DEFENCE NOTES

Handling of Armour in Indo-Pak War

Pakistan Armoured Corps as a Case Study

Part–I

Maj (Retd) AGHA HUMAYUN AMIN from WASHINGTON DC makes an excellent presentation of how Pak armour was handled in our wars with India.

Introduction

Poor handling of armour at and beyond brigade level in all Indo Pak Wars fought from 1947-48 till 1971 stands out as the principal cause of stagnation and lack of decisiveness in the final outcome of all three Indo Pak wars. On the face value this may appear to be an oversimplified view , however a dispassionate study of the British-Indian military tradition proves that this assertion is far more closer to truth than many military observers and analysts may have realised in actual on ground military analysis as far as military history writing in the Indo Pak scenario is concerned.

In this brief article, we will survey the entire canvas of British-Indo Pak military tradition from the eighteenth century till to date and endeavour to arrive at certain analytical conclusions which may help us in improving doctrine operational philosophy and handling of armour in a future war, or at least in military training.

THE PRE 1947 LEGACY

CAVALRY IN PRE WW ONE BRITISH INDIAN WARS

Cavalry was the decisive arm of battle till at least the 1740s in India. It may be noted that the “superiority of the infantry-artillery team based European way of war, over the cavalry charge based Asiatic way of warfare”1, was,  for the first time  demonstrated at the Battle of Saint Thome in 1746,  where the French-Native troops of the French East India Company,  under the  Paradis, a Swiss soldier of fortune on the French East India Company’s payroll,  brushed aside  the much larger and at least outwardly awesome cavalry heavy army of, Anwaruddin, the Nawab of Carnatic. Thus in words of the Cambridge historian  “Cavalry could make no impression on  troops that kept their ranks and reserved their fire” The terror of Asiatic armies had disappeared2! Cavalry, however, retained its own decisive role at the tactical level as a flank protection and limited attack role on the battlefield and as a protective element and strategic screen /raiding and harassing force at the strategic level. Since the Marathas and Mysore forces of Hyder Ali relied heavily on cavalry as a strategic screen and as a raiding force the British were also forced to raise regular native cavalry regiments. This process started from 1672 but was assumed a significant shape from once the Moghal Horse was raised at Patna in July 1760 under Sardars Mirza Shahbaz Khan and Mirza Tar Beg3. It may be noted that this unit was officered entirely by Indians. The British attitude at this time was that “cavalry was a rather flashy extravagance”4 and they preferred getting it on loan from native rulers rather than having their own Native  cavalry units. Thus, in the south the Nawab of  Arcot and in the north the Nawab of Oudh were asked by the British to supply cavalry and raise cavalry units for war service with the English East India Company. The British discovered that cavalry taken on loan from the Nawab of Arcot and Nawab of Oudh was unreliable under fire and raised their own native cavalry units in Bengal and Madras officered by Europeans from the mid and late 1770s.5 Cavalry was first seriously recognised as an arm of decision once General Gerard Lake who was basically an infantryman arrived in India in  1801 as C in C Bengal Army . General Lake  for the first time organised  cavalry as brigades of two units 6. Lake decided to do so since he felt that Maratha cavalry was too efficient vis a vis the company’s cavalry and there was a need for reorganisation and reform. Lake thus  gave serious thought to cavalry training and the first major cavalry training manoeuvres in the Company’s military history were held in 1802. Cavalry units were trained hard and the standard set was 45 miles in 24 hours. Lake also increased  cavalry’s firepower by attaching two six pounder galloper horse artillery guns to each cavalry regiment.7 

The reader may note that while the Bengal Infantry from the beginning was Hindu dominated, cavalry at the outset was a wholly Muslim arm. Such was the Muslim dominance that even the British C in C of Bengal Army8 (also C in C India) Major John Carnac declared that “The Mughals ( Muslim of Central Asian/West of Khyber ancestry) .....are the only good horsemen in India”9. The Bengal infantry from the very beginning had no Bengalis since the English Company had the choice to recruit soldiers of fortune of “Jat” “Rohilla (Hindustani Pathan or anyone with a Pathan ancestry)” Buxarries (Hindu Bhumihar Brahmans from Buxar area in modern  Bihar province who had been recruited in Mughal Army also10) Jats (largely Hindustani Hindu but possibly some Muslims) Rajputs (mostly Hindustani Hindu from Oudh and Bihar) and Brahmans11. Even in Britain cavalry was seen as a feudal dominated arm and known as the “arm of fashion and wealth”.12

Cavalry was decisively employed by General Lake in the Second Maratha War, notably at Fatehgarh which was an all cavalry battle.13  Lake brilliantly used cavalry as a lightning leading force to reconnoitre otherwise impregnable Maratha defensive oppositions so that infantry and artillery were used with maximum effect at the decisive moment. Lake often used cavalry to the point of rashness. At the Battle of Delhi he brilliantly employed his cavalry in a feint withdrawal tempting the French trained and led Marathas to leave an otherwise impregnable defensive position to attack the supposedly withdrawing cavalry, while Lake brought up his infantry to counterattack the overconfident Marathas! The Maratha War was a lesson for the British in cavalry’s capabilities as well as limitations. At Laswari  where Lake finally decisively defeated the Maratha main army under the Hindustani Pathan Sarwar Khan14, he advanced single-handed with his cavalry against a Maratha army which Lake thought was retreating . His cavalry initially achieved a breakthrough, but was then held up by Maratha artillery fire and Lake was able to finally defeat the Marathas only after his infantry joined him at midday.15 Laswari once again proved that cavalry was not as much of an arm of decision as infantry, for it was the British Indian infantry that finally saved the day at Laswari.

Cavalry was again significantly  employed in the Third Maratha/Pindari War. This was essentially a cleanup operation covering thousands of miles and was essentially a war of movement suiting the cavalry. Cavalry was used to locate the Pindaris while infantry was later used to attack and  destroy them. The most notable cavalry action of this war took place at Sitabaldi where the 6th Bengal Native Cavalry defeated a much larger combined Maratha-Arab Muslim force singlehandedly.16

Cavalry’s importance started declining from 1817 onwards . Although it performed important reconnaissance and protection duties in the First Afghan War the mountainous terrain and poor logistics limited its role severely. The Sikh Wars were also wholly infantry dominated wars in which Sikhs dug themselves up into entrenchments which were stormed by the British at great human cost. The Second Sikh  War was particularly unfortunate for Indian cavalry because of flight of a cavalry brigade of two British and two native units at Chillianwalla which led to a serious British reverse. Cavalry’s role by 1857 was reduced to escorting artillery siege trains, supply convoys and flank protection. Since most of the battles of the Sepoy Rebellion were fought in built up areas cavalry had a limited role.

