 3 Artillery Brigade. The signal
communications at Karu complex were taken over by a detachment of one JCO and
fifteen OR provided by the unit. The detachment of 2 Company, 1 Air Support Sig
Regiment that was attached to the unit was withdrawn and joined its parent unit,
leaving behind five OR.
On 5 November a teleprinter circuit was opened with Udhampur and RTT timings were extended to clear extra traffic. Apparatus VFT 3 channel duplex was installed on HI system to provide telegraph circuits Leh – Udhampur and Leh –
Radio relay trials were conducted with Tangtse, with relay stations at Shakti
and Changla. After a visit by the CO to Kargil on 1 December it was decided to
increase the strength of the Signals complement at the divisional tactical
headquarters. Accordingly, Major Rathore was despatched to Kargil with 18
additional personnel on 5 December. A radio detachment that had been sent to
5/3 Gorkha Rifles was also ordered to move to Kargil. On 7 December the signal
centre at Kargil came under heavy enemy shelling. One 3-ton lorry (Shaktiman)
was destroyed by enemy shells. On 8 December one JCO and ten OR were sent from
the unit to take over signal communications at Gaik complex from 70 Infantry
Brigade Signal Company, which was to be kept in operational readiness. Srinagar
Apparently the number of personnel looking after the signal communications at Kargil was still inadequate. On 9 December Major Mamgain, Second Lieutenant D.S. Pathak and 15 OR moved to Kargil to supplement the resources of 121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Group Signal Company. To meet the communication requirements during operations the D1 and D2 nets were split into three nets, two being controlled from the tactical headquarters at Kargil and the third from the main headquarters at Leh. The out stations on D1A and D2A, controlled from Kargil, were 70 Infantry Brigade, 121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade and Partapur Sector, along with the main divisional headquarters. D1B, controlled from Leh, had outstations at 14 Infantry Brigade, 3 Artillery Brigade and 30 Light Regiment, which was at the permanent location of 70 Infantry Brigade.
On 12 December Major S.K. Dhawan reported arrival on posting from MCTE, Mhow. Two days later, additional strength of one JCO and seven OR moved to Kargil. The signal centre at Kargil was taken over by 3 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment and J Communication Zone Signal Regiment from 121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Group Signal Company, which was relieved so that it could concentrate on its forward communication responsibilities. The same day Signalman Nirmal Singh who was part of the radio detachment attached to 5/3 Gorkha Rifles was injured by a bullet when the battalion was putting in an attack. On 18 December Colonel R.A. Bhola, DCSO Kashmir and Ladakh visited Kargil. By this time the operations were over and a cease fire had been announced.
19 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
19 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was located at Baramula, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel D.K. Vaidya. Other officers holding important appointments were Major K.S. Nair; Captain S.N. Chatterjee (1 Company) and Captain S.S. Dahiya (2 Company).
Due to wide dispersal of the division even in cold war locations, the signal resources were stretched to the utmost to meet normal communications needs. Once the formations moved to their battle locations, the existing communications were found to be inadequate and additional line and radio relay circuits were provided to conform to the operational plans. To provide radio relay communications between the divisional headquarters at Baramula and Tactical HQ 161 Infantry Brigade, one radio relay terminal each was positioned at Singhpora and Sher on
November 1971. However, the PE-95 generator mounted in a trailer
could not be taken up to Sher due to the low classification of the road leading
to the feature. An effort to transport the PE-95 by towing it with a jeep
failed due to sharp bends in the road and steep gradient. Another effort was made by means of manual
labour but this too was unsuccessful.
The idea of taking the PE-95 up to Sher was abandoned and it was decided to keep the generator at the base and lay
of spaced PVC cable up to the location of the radio relay terminal at Sher.
This unorthodox solution worked and the radio relay got through at 1230 hours
on 16 November but from terminal to terminal only. The RF reading being low, the channelling
equipment could not be mounted. A cubical quad aerial was improvised locally
and tried out on the radio relay link working between Sher and Singhpora. However it did not give satisfactory results
for mounting the carrier equipment. The radio relay terminal at Singhpora was
then shifted to the animal transport lines, but this too was not successful,
using both cubical quad and yagi aerials.
The link finally got through and all channels were aligned on 21
November after shifting the Singhpora terminal by about one kilometre. Carrier quad cable was laid from
Baramula to Singhpora road/track junction and PL route from there to the
terminal located at Singhpora was used for deriving tails at Baramula for the
radio relay chain to Sher.
On 17 November the SO-in-C visited the unit accompanied by DCSO Kashmir and Ladakh and was briefed by the CO on the Signals plan during offensive and defensive phases. On the night of 24/25 November, 268 Infantry Brigade moved to its battle location in general area
. One speech and one telegraph circuit was
provided between Baramula and Rampur
for the brigade. Next morning the CO visited Rampur and Mandir-Bonyar area to assess the
communication requirements for 268 Infantry Brigade in their new location. On the subsequent day he also visited the
Kupwara radio relay terminal to check on the security arrangements in view of
268 Infantry Brigade having moved out from that area. On 30 November the GOC,
Major General E. D’Souza visited the unit and addressed all ranks. He told everyone to be prepared for war and
give out his best. Rampur
On 3 December, it was announced that war with
had commenced. All radio
links were activated as ordered by HQ XV Corps. Next day it was learned that
there was a threat of paratroops being dropped by Pakistan . At 2300 hours a patrol of
one officer and six OR with LMG mounted on a jeep was sent to search the road
Baramula – Singhpura. The patrol returned at 0100 hours and again went out from
0300 hours to 0500 hours. At about
on 5 December orders were received for patching the radio relay channel between
19 and 25 Infantry Division through Udhampur-Srinagar. This was done and the
link was put through immediately. The
signal centre at HQ 104 Infantry Brigade location was established in an
underground bunker in view of enemy threat. One radio set AN/PRC 25 was sent to
104 Infantry Brigade Signal Company for immediate use by the battalion going
for an operation. A visual observation team of the IAF, consisting of two
airmen also arrived. Pakistan
On 8 December, OC 2 Company went on a route reconnaissance to area Uri, Chaukas and Pt. 9108 for providing line communication to 268 Infantry Brigade in case it moved to that area for operations. A line detachment consisting of one JCO and six linemen was positioned at Uri for maintenance of PL routes Uri - Chaukas – Pt. 9108 and laying field cable in the area. The laying of field cable between Chaukas – Khetar Dana commenced at 0600 hours on 10 December and was completed by 1500 hours.
On 12 December at about 0800 hours the Baramula-Kupwara line was out. The line party sent to repair the fault found that the copper line had been cut. The matter was reported to the police and with the help of tracker dogs the culprit was traced and one person named Rasool Pandit of village Warigam was arrested. He was handed over to the Intelligence and Field Security Company for interrogation but nothing useful was found.
Signallers repairing equipment in the Uri Sector, 1971.
On 13 December the Jeep based rover detachment went out with the GOC up to Paro. Thereafter it accompanied the GOC on foot to Tilpatra and Nargis which had been captured from
the operations. Equipment Cipher Line (ECL) was successfully tried out with Pakistan and
Udhampur. On 14 December a line party
consisting of one JCO and 14 linemen moved to Srinagar and Paro area for maintenance and
laying additional lines for the impending operation. Next day, consequent to the establishment of
KG Sector at Paro, line and radio communications were re-orientated. KG Sector was provided one telegraph and one
speech circuit from Rampur .
It also became an out station on the D1 link. Rampur
On 16 December three officers – Captains A.S. Tiwana, R.M. Shastry and R.K. Malik -reported on posting, two from CME and one from MCTE. Next day, Tiwana and Shastry were sent to 161 and 268 Infantry Brigade Signal Companies respectively as seconds-in-command. Malik was posted to 1 Company to relieve Captain S.N. Chaterjee. Captain J. Babaja was sent to KG Sector to look after its communications. The same evening Rampur-Uri and Sher-Uri physical PL routes were damaged due to enemy shelling. Communication was restored at 2100 hours by using interruption cable. Next morning about
of field cable were burnt in 104 Infantry Brigade due to enemy shelling and
subsequent fire in the area. By this time the operations had ended and cease
fire had been declared.
Though Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ had come to an end, the commitments of the unit did not finish. A large area hitherto held by the enemy had been captured and occupied by our troops who had to be given communications. This was true of the
and Kaiyan Bowl that lay across the Tutmari Gali in the 104 Infantry Brigade
Sector. On 21 December, Lipa Valley 10
of carrier quad cable was sent to Naugam for providing line communications in
the Naukot area liberated by 104 Infantry Brigade. Two days later another 7 kilometres of
carrier quad and one charging set 500W was sent to 104 Infantry Brigade for use
A message is received on radio in the Tithwal Sector, 1971.
After the operations, the GOC, Major General E. D’Souza wrote to the SO-in-C, CSO Western Command and CSO XV Corps, commending the performance of the unit. He wrote:-
I have much pleasure in writing to you about the excellent work put in by the personnel of the Signal Corps in my division, under the guidance and leadership of my Commander Signals,
DK Vaidya. Lt
The Signals personnel in my division have worked most efficiently during the operation with a rare sense of duty, devotion and determination. They have undertaken hazardous tasks, braved enemy shelling and small arms fire, showing complete disregard for personnel comfort and safety. The linemen and radio operators deserve a special mention for the exemplary manner in which they ceaselessly worked to maintain efficient communication inspite of heavy shelling and small arms fire. On occasions when our lines were cut, they were replaced expeditiously without any delay. It is entirely due to the efficient functioning of the signal communication and the bravery and devotion of those concerned that throughout the operations there was not a single case of any circuit going out or the radio not functioning. I was therefore able to keep in constant touch and formation commanders were able to exercise effective command and control. It also goes to the credit of my Signal Regiment that there was no occasion for me to use the radio relay link.
I would also like to mention about the excellent work done by the backroom boys in the cipher office and signal centre. The unprecedented increase of traffic in classified and precedence signals was of a very high magnitude. The individuals however rose to the occasion and working cheerfully round the clock, ensured that there was no undue hold up.
I have recommended some of my Signallers for suitable awards.
J Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was at Leh, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel B.B. Sarin, with Major Karam Singh as the second-in-command. Other field officers in the unit were Major B.S. Bedi (2 Company) and Major K. Deshpande (3 Company) The unit was responsible for line construction and maintenance tasks in Ladakh under the technical control of DCSO Kashmir and Ladakh, Colonel R.A. Bhola.
During Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ except for 2 Company which was involved in actual operations at Kargil in support of 121 (Indep) Brigade, the unit’s resources were utilised to supplement those of other signal units in Western Command. However, the unit carried out construction of several new PL routes. In October a line detachment of one JCO and 16 OR under Lieutenant A. K. Saini constructed the route Loma – Hanle – Koyul. The PL route was to cross over the mountain range at Hanle for connecting Fukche airfield. In November another line detachment comprising Lieutenant A. K. Saini and Second Lieutenant P. Nambiar, Naib Subedar R.C.Tiwari and 23 OR proceeded to Karu for realignment of the trunk PL route to avoid STAKNA Hydel project. The situation has been described by Lieutenant General Saini, who was commanding the line detachment, in the following words:-
The diversion of the
10 km route involved crossing
of Indus river at Karu for connecting back to
the original route. Probably, for the first and perhaps also the last time,
Pistol Schermally was actually used for throwing a line across the river span
of about 80 metres
for pulling the cables. Pulling of eight wires of 242 lb copper weld wires
took the entire day. It was an extremely hazardous and difficult task due to
the fast current and slippery, frozen river banks. The extreme cold and fog
added to the difficulty of pulling heavy wires across the river. The task was
completed by evening without any break. The test call to Leh on the new route
was the proudest moment for the 57 Line Construction Section.
In December, a line party under Lieutenant Saini and Naib Subedar Tiwari was tasked to lay a PVC route between Thoise airfield and Turtuk via Chalunka. It was a
route that was to connect HQ Partapur Sector to Turtuk, the last captured
territory. The orders for the mission were brisk and passed personally by the
CO to the officer in charge (OiC) line party: “Lay a PVC route from Thoise to
Turtuk. Work out your logistics and be ready to move in 12 hours. Task is
extremely important and must be completed fast.” Pakistan
The line party was lifted lock-stock and barrel next morning in an IAF Packet aircraft and dropped at the Thoise ALG in the afternoon. At the ALG, a Ladakh Scouts NCO was waiting with one horse, four yaks and six mules to ferry the stores to the start point. The horse was for the officer in charge to reconnoitre the route and up and down movement. In those days, Turtuk was connected only by a mule track. The laying of the entire route on 8/16 feet wooden poles, using mules, yaks and porters took about two months. The route passed through rugged mountains as well as sandy desert stretches in high altitude area. The line party shifted its camp three times. The last stretch involved crossing the
near Chalunka post daily for a week on a ferry operated by the Engineers. The
line party was logistically maintained through para-dropped supplies and fuel
by the AN-12 aircraft. Retrieval of dropped supplies stretched over a vast area
during winter months was a very difficult task. The shortfall in fresh rations
was more than made up by the enterprising line JCO who caught fish from Shyok River
using a mosquito net. Saini recalls that the burly and outstanding JCO always
felt that keeping up the morale of the line party was his primary task. He
advised Saini to focus only on the operational tasks and leave the
administration and logistics to him. The task was completed in February Shyok River 1972. A test call from
Turtuk to Leh, on completion of the line was another glorious moment for the
After the commencement of the operations the PL route
– Kargil was damaged due to enemy
shelling near Harka Bahadur bridge. A
line party was sent from the unit on 7 December to repair the line. Lance Naik
Deepa Ram was killed by enemy shelling when repairing the damaged PL route. On
9 December a line party was sent to lay a pair of WD 1 cable to link up to
feature Point 13620 captured from the enemy.
This was the first line party to lay line in Pakistani territory. On 12
December, 2 Company took over the responsibility for manning the exchange and
maintenance of local lines at Kargil from 121 (Indep) Brigade Signal Company,
to enable it to concentrate on forward communications. Srinagar
After the end of the operations on 17 December the unit was involved in rehabilitation of several PL routes that had been damaged. A new PL route from own Picquet 10 to Point 13620 captured from the enemy in Kargil sector was constructed and handed over to 121 (Indep)) Brigade Signal Company. Lieutenant Lekhvir Singh, (known as Tambi Khalsa due to his spoken proficiency in Tamil language) played an important role in laying lines in the brigade sector.
T Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel H.R. Swarup. The other field officers
in the unit were Major M.A. Reddy (1
Company); Major B.C. Acharya (2 Company) and Major S.K. Chhibber (3 Company). The unit was responsible for manning the
signal centre at Srinagar and provision of static communications along the line
of communications between Udhapur-Srinagar and Srinagar- Gumri. It also
provided communications for traffic control of convoys along these routes. The
unit was under the technical control of DCSO
Kashmir and Ladakh. Srinagar
Shortly before the commencement of Operation ’Cactus Lily’ the unit established radio relay links and engineered direct speech circuits from Baramula to Rajauri, Kargil, Udhampur and Srinagar. In order to improve radio relay communications between
cubical quad aerials were used and found satisfactory. On 4 December when the operations
started line patrols were sent on PL routes from Srinagar to Baltal, Banihal, Khundru and
Khunmu during the night. A 26 kilometre long PL route to Awantipur airfield
that had been in disuse since 1969 was rehabilitated overnight. Extensive maintenance of the PL route to Srinagar airfield was
carried out during the week. Srinagar
On 9 December some changes were carried out in the radio network. The control of C64 net was taken over by 2 Company, J Communication Zone Signal Regiment and out stations on C1, C2 and C2A were closed down. A new out station was opened on C25A. Next day the Udhampur- Srinagar microwave channel meant for Leh was patched to Kargil due to operational commitments. A total of 14 line patrols were sent out on various PL routes during the week. To control the rise in message traffic a staff message control centre (SMCC) was established. This proved to be very effective and resulted in reduction of total traffic by about 25 %.
During the week a 3 channel stackable system was tried between
and Kargil and one channel terminated on the exchange at Srinagar . The PL route to Kheruh was cut at
Khunmu and terminated in the Khunmu exchange from both sides. With this it became possible to contact Rear
HQ 68 Infantry Brigade and two junction lines were available to Khunmu. Trials
of ECL were carried out successfully with Udhampur and Baramula. An extra
speech circuit between Udhampur and Srinagar
was also provided. Radio relay chains
Udhampur – Leh, Udhampur – Kargil, Udhampur – Baramula and Udhampur – Srinagar were stabilised.
The operations came to an end on 17 December. Srinagar
Y Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.K.Verma with Major K.C. Garga as the second-in-command.