The most decisive change in Indian Cavalry which started from 1858 was the mixing up of the class composition by the British with a view to reducing chances of any further rebellion. This was done because the Sepoy Rebellion was largely led and sparked by the Hindustani Pathan/Ranghar Muslim units of the Bengal Army. Most notable of all being the seizure of Delhi in the early hours of 11th May 1857, by the 3rd Bengal Native Light Cavalry (raised in 1776) after reducing into shock and inertia a British garrison of one Royal British Army infantry and one cavalry regiment at Meerut on 10th May  1857. The British adopted a firm policy not to have a Muslim dominated cavalry. Thus Cavalry was made a mixed  arm after 1857 with almost equal proportions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in each unit The only exception to this rule being  two  one class units of Muslims and one of  Hindus.17

WW ONE

Cavalry remained an arm dominated by rich men more interested in polo and pig sticking from the 1860s till the First World War. Two Indian  cavalry divisions were sent to France as part of the allied cavalry corps, but remained largely unemployed with few exceptions like the Hodson’s Horse which was used in mounted infantry role18. One controversial albeit tangible way of gauging Cavalry’s contribution in WW One and Two may be the  fact that the lone Victoria Cross won by an Indian cavalry man/Tankman in both world wars out of the total 35 won by Indians was won in France by a Hindu Rajputana Rajput in WW One while performing the duties of a despatch rider19! Indian Cavalry was relatively more decisively used in the Mesopotamian and Palestine Campaigns notably in the final allied offensive in 1918 when General Allenby successfully used  cavalry with great effect in the battles of Gaza, Beersheeba etc along with eight British manned tanks20. The Turks were heavily outnumbered in the Palestine Campaign of 1917-18 and there was far more freedom of manoeuvre for cavalry to be employed for carrying out raids and outflanking marches21. The main fighting was, however, done by the infantry and cavalry remained an important but essentially second important arm.

The First World War marked a turning point in warfare. Infantry failed to achieve a breakthrough on the Western Front and its place as the arm of decision was challenged seriously for the first time since the Battle of Crecy (1346). Introduction of tanks in 1916 broke the stalemate despite faulty employment doctrine. However, tanks despite their relatively significant role in the German defeat in World War One failed to achieve a major victory because of mechanical failures and poor employment doctrine.22 The British Army was an infantry/cavalry  dominated army and till the end of WW One tanks were still viewed as an important but not as decisive an arm as infantry23. Tanks found an antidote soon. It was at Battle of Cambrai where tanks for the first time, at one of the five points of breakthrough, were effectively engaged and destroyed by a single German Field Artillery Battery which destroyed many tanks by direct fire.24 Tanks played a crucial role at Battle of Amiens in 1918 which was termed by military analysts as turning point of the war and as the “Black Day” of the German Army by General Ludendorff. The true worth of tanks, however, was still not appreciated, since the Germans were able to stabilise their front, thanks to conservative British doctrine of exploiting breakthroughs.25 Although the Royal Tank Corps was created from 28 July 1917, 26  Tanks as an entity did not have any Godfather in the British military hierarchy and this ensured that their true significance was not appreciated at least in the British and Indian Army. Once the allied armies were demobilised the tank was forgotten and the old generals once again elevated infantry to the role of arm of decision.

INTER WAR

YEARS-1918-39

First World War brought very few changes in the Indian Army and the Indian Army remained an infantry cavalry army retaining twenty one Horse Cavalry regiments27 after the 1920-21 reorganisation. Indians thus had nothing to do with tanks till 1937-3828 when, keeping in view the growing German military threat and relative backwardness of the Indian Army it was decided to mechanise two Indian cavalry units i.e 13 Lancers and 14 Scinde Horse29. Both were given a squadron each of Vickers Light Tanks and Crossley Armoured Cars, phased out from British units 30 . The reader may note that the main problem in mechanisation of Indian cavalry in the interwar years was not essentially conservatism but lack of funds. Three of the five Indian Army chiefs in the inter war years were from cavalry31 and  wanted to mechanise the Indian Cavalry. Their efforts to do so failed because of lack of funds and economic depression of the inter war years.32 Thus on the eve of WW Two in 1939 just two Indian cavalry units were mechanised. The outbreak of World War Two forced the British to speed up mechanisation but initially mechanisation for Indians meant only trucks or armoured cars. There was one important measure which the British undertook and which most probably attracted the best available manpower to try to enrol in the Indian Armoured Corps.This was an almost  doubling of the pay of the Armoured Corps soldiers from around 18 rupees  to 33 rupees per month.33 This was done in October 1942, once General Martel who was visiting India in order to reorganise the Indian Armoured Corps was told that “India had a mercenary army” and that the best men in India would not join he Indian Armoured Corps if they were paid Rs 18 per month which was the average monthly pay of an Indian soldier.

SECOND WORLD WAR

THE BURMA FRONT

It was Burma where the Indians for the first time thanks to US military aid to Britain were given the latest tanks of World War Two. Both the Indian tank brigades i.e.  254 (which led 33 Corps advance) and 255 (which led 4 Corps advance) were equipped with Grant and Sherman tanks.These brigades however had a limited infantry support role. It cannot be said that the Indians who fought as tankmen learnt anything really worthwhile about modern armoured warfare. The tank warfare conducted in Burma was a one sided show with the British Indian Army having 300 most modern Grant and Sherman tanks34   against  just one Japanese Tank Regiment35 consisting  of tanks which could not have the firepower or  capability to destroy the Grants and Shermans of the Indian tank brigades!36 Mostly they were in support of infantry and the Japanese in front of them had hardly any tanks to match the heavy Shermans etc with which the Indian cavalry regiments were equipped. Thus there were hardly any tank to tank fights  since the Japanese hardly possessed anything to oppose the latest Sherman and Grant tanks. The only resistance that these tanks encountered was from Japanese anti tank guns and artillery at very close ranges and these were relatively rare since the British always enjoyed numerical superiority in the later stages of the Burmese campaign and the British Indian infantry was always in close support of their tanks. In war once the enemy is vastly undergunned and underequipped to oppose you, little can be learned in terms of tactical or operational lessons. Brigadier Riaz ul Karim whose unit 5 Horse was equipped with Shermans in Burma has claimed that he was the only Indian who commanded a tank squadron in actual action in Burma and also won an MC. If this is true then the only Pakistani officer who actually commanded a tank squadron (not armoured car or tracked carrier) in WW Two was a sidelined man in the Ayubian era before 1965 war broke out!37 In any case Indian or Pakistani officers could have learnt little about armour tactics in Burma  which was essentially an infantry man’s war and in which the enemy was vastly outnumbered both qualitatively as well as quantitatively as far as the tanks were concerned.

NORTH AFRICAN THEATRE

In the North African theatre the Indian armour experience was also quite limited. The Indian 3rd Motor Brigade that reached North Africa in early 1941 was equipped with soft skinned wheeled vehicles and did little except evading getting captured by the tanks of Rommel’s Afrika Korps!38 Even their British masters were so inept in handling of tanks that the Germans inflicted various major defeats on them despite the fact that the British were numerically as well as qualitatively superior to the Germans! In such an environment Indians could have learnt little about armoured warfare. The British tanks in North Africa were famous for doing one of the two things. Either they would recklessly charge a well prepared German or Italian position, without any deliberate support from the despicable artillery, and return with a bloody nose or would exercise extreme caution once restrained by “Take no Risk, do nothing till you enjoy overwhelming numerical superiority” policy of commanders like Ritchie or Montgommery as happened in various operational situations throughout the North African campaign from 1941 to 1943, thus allowing the enemy to counter attack decisively and turn the scales or to disengage and occupy another sound defensive position. In any case the Indians were organised as infantry divisions or as Light Recce elements in motorised brigades and did not have tanks in this sector, which ensured that their experiences were limited as far as true armoured warfare was concerned. The Indian whose battle performance was most distinguished in this sector in tangible terms was Major Rajendarsinhji then a squadron commander of 2nd Gardner’s Horse who was awarded a Distinguished Service Order  in 1941 for breaking out and capturing 300 enemy troops as prisoners.39  The South African official historian correctly observed that “.....the armoured car regiments were employed almost exclusively in observation which they performed with commendable efficiency, but there was little else in the desert campaigns that they were equipped to do. The armour of their cars was inadequate, being vulnerable to everything save rifle fire, and their armament a machine gun at best was useless save for shooting up thin skinned and defenceless transport”. 40

OTHER THEATRES

Indian armour was deployed in other theatres like Italy, Sudan Malaya etc but here too their role was scouting and observation rather than anything more significant and the few armour officers who served in these theatres could have learnt very little about real tank battles even at squadron and unit level. The operations in these areas were infantry dominated in any case and in Italy warfare had degenerated to the positional battles of WW One.

POST 1947 DEVELOPMENTS

1947-1965

INITIAL ORGANISATION

Pakistan Army, as a result of the division of the pre 1947 British Indian Army on a communal basis, inherited six armoured regiments at the time of transfer of power and partition of India. These six units were constituted from Muslim manpower of units transferred to Pakistan and those transferred to India as the following two tables indicate 41:—

ORIGINAL CLASS COMPOSITION OF ARMOURED UNITS ALLOTTED TO PAKISTAN

REGIMENT                                          

RANGHAR/RAJPUT MUSLIM (HINDUSTANI MUSLIMS)   PATHAN MUSLIM  PUNJABI MUSLIM SIKHS HINDU DOGRAS HINDU JAT  

                           

13 LANCERS

1 1 1

GUIDES 

1 1 1

11 CAVALRY

1 1 1

5 HORSE

1 1 1

6 LANCERS

1 1 1

19 LANCERS

1 1 1

TOTAL

2 2 4 6 2 2

18  SQUADRONS

The deficiency of 10 Muslim Squadrons was made up by inter unit transfers from the following units allotted to India:—

  REGIMENT                     

PUNJABI MUSLIMS HINDUSTANI     MUSLIMS (RANGHARS) KAIMKHANI (MUSLIMS (RAJPUTS)  PATHAN MUSLIMS  

 17  POONA HORSE

    1 (TO 19 LANCERS)    

 14 SCINDE HORSE 

  1 (TO 13 LANCERS)    1 (TO GUIDES)  

 4 HODSON HORSE

  1 (TO GUIDES)      

 2 LANCERS

  PARTS  TO 11 CAVALRY      

 9 DECCAN HORSE 

  SOME MEN  TO 11 CAVALRY AND 1 SQUADRON TO 5 HORSE       

7 CAVALRY                                      

  1 (TO 6 LANCERS)      

 8 CAVALRY

  1 (TO 6 LANCERS)  PARTS TO 11 CAVALRY    

 1ST SKINNERS HORSE 

  1 (TO 11 CAVALRY)      

 18 CAVALRY

    1 SQUADRON TO 5 HORSE    

 CENTRAL INDIA HORSE

  1 (TO 19 LANCERS)      

 TOTAL 

5. 5  SQUADRONS  1. 5  SQUADRONS  2 SQUADRONS 1 SQUADRON  

The above thus made the class composition of the Pakistan Armoured Corps as following :—

ETHNIC GROUP 

PATHAN MUSLIMS-RECRUITED ONLY FROM 1846 PUNJABI MUSLIM RECRUITED ONLY FROM  1846  RAJPUT/HINDUSTANI/KAI MKHANI/RANGHAR MOSTLY  FROM UNITS RAISED IN 1804-1846

NUMBER OF SQUADRONS

 3   9. 5  5. 5 

General Messervy the first Britisher C in C of the Pakistan Army was a cavalryman from 4 Hodson’s Horse/13 Lancers42, along with Gracey as Chief of Staff and his team of Pakistani and British officers had organised the Pakistani General Headquarters at Rawalpindi in the old buildings that had once housed the pre 1947 headquarters of the old Northern Command. By January 1948 Messervy had reorganised the armoured regiments as following43:—      