The other field officers in the unit were Major K.G.K. Nayar (1 Company) and
Major P.P.S. Yadav (2 Company). Jammu
During the months of October and November 1971 the unit was involved in preparations for the impending operations. A number of PL routes were constructed and additional circuits engineered for formations in their operational locations. Several radio relay links were also established between important locations. To supplement the resources of the unit, manpower and equipment was given by other units which were not so heavily committed viz. J Communication Zone Signal Regiment. A traffic control net was established using radio sets ANPRC-25, with the control at Udhampur and outstations at Jindra Domail, Katra, Riasi, Paoni, Bhagot, Sunderbani, Naushshera, Narian, Kalakot and Rajauri.
and India was
officially declared on Pakistan 3
December 1971. The same day the enemy launched attacks in Punch and
Chhamb sectors occupied by 25 and 10 Infantry Divisions. This was followed by
the capture of Chicken’s Neck by 26 Infantry Division. Y Communication Zone Signal Regiment played
an important role in all these operations. Soon after the commencement of the
attack on Chhamb, Captain R.K. Kak was asked to check the communications at
Akhnur by CO 10 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment. In view of the importance
of Akhnur, on 4 December direct communications were engineered to that location
and both 25 and 26 Infantry Divisions. Major K.G.K. Nayar went to Akhnur to
supervise the installation of ACT (1+4) to obtain the required channels. Jammu
On 6 December a line party of J Communication Zone Signal Regiment under an officer was sent Akhnur for maintenance of PL routes between Akhnur and HQ 10 Infantry Division. The CO and OC 1 Company personally went to the area to check the above lines. Major Nayar was able to acquire two pairs of PL from the Irrigation Department from Akhnur to Jaurian. By this time the operation in Chicken’s Neck had started. A line party under Second Lieutenant Jayant Singh laid
13 kilometres of
carrier quad cable route in 19 Infantry Brigade sector in the Chicken’s Neck
area from Chanur ( )
to Puklelian ( India ). Pakistan
At this time, the battle was still raging in the Punch sector. On 8 December some manpower was sent to 25 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment to boost their strength. Power line from Jaunipura was taken over and used to provide circuits Rajauri - Udhampur and
-Udhampur using (S + DX). On 9 December
the PL stores kept at Rakh Muti were moved to Jammu in 24 lorries. Carrier quad cable was
laid on the ground from HQ 191 Infantry Brigade to HQ 10 Infantry Division for
extending the local leads for the radio relay link to Akhnur. Jammu
On 10 December Captain Kak while maintaining the lines near River Tawi saw a suspicious character in the graveyard near the anti aircraft gun position. He reported the matter to Major Nayar who discussed the matter with Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Khurana. The caretaker of the graveyard, Mr. Alia, was taken into custody by the police. A large quantity of equipment and stores was sent to Akhnur for construction of PL and carrier quad routes in 10 Infantry Divisional sector. During the next two days
of carrier quad was laid from HQ 10 Infantry Division to HQ 68 Infantry
Brigade. About 6 kilometres
of carrier quad was laid on ballies
along the canal on the northern axis for extending the local leads to Rear 10
Infantry Division. The work was a
supervised by Major K.C. Garga and Major D.K. Ghosh, who had recently joined
121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Signal Company
121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Signal Company was located in Kargil in 1971. The company was under the command of Major M.S.G. Rao, with Captain Gautam Singh as the second-in-command. It was manning the signal centre and exchange at Kargil, in addition to the forward communications to units under command of the brigade viz. 2/11 Gorkha Rifles, 18 Punjab, 7 Guards and 9 and 13 Jammu & Kashmir Militia.
Preparations for Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ began in mid October 1971, when radio detachments from the company were sent to each battalion with a radio set 62. Major Rao and Captain Gautam visited the forward posts held by the units, to check on the communications. Colonel R.A. Bhola, DCSO Kashmir and Ladakh also visited Kargil in late October and early November, to oversee the communication set up. In mid November a telegraph circuit to
was provided by 2 Company, J Communication Zone Signal Regiment. Type X machine
on loan from J Communication Zone Signal Regiment was returned and Linex issued
to the battalions was withdrawn. All Srinagar ciphers were returned to DCSO
Kashmir and Ladakh. All old cipher
correspondence was sent in a sealed box to the cipher officer of 3 Infantry
Divisional Signal Regiment for safe custody. India
On 4 December, a detachment of 12 OR along with a 10 line magneto exchange was sent to Post 22 with the task of installing the exchange and to provide line communication to 87 Light Regiment, 7 Guards, 18 Punjab and 9 Jammu & Kashmir Militia. Next morning Captain Gautam also moved to Post 22 with the rover party. A line was laid from Post 22 exchange to Observation Post (OP) for operations room and OC 87 Light Regiment. The B1 detachments of 7 Guards and 18
Punjab were given a detailed briefing and their equipment
was checked. Line parties were detailed for the two battalions for laying the
line to the forward area. One line
detachment consisting of 1 JCO and six linemen started laying the lines from
Post 22 to at 1900 hours.
Another line detachment started laying the line on move of 2/11 Gorkha Rifles
from Post 9A to Post 12 at 2359 hours, completing the job at 0100 hours. Brachil
On 7 December one JCO and one OR started laying the line on move of 2/11 Gorkha Rifles from the new location at 1700 hours and completed up to Post 12 at 2100 hours. Major Rao went to Post 10 along with a line party for laying a new line. The brigade headquarters was subjected to heavy shelling by the enemy from early morning. The line party reached Conical which is
kilometres away from Post 22 at 0200 hours. The line party, weighed down by the cable
that they were carrying could not keep pace with the battalion and lagged
behind. They lost their way and strayed
into enemy held area. When challenged by
Pakistani troops they ran back and reached the same location at 0800
hours. In the mean time the line to Post
22 was damaged by mortar and artillery shelling. The post was cut off from the front as well
as from rear, as the line from the brigade headquarters to Post 22 was also
damaged by enemy shelling at 0900 hours.
Captain Gautam and one lineman went out to rectify the fault. They restored communications at 1330 hours
and reached Post 22 at 1700 hours. The
battalion headquarters of 18 Punjab was at
Post 22, hence the B1 out station was also available. Radio communication
between the battalion headquarters and attacking companies was on AN/PRC-25.
On 8 December a line patrol comprising Captain Gautam and one lineman started from Post 22 at 0730 hours for
, putting the line through at about
1500 hours. The party reached Brachil at
2100 hours. They left at 2200 hours to
patrol the line up to Conical, where they reached at 0200 hours. Major Rao along
with a line party proceeded to Post 9A to lay lines to 2/11 Gorkha Rifles. The
line detachment consisting of two linemen moved with the battalion from Post 12
to Black Rocks and the line was completed at 2000 hours. Meanwhile the line
party under Captain Gautam started from Conical at 0800 hours and reached Brachil Pass at 1300 hours on 9 December. A 10
line magneto exchange was installed and telephones were provided for 18 Brachil Pass Punjab as well as 7 Guards at 1400 hours. A line patrol of four linemen under Captain
Gautam again left at 2200 hours and
reached Conical at 0200 hours next morning. During the day Pt. 13620 was
captured at 1315 hours. Communications during the attack were excellent. Radio and line detachments from 3 Infantry
Divisional Signal Regiment and J Communication Zone Signal Regiment had
supplemented the resources of 121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Signal Company for
this operation. Brachil
During the subsequent days all personnel of the company continued to lay new lines to posts that were captured and repair those that were damaged due to enemy shelling. The line patrol was sent daily, leaving Brachil at about 2200 hours and reaching Conical at 0200 hours. It started on its return journey at about 0800 hours, getting back to Brachil after . New lines were laid from Chora Post to Pathar and Black Rock to Pt. 13620 on 10 December; and from Post 12 to village Gundarwan and Brachil to
on the next day. On 11 December, 20 OR arrived from 3 Infantry Divisional
Signal Regiment for signal centre duties.
On 12 December a signal was sent to 87 Light Regiment for installation
of exchange and laying cable at their new location. Major Rao went to Post 17 and then to Post 22
to check the radio communications at both locations. A detachment under Captain
Gautam installed an exchange at 18 Snow Peak Punjab
location and extended a tie line from the brigade exchange. Another line was
laid from 7 Guards to a pass about one kilometre east of Brachil where the
battalion was fighting.
On 14 December six OR and five porters proceeded to Post 22 with batteries, dispenser packs and telephone sets. A party of three OR was sent to Post 3 with one RS 62. Another party of 20 men including non combatants enrolled (NCsE) was sent to Post 17, from where cable was carried and dumped in area Gundarnan village occupied by 5/3 Gorkha Rifles. Cable left by the enemy was utilized to extend the line from Post 16. On 15 December Major Rao proceeded to
to carry out
reconnaissance of the line route along with seven linemen for maintenance. The
unit received Harka Bahadur
Bridge 100 kilometres
of cable from T Communication Zone Signal Regiment. A new line was laid from
Post 24 to Chora Post. Next morning a line was also laid to Chora Post from A line party consisting 20 linemen
with 25 dispenser packs was sent to Post 3 to lay line beyond enemy Post Brachil Pass. 11 in accordance with move of
2/11 Gorkha Rifles. One RS AN/PRC 25 was stationed at Post 3 to facilitate
radio communication with the battalion.
On 17 December a line was laid from Brachil Pass to Post Bali, a distance of
5 kilometres. The
outstation on C-1 link was handed over to personnel of J Communication Zone
Signal Regiment. 26 linemen of that unit attached with the company were sent to
Post 10 for repairing the line. Radio and
line detachments with 15 porters advanced along with 2/11 Gorkha Rifles to Post
3. One NCO with five linemen and 10
porters moved from Post 3 at 0230 hours and reached Sarcha Gaon at 0700 hours. The party continued its task and moved from
Sarcha Gaon at 0830 hours, reaching base at 1400 hours. After resting with the battalion headquarters
for two hours, they moved out at 1600 hours reaching Jankar Top at 2030 hours
on the same day. The party rested at
Jankar Top till 0830 hours on 18 December, when they started for Post 11,
arriving there at 2030 hours, half an hour after the cease fire had been
121 (Indep) Infantry Brigade Signal Company did a sterling job in providing communications during Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. All personnel of the company worked under exceptionally arduous conditions, moving with the battalions as they moved. The two officers of the company were always on the move, often with the line parties, ensuring that communications were always through. As always, the linemen worked the hardest, laying and repairing lines without a break for several hours each day in extremely cold weather and rugged terrain.
XI Corps Signals
HQ XI Corps was located at
. The CSO was
Brigadier M.S. Dhillon. The other officers in the Signals Branch were
Lieutenant Colonel V.L. Narayanan, SO1 (Signals); Major Prakash Gokarn, SO2
(Signals) and Captain Harbhajan Singh, SO3 (Cipher). During Operation ‘Cactus
Lily’, HQ Western Command moved from Simla to Jullundur in mid October 1971. At the same
time, HQ XI Corps moved to its operational location near Jullundur . In order to exercise effective
control over its subordinate formations, HQ XI Corps was split. Advance HQ XI
Corps ( Amritsar ) was located at Kotkapura, near
Bhatinda while Main HQ XI Corps ( Camp Pratap ) was at Four
Fields near Camp
The move of the corps headquarters was planned, but the actual dates had not been decided. The manner in which orders for the move were issued has been described by former SO-in-C, Lieutenant General Prakash Gokarn, who was then SO2 (Signals), in the following words:-
11 Corps had practiced various operational roles under the command of Lt Gen PS Bhagat, VC (till early 1970) and Lt Gen NC Rawlley, MC (during the operation). CSO 11 Corps, Brig Mohinder Singh Dhillon and SO 1 (Sigs) Col VL Narayanan had ensured that the Signals Branch and units were well prepared for any eventuality. They were out on recce on the night of 8th Oct 71, when I was called by Lt Col (later Maj Gen) Bachhitar Singh, GSO 1 (Ops) HQ 11 Corps who verbally informed me about the impending move to Kotkapura (which I had never heard of till then), the likely ORBAT and locations of formations. I immediately informed my superiors who gave me clear instructions and thereafter conveyed these to the COs of the Signal Regiments i.e. Lt Col Bahl (11 Corps Sig Regt), Lt Col YR Ratra (Z Comn Sig Regt) and Maj RS Arora (ASSU). Written Sig instructions were issued on 15th Oct 71 after receipt of the HQ 11 Corps Op instructions. The concept of splitting the Corps HQ into three i.e. Main, Advance and Rear HQ stretched our resources but we met the comn demands admirably thanks to the infrastructure (BOPEL) spadework done by our erstwhile CSOs Brig KS Garewal and Brig JV Pinto.
Advance parties were sent to the projected locations of the headquarters based on verbal orders received from HQ XI Corps. By the time formal orders were received line and radio relay communications had been established from the new locations. The advance and main headquarters actually moved on 20 October, the Signals elements having moved the previous week and set up communications. Teams from Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment were positioned in P&T carrier centres at Bhatinda, Abohar, Fazilka and Sriganganagar. Air force speech and air support telegraph circuits were provided to airfields at Adampur, Halwara, Pathankot and Sirsa.
By early November communications had stabilised. One complete shift for the signal centre, crypto centre and exchange at the advance corps headquarters was being provided by Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment, which also sent a shift to Abohar to assist F Sector Signal Regiment. Communications were also catered for a flooding scheme for which a flooding control centre was established at Doburji Rest House. Though communications were stable, the volume of traffic saw a marked increase. On recommendations of the CSO, a staff message control centre (SMCC) was established on 5 November, which was manned round the clock. This brought down the traffic by more than half and also reduced the number of messages that needed encryption.
An interesting development was Plan ‘Delta’, a deception plan that was to be put into operation under HQ Central Command, then being commanded by Lieutenant General P.S. Bhagat, VC. It comprised an infantry brigade, some armour and elements of Engineers, Signals etc. Their vehicles would be painted with formation signs and the radio nets would simulate traffic of 1 Armoured Division, leading the enemy to believe that a major Indian offensive was planned in that area. Communications and radio deception measures were being coordinated by a team of signal officers under Brigadier V.C. Khanna (he was CSO Central Command earlier, but doing the NDC course at that time). The other officers in the team were Colonel H.S.Gill, Major Y.M. Narula and Major K.V. Nair, all from MCTE. Based on the requirements worked out by the team, a composite signal company was created, resources for which were provided by various units of Western Command. Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment provided the company headquarters, line parties and administrative elements. Composite radio detachments were provided by XI Corps, 1 Armoured Divisional Signal Regiment, 14 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment, 14 (Indep) Armoured Brigade Signal Company and 474 Engineer Brigade Signal Section. Some radio detachments were also taken from XV Corps.
The composite signal company under Major Mehta of Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment reached
on Amritsar 9 November 1971.
HQ XI Corps Signal Instruction No. 24 for Plan ‘Delta’ was issued on 11
November. Only three copies were distributed - one each to Brigadier Khanna,
Major Mehta and 474 Engineer Brigade Signal Section. In the event, Plan ‘Delta’ was never
implemented and the signal resources were returned to the respective units.
On 1 December the Deputy SO-in-C, Major General K.S. Garewal arrived at Amristar. Accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel R.N. Bhatia, GSO 1 Signals 7, Mr. Rau of the P&T Board, Mr. Amrik Singh and other P&T Officials, he visited Main HQ XI Corps (Camp Ranjit), XI Corps Signal Regiment and 15 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment, including the brigade signal companies. Next day the team visited Advance HQ XI Corps (
), 7 and 14 Infantry Divisional
Signal Regiments and 1 Armoured Divisional Signal Regiment. During the visit a
number of decisions were taken regarding communication support provided by the
P&T Department. It was agreed that the two T43 and four CB exchanges from
Ambala would be moved to Kotkapura. XI Corps Signal Regiment was given
instructions to send three 3-ton vehicles and 10 OR to Ambala to report to SO2
(Signals), who would coordinate the dismantling of the exchanges and their move
to Kotkapura. Camp Pratap
At 1740 hours on 3 December
launched air strikes on several Indian airfields. At 2000 hours orders were
received from HQ Western Command for lifting radio silence. However, minimum
use was to be made of radio. These instructions were passed to all signal units.
At that time, the CSO, Brigadier Dhillon was in Abohar with the Deputy SO-in-C
visiting formations of F Sector. Based
on instructions from GOC XI Corps, he was asked to return to Pakistan . At about 2100 hours the SO 1 (Signals) was
called by the GOC and COS in the Joint Operations and Information Room (JOIR)
and told about the creation of the Mike Force ex 14 (Indep) Armoured Brigade
under the command of the deputy brigade commander, Colonel Mehta, which was to
establish itself in area Gang Canal between Ganganagar and Suratgarh. Narayanan
was asked to arrange for radio and line communications for the Mike Force. Camp Ranjit
During the night communications were stable though there was a flurry of trunk calls between command, corps and divisions. Direct lines from the operations rooms of subordinate formations were extended to JOIR. These hot lines were fully utilised and important messages passed using ECL. The CSO left Bhatinda at 2300 hours and arrived at
only at 0530 hours
next morning. En route, he visited Advance HQ XI Corps at Camp
Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment at Faridkot and detachments of XI Corps
Signal Regiment at Harike. At all these locations communications were working
well. Camp Pratap
Describing his experience of the night the operations started, General Gokarn writes:
We were all completely in underground dugouts within ten days of reaching our HQ. My underground bunker was next to the GSO1 (Ops) at Kotkapura. CSO and SO1 (Sigs) were located at Jandiala Guru. A shameful personal event occurred on the night of 3rd Dec 71 when Pakistan Air Force launched an air strike and bombed Bhatinda Railway Station. The intensity of the sound and fury of the bombing was felt at Kotkapura. After spending the entire night in the Sig Centre and Ops Room I returned for a wash to my bunker. To my horror I found a rifle, unused bullets and a note on my camp cot belonging to my helper who stated that he was very afraid and was therefore running away. He was a Signalman from Bombay (Mumbai) and to this date I have been looking for him ever since I retired! It was my first and thankfully last experience of cowardice in service.