FORMATION

LOCATION UNIT ALLOTTED REMARKS

7 DIVISION

HQ AT RAWALPINDI  11 CAVALRY  LIGHT ARMOURED REGIMENT  

8 DIVISION

HQ AT KARACHI NIL NIL

9 (F)  DIVISION 

  HQ AT PESHAWAR  10 GUIDES CAVALRY   HEAVY ARMOURED REGIMENT  

10 DIVISION 

HQ AT LAHORE    6 LANCERS LIGHT ARMOURED REGIMENT  

3RD INDEPENDENT

HQ AT RISALPUR  13 LANCERS  MEDIUM ARMOURED REGIMENT

ARMOURED BRIGADE 

  5 HORSE 

 19 LANCERS  

MEDIUM ARMOURED REGIMENT

EMPLOYMENT OF ARMOUR IN 1947-48 WAR

Although 3rd Armoured Brigade was equipped with Shermans, Pakistani General Headquarters did not employ any Pakistani tanks in the 1947-48 Kashmir War. Mr Jinnah the Governor General wanted to conduct the war aggressively,and had the vision but not the energy . He was a dying man and had too many things to do. Unfortunately he was  not supported by his ethnically divided as well highly incompetent and irresolute cabinet of weak men who had neither the vision nor the resolution to function as a war cabinet! The Pakistan Army on the other hand was commanded by a non interested Britisher.

The 11 Cavalry equipped with armoured cars were the only unit employed in the war. The GHQ assigned the unit an essentially defensive and passive role but the indomitable Colonel Tommy Masud commanding the unit  was too resolute a man to be restrained 44. The unit thus took a prominent part in operations in Bhimbhar-Mirpur area under Tommy Masud, but its role remained limited since it was not allowed to conduct any major offensive operation to support the militia by an over cautious general headquarters.

The Indians on the other hand employed their armour much more aggressively and imaginatively in Kashmir. Armoured cars of the 7th Light Cavalry saved Srinagar in November 194745. The Indians also employed tanks decisively in recapture of strategic towns like Jhangar and Rajauri of which the latter was captured single-handedly by a tank squadron of Central India Horse46. The greatest Indian strategic success by employment of tanks was the recapture of the otherwise impregnable 11,578 feet high Zojila Pass on 1st November 194847   which enabled them to relieve Leh and recapture the vast bulk of Ladakh. These areas  without Zojila Pass were  for all purposes lost to the Indians. Today the Pakistan Army is still paying the price for loss of Zojila with approximately three infantry brigades committed in Pakistan held Kashmir opposite Indian held Ladakh.

The rule of the thumb of the 1947-48  War was the fact that all Indian successes had a deep connection with presence of tanks or armoured cars while all Pakistani failures were attributable to the absence of tanks or armoured cars! Indians stopped only where either the gradient became too steep for their tanks or where there were bottlenecks like the Indus or the Jhelum valley and tank or armoured cars could not make an impression.

The Pakistani GHQ finally moved the 3rd Armoured Brigade near Bhimbhar, for a projected counterstroke at Indian communications to Poonch, but was glad and relieved, at not employing it, when the Indians made a unilateral offer of ceasefire on 30 December 1947.48

DEVELOPMENT’S  DURING 1948 -1965

The Pakistan Armoured Corps was equipped almost wholly with  US tanks. These tanks as earlier discussed were supplied by the US in WW Two for the defence of Burma. The armoured cars were mostly of British origin but had proved obsolete even in WW Two and were slowly phased out in the period 1950-58 as US aid enabled the armoured corps to wholly switch to tanks from 1954 onwards. It appears that the policy makers in the Pakistan Army in 1954 did not really appreciate the importance of tanks. The first US military team, which came to Pakistan and surveyed the Pakistani military requirement ments after liaison and discussions with Pakistani officers thus, reported to the US Joint Chiefs Committee that the Pakistan Army needed equipment for one armoured brigade and four infantry divisions. The US Joint Chiefs added another armoured division to this estimate making the proposed four and half division plan the famous “Five and Half Divisions Plan”49.

The developments and changes that took place in Pakistani armour can be gauged from the following table:—

PERIOD

CUMULATIVE NUMBER OF ARMOURED REGIMENTS   REMARKS  

1947-48

6 13 Lancers,10 Cavalry,11 Cavalry,19 Lancers, 6 Lancers,5 Horse  

1949-1955

8 15 Lancers and 12 Cavalry raised in 1955. 

 1956-1962 

14 4, 22,23,24 ,25 Cavalry and 20 Lancers.  

1962-1965

18 30,31,32 and 33 TDU.

1947-1956 

1956-1965  REMARKS  

3RD INDEPENDENT ARMOURED BRIGADE

1ST ARMOURED DIVISION COMPRISING  1ST ARMOURED DIVISON RAISED IN 1956  

3  AND 4 ARMOURED BRIGADES.  AS PART OF 5 AND HALF DIVISION PLAN.  

5 ARMOURED BRIGADE ADDED LATER  THE DIVISON WAS ADDED ON INITIATIVE OF US JCS.  

THREE DIVISIONAL  TANK REGIMENTS 

100 ARMOURED BRIGADE CODE NAME OF 6 ARMOURED DIVISION  RAISED  SHORTLY BEFORE THE WAR RAISED FOR DEFENCE OF AREA NORTH OF RAVI SINCE 1ST ARMOURED DIVISION WAS GIVEN A ROLE SOUTH OF RAVI.  

                                                               

DIVISIONAL TANK REGIMENTS AND ONE CORPS RECCE REGT 12 CAVALRY, 15 AND 20 LANCERS RECCE REGIMENTS.  

100 ARMOURED BRIGADE/ LATER 6 ARMOURED DIVISION         

IN EXISTENCE SINCE THE FIFTIES BUT  REDESIGNATED AS THE 6 ARMOURED DIVISION IN 1965  UNITS LOCATED IN THE FIFTIES AT NOWSHERA, PESHAWAR, MANSAR ETC BUT FINALLY LOCATED AT KHARIAN BEFORE THE 1965 WAR.  

                                                                                      

FOUR TANK DELIVERY REGIMENTS  RAISED IN 1965 TO AUGMENT ARMOUR  RESOURCES OF INFANTRY DIVISIONS TWO WITH FIFTEEN DIVISION IN SIALKOT-SHAKARGARH BULGE AND ONE EACH WITH 10 AND 11 DIVISION  IN RAVI-SUTLEJ CORRIDOR.

We have seen that the Pakistani armoured division was a gift of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff since the US Military advisory group had recommended a four and half division plan, which included, only  one armoured brigade. There is little doubt that in the hearts of their hearts the senior Pakistani lot, with men like Musa, described by Gul as selected for “dependability rather than merit “50 feared employing this division, in actual operations, more than the Indians! The problem with the army of that time, was not as Gul suggests, that it was infantry dominated. This as a matter of fact is the case with  all armies, since infantry is the largest arm and thus has the maximum number of officers. The problem was that historically, by virtue of conservative British traditions and the colonial legacy, there were very few officers, armour or non armour, who really understood tank warfare beyond squadron level. Whatever the reason, the only major armoured divisional training manoeuvre with troops, as per General Gul,  held before the 1965 war was  one in 196151 (Gul has probably got the year wrong since both Musa and A.R Siddiqi  cite 1960) as to test the 1 Armoured Division  and this as per Gul’s description was a Quixotic episode.52  The exercise was nicknamed “Tezgam” and according to both Gul and A.R Siddiqi was an utter fiasco,53 in the sense that despite ample, warning time the armoured division being exercised did no reconnaissance and tanks were launched in boggy country as  a result of which  a very large part of the armoured division got bogged down.54  The reader may note that “Exercise Tezgam”  was no haphazard affair, having been planned in advance and mentioned by Fazal Muqeem as one which “will be held”55  at the time of writing his book on the army.

The only positive aspect of this exercise not mentioned by Gul was reduction of the size of an armoured regiment from 75 to 44 Tanks56.  This was a positive improvement since an armoured regiment with 75 Tank was an administrative nightmare and difficult to tactically control. The tanks rendered surplus were used to raise four more armoured regiments which were allotted to the infantry divisions and certainly improved their battle potential. As a result four more armoured regiments (22,23,24 & 25 Cavalry) were raised in 1962.57

During the period 1954-65 various Pakistani armour officers were sent to attend courses at the US Armour School Fort Knox . These courses however played limited role in the development of the Pakistanis since the US way of warfare was lavish and totally different from that of the Indo Pak scenario in terms of terrain, comparative level of infantry mobility etc. However, some officers who were assigned to revise tank manuals did employ US manuals apart from British tank manuals to good use as this scribe discovered while serving in the Tactical Wing of the School of Armour in the period 1990-91! 58 

Again during the same period professionalism in tank regiments varied from unit to unit. There was the case of a unit that painted the muzzle ends of the barrel of its main gun where cuttings are made to bore sight the guns and, would have been not very effective, had it been employed  in the 1965 war! There were cases of newly raised units led by some excellent officers like the 25 Cavalry. Thus on one side there were units who were as as non professional as British cavalry who were notoriously incompetent in fame for lopping off their own horses heads59 instead of the enemy’s,  because of poor cavalry swordmanship standards. On the other hand  there were units where professional efficiency was higher due to force of tradition or by virtue of having excellent commanding officers. In this regard the British system of each tank regiment having its own idiosyncrasies worked mostly in a negative manner! As I discovered much later that each tank regiment was as distinct from another as one Hindu caste from another and this was even in terms of training, operating procedures etc! The point is that the transformation from cavalry to mechanisation was thus not fully incorporated neither in the British Army nor in the British Indian Army, and the Indian tank experience against the hopelessly undergunned and ill equipped Japanese tanks in Burma in WW Two also was not helpful in developing levels of professional competence necessary in mechanised units.

The period 1951-1965 i.e the Ayubian era, was a period when one man dominated the army and as history has proved, dictators prefer working with men they know, and can trust. This was not helpful for the tank corps since the ruling clique was infantry dominated. I am not hinting that armour as an arm suffered Vis a Vis infantry as Gul’s memoirs imply. Nor I am suggesting that there were no potential Guderians or Von Thomas. The point that is being driven home is,  that the emphasis was on thrusting men on the armoured division who were not very imaginative or professional, but were essentially , loyal and dependable men. The same was true for infantry too, but armour despite being a highly specialised arm was treated as no different from infantry. In the process some relatively gifted armour officers without good family connections and without having the advantage of belonging to the ruling cliques regimental groups were sidelined. War record for promotion to higher ranks was no criteria at that time as has remained the case till to date, since its Godfather had the most dubious war record in the Indian Army of WW Two!

The Pakistan Armoured Corps thus remained a ceremonial but much neglected arm during the period 1951-65. No serious thought was given to developing a special Indo Pak doctrine of employment of the armoured division in the framework of a corps. The emphasis in the Ayubian army was on the “New Concept of Defence” which revolved around the infantry division and as per one general officer of that time “did not last even for the first day of 1965 War”!60  The ideas of the senior officers of that time about armour were vague but it was generally thought that Pakistani armour would perform roles similar to those of the German armour of 1940! The concept of friction and the independent will of the enemy was not really understood by these men who were of the firm conviction that by virtue of having martial races and better US tanks, it would not be very difficult to teach the Indians a good lesson in case of war! It was fashionable to read or pose to read “Rommel Papers”61 and Liddell Hart’s “Strategy the Indirect Approach” 62   but no serious attempt was made in the armoured corps ,as the tank manuals and journals of that time amply prove,  to understand the real mechanics of tank warfare or the essence of Blitzkrieg.

Even at the armoured brigade level no credible doctrine/tactics of the armoured battle at brigade level was developed . Each unit jealously guarded its traditions and remained a closed entity for other armoured units even within the same brigade. The armoured brigade commanders developed a similar to infantry brigade commanders with fixed field headquarters with reliance on despatch riders and liaison officers whereas mobile operations demanded that the armoured brigade commander stayed close to the leading regiment while his staff looked after the brigade headquarters.