By on 4 December communications for Mike Force at Netawali had been established both on radio and line from Advanced HQ XI Corps. Alternate line communications from 51 (Indep) Parachute Brigade were also provided. It was learned that Plan Delta was not being implemented and the signal resources that had been placed at its disposal were being returned. An analysis of the traffic handled the previous day revealed that it had almost doubled. At Main HQ XI Corps, it rose to 140,000 groups from the daily average of 75,000 over the previous week. At Advance HQ XI Corps, the rise was even more marked – from 27,655 to 77, 543 groups.
The communications provided were lavish, thanks to advance planning and excellent work done by the previous CSOs and the BOPEL routes laid during their tenures. From Main HQ XI Corps, there were three speech circuits to the divisions and the advance headquarters, four to the rear headquarters and two to HQ Western Command. The number of telegraph circuits was equally generous - two to the divisions and three to command. As regards Advance HQ XI Corps, the number of speech and telegraph circuits to the divisions was three and two respectively. There were two speech and two telegraph circuits to HQ Western Command at
and one to Jullundur . From both headquarters, there were
circuits to administrative areas, airfields and Air Force units. The line and radio
diagrams of XI Corps are shown below:- Delhi
Though line communications were reliable, radio and radio relay links were also established and used when line circuits were disrupted, which happened rarely. On 5/6 December, offensive operations were conducted in the Sehjra bulge and Dera Baba Nanak. Communications to both 7 and 15 Infantry Divisions functioned well during the operations.
At that time, XI Corps Artillery Brigade did not have its own signal company. Before the commencement of the operations, an ad-hoc artillery brigade signal company has been rigged up by milking the resources of 3 Company, XI Corps Signal Regiment. The primary task of the company (in the absence of an FDC so far) was to provide communications to air defence guns and warn them of movement of own aircraft. Due to operational requirements, the necessity was felt to establish an FDC at Fazilka. However, the resources of the signal company with the artillery brigade were inadequate for this task. Accordingly, orders were issued on 7 December for a major portion of 21 (Indep) Artillery Brigade Signal Company to move from Fatehgarh Churian to Fazilka to establish communications for the adhoc FDC to be set up under the Commander Corps Artillery, XI Corps.
On 9 December it was learnt that six RS C41/R222, less generators and channelling equipment were being despatched from Special Signal Regiment in
. It was decided to fit one set each in
a 1-ton vehicle for deployment as one-set stations wherever required. It was planned to use two of these stations to
provide radio relay communications from Main HQ XI Corps to 7 Infantry Division
to avoid the Delhi 16 kilometre
tail from Harike to the location of HQ 7 Infantry Division. The same afternoon
an Emergency message was received from Army HQ intimating that Air Support Code
Sox 762/Edition 40 had been compromised and the next edition should be taken
into use forthwith. A special courier
was immediately sent to Advance HQ XI Corps with the fresh ‘letter code’ and
instructions for putting it into use immediately. Couriers from 7 and 15
Infantry Divisions were asked to come and collect the instructions. By 0500
hours next morning the new set of documents were available with all tentacles
and airfield detachments.
During the next few days two new formations, 123 Mountain Brigade and 50 (Indep) Parachute Brigade arrived in XI Corps Zone. On 13 December a speech circuit was extended from Pratap Camp to Malaut, the location of 50 (Indep) Parachute Brigade via Bhatinda on P & T system. Lateral line circuits were also given from Abohar (F Sector) and Muktsar (1 Armoured Division). Communications for 123 Mountain Brigade had been catered for in Batala, where it was to be located. However, on 15 December it was learnt that the location was being changed to Majitha and subsequently to Kohali. Since no spare P & T pair was available, another circuit was disconnected and the pair utilised for providing communications to 123 Mountain Brigade from
. 63 Armoured Regiment also arrived
in Jandiala Guru on 15 December as corps reserve and was provided a speech
circuit on Army owned PL. Amritsar
There was a major disruption of coaxial cable from 1030 to 1615 hours on 17 December, probably due to power failure near Sangrur, in Ambala-Ludhiana sector. The coaxial was restored at 1615 hours but went down again at 1800 hours due to a fault in
area. Most of the circuits to Kotkapura, Amritsar and Jullundur were
disrupted. However, minimum operational
circuits to Advance HQ XI Corps, HQ Western Command ( Delhi ) and from JOC to air field were
provided on over head systems. Radio
relay was activated as standby during this period. The coaxial system was
repaired next day but remained disturbed for several days afterwards. The cease
fire came into effect on Jullundur 18
December 1971, marking the end of Operation ‘Cactus Lily’.
XI Corps Signal Regiment
The unit was at
under the command of Lieutenant
Colonel S.K. Bahl, with
Major H.C. Dhodapkar as the second-in-command.
The other field officers in the unit were Major P.C. Nath (1 Company);
Major S.P.S. Sikand (2 Company) and Major
K.B. Kapil (3 Company). Jullundur
On 15 Sepetmber 1971 the Signals plans for XI Corps for defensive operations were presented by CSO XI Corps and were discussed at Jullundur. Those present included the SO-in-C, Deputy SO-in-C, CSO Western Command, CSO XV Corps, CSO I Corps, CO XI Corps Signal Regiment and other senior officers of the unit. This was followed by a reconnaissance on 25 September by the CO accompanied by Major Nath and officers from HQ XI Corps (Signals Branch). The area adjacent to Kotkapura town was selected as the location of Advance HQ XI Corps because of availability of P&T communications (coaxial and carrier), power supply and Kotkapura being an important rail/road communication centre. During another reconnaissance on 3 October the area Manawala Khurd near
was selected as the location of Main HQ XI Corps. However, during a subsequent
reconnaissance from 10 to 12 October by Major Dhodapkar it was decided that
Main HQ XI Corps would be located at Four Fields, near Amritsar . Amritsar
The move of the unit was planned on 15 October. On 14 October a ‘Barakhana’ was being held for the men and their families when a message was received that an enemy attack in area Fazilka was anticipated that night. Major Kapil was ordered to move to Kotkapura with three medium power sets and four low power sets at 2200 hours. At the same time, Major Sikand was to move to Four Fields with four medium power sets and two low power sets. Major Kapil, Captain Sushil Kumar and Lieutenant D. Sharma left
with the radio detachments at 0130 hours on 15 October and arrived at Kotkapura
at 0700 hours. Line parties extended a line to HQ 116 Infantry Brigade that had
already reached their location near Muktasar. Radio relay had also been
established from Kotkapura to Abohar and Jullundur . Meanwhile, the party led by Major Sikand had
reached Four Fields at 0515 hours.
Speech lines from the main exchange at Four Fields were working and test
calls were made to 7 and 15 Division. Radio relay links from to Kotkapura to
Abohar and Amritsar
were also established. Amritsar
Describing the move of the unit from
to Kotkapura Brigadier Dhodapkar
XI Corps Signal Regiment moved from Jullundur to Main & Advance Headquarters at Amritsar & Kotkapura on Night 14/15 October 1971. The quantum of communications to be provided from these two locations was nearly equal. While communications from Main Headquarters was already foreseen and planned; it was at Advance Headquarters at Kotkapura where communications had to be provided at short notice to the newly inducted formations.
The time gap between the information regarding the induction of new formations and requirement for the provision of communications was very short. Resources at Advance Headquarters were already utilised in providing these communications. To our horror it was noticed that most of the PL routes in Kotkapura area were affected by the high tension power lines laid by Punjab State Electricity Board without any intimation to the Army authorities. There were a few mishaps - though not fatal - when our line parties were working on these PL routes. Special mention must be made of Lieutenant M.K. Chaterjee, who was our OC Lines, and his men for their dedication and hard work to maintain and keep these PL routes functional despite these handicaps.
Our main priority was to establish RR communications between Main and Advance Headquarters. Initially efforts were made to establish a direct RR Link - success was achieved to some extent. However we experienced a lot of interference and unreliability in this direct link. It was then decided to scout for a suitable relay station and have a two hop RR Link. A number of locations were tried out and ultimately a relay station was located atop a village main water tank. We could thus obtain a height of 100 -
for this. Our RR between the two headquarters functioned very well thereafter.
A number of our generators and charging engines were not in working order - awaiting repairs by EME workshop. Normal procedures to get these on-road would have taken some time. While getting into our location at Kotkapura, we had seen a large numbers of repair shops along the main highway. Enquiries were made to find out if our generators and charging engines could be repaired by these shops. The shop owners readily agreed to check them and help us .Within 7 - 10 days they not only carried the repairs but asked to approach them for any further assistance. When we wanted to pay them for these repairs, no money was accepted.
By the end of November signal centres and exchanges at the advance and main rear headquarters had been moved to dugouts. All radio and radio relay terminals had been checked. The radio detachments from 1 Armoured Division, 14 Infantry Division and F Sector were called to
and netted on the C1A net. The radio relay terminals working to these
formations were also checked. Due to commissioning of Moga-Muktsar 132 MV power
line, the PL route Kotkapura-Muktsar was disturbed, since it ran parallel to
the new power line. The problem was solved by getting a railway pair for
communications to 1 Armoured Division, thanks to the initiative of Lieutenant
M.K. Chatterjee. Camp Pratap
The Deputy SO-in-C accompanied by Mr. B.S Rau, Member (Planning) of the P&T Board visited the unit in Four Fields on 1 December and Kotkapura the following day. He was full of praise for the amount of effort put in by the unit. On 3 December the war started after air strikes by
on Indian airfields. The
extent of surprise can be gauged from the fact that the same morning a party of
two officers, three JCOs and 55 men had left for Ramtirath ranges in Pakistan for firing
practice! That evening there were a number of air raid alerts in Amritsar town and anti-aircraft
guns engaged the Pakistani aircraft as they flew overhead. There were reports
of enemy activity in front of 7 and 15 Infantry Divisions. The same night
troops of 15 Infantry Division captured the first prisoner of war. Amritsar
On 4 December, 1 Armoured Division moved to their new location south of Muktsar, where line communications were extended to them. On 5 December Mike Force comprising 18 Cavalry and 62 Armoured Regiment was established at Netawali, south of Ganganagar and provided communications. Instructions were issued to the signal officer of 62 Armoured Regiment to come up on C2A link. On 6 December speech circuits Ferozepur – Kotkapura and
– Kotkapura were taken over from the P&T Department. In addition, speech
circuits were provided from F Sector to 1 Armoured Division and 116 Infantry
Brigade on existing PL routes in the area.
On 8 December morning an intercept was received that the enemy is likely to bomb all headquarters between 0900 and 1000 hours. One Pakistani aircraft came over Kotkapura at 1000 hours and was engaged by own anti-aircraft guns. The aircraft made two attempts to dive but fled without attacking. A similar intercept was received on 9 December which gave out the exact grid reference of all headquarters that were to be attacked. However, no aircraft were seen that day.
Between 7 and 15 December, nine officers joined the unit, most of them from CME and MCTE. They were Captains S. Nambirajan, A.K. Banerjee, M.N. Thadani, N.S. Vasavan, D.R. Bhatiani, S.K. Chopra, S. Kulkarni and P. Dass. On 16 December Pakistani forces in
unilaterally declared a cease fire with effect from 2000 hours on 17 December.
Though the war was officially over, shelling continued in some areas. On 17
December the advance party of 50 (Indep) Parachute Brigade reached Malout and
was provided communications from F Sector and 1 Armoured Brigade. On 18 December, the cease fire came into
effect along the Western Front. India
7 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Ferozepore under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R. S. Trehan with Major I.M. Dawer as the second-in-command. Other officers holding important appointments were Major H.C. Malhotra (HQ Company); Major S.P. Karir (1 Company) and Major S.S. Bains (2 Company). The officers in the brigade signal companies were Major S.C. Nautiyal (48 Brigade); Major D.A.P. Christy Davis (29 Brigade) and Captain V.K. Chadha (65 Brigade).
On 14 October the unit moved to its concentration area at Patti Crossing. Three days later, it moved to its operational location at Manakpura. The unit’s induction had an ominous beginning, with the radio relay terminal of 29 Infantry Brigade catching fire in the unit lines. After settling down in the new location communications were established with the brigades and rearwards with corps headquarters. In early November, the unit sent three radio detachments to 15 Infantry Division for Plan ‘Delta’. Ferozepore being located close to the border, it was vulnerable to artillery shelling. To prevent damage to communication centres blast walls were built around the exchange and signal centre. The P&T carrier centre at Ferozepore was sand bagged to protect it from damage due to enemy shelling.
On 2 December the Deputy SO-in-C visited the unit along with a team of officers from the P&T Department. On 3 December the enemy commenced hostilities in 7 Infantry Divisional sector by intensive shelling of border out posts (BOPS) followed by a limited offensive in Hussainiwala which was held by an infantry brigade supported by approximately two squadrons of armour. Due to heavy shelling, line communications to Hussainiwala were disrupted. Working through continuous shelling, the line was restored by unit linemen led by Captain Rajbir Singh of 35 Infantry Brigade Signal Company, which had been placed under 7 Infantry Division for the operations. Indian artillery was able to retaliate effectively, thanks to excellent line and radio communications. A direct channel on radio relay as stand by to line was provided from the artillery command post to the fire direction centre at Ferozepore.
There was considerable damage to the PL routes in this sector due to shelling. However, circuits were restored promptly. A large number of lateral and duplicate lines had been provided and there was no disruption in communications. To boost outgoing signals, mini amplifiers were installed in the telephones of commanders down to battalion level. On
December 35 Infantry Brigade reverted to its parent formation, 14
Infantry Division. Operation ‘Lightning’ was conducted by 48 Infantry Brigade
the same night and the enemy thrown out of Sehjra bulge. Line detachments of 2 Company and 48 Infantry
Brigade Signal Company gave a good account of themselves in providing
uninterrupted communications in spite of heavy shelling by the enemy.
On the night of 7/8 December, 14 Rajput carried out their attack for which the battalion radio detachment of 65 Infantry Brigade Signal Company provided good communications. Signalman Surendera Pandey of the detachment was reported missing during the battle but subsequently joined the battalion after about 12 hours. Between 13 and 16 December four officers joined the unit from MCTE, on termination of the SODE course. They were Captains S.K. Jain, T.L. Francis, V.D.S. Mehra and B.P.S. Virk. The operations ended on
17 December 1971.
7 Infantry Divisional did not carry out any major offensive during Operation ‘Cactus Lily”, except for the clearance of the Sehjra bulge by 48 Infantry Brigade. However, the unit did a commendable job and there was no instance of communication failure. Lance Naik Sri Kant of 48 Infantry Brigade Signal Company was awarded a Mention-In-Despatches for his courageous action during the war.
14 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was at
in Dehradun under the command of Lieutenant Colonel A.L. Coutts, with Major
S.K. Behl as his second-in-command. The other officers holding important
appointments were Major R.N. Lambah (1 Company); Major D.S. Rautela (2
Company); Captain K.N. Thapliyal (HQ Company); Lieutenant K.I. Balasubramanian
(adjutant); and Captain S.D. Sharma (quartermaster). The officers in the
brigades signal companies were Captain Rajbir Singh (35 Infantry Brigade);
Major S.K. Datta (58 Infantry Brigade) and Major D.S. Cheema (115 Infantry
Brigade). Clement Town
11 October 1971 the unit
received the warning order for move to the concentration area. The brigade
signal companies moved with their respective formation headquarters on 13 and
14 October, followed by the main and rear elements of the unit which moved on
17 and 18 October. The final destination was not disclosed until the first night
on 17 October, when it became known that the main and rear divisional
headquarters would be in area Bir Chahal, near Faridkot. 35 Infantry Brigade
was at Ferozepore, Patiala 35 km
away and under command 7 Infantry Division; 58 Infantry Brigade was at Ajnala, 150 km away under command 15
Infantry Division; while 116 Infantry Brigade was at Muktsar, 45 km away as corps reserve.
By the end of October the unit was settled in its new location and communications had stabilised. On 2 November Lieutenant Colonel S.P. Sibal, Army HQ Liaison Officer visited the unit and 116 Infantry Brigade. On the same day Colonel H.S. Gill, Major Y.M. Narula and Major K.V. Nair from MCTE visited the unit to carry out traffic scrutiny and analysis. On 12 November the unit sent five radio detachments (three with RS 42 and two with C11/R210) to 15 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment at Amritsar, for special a communication task (Plan Delta). Shortly afterwards ten radio detachments (AN/PRC 25 with boosters) were sent to Main HQ XI Corps for Plan Delta. One air support tentacle (divisional terminal) was withdrawn from the unit by HQ XI Corps and an adhoc tentacle was kept as standby. Three radio detachments (C11/R210) were sent to Ganganagar under Second Lieutenant R. Kohli for monitoring tasks. The detachments were deployed at Mukkalnwala, Mirzawala and Karanpur to monitor enemy links and pass any information if picked up.
The unit suffered its first fatal casualty on 25 November when Lance Naik M. G. Narayan Pillai of 2 Company died due to bunker collapse in 58 Infantry Brigade location at Ajnala. He was inside the bunker with his radio relay set when at about , the bunker roof collapsed over him. Major Rautela and Captain D.K. Sharma with a party of one JCO and ten OR attended the cremation at
On 29 November the CO left for reconnaissance of the forward location near Jalalabad after information was received that
was likely to attack that night. The GOC’s Rover, one DR and one line detachment
also left for the same location. The CO
returned at about 0400 hours next morning when it was confirmed that it was a
false alarm. However, the unit was kept in a state of readiness throughout the
On 3 December enemy aircraft attacked several Indian airfields including Faridkot. Heavy shelling took place in 35 Infantry Brigade throughout the night. Radio silence was lifted next day at 1300 hours. In the evening line parties were sent to replace field cable by carrier quad between main and tactical headquarters of 116 Infantry Brigade and to patch it on PL to the divisional headquarters. Second Lieutenant Joshi also left with an Ericsson exchange, BBFU and S+DX (3A) with the task of establishing communications between main and tactical headquarters of 116 Infantry Brigade. At about 2140 hours information was received that the 1-Ton Nissan truck in which Joshi was travelling collided with a 3-Ton vehicle on Sadik-Muktsar road. Joshi and the driver Signalman T. Sasidaran sustained minor injuries and were later admitted to the hospital.
Next morning radio relay communications were established with 116 Infantry Brigade and two speech channels extended to the exchange. Radio communications on D1 and D2 were established with 35 Infantry Brigade and the sets kept on listening watch. A radio relay link with Advance HQ XI Corps was also established and closed after trials. Meanwhile Second Lieutenant Kohli along with three radio detachments returned from Ganganagar after completion of his monitoring task.
5 November, 35 Infantry
Brigade reverted to 14 Infantry Division. Captain D.K. Sharma was sent with a
terminal to establish a radio relay link to the brigade. The carrier quad laid
to provide a direct line to the brigade developed a fault which was rectified
only next day at 1500 hours. On 6 December the GOC, Major General H.K. Bakshi
was injured in a mine blast and had to be hospitalized. A telephone was
provided to him in the military hospital, Fardikot by M Communication Zone
Signal Regiment. After a few days, Major General O.S. Kalkat was appointed the
new GOC. On 14 December three officers reported to the unit from the after their courses
were suspended. They were Captains I.S. Bhinder, Ujagar Singh and A. S. Pujji. Next day Captain V.K. Grover who was
undergoing the course at the MCTE reported to the unit. The cease fire came
into effect at 2000 hours on 17 December. College of Military Engineering
15 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was located at
, under the
command of Lieutenant Colonel S. Mohan, with Major A.B. Singh as the second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were Major
Sharma (1 Company); Major J.W. Hunt (38 Brigade) Major H.S. Chahal (96 Brigade)
and Major B.K Rattan (54 Brigade). Amritsar
The unit moved to its operational location in early October 1971. By 10 October lines had been laid to 86, 96 and 54 Infantry Brigades and 14 (Indep) Armoured Brigade. Line communication with 38 Infantry Brigade, which had concentrated at Khasa was established temporarily through 56 Armoured Regiment exchange. Three junction lines were provided from
to Main HQ 15 Infantry Division.
Within the next few days, radio relay links were also established with
brigades. On Amritsar 19 October, 58
Infantry Brigade located at Rajasansi was also placed under the division.
Communication was provided to the brigade by extending UG cable from Gumtala
bridge. The brigade subsequently moved to Ajnala where it was given a line from
the local exchange.
During the months of November efforts to improve the communication layout continued. Lines were buried wherever possible and laterals were laid between brigades. The number of junction lines to
was increased to seven to cater for the increase in traffic. In 38 Brigade
sector the BSF lines were integrated with Army lines. On 1 December the Deputy
SO-in-C visited the unit and discussed the problem of shortage of equipment, in
view of the additional brigades allotted to the division. Amritsar
On 3 December Pakistani aircraft attacked Rajasansi airfield. Shortly after the line to Khangarh was disrupted due to heavy shelling and an enemy attack was expected. Havildar K.S. Negi went out and restored the line, working under shelling for more than two hours. At 0500 hours another attack on Ranian was expected and the line from HQ 54 Infantry Brigade to 9
Punjab went out. Signalman Phool Singh the line detachment commander
went out with his line party and repaired the line under intense enemy
After the move of 86 Infantry Brigade to Dera Baba Nanak, certain changes were made in the existing line communications. In order to provide communications to 21 (Indep) Artillery Brigade that had moved to the location earlier occupied by HQ 86 Infantry Brigade, the existing line to the latter was split at Ajnala and terminated on Ajnala exchange. One pair going from Ajnala towards Batala was terminated on Fatehgarh Churian exchange. The second pair from Ajnala was given to HQ 14 (Indep) Armoured Brigade. Of the two pairs from Batala to Ajnala one was terminated on Fategarh Churian exchange and the other given directly to 21 (Indep) Artillery Brigade. An additional line was provided to HQ 86 Infantry Brigade from Ajnala via Ramdas. This line was disrupted due to shelling at about 2300 hours but was restored at 0230 hours next morning.
On the night of 4/5 December, during the capture of the Pakistani post at Therpura, Signalman Keshri Prasad Pandey of 58 Infantry Brigade Signal Company extended a line from Rajatal to Therpura. In spite of enemy shelling, he carried out repairs and kept the line through. At about 0100 hours on 6 December the line to HQ 86 Infantry Brigade was again disrupted. The corps commander was put through to GOC 15 Infantry Division at the location of HQ 86 Infantry Brigade on radio relay. Meanwhile, line parties dispatched from Ajnala and Batala restored the line at 0300 hours. The GOC was given a RS AN/PRC 25 for listening in on the B1 net.
After the capture of Dera Baba Nanak on 6 December there was a lull in the battle in the divisional sector. However, at about 1730 hours on 10 December it was learned that the enemy tanks were was building up opposite Ranian, which was subjected to heavy shelling at 1800 hours. The line to 9
was out and there was a lot of interference on the radio also. Signalman Ram Bahadur Singh went out and
restored it three times during the night, working on the line for more than four hours under
On 11 December a reserve VHF radio detachment was dispatched to HQ 96 Infantry Brigade to supplement their resources. During the battle of Fatehpur the same night radio was extensively used by the brigade and proved very reliable. Lance Naik Mira Singh Adhikari of 96 Infantry Brigade Signal Company located at Chuchak Wal repaired the line to Dagtoot under heavy enemy shelling and MMG fire. The line went out several times but the NCO repaired it on every instance in a very short time. After the capture of Fatehpur post the NCO also extended line from Dagtoot to Fatehpur.
On 15 December Pakistani aircraft strafed the railway station at Gurdaspur and damaged the PL route passing through. The unit line party had a narrow escape but 16 P&T hired labourers sustained injuries. The same evening a detachment from the wireless experimental company with VHF Receivers D 28 was sent to Ajnala to intercept enemy radio transmissions. The detachment was augmented by Captain K.G. Kutty and two operators of the unit. Next day Captain Kutty was sent with the detachment again to intercept enemy radio towards area Attari. He intercepted enemy transmissions but could not interpret them as all transmissions were made in Pashto.
Shortly before the cease fire was declared on 17 December the enemy started shelling HQ 54 Infantry Brigade. An enemy attack was also building up opposite Ranian. However, there was no line communication with 54 Infantry Brigade. Signalman Kashi Ram repaired the lateral line between 96 and 54 Infantry Brigade spending more than three hours under heavy shelling at Khamashke. Subsequently this line was directly given to the operations room at Main HQ 15 Infantry Division and used for passing important orders to the brigade.
1 Armoured Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was at
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel B.L. Kapoor, with Major
Dinesh Chandra as the second-in-command. Other officers holding important
appointments were Major B.S. Dhillon (HQ Company); Major Gurbhej
Singh (1 & 2 Company) and Major P.S. Modak (43 Armoured Brigade) Jhansi
The unit mobilized for Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ in mid October 1971. The advance party moved on 14 October, followed by the harbour party and main body on 15 and 16 October respectively. After staging halts at
and Hissar, the unit reached its new location near Kilometre 4 on Muktsar-Sadiq
road on 18 October. HQ 1 Artillery Brigade was deployed in area Bura Gujar; 1
Armoured Brigade at Kotli Dewan and 43 Armoured Brigade north of Bura Gujar at
Km 10 on Muktasar-Sadik road. A signal centre was established and lines were
laid to the brigades by the harbour parties before the arrival of the main
body. After the arrival of Advance HQ XI Corps at Kotkapura speech and
telegraphs circuits were extended including an ECL circuit on 25 October. On 5
November the unit was ordered to move to a new location but these orders were
subsequently cancelled. Mathura
The unit remained at Muktasar during the operations as 1 Armoured Division played no active role in Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. Captain Nikhil Kumar, who joined the unit from CME along with several other after the war started relates some interesting highlights in these words:-
I was appointed as OC Radio Section and sent as the rover officer to the GOC. The Rover group in the Division consisted of five Topaz APCs in addition to the command troop of the Divisional HQ Squadron. One APC was fitted with a 400 watt HP Radio set for communication on the C1 (Rover) with the Corps HQ, another was fitted out as an ad hoc ACT for effective close air support. The third APC was the command APC in which communications were provided on the D1 as also facilities to listen on to the three brigade B1 nets. The C1 extended a remote facility to this APC. One APC was fitted out with two C41/R222 radio relay sets for speech and text communications with the divisional HQ. The fifth APC was the administrative APC for use by the GOC.
This setup of communications for a rover group as early as 1971 was ground breaking and futuristic. All the modifications for fitting these communication equipment into the APCs was designed by the Regiment and executed in conjunction with the EME workshop in a record time prior to mobilisation.
The Rover Group was located in the cotton fields close to a Canal Inspection Bungalow. While the GOC, the C Arty, G1 Ops and personal staff stayed in the IB, we made ourselves comfortable by digging a trench under an APC and using a stretcher as a bed. It was cold but a safe and comfortable home for those few months. One had to deal with the large field rats though!
I Corps Signals
HQ I Corps was located in
The CSO was Brigadier J.S Nanda and Major J.P Singh was performing the duties
of SO2 (Signals). I Corps Signal
Regiment was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.K. Gupte, with Major
G.K. Bhagat the second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were
Major S.S Sahney (1 Company), Major J.S. Sawhney (2 Company); Major K.B. Vohra
(3 Company) and Major M.S. Minhas (HQ Company). Mathura
Orders for mobilisation were received by the unit on
1 October 1971. A day earlier the CO had left
for a reconnaissance of the operational area along with the brigadier general
staff, HQ I Corps. A party of 20 OR from 1 Company under a JCO was immediately
despatched to Pathankot for liaison with the P&T Department, taking over of
circuits and extension of local leads. Line parties of the unit along with
those of M Communication Zone Signal Regiment proceeded to lay a 7 pair VIR to
extend the UG cable from the carrier centre. To supplement the strength of
personnel at Pathankot, another party of two JCOs and 31 OR was despatched from
on 7 October. A day later, Major S.S. Sahney also left with a small party for
movement control duties during move of the corps headquarters. Mathura
The main body of I Corps Signal Regiment left
on 11 October and reached its concentration area at Pathankot on 15 October,
after overnight halts en route at Mathura ,
Ambala and Delhi .
The heavy baggage and vehicles were transported in two special trains, reaching
on 18 and 19 October. On 20 October the Deputy SO-in-C accompanied by Mr.
Shenoy, member P&T Board visited the signal centre along with several other
officers. During the next few days, officers of the unit proceeded in turn for
a reconnaissance of the operational area near Samba. Lines were laid from the
projected location to other formations and suitable locations identified for
relay stations for radio relay links. Work on preparation of defences was also
taken in hand along with setting up the communications facilities. Jullundur
A number of civil trucks was allotted to the unit for carriage of defence stores and heavy baggage to the operational location between 15 and 17 November. The warning order for the move to Samba was received on 1 December. The move of the unit commenced soon after mid night and by 1000 hours next morning the unit had reached the operational location. Communications were established to subordinate and neighbouring formations and rearwards to HQ Western Command and Army HQ. Carrier systems installed were as under:-
· 8 channel systems Pathankot – Samba and Samba –
· 3 channel stackable systems Pathankot – Samba, Pathankot – Dinanagar, and Samba -Main HQ 39 Infantry Division.
· 3 channel composite system between Samba and
· ACT (1+4) 3A between Samba and Main HQ 54 Infantry Division.
Speech circuits were working to
, Delhi , Jullundur , Udhampur, Pathankot, Ranjit Camp (HQ
XI Corps); 36, 39 & 54 Divisions; 2 & 16 (Indep) Armoured Brigades; and
31 (Indep) & I Corps Artillery Brigades. In addition, hotlines were provided
to HQ Western Command and all divisions.
Telegraph circuits were established with Udhampur, Jammu , Ranjit Camp (HQ XI Corps) and
Pathankot. An ECL circuits was established between operations rooms at HQ I
Corps and HQ Western Command. The radio links working from Samba were C1, C1A,
C1B, C2, C2A, C3, C3A, C8, C21, WIC, W19, W25 and A 46. Radio relay links were
established to Jullundur
(12 channels, via relay at Dalhousie); Pathankot (12 channels); and Main HQ 36,
39 & 54 Infantry Divisions (4 channels each). Jullundur
On 7 December four enemy aircraft (MIG 19) flew over the unit area. A light machine gun mounted for anti aircraft role opened fire. On 9 December a speech circuit was extended to ‘X’ Sector comprising 168 and 323 Infantry Brigades. Manpower and equipment including a radio relay detachment was sent from the unit to provide communications to ‘X’ sector. On 10 December information was received that some para troops have been dropped by the enemy about a kilometre away from the corps headquarters. Patrols were sent out but they returned without any news of the enemy. On 14 December Captain A.K. Dube, Captain R.M. Awasthi and Lieutenant U. Dasgupta reported on posting from MCTE, Mhow. Captain Alind Dayal had also reported a few days earlier on termination of the SODE course. A day later another five officers reported on posting from CME and MCTE. They were Captains D.B. Bhide, R.S. Bhatia, Rajeshwar Singh, Mohar Singh and J.P.N. Srivastava.
At 1630 hours on 16 December news of the Pakistani surrender in
was broadcast by All India Radio. At 2330 hours the same night the sound of
light machine gun fire was heard and the unit was ordered to stand to. About 30
to 40 rounds appeared to have been fired.
The unit was ordered to stand to and a patrol was sent out to
investigate. It was learned that that fire was opened by the guard of 73 Medium
Regiment located nearby. At about 1300
hours on 17 December enemy aircraft circled over the unit area but were chased
away by anti aircraft fire. A similar attempt was made at 1500 hours. Shortly
afterwards information was received from M Communication Zone Signal Regiment
that Captain Mohar Singh had been injured in the strafing carried out in 54
Infantry Divisional area. The officer
was removed to the section hospital but was discharged after treatment as the
injuries were minor. The cease fire came
into effect the same day and the operations ended. Dacca
54 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
54 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was at Secunderabad under the command of Lieutenant Colonel S.P. Malik. The other field officers in the unit were Major M.S. Ahluwalia (second-in-command) and Major R.N. Dhawan.
The unit received the warning order for mobilisation on
August 1971. On 4 October a liaison group under the second-in-command
left for the concentration area. The main body of the unit left Secunderabad by
a military special train on 8 October arriving at Kartarpur on 12 October,
further move to Pathankot being carried out by road. The unit reached its concentration
area near village Wat Mangaon on 14 October. The move to the operational
location at Deani was carried out on 20 October. Two days later, 168 Infantry
Brigade Signal Company was placed under command 54 Infantry Divisional Signal
On 15 November the SO-in-C visited the unit accompanied by CSO Western Command and CSO I Corps. He was highly appreciative of the loop antenna fitted on rover jeep for radio communication on the move. On 22 November information was received of a possible Pakistani air raid during the next 48 hours. On 28 November there was an unfortunate accident in the unit. After morning ‘stand to’ Signalman Uday Prasad Rai died of gunshot wounds and Naik Dew Ram was injured when the
9 mm SAF carbine of Signalman
Jit Bahadur Rai went off by accident.
Codeword ‘Barish’ indicating commencement of hostilities was received at 2345 hours on
3 December 1971. Next evening at 1730
hours all brigades moved to their firm bases except for 74 Infantry
Brigade. At the same time 168 Infantry
Brigade Group moved out of command of the division. As planned the troops
crossed the border at 2000 hours on 5 December and eliminated the border
outposts by next morning. The operation was conducted by 16 (Indep) Armoured
Brigade, 47 Infantry Brigade and 91 Infantry Brigade. The GOC’s rover was
located in Chamnakhurd, one of the border outposts that had been captured. A
line was laid between 47 and 91 Brigades at the new location. PL routes and cable were badly damaged due to
movement of tanks during the night.
For the next phase of the operation – establishment of a bridgehead across the minefield - the main divisional headquarters moved to area Mawa on the night of 6/7 December. On 8 December four Pakistani Sabre jets strafed and bombed the main divisional headquarters and gun position areas located nearby. A portion of the village Mawa was seen burning. At 2100 hours on 11 December an aircraft emitting coloured light flew over the main divisional headquarters and forward locations. It was assumed to have taken air photos with infra-red equipment.
12 December 72 Infantry
Brigade was placed under command 54 Infantry Division. A line was laid from
Main HQ 54 Infantry Division to 72 Infantry Brigade. However, next morning the
brigade moved to Shahbazpur, necessitating patching of the line from the old
location. Apparently, the communications to 72 Infantry Brigade were
unsatisfactory, as recounted by Major V.R.P. Sarathy, OC 72 Infantry Brigade
Signal Company, who writes:
When the brigade was put under 54 Infantry Division the CO 54 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment (perhaps having already stretched his signal resources) could not provide line and RR communication and signal centre traffic outlet to our brigade resulting in total absence of rearward communication (line, RR and traffic clearance facility) for more than 48 to 72 hours in an actual war! Ad hoc arrangements like patching up lateral line communication between the two forward battalions of the two divisions deployed adjacent to each other or patching up our line to 39 Infantry Division from their “step up” to 54 Infantry Division did not work! There were no dedicated line, RR and telegraph circuits to 54 Infantry Division despite being under direct command. Surely this would be viewed extremely adversely in any communication exercise during peace time! Hand written messages (including death messages of officers and jawans of our formation) had to be sent directly to Samba (geographically closer than any of the divisional headquarters) to 1 Corps Signal Centre where they were accepted on course mate net!