The emphasis thus remained on the thinking that each unit must increase its battle honours while training at brigade and divisional level was neglected. Gul states that many of the armour commanders who performed miserably in 1965 were never tested in peacetime training. Thus while commenting on the pathetic handling of armour in Khem Karan in 1965 Gul said “It seems (commenting on Khem Karan operations) that the two Headquarters  (11 Division and 1st Armoured Division) were paralysed by the very dimension of their undertaking........Had they physically handled their commands on manoeuvres in more normal times,they would have been either found out, and should have been sacked, or the enormity of the task that  confronted them later in the war would not have benumbed them”.63

On the eve of 1965 war the Pakistan Armoured Corps was organised as following64:—

1 ARMOURED DIVISION 

6 ARMOURED DIVISION  RECCE REGIMENTS  INFANTRY DIVISIONAL  TANK REGIMENTS  INFANTRY DIVISIONAL TDU REGIMENTS   

6 LANCERS 

10 GUIDES CAVALRY 15  LANCERS (WITH 11 DIV) 23 CAVALRY  (WITH 10 DIV) 30 TDU ( WITH 10 DIV)  

31 TDU ( WITH 15 DIV)  

19 LANCERS

11 CAVALRY  20 LANCERS  (WITH 15 DIV) 25 CAVALRY (WITH 15 DIV)  

5 HORSE 

22 CAVALRY    13 LANCERS (7 DIV) 32 TDU (WITH 11 DIV)  

12 CAVALRY (RECCE REGT)

       33 TDU (WITH 15 DIV)

4 CAVALRY

       

24 CAVALRY

       

EMPLOYMENT IN 1965 WAR OPERATION GRAND SLAM

Operation Grand Slam i.e the plan to capture Akhnur via a major divisional  level attack supported by two armoured regiments was the first major tank battle of Pakistan Armoured Corps. Chamb had always been a sensitive area since 1947 and in 1948 war the Indians had taken special care to station tanks here . However, in 1965 due to some phenomenally incompetent thinking at the higher level the Indians ignored this important sector and wishfully believed that the main Pakistani attack in the area will come in Jhangar area. As a matter of fact as early as 1955-56 the Indian 80 Brigade commander had appreciated the importance of Chamb-Jaurian-Akhnur area and had identified it as a weak area65  which needed to be defended in greater strength. In 1956 an Indian Corps exercise setting was based on the scenario that Pakistanis had captured Akhnur66.  The Indian High Command was as naive as the Pakistani GHQ in thinking that the Pakistanis will “not cross the international border  (in Chamb area) because that would constitute an attack on India67”, thus in words of Gurcharan  the southern half of the Chamb border (opposite the internationally recognised border) was rendered “sacrosanct”68. Chamb was held by a lone infantry brigade and was reinforced by a tank squadron of AMX-13 Light Tanks only in August 1965 69.

Pakistani armour enjoyed a marked qualitative and quantitative superiority over Indian armour in this operation. There were two Pakistani Patton regiments against one Indian light tank squadron in the battle . The single Indian AMX-13 squadron defending the area possessed relatively effective firepower (in terms of armour penetration)  but was far inferior to the five Pakistani Patton squadrons in terms of protection (armour thickness) and was further dispersed since its area of responsibility was more than even that of one tank regiment. Thus while too wide an area of responsibility nullified the chances of its concentrated employment, poor armour protection gravely increased its vulnerability and seriously reduced its ability to manoeuvre or even jockey. The principal Indian advantage was bad terrain which enabled their anti tank guns (recoilless rifles) to engage Pakistani armour. However, this was balanced by surprise since the Indians were not expecting an armoured brigade size force in the sector.

Regardless of all rhetoric about Grand Slam’s brilliance, armour was under-utilised and poorly employed. The vast numerical advantage of six to one in armour, was partially nullified by dividing the two tank regiments between two brigades who in turn dished out each tank squadron to one infantry battalion. Thus instead of using the armour as a punch it was used like a thin net, as a result of which its hitting power was vastly reduced while the Indians were able to engage tank squadrons made to charge them in a piecemeal manner! Thus while the Pakistani victory, thanks to tank numerical and qualitative superiority was a foregone conclusion, the cost in terms of equipment and loss of manpower was too high as the table included in the footnotes indicates.

Thus Shaukat Riza despite being granted limited autonomy to use his independent mind was forced to very tactfully admit while only citing the artillery aspect, that the attack plan lacked concentration. Shaukat thus wrote, “ The guns had to be distributed to support attacking troops on a front of 30,000 yards. The Indians had only covering troops on the border outposts. The distribution of our artillery fire enabled them to delay our crossing of Munawar Tawi on 1st September”.70

Later events have led to some oversights in analysing “Operation Grand Slam” and writers have only talked about the change of command of the division which led to a literal “suspension of action” of full 24 hours in the division’s advance. The first serious failure, however occurred on the first day of attack i.e 1st September due to faulty execution and lack of understanding of the key operational concept within 12 Division at brigade level. It was as a result of this misunderstanding that 12 Division failed to cross Tawi the first day despite the fact that it had reached it opposite Chamb at 0830 or 0855 hours on the morning of 1st September 1971.71  The Pakistani failure in crossing Tawi on the first day and securing Pallanwalla thereby throwing the Indians off balance can be squarely ascribed to poor execution of plans at brigade level  and divisional level. Brigadier A.A.K Chaudhry states in his book that the unnecessary delay occurred since the infantry brigade commander insisted on capture of Burjeal despite the fact that Gen Akhtar Hussain Malik had categorically ordered him to bypass it .72 This serious lapse led to delay of one day in crossing of Tawi and enabled the Indians to conduct an orderly withdrawal across Tawi during night 1st/2nd  September 1965. Thus the Indians were pushed back but not routed which was within 12 Divisions capability had the infantry brigade commander not got obsessed with Burjeal .

The beauty of the Grand Slam plan i.e the  fact that the Pakistani Commander had the benefit of overwhelming numerical superiority of 6 to 1 in armour and the additional advantage of having no natural obstacle between the start line and Akhnur was thus lost on the very first day .Speed was the essence of the issue since the frontage of advance became narrower as the attackers advanced eastwards with the river Chenab closing in from  the south,  and the high mountains closing in from the north making the defenders task easier and the attackers task more difficult.

By  2050 Hours 1st September  191 Brigade defending Chamb started withdrawal towards Chamb while the 41 Mountain Brigade was ordered to occupy the Troti-Jaurian intermediate position. The Pakistani position despite all these imperial blunders was formidable when change of command was ordered and the Indians got another 24 hours to prepare their intermediate defence position at Troti-Jaurian. From 3rd September onwards progress of operations became slower although qualitative advantage in tanks enabled the Pakistanis to capture Jaurian , surprise was lost and the Indians were able to reinforce the sector with a third infantry brigade and a third AMX squadron. Surprise was lost and armour’s freedom of manoeuvre became more and more limited as the total available frontage of advance became reduced by one sixth due to Chenab in the south and the mountains in the north.