Being the only available officer in the company (the second officer authorized but not posted for the entire duration of the war) the sparrow despite being in the thick of the war and unable to give satisfactory answers to the brigade staff on absence of secure rearward (line and RR) communication for talks with higher formations was forced to go back on a personal visit initially to 54 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment to plead for direct “rearward” line and RR communication and when that failed had to go and meet CSO I Corps personally to get rearward line and RR communication and an outlet to some formation HQ and to signal centre!
A shocked CSO (Brigadier Nanda) immediately ordered that we could open RR directly with immediate effect with the Corps and engineer a telegraph circuit to Corps Signal Centre for traffic clearance. He also ordered carrier quad communication to our brigade. In the meanwhile probably on CSO’s instructions the sparrow 72 Infantry Brigade received C41 crystals from 54 Infantry Division, 36 Infantry Division (with a relay RR chain) and from I Corps Signal Regt with instructions from each of them to immediately open links with each! With only one RR terminal, it was prudent, possible and desirable to open the link with I Corps (geographical proximity without relay) which was done and communication for higher divisional HQs provided through the Corps Exchange!12
On 14 December the main divisional headquarters moved to Badala Gujran and 72 Infantry Brigade to area Dusri. On 16 December eight enemy aircraft strafed the divisional headquarters area. The GOC’s rover group located at Lagwal was also heavily shelled during the battle of
. However, communications
with the rover group and brigades in action was maintained throughout. Basantar
Between 14 and 16 December several officers rejoined the unit from CME and MCTE after suspension of their courses. These were Majors U.S. Tiwari and K.G. Mathews; Captains J.S. Brar, P.K. Malhotra, P.K. Sanyal and S.R. Biswas.
On 17 December enemy aircraft raided HQ 54 Infantry Division nine times during the day, the duration of each raid being 10 to 15 minutes. At 1650 hours the air defence battery located near the divisional headquarters shot down one Pakistani aircraft, a Chinese made MIG-19. During the day Signalman Bhup Singh (DR) was killed and Signalman Ramanand (DR) was wounded during strafing by enemy aircraft and a 3-ton lorry was completely burnt. The weapons (two rifles), equipment (four telephones and six secondary batteries) and documents (personal and official mail of HQ 74 Infantry Brigade Signal Company) being carried in the vehicle were completely destroyed. The heavy shelling of the location of 16
caused the death of Lance Naik B.D.
Rao, who was manning the B1A link of 47 Infantry Brigade. The operations ended with a cease fire at
2000 hours on 17 December. Madras
36 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Saugor in
Central India under the command of Lieutenant Colonel
Harbans Bahadur with Major S.S. Bains as the second-in-command. Other officers
holding important appointments were Major B.M. Kapoor (1 and 2 Companies), Captain
K.N.A. Narayana (adjutant) and Captain S. S. Davood (quartermaster).
The officers in the brigade signal companies were Major S.P. Sahni (115 Brigade), Major G.V.
Raju (18 Brigade) and Major V.R.P. Sarathy (72 Brigade).
In October 1971, preparations for concentration of troops for the expected operations against
commenced. On orders of the GOC, Major General B.S. Ahluwalia, the advance
party of HQ 36 Infantry Division moved out by road from Saugor for the
concentration area on 12 October. The advance party was led by Major B.M.
Kapoor, who was commanding both 1 and 2 Companies. For reasons of security,
this large group moved to the concentration area with halts at Pakistan , Gwalior , Mathura , Ambala and Delhi . Beyond Jullundur , the move was by night. No radio communications were provided during
the move. These long moves during the
night, even with the regulation halts every two hours, were a nightmare for the
drivers who had to think of ways to keep awake and alert. Mathura
The advance party reached the concentration area at Namala on Pathankot – Gurdaspur road on 17 October and was joined by the main body by road and rail on 20 October. By 22 October, full scale line communications had been provided for the division and its formations which had moved in by then. With 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade being placed under command and 72 Infantry Brigade going under command 39 Infantry Division, all speech and telegraph circuits were reoriented and stabilized.
Planning and preparations for the likely operations continued during November. Operational plans were rehearsed, defences strengthened and local defence coordinated. Signal communication plans were revised and updated, and construction of cable trunk routes to the likely deployment areas was carried out. Senior commanders frequently visited the formations and units to discuss the plans. On 28 November, the Prime Minister visited the division and addressed the troops for which the public address system was arranged by the unit. Captain K.N.A. Narayana was the liaison officer with the Prime Minister’s secretary.
On the evening of 3 December, hostilities commenced after air attacks by Pakistani aircraft on Pathankot airfield. Air raid precautions were brought into effect and the communication centre moved underground. On 4 December, 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade went out of command of the division. The codeword for commencement of operations was received and radio sets put on listening watch. With the advance of the division into
the divisional headquarters moved to a new location at Dodwan on 8 December and
communications to formations were provided accordingly. Rearward channels to
corps headquarters were put through on ACT (1+4) mounted on a PL pair extended
with spaced WD1 cable. Standby circuits
provided using ACT (1+4) on carrier quad were not commercial due to line
With the changing operational situation, 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade and 87 Infantry Brigade came under command. The divisional headquarters moved into its first location inside
Nainakot on the night of 13/14 December and full scale communications were
rapidly established. Though line parties
had often come under fire and air attacks, the divisional headquarters and
Signals area experienced their first air raid at 1545 hours on 14 December,
when seven enemy MIGs strafed its location.
The incident has been described by Brigadier B.M. Kapoor in these
All of us in the trenches watched the air attack and the dogfight. And suddenly there were two bombs descending from the skies. We, the Signallers, had a prayer on our lips that no hits come on to the Communication Centre. The bombs landed right in the Div HQ area; we waited with bated breath till we realized that these were not bombs but petrol tanks ejected by the warplanes! These became our war trophies. There were no casualties during this attack.13
The unit had so far worked with reduced scales of officers throughout, but finally got reinforcements of five officers between 14 and 16 December, when Captains O. P. Bhatia, J. R. Purohit, Om Prakash, S.B. Moitra and G.B. Tripathi reported to the unit from MCTE. The cease fire was ordered on 17 December. During the subsequent period defences were strengthened with bricks and line routes improved. The communications were rationalized, lateral lines between brigades put through, and all lines to brigades built up on ballies/trees/ poles. The SO-in-C visited the unit accompanied by CSO Western Command and CSO I Corps.
For their dedicated and outstanding work during the operations, three persons of the unit, Lance Havildar Hari Ram, Naik Sansar Singh, Lance Naik Balbir Singh and Signalman Randhir Singh were ‘Mentioned-In-Despatches’.
39 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
39 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment was located at Yol Camp in Himachal Pradesh, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel T.S. Anand, with Major K.K. Lakhanpal as the second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were Major S.S. Kapoor and Major R.B. Sharma.
In mid October 1971 the unit received orders to move to its concentration area north of the
River Punjab. Towards the middle of November the unit moved to
its operational location at Badali. 323 Brigade had moved to area Chak Chatakan
and placed under command 54 Division, while 72 Brigade ex 36 Division had been
placed under command 39 Division and moved to area Chak Mathal. 168 Brigade was located at Gadwal. On 18 November, 16 (Independent) Armoured
Brigade went out of command and was placed under 54 Division. On 24 November 33 Brigade had moved to Surankot and placed
under command 25 Division.
On 2 December communication was established with the corps signal centre which opened at Samba at 1400 hours. On 3 December, 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade moved to general area Jasrota and was provided with two pairs of line on WD-1cable. The same night radio silence was lifted. At 2300 hours on 4 December the main divisional headquarters moved to area Chappar. HQ 72 Brigade and 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade moved and established at Rajpura and Sanora respectively. Radio relay and radio communications were established with both and line communication re-established from area Chappar.
On 5 December Major Lakhanpal and Second-Lieutenant Surinder Tyagi with two line detachments and a radio detachment moved to Rajpura for MFC communication. Meanwhile the rear divisional headquarters moved to area Jasrota on the night of 5/6 December and to area Dayala Chak on the night of 7/8 December. The step up divisional headquarters had also moved forward and line communications extended to 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade and FDC. On 8 December Major R.B. Sharma was sent to Badali to establish ‘X’ Sector communication. The same day the reconnaissance and layout group moved to area Nidhala where the main headquarters was to move that night but the move was cancelled. However, HQ 72 Brigade moved to Bhopalpur, 2 (Independent) Armoured Brigade to Chechwal and the FDC to Sarthikalan.
To establish line communications Major S.S. Kapoor was sent to 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade with a line party on 9 December. Line communication with 72 Brigade was also established from the step up divisional headquarters at Nidhala where Major Lakhnapal was stationed. Second-Lieutenant L.K. Toshakhani stayed on with 72 Brigade with a line party. After establishing communications with 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade Major Kapoor returned to Nidhala relieving the second-in- command who proceeded to the main divisional headquarters on 10 December.
On 11 December there was an air raid over 72 Brigade, 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade and FDC. Three men from 39 Artillery Brigade Signal Company were killed while two who were seriously injured were evacuated to the section hospital at Samba, where one later died. On 12 December Main HQ 39 Division moved to area Badli. On 12 December line communication was established with 168 Infantry Brigade, 323 Infantry Brigade and 16 Cavalry which were at Keranwali, Chak Chatakan and Sarwa respectively. During the next few days several officers reported to the unit on posting. These were Captains S.S. Ahluwalia, R.N. Ganguly, I.P. Khullar, V.K. Rao and Jaya Shanker. The operation ended on 17 December and the cease fire came into effect at 2000 hours.
Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at
command of Lieutenant Colonel Y.R. Ratra with Major Y.P. Mittoo as the second-in-command. The other field officers in the unit were
Majors C.P. Khanna, Mehta and R.K. Bakshi, who joined after the commencement of
the operations from MCTE. With the move of HQ XI Corps to Jullundur and Kotkapura, the unit also moved
to Faridkot in early October 1971. Before it moved, the unit had laid the local
leads for HQ Western Command which was due to arrive in Amritsar shortly. It also sent detachments
to the airfields at Halwara, Pathankot, Adampur, Sirsa and Nal. Jullundur
Though the unit was located at Faridkot, it had to send out a large number of detachments to other stations. It took over the static signal centres at Ferozepore and
from 7 and 15 Infantry Divisional
Signal Regiments respectively when they moved to their operational locations.
The unit also provided line communications for the corps/divisional maintenance
areas at Bhatinda, Kotkapura and Jandiala
Guru. Maintenance teams of the unit were
deployed at P&T carrier centres at Bhatinda, Abohar, Fazilka and
Sriganganagar. The unit provided one complete shift for the signal centre,
crypto centre and exchange at both Advance and Main HQ XI Corps. In addition,
manpower was sent to F Sector Signal Regiment at Abohar to assist the unit in
manning the signal centre in view of its commitments. Amritsar
Another important assignment given to the unit was in connection with Plan ‘Delta’, a deception plan under HQ Central Command. Though manpower and equipment for the project was collected from several units, the major component came from Z Communication Zone Signal Regiment, which provided a composite signal company under Major Mehta for the task. The company reached
on 9 November. Signal instructions for the task were issued on 11 November,
with only three copies being distributed -
one each to Brigadier V.C. Khanna, (Plan Director), Major Mehta and 474
Engineer Brigade Signal Section. However, the plan was not implemented and the
company returned to the unit on 9 December. Amritsar
Cable being laid across River Ravi during 1971 operations.
The unit was also asked to provide communications for the ‘Mike’ Force that was created at the same time. For this purpose one mobile radio detachment (C11/R210) was provided to work on the C2A net with Advance HQ XI Corps. A line party was also provided by the unit to extend line communications to this force. The detachments were sent on 4 December and communications established on both radio and line from Advance HQ XI Corps and HQ 51 (Indep) Parachute Brigade. However, later in the day it was learned that the force was not being deployed and the signal resources were returned.
M Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at
under the command of Lieutenant
Colonel K.M. Upadhyaya. The other field officer in the unit was Major J.S.
Minhas. In mid October 1971 the unit moved to Pathankot to take part in
Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. The unit subsequently moved to Samba towards the end
of November where it remained until the end of the war. Gwalior
The unit was responsible for manning the carrier centres at Pathankot and Samba, the exchange and local telephones at the corps maintenance area (CMA) at Mirthal; and communications at the airfields at Pathankot, Adampur and Halwara. The unit provided some manpower for signal centres duties at the main and rear headquarters of I Corps. The unit was involved in the construction and maintenance of PL routes in the area. It also laid field cable routes to formations deployed on the border, including laterals. Maintenance detachments were provided to formations at the scale of one per division along the line of communication including line detachments at carrier centres for fault control.
1 Air Support Signal Regiment
The unit was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel A.K. Ghorai, the other field officers being Majors S.N. Capoor (1 Company), S. Ganguli (2 Company), and R.S Arora (3 Company). In addition, Major P.D. Gera was recalled from reserve and reported to the unit in October 1971. The regimental headquarters and 1 Company were at Delhi Cantt., 2 Company at Udhampur, while 3 Company was at
. Shortly before
the commencement of Operation ‘Cactus Lily’, the regimental headquarters moved
where HQ Western command had been established. Jullundur
During the months of October and November air support tentacles and airfield detachments were sent to join their respective formations. Radio sets GU-734 were issued to all detachments for air to ground communications after carrying out suitable modifications to match the frequencies being used by the aircraft. New crystals were received from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) just a few days before the operations started. Extensive trials were carried out at Adampur during the last week of November to test their working with aircraft. The crystals were distributed to companies on 3 December, the day the operations started.
On 4 December, 15 ground plane antennae received from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) were distributed to companies. All sets opened up and became active as demands for close air support began to be initiated. Being located with the forward troops, there were many instances of damage to equipment and transport of tentacles. On 5 December the radio sets of the tentacle with 52 Infantry Brigade were destroyed due to enemy shelling. Next day, intimation was received from HQ 14 (Indep) Armoured Brigade that the tank in which the forward air controller (FAC) of 71 Armoured Regiment was travelling along with two radio sets GU 734 was hit by enemy fire. Both the radio sets were destroyed. Another tentacle was immediately sent to replace the destroyed sets.
On 7 December the tentacle with 191 Brigade in the Chhamb sector was completely destroyed due to enemy shelling. The vehicle, equipment and documents as well as the personal kits of all men was lost in the shelling. A few days later, on 11 December the tentacle with 93 Brigade suffered a similar fate. On 12 December the tentacle with 68 Infantry Brigade was also destroyed due to enemy shelling. On 14 December enemy aircraft strafed 2 (Indep) Armoured Brigade in the Gurdaspur sector. Signalman Suleh Singh Yadav who was part of the tentacle sustained injuries and was evacuated to the hospital. The equipment and documents of the tentacle were damaged due the strafing. The cease fire came into effect on 17 December.
1 Air Formation Signal Regiment
The regimental headquarters of unit was located at Palam in Delhi Cantt., with 1 and 2 Company at
and Jullundur respectively. The unit was under the
command of Lieutenant Colonel K.C. Sud. The only other field officer in the
unit was Major P.N. Baveja. The unit was under the technical and administrative
control of the Chief Air Formation Signal Officer, Air Headquarters, Colonel
K.K. Poonawalla. Jodhpur
The unit took part in Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ from 4 to
17 December, 1971. Detachments of the
unit were located with various Air Force units such as Leh, Srinagar, Udhampur,
Jammu, Pathankot, Amritsar, Jullundur, Ambala, Halwara, Adampur, Chandigarh,
Kotkapura, Faridkot, Abohar, Barnala, Sirsa, Bikaner, Nal, Jodhpur, Utarlai,
Jaisalmer, Jamnagar, Baroda, Rajokri, Hindon, Tilpat Range (Delhi) and Delhi
51 (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company
The company was located at Ambala under the command of Major C.J. Appachu. The other officers in the unit were Captains P.K. Janmeja, S.S. Atri and A.P. Shahane. During Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ the company was placed under command HQ F Sector and moved to Sadhuwali in August 1971. After spending a little over a month there, it moved to a new location on the Abohar-Ganganagar road on the outskirts of Ganganagar town on
1971. Two BSF battalions
were placed under command 51 (Independent) Parachute Brigade which was employed
in the role of covering troops.
Soon after arrival at the new location, the company established an exchange and took over speech circuit Raisinghnagar-Ganganagar. A radio relay link was established with HQ F Sector on which standby speech and telegraph circuits were engineered. For the covering troops role, speech circuits were provided between Karanpur – Raisinghnagar and Ganganagar – Karanpur (via Padampur). In addition, tie lines were provided to the Ganganagar civil exchange. By the end of October all units in Ganganagar were connected by UG and overhead lines. The signal centre was also shifted to an underground location.