This is not the proper place to go into further details, which are the subject of an article, devoted entirely to Grand Slam in a future issue.

The Indian anti tank rifles caused maximum armour casualties on the first day of the battle. These were entirely avoidable had the bulk of the armour been concentrated and tasked to straight go for Pallanwalla rather than distributing it till battalion level. The real hero of the first day of Grand Slam was the rank and files both infantry and armour on both sides. The Indians were saved from total riot by the sheer grit and determination of their anti tank gunners and the most vulnerable AMX crews while Pakistanis lost their chance to rout the enemy because of inability to concentrate and obsession with Burjeal.

BATTLE OF CHAWINDA

The tank battles fought between Chawinda and Charwa from the 8th to 16th September are fit to be made subject of a Shakespearean comedy of errors. The Indian armour, at brigade level and divisional level, was handled in a highly incompetent and irresolute manner on 8th September ,despite the fact that both the commanders were from the armoured corps! The Indians enjoyed a five to one superiority, but unlike Grand Slam it was in number of tank regiments rather than number of tank squadrons , which makes the superiority  thrice as much effective!

Pakistan was saved by sheer coup d oeil by one man i.e Lieutenant Colonel Nisar of 25 Cavalry who in the classic Clausewitzian description was guided by a spark of purpose and a ray of hope in an intensely obscure situation at a time when no Pakistani headquarter, brigade, divisional or corps was aware, and I would say with conviction, thankfully so, of the exact operational situation. The Indians fought as bravely as the Pakistanis till tank regiment level but their rot started from brigade and division downwards! Nisar deployed two of his squadrons between Gadgor and Degh Nala in an extended line and his regiment engaged the Indians in such a terrific manner that the Indians in words of their tank corps historian lost more tanks that day than were held in total by 25 Cavalry opposing them and were blocked by just two tank squadrons!73 These are words of praise from the enemy, for a man who was promoted to the rank of brigadier with great difficulty and was dumped later, while many far more incompetent and clerk type men rose to much higher ranks after both 1965 and 1971!

Nisar and his regiment, some of whom are now bent upon taking the whole credit while portraying Nisar as an innocent bystander at best, imposed such a caution by their 8th September stand that the Indians withdrew their entire tank division and sank into total suspension of action from 8th to 11th September. The Pakistanis thus got three valuable days to bring up more tank regiments and the battles from 11th to 16th September were fought under conditions which commenced with near parity in tanks and soon transformed by 16th September into superiority in tanks in favour of Pakistanis . The fact that Indians enjoyed superiority in infantry was largely irrelevant since Pakistani tanks had limited their space for manoeuvre and the Indian infantry superiority could have been effective in only a post breakout phase. But breakout after 12th September was not possible since Pakistan’s 1st Armoured Division had reinforced the Pakistani position.

BATTLE OF KHEM KARAN VALTOHA

Battle of Khem Karan-Valtoha proved that although politically Pakistan and India were two nations, intellectually both were one nation composed of highly incompetent men beyond colonel level. Here Pakistani armour enjoyed a seven to one superiority in tanks in terms of total troops available but were unable to pump their armour inside the enemy territory in time thus enabling the Indians to recover from surprise from 8th September onwards. The Indians were initially so demoralised that their infantry division commander requested to be relieved by another division.74

Pakistan’s 5th Armoured Brigade could have outflanked the Indian 4th Mountain Division on the 7th and 8th of September had it concentrated its tank strength and developed the battle from one direction. Instead one tank regiment was sent towards the right while one was sent towards the left and centre, thus reducing the potential superiority to near parity. All gains made by armour during the daytime were squandered since the armoured brigade commander insisted that all tanks be parked in front of his brigade headquarter after last light! This as a matter of fact was a British tradition 75 but even the rationale why the British did so mostly in North Africa was not applicable in the Indo-Pak scenario. (See Analysis for further elaboration). By 10th September the Indians had reinforced the sector and although they were outnumbered in tanks by five to two till the end, bad terrain and inability of the Pakistani armour to breakout of the bottle neck between Nikasu Nala and Rohi Nala while the Indians were demoralised in vastly outnumbered in number of total available tanks from 6th to 8th September led to a stagnation and stalemate by 11th September. Thus all the advantages of initial surprise and superiority in numbers were nullified due to poor staff work, poor initial planning, faulty execution as a result of which numerical superiority was not fully realised due to poor terrain and lack of freedom of manoeuvre.

BATTLE OF LAHORE

The role of armour in the battle for Lahore was limited . Indian armour was divided down to squadron level and played a negligible role on 6th and 7th September. In any case their Shermans were no match to Pakistan’s Pattons of which the 23 Cavalry held two squadrons.

The Pakistani tank/infantry counterattack on 8th September however produced a crisis of operational level in the 15 Indian Division. On 8th September as a result of Pakistani armour/infantry counterattack an Indian infantry brigade became so demoralised that two of its units simply abandoned their defences and bolted away, leading to a situation where the Indians had to reinforce it with a  fresh infantry brigade76, however certainly did cause an operational crisis in the 15 Indian Division on 8th September thereby seriously  weakening the Indian resolve to capture Lahore. The Indian armoured corps historian did not take a similar view77, however as cited earlier this fact is well attested in the “War Despatches” of General Harbaksh Singh. Absence of Pakistani tanks at Dograi due to poor map reading and confusion in orders78  however played a major part in Indian recapture of Dograi on 21/22 September 1965. In short, tanks played a relatively significant but limited role in the battle of Lahore since the BRB strictly limited their mobility.

INTER WAR YEARS-1965-1971

The following table illustrates the inter war changes in the armoured corps:—

EXISTING REGIMENTS TILL 1965

REGIMENTS RAISED FROM 1965 TILL DECEMBER 1971   REMARKS  

13 Lancers,10 Guides Cavalry,                    

26 Cavalry, 27 Cavalry,  30,31,32 & 33 TDU were redesignated as cavalry regiments after the 1965 War . 29 Cavalry was stationed in East Pakistan.Some ad hoc squadrons were also raised one of which later became 39 Cavalry and one i.e 5 Independent Squadron survived the reorganisation after the war by becoming training squadron of School of Armour.  