In November with the move of ‘M’ Force additional speech circuits Ganganagar – Ganeshgarh and Ganganagar – Kotkapura were taken over. About
10 kilometres of WD-1 cable was laid to provide
communications to 62 Cavalry on Ganganagar-Suratgarh road. The existing 40 line
exchange was reinforced with a 10 line magneto exchange to meet subscriber
requirements. On 1 December ‘Night Watch’ detachments comprising 40 men each were
placed at Chak 5 FD and . On 2 December the
line to ‘M’ Force was very badly cut due to tank movement. The line to covering troops was also
non-commercial. Line parties were sent
immediately to repair both lines. Madera
Radio silence was lifted on 3 December. Detachments for battalions were despatched and radio communications established. After this there was little activity until 14 December when a radio detachment accompanied 3 Para in its raid on Hamewala. On 16 December another detachment went with 11 Dogra in the attack on Kodewalla post. The same night a radio detachment accompanied 4 Para in the attack at Lala Bamba post.
Though cease fire was declared on 17 December, certain operations continued in the sector. An important action was the attack on Naggi post by 4 Para on the night of 27/28 December. Before the attack, a line was laid from Karanpur to Naggi during the night. One line party was positioned at Padampur to ensure that the Karanpur-Ganganagar line remains through. The attack was launched at and 30r (opposite Naggi post) was captured. The battalion lost three officers and 20 OR in the action, with about 50 being wounded. There was no disruption in line or radio communications during the operation. Next day the brigade tactical exchange was installed at Karanpur and the radio detachment at Naggi post was withdrawn.
SIGNALS IN SOUTHERN COMMAND
Southern Command Signals
HQ Southern Command at
responsible for operations in Poona Gujarat and
Rajasthan (less Ganganagar district) along an international border of
approximately 1350 km.
The CSO was Brigadier S.K Batra, while the other officers in the Signals Branch
were Lieutenant Colonel V.K. Andhare,
SO 1 (Signals); Lieutenant Colonel V.K. Apte, SO 2 (Communications);
Major B.B. Vishnoi, SO 2 (Cipher & Signal Security) and Captain V.K. Azad,
SO 3 (Signals). Southern Command Signal Regiment was under the command of
Lieutenant Colonel G.Y. Sowani. DCSO Maharashtra & Gujarat Area, which was
responsible for static communications in Kutch,
was Lieutenant Colonel B.D Bhardwaj, while Major Khorana was commanding
Maharashtra & Gujarat Area Signal Company.
The Southern Command theatre of operations was divided into four sectors, each of which was the operational responsibility of a different formation. The two infantry divisions – 11 and 12 – were responsible for the Barmer and Jaisalmer sectors respectively. HQ Bikaner Sector (later re-designated ‘K’ Sector) was responsible for
sector while HQ
Bhuj Sector was responsible for the Bikaner Kutch
sector. In the Kutch and sectors, the tasks were mainly of a
defensive nature. The initial directives outlining these tasks were issued
during March 1971. Thus a period of about nine months was available between the
commencement of detailed planning and the actual outbreak of hostilities. Since
no corps headquarters was available for this theatre of operations, the
operations were controlled directly by HQ Southern Command which established
itself at Bikaner
for this purpose. Jodhpur
The assets initially available to CSO Southern Command in terms of signal resources, other than the integral signal units of field formations, for planning of provision of signal communications in the Rajasthan and Gujarat Sectors were as under:-
· Southern Command Signal Regiment.
· Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment.
· Maharashtra & Gujarat Area Signal Company.
· 5 (Indep) Air Support Signal Company.
· 4 Radio Monitoring Company.
A signal instruction for the operations was drawn up by the CSO and issued to all signal units on
25 March 1971, so that
signal planning down the chain of command could start. In the absence of a
corps headquarters, HQ Southern Command had to plan for forward communications
to the field formations from the tactical headquarters at , as well as rearward communications
both to Army HQ at Jodhpur
and Main HQ Southern Command at Delhi .
In addition, it had to arrange manpower for manning of peace time static signal
centres and associated communication complexes at Jaipur, Bhuj, Ahmedabad and Poona , as well as
several administrative installations.
Since signal resources available were inadequate to meet all these
requirements, a case for additional resources, which worked out to 739 men, was
projected to Army HQ after approval of the Signals plan by the Army Commander
in early October 1971. Bikaner
Another area that required attention was the development of PL routes. The existing routes, most of which were being used by the BSF, were in poor state of repair and required a lot of maintenance effort. To cater for the planned advance, additional PL routes had to be built. These requirements were projected to the Army HQ along with the demand for additional speech and telegraph circuits. To cater for Tactical HQ Southern Command at
the existing 200 line exchange had to be expanded to 400 lines and the number
of T-43 trunk boards increased from two to six. For expansion of the
underground cable network at Jodhpur ,
seven lengths of 14 pair PCQL type of UG cable totalling Jodhpur 56 kilometres were
made available to the P & T Department from Army stocks. Demands were also
placed for air defence circuits, which were inadequate or non-existent at many
places. For air support communications, additional tentacles were needed for Kutch and
sectors. A case for implementing modification ‘E’ to the war establishment of 5
(Indep) Air Support Signal Company was taken up according to which an
additional increment of three brigade tentacles was to be provided. Bikaner
Extensive trials on radio relay communications in the theatre of operations were carried out during the period February to April 1971. During May an administrative exercise with troops was conducted in the Rajasthan sector where most of the line communications required for operations were activated. The poor state of maintenance of the BOPEL routes was detected during this exercise. As a result, concerted efforts were directed on these routes and by October these routes had improved a great deal. Work on the expansion of
exchange commenced during August and new exchange was commissioned by the
beginning of October, when elements of Southern Command Signal Regiment and the
whole of Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment moved to Rajasthan. Jodhpur
The radio communication facilities at
also had to be enhanced. A number of transmitters were available at Jodhpur but no transmitter
station building was available at Poona
to house them. The existing transmitter station was enlarged and rewired to
cater for the increased number of transmitters. A separate building was also
wired up to function as the receiver station for the command headquarters. The
radio transmitters, receivers and associated equipment which had been collected
from many sources were locally tested and repaired to make them fully
serviceable. Aerial masts for the additional transmitters and receivers were
also constructed. Jodhpur
Radio relay detachments from Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment were positioned along the 11 Infantry Division axis at Barmer, Ramsar and Munabao and along the 12 Infantry Division axis at Jaisalmer, Ramgarh and Tanot. No radio relay links were established between Jodhpur – Barmer and Jodhpur – Jaisalmer as no equipment was available and as it was considered that line communications between these places were less likely to be disrupted than in areas forward of Barmer and Jaisalmer.
10 October 1971, Brigadier S.K. Batra presented
the Signals plan for the Southern Command theatre of operations to the SO-in-C
in . During this presentation the paucity of
signal resources for implementation of the plan was clearly brought out.
Immediately afterwards the SO-in-C ordered six section bricks to be made
available to Southern Command from P Communication Zone Signal Regiment.
Meanwhile, detachments from Andhra (Indep) Sub Area Signal Company and Tamil
and Kerala Area Signal Company were moved to Mysore to fill the void created by the move of
a sizable portion of Southern Command Signal Regiment and the whole of Q
Communication Zone Signal Regiment to Poona . On 30 November, intimation was received from
Army HQ that a case for the raising of an additional communication zone signal
regiment (H Communication Zone Signal Regiment) for the Southern Command
theatre of operations had been taken up. This case was sanctioned and elements
of H Communication Zone Signal Regiment were able to join the Southern Command
Signals on Jodhpur 15 December 1971.
A case was also taken up for augmenting the line construction and maintenance
resources considering the vast area of operations in this theatre. On the same
grounds a case was put up for augmentation of radio relay resources. As a
result one line section ex 1003 (Indep) Line Company was allotted and the
deficiencies in Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment were made up to a
HQ Southern Command moved to
on Jodhpur 20 October 1971.
On 12 November the raising of Kilo Sector Signal Company commenced at . On 24 November
orders for raising of H Communication Zone Signal Regiment were received. By Jodhpur 3 December 1971, the signal
communications network was fully functional and the radio and radio relay
communications ready to open on lifting of radio silence. The radio and line
diagrams are shown on the following pages.
For the advance of 11 Division on the Barmer - Munabao axis, the divisional headquarters was initially located at Ranasar. During this period only line communication was provided by making use of existing PL pairs on routes between Barmer and Munabao along the road and railway alignments. For formation headquarters located away from the alignments, line was extended by using field cable. A few days before launching the divisional advance on the night of 4/5 December, Main HQ 11 Division moved from Ranasar to Jaisindhar. The divisional centre line was the axis Munabao –Nayachor. Initially field cable was laid along this axis but soon the international PL route along this axis was repaired and made serviceable. This route had three 300- lb. copper pairs which could be utilized to provide a number of essential circuits. Since the rate of advance was very fast the distance between divisional headquarters and forward troops tended to get stretched. Communications with the GOC’s rover group which was advancing close behind the forward brigade also became difficult. A forward communication centre was, therefore, established at Khokropar. By 8 December, the forward brigade advancing along the centre line had gone about
55 kilometres ahead
of the main divisional headquarters, which was, therefore, ordered to move to
Rahal, a distance of 50
took nearly 48 hours to complete this move due to difficulties in vehicle
movement over desert terrain. At this
stage, communications from and to the main divisional headquarters were
disrupted. The communications already
existing at Jaisandhar, however, remained through. The brigade operating on a southern axis and
a battalion operating on a northern axis away from the centre line also went
out of range of field cable communications.
Communication to these elements were therefore, maintained on radio and
radio relay only.
The radio and line communications between HQ Southern Command and HQ 11 Division remained disrupted from 1500 hours on 9 December to 0800 hours on 11 December. For some reason, a radio relay terminal had not been grouped with the divisional headquarters. The reasons advanced by HQ Southern Command (Signals) for the disruption in communications are as under:-
· Main body (M-3) of 11 Infantry Division was ordered to move before communications could be established by M-1 Group.
· The ‘going’ in the desert was very difficult for heavy vehicles of 11 Infantry Division. A number of vehicles got begged down in sand. The signal centre and radio vehicles could not reach the main divisional headquarters location.
· There was an acute shortage of petrol for generating sets of C1 and C2 radio links.
· The PL pairs to be used for communication to 11 Infantry Division in enemy territory remained disrupted due to enemy action.
The measures taken for restoring communications are no less interesting. They are as under:-
· Line communication was established between Khokhropar and old location of main divisional headquarters (Jaisindhar).
· Additional line parties were sent to repair the lines in enemy territory.
· Air support net was kept open to pass message traffic.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Jaswant Singh, CO Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment, he prevailed on the CSO, Brigadier Batra to order the move of two radio relay terminals of his unit that were kept as reserve with 12 Division at Tanot to 11 Division sector on 8 December, but the GOC 12 Division refused to let them go. Finally, the terminals were released only after the intervention of the Army Commander and reached Jaisindhar on
December 1971. The radio relay link between Jaisindhar and HQ 11
Division was established on 13 December and channels patched to . Jodhpur
In contrast, signal communications in the 12 Divisional sector functioned well. Prior to the operation the division was deployed between Jaisalmer and Ramgarh. Later on 31 October it moved to Tanot with a view to occupying a firm base for launching its offensive operations. Due to the enemy thrust in the Longewala area on 5/6 December, the planned offensive could not be undertaken and the division remained in its second deployment area till the end of the war. Communications to the division initially were on lines only. Radio links were established but these were seldom used rear of brigade headquarters. Radio relay functioned effectively.
Signal communications in the
provided on line and radio. HQ Bikaner Sector was established on Bikaner 19 October 1971 by the
Artillery branch of HQ Southern Command. The troops allotted to this sector were
one infantry battalion (13 Grenadiers) and two BSF battalions, located at
Bikampur, Nachna and Pugal respectively, the distances varying from 100 to 220 kilometres from . Bikaner A PL pair was
and Pugal. Bikaner A PCO PL
pair was also available between
and Nokh, Bikaner 27 kilometres
short of Bikampur. This was extended to Bikampur by a spaced WD1 cable laid by
Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment. No line communications existed to Nachna.
A detachment of this unit also
established a signal centre at
which started functioning from 17 October.
Government sanction for raising of Kilo Sector Signal Company was
accorded on 9 November. By 2 December, one officer and 35 OR of the company had
reported at Bikaner .
Seven radio sets, two exchanges and some other signal equipment had also been
On 29 November, the sector commander decided to shift the sector headquarters to Bikampur. But after a discussion with the CSO, who explained the difficulties that would arise in provision of signal communications from the new location, the proposal was shelved. The communication layout, thereafter, consisted of line speech circuits to 13 Grenadiers and 12 BSF Battalion, all other communications being on radio. The line to Bikampur was not satisfactory as it was a makeshift arrangement comprising D1 wire, PCO lines and a 27-kilometre route of WD1 spaced cable. There were certain procedural and organizational difficulties in communications by radio with the BSF units. Notwithstanding these, satisfactory communications were provided for this sector during the operations.
The operational responsibility for Kutch Sector was initially with the BSF. In July 1971 it was decided by HQ Southern Command that in the event of an emergency, Commander Bombay Sub Area would exercise operational control of this sector. Maharashtra & Gujarat Area Signal Company was given the responsibility of providing signal communications to HQ Kutch Sector, at Bhuj. As the resources of the company were inadequate, additional man power and equipment was provided under arrangements of the CSO Southern Command. Communications in this sector functioned effectively throughout the operations.
Southern Command Signal Regiment
The unit was located at
under the command
of Lieutenant Colonel G.Y. Sowani. Shortly before the commencement of the
operations two senior officers from the unit were posted out. The second-in-command,
Major Yatindra Pratap moved on promotion as CO 6 Mountain Divisional Signal
Regiment in August, while Major Vinod Kumar proceeded to Indo-China on an UN
assignment on Poona 30 November
1971. The only other field officer present in the unit at that time
was Major S.K. Ralhan.
The main role of the unit was to provide static signal communications for HQ Southern Command at
. As such the unit was neither organized nor
trained to provide communications for the command headquarters when it
functioned in a field role. On 8 October the unit less HQ Company and 2 Company
was ordered to move to Poona
for Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. The advance party comprising part of the
regimental headquarters and 1 Company moved on 10 October, followed by the main
body on 15 October. HQ Company and 2 Company remained at Jodhpur to look after the signal communication
commitments at that station. Poona
At Jodhpur the personnel provided by Southern Command Signal Regiment and 2 Company of P Communication Zone Signal Regiment worked in close cooperation with personnel from Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment which was responsible for communications in the operational area. They proved to be very useful in the expansion of the transmitter and receiver stations at
and in the establishment of the command signal centre. These ad-hoc
arrangements worked well and did not disturb the smooth functioning of signal
communications. A total of 10 officers, 18 JCOs, 145 OR and 20 CSBOs (civilian
switchboard operators) from Southern Command Signal Regiment took part in the
11 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Ahmedabad under the command of Lieutenant Colonel B.N. Satyamurti, who was relieved by Lieutenant Colonel Satish Chandra on
22 November 1971, just
before the operations commenced. The second-in-command, Major M.M. Bhanot, and
OC 2 Company, Major Ramesh Chandra both joined the unit after the operations
had started, on 7 and 12 December respectively.
The other field officers in the unit were Majors S.G. Mohiadin (1
Company), M.S. Chauhan (85 Brigade); Thomas (330 Brigade) and Arvind Vij
16 October 1971 the unit received orders to
move to its concentration area in Marudi, about 440 kilometres from
Ahmedabad. The layout group moved out the same day, followed by the main body on
the next day. By 22 October communications had been established with 31, 330
and 85 Brigades as well as with
and Barmer. On 29 October the main divisional headquarters moved to Ranasar,
from where communications were established to al brigades on line and to 17
Grenadiers on radio relay. Rearward communications
to Jodhpur ,
Barmer and rear divisional headquarters (Danta) and 330 Brigade were provided
by utilizing two pairs on the international route and two copper pairs on non
C-8 alignment. Jodhpur
On 4 November the SO-in-C accompanied by CSO Southern Command visited the unit at Ranasar. On 19 November the rear divisional headquarters moved up alongside the main divisional headquarters. By the end of the month Tactical HQ Southern Command had been established at Gadra Road from where comunications was extended to Ranasar on carrier quad/field cable.
In accordance with the operational plans, the divisional headquarters commenced its move to a forward concentration area near Jaisindhar after last light on 2 December. Communications on line were provided to forward brigades and rear divisional headquarters. A locality exchange was established at
Gadra Road to provide communications to
31 and 330 Brigades, the air defence battery and other units in area Ranasar and Harsanti.
The M-3 Group reached only at 2330 hours due to many vehicles getting bogged
down in the sand. By
on 3 December line parties and radio relay detachments had joined 31 and 85
Brigades to provide communications for the impending offensive.
At 0400 hours on 4 December, the warning order was issued for crossing the International border at 1830 hours the same evening. Shortly afterwards, the GOC’s rover group moved to Munabao Rest House, where a 10-line exchange was set up providing local communications. The divisional offensive commenced on three axes as planned at 1830 hours, with 11 Division less 31 Brigade on axis Munabao – Nayachor; 31 Brigade on axis
– – Dali - Khinsar – Chachro and 17
Grenadiers on axis Saidau– Relnor– Nayachor. Next morning the rover group moved
to Khokhropar, where a forward communications centre was established after
patching the international route which was disrupted due to shelling and enemy
action. Radio communications functioned with all brigades except 85 Brigade,
due to ionospheric disturbance and fading during night and afternoon, as well
as frequent move of the brigade headquarters. Radio relay to 85 Brigade was
also not through as the vehicle carrying the terminal was stuck in the sand en
route. Gadra City
At 1130 hours on 6 December communications with 85 Brigade were restored when it was connected to Khokhropar exchange. Shortly afterwards HQ 330 Brigade moved to Khokhropar and was through on line. The same evening HQ 85 Brigade moved to area Bitala and was connected to Khokhropar exchange at 0245 hours on 07 December. At 1720 hours the same day HQ 31 Brigade reached
and was connected on the Gadra locality exchange. The CO had a narrow escape
when his jeep was strafed by a Pakistani aircraft at 1500 hours while he was
returning after restoring line communications. Next morning the rover jeep was
also strafed at Khokhropar railway station. However, no damage was caused
except for an empty fuel jerrican which was hit. Gadra City
On 8 December all lines beyond Munabao remained disturbed due to enemy air action. Three radio detachments (two C-11 and one Siemens) reached Khokhropar to reinforce the resources of the communication centre. A signal detachment sent to establish a forward communication centre at Jalu Jo Chaunro could not reach the destination since it got bogged in the sand along the railway line. After carrying out a reconnaissance of the next location indicated by the GOC, Colonel Satish Chandra advised that no further move should be carried out till the tracks are developed. However, next morning the GOC ordered his R (reconnaissance) Group to move ahead of Khokhropar. At 1200 hours the CO and the divisional commander’s ADC along with the R group vehicles left for the new location near village Vasarabh. At 1430 hours the M1 group of the divisional headquarters also moved, the last vehicle reaching the new location at 2300 hours on 10 December.
Line communications were established from Vasarabh with HQ 85 Brigade and Khokhropar. The main body of the divisional headquarters was to start from Jaisndhar for Vasarabh at 2200 hours on 9 December. However, at about 1830 hours a message was received from the GOC, who had gone to 85 Brigade location, that the location of the main divisional headquarters had been changed to Rahal, six kilometres ahead of Vasarabh. The R group immediately left for the new location with Captain T.C. Mathur, since OC 1 Company had not reached till then. The M 3 Group of the main divisional headquarters left Jaisindhar at 2230 hours on 9 December. The essential elements of this group reached the new location at 2200 hours on 11 December, i.e. after almost 48 hours. This was even after the minimum functional vehicles had been sent up, with 15 vehicles being retained at the previous location.
At about 0230 hours on 10 December, one 1-ton and four jeeps of the R Group had reached Rahal with great difficulty. Shortly afterwards, the GOC and the
COS (chief of staff), HQ Southern Command reached that
location. The few Signals personnel tried their best to provide some
communications. A WD-1 pair was laid across country on manpack basis up to the
PL pair to Khokhropar. Since the operations room vehicle had not reached and
neither had the exchange, a single telephone was made available to the staff to
enable them to communicate with 85 Brigade and HQ Southern Command at at 0400
hours. One pair on the badly damaged PL
was restored up to the exchange at Khokhropar.
This line was intermittently disrupted due to breaks in the PL and the
WD-1 cable. No radio vehicles had
reached, so radio communications was also not available. Jodhpur
Line parties were working on the
22 kilometres of WD 1 extension from the PL from
Khokhropar which was temporarily restored at about 0700 hours. At 1000 hours the GOC spoke to the Army
Commander on the line, which was disrupted after the call was over. However, it
was again restored. Soon afterwards a 40 line magneto exchange that had been
retrieved from the broken down vehicle was installed. A radio relay link with
17 Grenadiers was also established at about 1830 hours. By the end of the day
D-1 and D-2 links were through from the new location. However, speech and telegraph communications
with HQ Southern Command remained unsatisfactory. There were no charged batteries for the radio
links and the vehicles were without fuel.
At about 0600 hours on 11 December the second pair of the international route was restored and ACT (1+1) mounted to engineer the channel between the new location and Barmer for further extension to
However, the line was again disrupted from 1700 to 2200 hours and from to 0345 hours due to a break in
the PL caused by enemy air action. The
CSO, Brigadier S.K. Batra, arrived at Jaisindhar at about 1830 hours on 12
December and after spending the night there proceeded to Rahal next morning
accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Jaswant Singh, CO Q Communication Zone Signal
Regiment. He also visited HQ 85 Brigade near Nayachor on 14 December and
Munabao and Jodhpur Gadra Road
on 15 December. He ordered the exchange
and radio relay terminals at Jaisindhar to move to Munabao and the exchange at Gadra Road to be
On 13 December five officers joined the unit from CME and MCTE after suspension of the courses at these institutions. They were Captains A.K. Ray, K.D. Kaushal, M.S. Rana, Jasbir Singh and A.R. Patil. That evening the lines were again damaged due to extensive enemy air action. However, all radio and radio relay links were through except radio relay to 31 Brigade. On 14 December another officer, Captain B.N. Dhingra reported to the unit. On 15 December at about 1630 hours there was a severe enemy air attack on HQ 85 Brigade during which half a kilometre of cable route was burnt by Napalm bombs, resulting in disruption of communications to 85 and 330 Brigades. This was followed by another severe attack next morning on HQ 85 Brigade in its new location where it had moved the previous night, resulting in disruption of trunk communications to 85 and 330 Brigades. At 1730 hours there was yet another air attack on the brigade headquarters, during which the D-2 link vehicle and connected equipment were destroyed. The belongings of the men in the vehicle and that of the newly arrived Captain A.K. Ray were also destroyed.
At 0630 hours on 17 December the radio detachment of 330 Brigade Signal Company attached to 18
came under heavy enemy artillery
shelling which damaged the complete station.
Lance Naik K. Vasavan displayed commendable courage and initiative in
salvaging the secret documents held by him at great personal risk. At 2000
hours the cease fire came into effect. Next morning the balance of the unit
left Jaisindhar to join the main body at Rahal. The unit finally moved back to
Ahmedabad in March 1972. Madras
Tps of 11 Inf Div adv in Pakistan, using the railway line near Khokhropar, in Dec 1971.
12 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment
The unit was at
under the command of Lieutenant
Colonel V.M. Jog with Major D.S.
Anand as the second-in-command. Other officers holding important appointments
in the unit were were Major A.K. Bhakri (1 Company), Captain J.N. Kapil (2
Company), Captain M.S. Sarna (HQ Company),
Captain S.S. Suri (adjutant) and Captain
Kishan Lal (quartermaster). The officers in the brigades signal compnaies were
Major U.K. Dewan (30 Brigade), Major B. Shirali(322 Brigade) and Major Khazan
Singh (45 Brigade). Jodhpur
On 17 October 1971 the unit moved to its initial concentration area near Jaisalmer. The main and rear divisional headquarters as well as the brigades were deployed on the road Jaisalmer - Ramgarh. By the end of October, the unit moved to area Tanot. The main divisional headquarters and 45 Brigade were located at Tanot; the rear divisional headquarters at Ranoa; 30 Brigade at Ghantiali and 322 Brigade at Ramgarh. The entire stock of cable held by the unit had been used up on first deployment for leading in PL pairs to various formation headquarters. For the second deployment,
500 kilometres of
WD-1 cable had to be issued from Army HQ stocks, in addition to some PL stores.
Radio relay links were established between the main and rear divisional headquarters; main divisional headquarters and 30 Brigade; and rear divisional headquarters and Ramgarh. In addition, Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment provided a link between Ramgarh and Jaisalmer where they had established a signal centre. This link continued throughout the war.
Two pairs of PL were available between Jaisalmer and Ramgarh. In addition there was a Public Call Office (PCO) pair, on which a channel doubler was mounted. One channel was given to the PCO, the other being used between 14 BSF Battalion at Ramgarh and their base in Jaisalmer. Another two pairs were available between Ramgarh-Tanot-Kishengarh. To supplement the existing PL routes, four PVC pairs were laid between main and rear divisional headquarters and one pair on ballies between Tanot and Longewala.
In preparation for the divisional offensive towards Rahim Yar Khan on 4 December, 30 and 322 Infantry Brigades moved to their concentration areas on 3 December. A deception plan and electronic warfare measures were put into effect by the unit. The Pakistan Rangers radio at Bhaikhenwala, whose frequency was known through the wireless experimental unit, was jammed as soon as the operations started. To deceive the enemy, radio relay aerials made out of wood were erected at Sadhewala and Tanot. Brigadier V.M. Jog, who was commanding the unit at that time, relates some interesting incidents regarding attempts made by the enemy to disrupt our communications. He writes:-
On 1st December Net Radio was opened. After the tuning call the first outstation was PAKISTAN. The operator said that he too was a Muslim and would ensure that no working would be possible on the net. Since all outstations were on line they were instructed not to reply on the radio. Acknowledgement was given one way by the Control and the net went on listening watch. Thus the enemy was kept guessing. The Divisional Command net radio frequency was changed and remained ready for operation.
On 3rd night Pakistani artillery roving OP party from Longewala side came to Ramgarh and established an ambush. The hired vehicles were stopped and drivers shot dead. Their bodies was pulled out and set on fire. They also fired about ten rounds at the PL route breaking one wire out of the six wires. The party appears to have gone towards Nachna. It is possible that this could have been done by smugglers of Ramgarh. Since only one company of Maratha Regiment ex 322 Infantry Brigade was located at Ramgarh, this possibility is ruled out.
On the line carrying ACT 1+3 that had been broken, noise level increased on the carrier channels and the physical got disconnected. The Commanding Officer himself detected this and ordered a line party to move and check up. The line party reached the spot at 0600 and reported the matter direct to the Officer Commanding. Empty cartridges bearing Chinese markings were handed over to the GOC in the morning.
At about 2300 somebody rang up the Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment radio relay Naik from the BSF exchange telling him “I am Captain Dogra, change the frequency of your set.” Since there was no Captain Dogra in the Signal Regiment and RR frequency cannot be changed in isolation the NCO did not take any action but reported the matter.
For the attack on Rahim Yar Khan the Divisional artery was being laid along the duck track. Till 4th night
15 Km of carrier quad light
was laid under Captain M Khan’s supervision but it could not get through since
it being Siemens cable had a half turn coupler. Since at night the men had not
applied equal pressure with each hand, one pair used to get disconnected. This
was of course discovered after the war while investigating the cause but during
the war all kinds of doubts had arisen.14
A few days earlier, buried carrier quad cable and poled PVC had been laid from Kishangarh, where Tactical HQ No. 1 had been established, to Shakhere Wala Khu. A skeleton line party was kept at Kishangarh to maintain the lines from Kishangarh to Shakhere Wala Khu and Tanot. On 4 December one speech channel from Tanot to
was terminated in the operations room, to provide a ‘hot line’ to HQ Southern
Command. A radio relay chain was established between Tanot and Longewala where
30 Brigade was located. Two channels of this link were terminated on the
exchange. Jamming of enemy links was carried out from 1530 to 1730 hours by a
Siemens 400W radio detachment sent to area Shakhere Wala Khu. This was partially successful. It appeared that the enemy had VHF
communications to the rear and possibly some line. Jodhpur
The divisional attack on Rahim Yar Khan scheduled for the night of 4 December was postponed to next morning since marshalling of troops got delayed due to shortage of second line transport. At about 2000 hours that night Signalman S.M. Dey of a line detachment reported seeing corpses burning along with vehicle
20 kilometres east of
Ramgarh. The line was also cut which was
repaired with field cable. At the platoon commander at the
border post beyond Longewala reported hearing sound of tanks estimated to be a
whole regiment. The matter was reported to Commander 45 Infantry Brigade at
Tanot who termed the report as an inexperienced officer’s fantasy. However, when the tanks reached Longewala at
about 0400 hours it left no doubts. Reports of the presence of enemy tanks were
conveyed right up to Army HQ. This was possible because of the foresight in
laying a PVC cable route from Tanot to Longewala via Sadhewala as part of the
deception plan. This saved the day since
the Army Commander at
was in a position to communicate with the company commander at Longewala on the
night of 4 and 5 December. Jodhpur
During an air support exercise held in June at Lathi it had been found that the air support sets of the Army and the Air Force were not compatible. The problem was discussed between CO 12 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment and Commander 30 Brigade and satisfactorily resolved. This paid dividends during the battle of Longewala.
One outstation of D1 net was placed at the Base Operations at Jaisalmer. Top priority was given to calls for the Air Force on line. At first light Major Atma Singh of the air observation post was air borne and kept the enemy armour under observation. He was constantly in contact with Longewala which in turn was through with the HQ 12 Division on line.
When the Air Force planes flew over the area for the first time they reported no enemy armour. Major Atma Singh however got in touch with them and directed them to Longewala. Once at Longewala the assorted aircraft fired rockets which merely bounced off the enemy tanks. The enemy armour adopted evasive tactics but the fuel drums being carried on the tanks proved to be their undoing. When the rockets had been expended, our air craft opened up with machine guns and punctured the fuel barrels which caught fire. With this discovery the Air Force went for the kill taking a toll of 23 tanks out of the 40 odd that were seen. The rest got away and later were concentrated at Naya Chor in 11 Divisional Sector.
By 1100 hours the enemy had called off their attack. At this stage the enemy radio transmission was intercepted and the tank commander was heard saying “we have been asking for air support. If it does not come now there will be no further need”. The reply came “Star fighters arriving indicate target by yellow smoke”. This intercept was passed on to the Air Force. However, by this time the battle of Longewala had ended.
As 30 Brigade attack developed two pairs of PVC pairs had been laid on the ground and later built up on ballies between Ramgarh and Longewala. Radio relay was also established, thus forming a triangular grid of PVC duplicated by RR. During the entire period radio nets remained on listening watch since at no stage did the line circuits break down. In view of the enemy attack on Longewala the planned offensive of 12 Infantry Division did not take place. However, during the next two weeks 45 Brigade captured Islamgarh along with 18 BSF Battalion. No secrecy was maintained on radio and the action was swift, the enemy vacating the area as our troops closed in. Posts were established about
25 kilometres across
Shortly after the operations started CSO Southern Command asked the unit to provide a C 11 set with an operator who could be air dropped. The GOC’s rover operator Naik Ramnaiya was detailed for this task. He accompanied 10 Para Commando during their raid on Chachro in 11 Division sector. The frequency allotted was the D-1 net frequency of 12 Division which also worked throughout the operations for 11 Division. The NCO did an excellent job and was able to communicate directly with
. He was awarded the Sena Medal. Jodhpur
Between 14 and 15 December five officers reported to the unit from CME and MCTE. They were Captains J.N .Kapil, M.S. Rana, K.L. Sharma, Kailash Singh and G.V. Mehta. The operations ended on 17 December when the cease fire came into effect. In view of its excellent performance the unit won a number of awards. Naik Basant Pawar and Naik Ramnaiya were both awarded the Sena Medal. Lieutenant Colonel V.M. Jog, Naib Subedar Gurmohinder Singh and Lance Naik Inder Singh were ‘Mentioned in Despatches’.
On the occasion of the Corps Anniversary on
1972, the GOC, Major General R.F. Khambatta had this to say:-
Signals have done a fine job throughout all theatres in the last war. In particular 12 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment has given an excellent performance. Not once have they failed in any emergency. I have no doubt it was the capacity to communicate which gave the Company Commander at Longewala the courage to hold on successfully and finally, throw out the enemy. Throughout the divisional sector our small and big fighting echelons have gone about carrying out difficult tasks completely confident of their capacity to communicate. Truly you have fulfilled your motto “TEEVRA CHAUKAS”. I wish you all success for the future. God Bless.
Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was at
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jaswant Singh, who took over from
Lieutenant Colonel N.C. Achia on Poona 23 November 1971, shortly before the commencement of
Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. Other officers holding important appointments in the
unit were Major N.N. Gupta (second-in-command); Major A.P. Fernandes (HQ Company);
Major R.S. Dhanota (1 Company); Major N.K. Joshi (2 Company); Major B.M.K.
Khosla (3 Company); Captain P. Thangavelu (adjutant) and Captain V.A. Paul (quartermaster).
In early October 1971 the unit moved to
At the same time 1 Company moved from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, No. 1 Detachment
(subsequently converted to 3 Company) to Barmer and a detachment of 2 Company
to Jodhpur .
Smaller detachments were sent to various locations to look after static
communications at administrative installations. Six radio relay detachments
were placed at Jaisalmer and four at Barmer to provide radio relay chains
between HQ 12 and 11 Infantry Divisions and the forward maintenance areas at
these locations. Bikaner
After assuming command on 23 November, Lieutenant Colonel Jaswant Singh noticed that though the unit had to provide communications to both 11 and 12 Divisions, all reserves were placed with the latter. When he wanted to know the rationale for this deployment he was told by CSO Southern Command that he would be informed at the right time if considered necessary. Not satisfied with this response, Colonel Jaswant Singh decided to visit both divisions and see things for himself. The rest of the story is told by him in the following words:
After assuming command and familiarisation, I decided to visit Headquarters of 11 and 12 Division. On hunch or intuition whatever one may call it, I decided to visit 11 Div first on 29 Nov 1971. After briefing by Lt Col Satish Chandra, C Sigs it was realized that the Div will go out of communication, the moment they decided to move from the present location. Realising this, I instructed Maj NN Gupta, 2IC to dispatch the reserve line detachment under a JCO by the night train to report to 11 Div Sig Regt, which he did. This detachment was then instructed to move with the Div HQ and restore the damaged PL route to keep the Div HQ in communication with Command HQ since there was no deployment of reserve RR detachments on this axis for this purpose.
On return from 11 Division, I requested the CSO to shift two RR detachments from TANOT to 11 Div side and it took Army Commander’s intervention to shift these only after 11 Div had gone out of communication.
The operations started on 4 December 1971. All radio links were opened and kept on continuous listening watch. A radio detachment (C-11/R210) consisting of three operators was sent to 10 Para Commando for communication with HQ Southern Command during the special mission being undertaken by them. Radio links C-9 and C-10 were opened and kept on listening watch for communication with the battalion.
On the night of 4/5 December five spans of PL route Jaisalmer – Ramgarh – Tanot were damaged by enemy infiltrators about
short of Ramgarh. Communications to 12 Division were restored on radio relay
that had been established for this purpose earlier. The PL route was repaired by 1600 hours. The
next day due to enemy bombing at Jaisalmer, the Air Force lines were damaged.
This was repaired by the line party from 1 Company with the help of linemen
from the P&T Department.
On 9 December there was a break in communications with 11 Division during its advance. Describing the crisis, Colonel Jaswant Singh writes:-
On 09 December 1971, 11 Div which had since moved into Pakistan without meeting much opposition went out of communication. On 10 December, I proceeded to 11 Div to restore communication. Two RR detachments from TANOT also reached JAISINDHAR. On 11 December, I reached KHOKHROPAR.
On 12 Dec 1971, I along with a lineman of 11 Div Sig Regt started from KHOKHROPAR along the Railway line to restore the International PL Route. After 11 Div had moved into Pakistan, the line detachment under the JCO positioned with 11 Div Sig Regt earlier, had started doing the same from their side. This work was done under bombing and strafing by Pakistan Air Force. By about lunch time this line was restored and when I was still talking to the line detachment JCO, Chief of Staff and GOC 11 Div came on the line and started talking before I could disconnect my telephone. What transpired in that conversation, I would not like to divulge.
As recorded in the war diary of HQ Southern Command (Signals Branch), communications with 11 Infantry Division remained disrupted from 1500 hours on 9 December to 0800 hours on 11 December. Even after the line was restored, it was subject to frequent interruptions. Communications became satisfactory only on 13 December after the radio relay link between Jaisindhar and Main HQ 11 Infantry Division was established and channels patched to
On 13 December five officers reported to the unit from CME and MCTE. They were Captains Komal Singh, M.G. Datar, A.K. Puri, A.K. Bhanot and D.K. Bewtra. The operations ended on
17 December 1971.
Commenting on the performance of Signals in Operation ‘Cactus Lily’, Colonel Jaswant Singh writes:-
In my opinion operational plans were faulty and did not cater for enemy’s reaction/counterattack and speed of movement of our forces if there was no opposition. We now well know what happened on both the axes of operations. 12 Div hardly faced towards RAHIM YAR KHAN when they were struck in the rear at LONGEWALA by Pakistan. Thanks to Indian Air Force, otherwise they would have easily captured JAISALMER, which shows that there was no plan to protect the Rear. All the communication reserves were concentrated on this axis and there was no provision for communication to 11 Div once it moved out of JAISINDHAR. Probably too much reliance was put on International PL Route which was not correct as it was running along the Railway line and was bound to be target of Pakistan Air Force. There was no flexibility to cover all eventualities in case things went wrong.15
5 (Indep) Air Support Signal Company
5 (Indep) Air Support Signal Company was located at
under the command of Major V. Khanna. The other officer in the company was
Captain Kuldeep Singh, who was replaced by Captain Vijay Raheja in November
after the company had moved to Poona
for Operation ‘Cactus Lily’ in mid October 1971. Soon after arrival at the new
location, tentacles were despatched to 11 and 12 Infantry Divisions and K
Sector in Jodhpur ,
while airfield detachments were sent to Uttarlai, Jaisalmer and Nal. Later, a
tentacle was also sent to Bhuj sector with a detachment for one to one
communication with the airfield at Bikaner . In the first week of November the company
participated in Exercise ‘Mild Fever’, a joint Army-Air exercise conducted by
HQ Southern Command. This was followed
by two similar exercises codenamed ‘Sky Hawk’ and ‘Sky Wave, which were
conducted in the third and fourth weeks of November respectively. These
exercises proved to be extremely useful for the company and paid rich dividends
during the operations. . Jamnagar
One of the first tasks undertaken by the company was to coordinate the frequencies to be used on the radio nets.
for new ground to air contact frequencies received from Bharat Electronics
Limited (BEL) were fitted in the 16 radio sets GU 734 held by the company and
other units in Southern Command and alignment of channels carried out in field
conditions. A passive check of 35
frequencies was carried out with respect to interference and noise, with a view
to select suitable frequencies for the air support and ground liaison officer
(GLO) nets. Crystals
At 2000 hours on 3 December information was received about the bombing of various air fields in
Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir
by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). A quick joint conference was held at JOC in
which pre-planned missions, mostly in the shape of tactical reconnaissance (Tac
R) were decided. All air support links
were ordered to be opened at 0630 hours next morning. By a strange coincidence,
both Major Khanna and Captain Raheja were down with ‘Flu’ since early
morning. Khanna’s temperature was
recorded as 103 degrees Fahrenheit but he carried on after a shot of Penicillin
in the MI Room.
At 2230 hours on 3 December the first air raid warning sounded in
PAF bombers flew over the airfield and were engaged by air defence guns.
For many soldiers in the company the bombing of the airfield located only two kilometres
away was the first baptism of war. At about 0200 hours on 4 December there was
a second air raid warning. Bombs were
heard exploding about two kilometres away in the fuel dump area where a stack
of petrol barrels caught fire giving rise to a mushroom cloud screen. At about
0230 hours a message was received from the duty officer in the sub area
headquarters that another signal unit in the station, 12 Wireless Experimental
Unit, had been bombed. A party of 30 men under Captain Vijay Raheja was
immediately dispatched to provide assistance. On reaching the location of the
unit they found that a living barrack had received a direct hit. Raheja and his team helped in removing the debris
and taking out the dead bodies. In all, about a dozen personnel of 12 Wireless
Experimental Unit had been killed during the bombing. This was the maximum
casualties suffered by any signal unit during the 1971 war. The party of 30 men
led by Raheja was the only organized party that reached the scene of accident
and helped in the rescue operations. The party had to return at 0500 hours in
order to open the air support links. Jodhpur
On 4 December the company had the chance to carry out its first operational task since its raising in
1967. A Tac R mission report containing 68 words was
handed over to the detachment at Uttarlai by the GLO at 1243 hours. It was
cleared within seven 7 minutes and handed over to JOC at 1255 hours. The total
time taken between the initiation of the report and clearance was 12 minutes, a
commendable performance by any standards.
The contents of this report indicated that one aircraft was hit and the
pilot bailed out. Shortly afterwards the unit processed the first immediate air
support demand of Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. It was initiated by 12 Infantry
Division at 1435 hours, encoded in full, cleared over the radio net, decoded
and handed over to the JOC at 1450 hours.
The total time taken for processing was 15 minutes only, a fantastic
pace setter. The acceptance message for this demand was initiated by the JOC at
1555 hours, encoded and cleared to the air field at 1603 hours i.e., within 8
The morning Tac R broadcast on 5 December indicated tank movement near Longewala. Repeat missions were ordered one after another for 30 Brigade. The ground to air communication with the air control team (ACT) with 30 Brigade was excellent. One radio set GU 734 carried by the forward air controller (FAC) in a tank was damaged due to enemy tank fire at about 1630 hours. The set was replaced by CO 12 Infantry Divisional Signal Regiment by 2200 hours the same day. A total of four pre-planned and 22 immediate sorties were flown by the IAF. The score of the day included 18 enemy tanks beside other things. All air support links functioned smoothly, till they closed down at 1900 hours.
With the battle of Longewala being won, operations in 12 Infantry Division sector virtually ceased and the focus shifted to 11 Infantry Division which was advancing into Pakistan. Air support demands were initiated every day and cleared without delay. There was a flap on 8 December when a message was received from 11 Infantry Division that a tentacle was missing since the previous day. The tentacle was through on radio and immediately contradicted this statement. When challenged, it replied correctly. The tentacle clarified that the FAC and GLO in the tentacle jeep were missing since 1000 hours on 7 December. Major Khanna spoke to the Colonel GS of 11 Infantry Division, who insisted that the tentacle of 85 Infantry Brigade was not in his sector. When the tentacle was asked to confirm its location it was revealed that it had been attached to 10 Sikh Light Infantry. The Colonel GS later confirmed that the tentacle had been with the battalion throughout. However, the FAC, GLO and jeep were still missing.
On 10 December the tentacle with HQ 11 Infantry Division reported that it had moved to a new location. However, due to a complete breakdown in rearwards communications from the divisional headquarters all pre-planned demands for 11 December were being cleared on the immediate air support net. The NCO in charge of the tentacle Lance Naik R.S. Yadav under the guidance of Naib Subedar Sansar Singh did a wonderful job in encoding and clearing five pre-planned demands without any delay. Due to breakdown in communications the CSO Southern Command ordered that air support links to 11 Division would l be kept opened throughout the night. A large volume of traffic from signal centre
to 11 Infantry
Division was cleared on the air support net. This included many high precedence
- Flash and Emergency – messages. Jodhpur
In addition to clearing signal centre traffic the tentacle had to clear pre planned demands along with immediate air support demands. The tentacle was given six such demands on the night of 12/13 December. The whole night Lance Naik Yadav and Naib Subedar Sansar Singh kept on encoding the demands and cleared them between 0540 and 0800 hours. The tentacle also reported that it had run out of white petrol (73 NL) used for charging sets and could not charge its batteries. Since none was available with the divisional headquarters or the signal regiment, the detachment was ordered to use ordinary petrol (MT 70) for battery charging. A similar problem was encountered in the 30 Brigade tentacle, where the NCO in charge Havildar Armugham reported that he had not been able to get any petrol for battery charging for the last two days. However, displaying great initiative, he took his batteries to the advance workshop detachment (AWD) of the brigade and got them charged.
On 15 December the tentacle ex 322 Brigade was placed under command of 85 Brigade. The NCO in charge Havildar Shinde came under heavy enemy artillery fire and air strafing. However, in spite of all this he maintained good communications on the air support net and cleared eight immediate air support demands without any delay. On 16 December also 85 Brigade was in contact with enemy and their tentacle cleared 11 immediate air support demands.
On 17 December a total of 14 immediate air support demands were processed, including 12 from 11 Division Sector. At 1500 hours information was received about the unilateral cease fire that was to come into effect at 2000 hours. The last joint conference of the campaign was held at JOC at 1700 hours, presided over by the Chief of Staff, who thanked the IAF for their excellent co-operation and magnificent support given during the last fortnight. He then referred to immediate air support communications provided by 5 (Indep) Air Support Signal Company and pointed out that the unit had provided excellent communications over extended distances throughout without any break, especially when rearward communications from 11 Infantry Division failed on 10 and 11 December and the only link that worked not only to the divisional headquarters but even to the forward brigades viz. 85 and 330 Brigades was the air support net.
Information was received at 1730 hours on 17 December that HQ 85 Brigade had come under heavy enemy strafing and Napalm attack. The brigade operations room and signal centre vehicles were completely gutted. The tentacle vehicle was only
75 yards away but just escaped from being hit.
The last Tac R broadcast of the campaign was made at 1900 hours after which all
links were closed.
P Communication Zone Signal Regiment
The unit was located at Alwar under the command of Lieutenant Colonel H.P. Bhardwaj, with Major D.K. Sachar as the second-in command. The other field officers in the unit were Majors R. S. Makker, Avtar Singh and H.S Goel, who was recalled from regular reserve in October 1971.
The unit did not play any active role in Operation ‘Cactus Lily’. It was made responsible for holding reinforcements on behalf of signal units. However, 2 Company under Major Avtar Singh was allotted to Southern Command and moved out on
16 October 1971. It was later merged with H
Communication Zone Signal Regiment which was raised on 3 December 1971. Subsequently, some more
section bricks were allotted to H Communication Zone Signal Regiment and moved
out on 7 December. On 10 December the CO was also posted out and Major Sachar
officiated until the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel J. Bagchi in January 1972.
The Indo- Pak War of 1971 was fought on two fronts, against East and
Pakistan. The Indian Army’s offensive in the East resulted in the
and was the focus of attention of the authorities as well as the general
public. However, from a military point of view the Western Theatre was perhaps
more important, since it involved Bangladesh ’s strike forces that could
have posed a threat to Pakistan ’s
security. The troops involved on both
fronts were almost equally balanced in numbers, though those in the West had a
larger complement of armour. Though territorial gains were small, several major
battles were fought, resulting in heavy casualties to both sides. India
For Signals, the war in the West had few surprises, since troops were familiar with the area and the existing communication infrastructure. The backbone of communications was line, thanks to the extensive PL network that had been built up over the years. Radio was rarely used and radio relay acted mostly as a standby to line. Since several months were available for advance planning, shortages of equipment and manpower were made up well before the operations. Signals Directorate played a crucial role in ensuring that units had the wherewithal to perform their tasks. The SO-in-C, Deputy SO-in-C and DD Tels visited almost every signal unit accompanied by senior officers from the P&T Department to tie up loose ends. As a result, no unit could complain of lack of attention or shortage of equipment that could affect its functioning.
Communications by and large were stable and came in for praise by commanders and staff. However, there were a few serious lapses that could have been avoided. There were two glaring instances of communications failure during the operations. The first occurred in 72 Brigade of 36 Division which was placed under 54 Division. For more than two days, the brigade did not have any speech and telegraph circuit, on line or radio relay, to the divisional headquarters. Major V.R.P Sarathy, who was commanding the brigade signal company, made desperate appeals without any result. It was only after he brought this to the notice of Brigadier J.S. Nanda, CSO I Corps that he was provided a line and radio relay link for rearward communications. Communication breaks that occur due to equipment failure, terrain, atmospherics and accidents can perhaps be condoned. However, the case in point can only be attributed to faulty planning and lackadaisical attitude, which are unpardonable, especially during war.
The second case of communication failure occurred during the advance of 11 Infantry Division into
it was out of communications for almost three days. Inexplicably, the radio did
not function and there was no radio relay. In the absence of a corps
headquarters, rearwards communications was the responsibility of HQ Southern
Command. The unit responsible for rearward communications of both 11 and 12
Infantry Divisions was Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment. Apparently, the
reserve radio relay terminals of the unit were deployed with 12 Infantry
Division, in anticipation of its offensive which did not take place. According
to the CO, Lieutenant Colonel Jaswant Singh, the deployment was against his
express advice and the terminals were moved to 11 Infantry Division only on the
intervention of the Army Commander at a fairly late stage in the battle. Pakistan
One cannot help marvelling at this inexcusable lapse in signal planning, in sending a division into battle without making adequate provisions for rearward communications. This is all the more surprising in view of the fact that there was no shortage of radio relay equipment in 1971 and units were given whatever they asked for. Perhaps the peacetime role of the formations played a part in the fiasco. Unlike the other two commands – Eastern and Western – that participated in Operation ‘Cactus Lily’, Southern Command had hardly any field formations with an operational role in peace time. This probably bred a sense of complacency which was difficult to shake off. Colonel Jaswant Singh assumed command of Q Communication Zone Signal Regiment on 23 November 1971, just before the war started. When he arrived in the unit at
, he discovered ‘that the morale of all ranks was very low
and most of them wanted to go on leave to visit their families, especially
those whose families were at the permanent location (Poona). They did not
realize the importance of their being there and were of the view that there
will be no war in the near future. This
was due to the reason that no one has ever briefed them properly.’ Jodhpur
It is pertinent to recall that a similar failure in communications had occurred ten years earlier, during the
Goa operations in 1961. At that time too, HQ Southern
Command was out of communications with 17 Mountain Division. As a result, 50
(Indep) Parachute Brigade, which was through on radio as well as radio relay,
was asked to capture Panjim, a task that had been originally assigned to 17
Mountain Division. In the jubilation of victory, these critical failures of
communication were overlooked in 1961 and 1971.
Notwithstanding the few instances of faulty signal planning, the performance of signallers was exceptionally good. The testimonials from formation commanders bear testimony to the high standard of communications provided to them. A large number of signallers earned decorations and awards, and there were many who lost their lives in the operations. As always, the young officers and signalmen surpassed the others in initiative and intrepidity.
ENDNOTES TO CHAPTER 7
This chapter is largely based on Gen. K.V. Krishna Rao’s Prepare or Perish, (New Delhi, 1991); Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo (ed), The Indian Army – A Brief History (New Delhi, 2005); and personal accounts. Specific references are given below:
1. Gen K.V. Krishna Rao, Prepare or Perish, Lancer Publishers,
, 1991,p. 207 New Delhi
2. Krishna Rao, p.214
3. Krishna Rao, p.220
4. Krishna Rao, p.222
5. Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo (ed), The Indian Army – A Brief History, United Services Institution of India (USI), New Delhi, 2005, p. 152
6. Krishna Rao, p.234
7. Krishna Rao, p.235
8. Ian Cardozo, p. 153
9. Krishna Rao, p.237
10. Krishna Rao, p.240
11. Maj. Gen. V.K. Singh, Leadership in the Indian Army – Biographies of Twelve Soldiers, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005, p.211.
12. Personal input, Brigadier V.R.P. Sarathy.
13. Personal input, Brigadier B.M. Kapoor
14. Personal input from Brigadier V.M. Jog
15. Personal input from Lieutenant Colonel Jaswant Singh