11 Cavalry, 6 Lancers.5 Horse,          

28 Cavalry, 29 Cavalry,  

19 Lancers, 12 Cavalry,15 Lancers,   

38 Cavalry,51 Lancers.  

4 Cavalry ,20 Lancers, 22 Cavalry,

 

23 Cavalry,24 Cavalry, 25 Cavalry,

 

30 TDU,31 TDU,32 TDU,33 TDU.

   

EXISTING HEADQUARTERS IN 1965       

HEADQUARTERS RAISED FROM 1965 TO 1971    

1ST Armoured Division

2nd Armoured Brigade  2nd and 8th Independent Brigade HQ were raised in  2nd Half of 1970.8th Armoured Brigade was corps reserve of 1 Corps while 2nd Armoured Brigade was under command 23 Division in the war. 3rd Armoured Brigade was directly under HQ 4 Corps in Ravi-Sutlej Corridor.7th and 9th Armoured Brigades were part of 6th Armoured Division and 4th and 5th Armoured Brigades were part of 1st Armoured Division.

6th Armoured Division 

7th Armoured Brigade  

3rd Armoured Brigade

8th Armoured Brigade  

4th Armoured Brigade 

9th Armoured Brigade  

5th Armoured Brigade

 

REFERENCES AND ENDNOTES

Introductory Note:— Many details may not be accurate since the author does not have access to historical records. The author welcomes any positive suggestions/corrections/pointing out of any factual errors. The author welcomes any battle account from any veteran of WW Two pertaining to combat administrative or other issues like man management relations between officers and ranks etc. Any account received by the author will be sent to the Imperial War Museum and some other universities where military historians of international repute can make use of them .This is important, author feels that in few years time all valuable records will be destroyed in case no effort is made to preserve them; since the major interest in Pakistan and India seems to be in other non military pursuits. Maps which have been conceived and drawn by the author in free hand are based either on Survey of Pakistan maps or on Map Number TPC G-7D, Scale 1:500,000 , as far as Chamb-Jaurian area is concerned, prepared under the direction of the Defence Intelligence Agency and published by the Aeronautical Chart and Information Centre.US Airforce, St Louis ,Missouri-63118. Compiled from maps and intelligence information available as of November 1967. These maps are available to public on nominal payment and are used by civilian pilots.

1 Page- 14- Pakistan Army Till 1965- Major A.H Amin-Strategicus & Tacticus- 17 Aug 1999-P.O Box 13146- Arlington- VA-22219-U.SA

2 Page-326-Ibid and Page-122- Cambridge History of India-Volume Five-British India-1497-1858 -H.H Dodwell-Reprinted by S.Chand and Company-New Delhi- 1987.

3 Page-451- A Sketch of the Services of the Bengal Army- Lieut F.G Cardew-Revised and Edited in the Military Department of the Government of India- Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing-Calcutta-1903.

4 Page-140-A Matter of Honour - Philip Mason- Jonathan Cape-London-1974.

5 Page- 141-Ibid and Pages-109 & 110 -So they Rode and Fought - Major General Syed Shahid Hamid (Retired)- Midas Books- Kent-UK-1983. Two native cavalry regiments were raised by the Nawab of Oudh on the Company’s orders in 1776 (Refers-Page-451-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit)  under British officers and transferred to the English East India Company’s service in 1777 and designated as  1st and 2nd Bengal Native Cavalry. (Refers-Page-110-Shahid Hamid-Op Cit ) .Similarly  16 Light Cavalry the oldest surviving Indian Cavalry unit was raised in Carnatic by the Nawab of Arcot for service with the Madras Army. It was taken over permanently by the East India Company in 1784 and became the 3rd Regiment of Madras Native Cavalry (Refers-Page-147-Ibid ).

6 Page-159 and 160- A Concise Dictionary of Military Biography - Martin Window and Francis. K . Mason-Osprey Publishing  Limited-Berkshire -GB-1975. Page-79-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit.

7 Page-76-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit and Page- 23-Maj Gen Shahid Hamid-Op Cit.

8 Page-470-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit and Page- 532 -Fidelity and Honour- Lieut Gen S.L Menezes-Penguin Books -India-Delhi-1993. There were three armies but the C in C Bengal Army was also overall  C in C India although the other two C in Cs of Bombay and Madras Armies enjoyed a very large measure of autonomy bordering on virtual independence of command. Initially however the Madras military establishment was seniormost (Refers -Page-327-Chapter Eleven- Imperial Gazetteer of India-Volume Four-Administrative - Based on material supplied by Lieut Gen Sir Edward Collen-Published under the authority of His Majesty’s Secretary of State for India in Council at the Clarendon Press-Oxford-1907)  but by 1758 following Clive’s great victory at Plassey Bengal became the seniormost and supreme military establishment. Lord Clive , then Colonel Robert Clive was the first C in C of the Bengal Army from December 1756 and 25 February 1760 while also holding the charge of the Governor of Bengal (Refers-Page- 470-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit). Bengal had been a  “ Presidency “ English East India Company since 1699. (Refers-Page-3 -Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit).

9 Page-23-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit. As per William Irvine in the Mughal Army  the cavalry was largely composed of   respectable  Mohameddans and  Rajputs (Refers-Page-162- The Army of the Indian Moghuls- William Irvine-London-1903 . See also A  History of  the British Cavalry-1816-1919-Volume Two -The Marquess of Anglesey-London-1975.

10 Page-167-William Irvine-Op Cit  and Pages-84 & 85- The New Cambridge History of India-Volume-II.1-Indian Society and the making of the Indian Empire-C.A Bayly-Cambridge University Press-1988.

11 Page-5-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit and Page- 328-Imperial Gazetteer -Op Cit . Many Hindustani Pathans of Shinwari Yusufzai Sherwani and Bangash ancestry from this scribes maternal grandfather Sultan Khan’s family village Sikandara Rao in Aligarh District, (which has the notoriety of remaining loyal to the English East India Company  albeit for pragmatic reasons as done by the Punjabis in 1857),  served in the cavalry of the Nawabs of Oudh Farrukhabad  , the Raja Scindia of Gwalior and the East India Company’s Bengal Army. The village did produce at least one general,  (who was a noted member of the Riding Club of Aligarh Muslim University ), who served with distinction in Pakistan Armoured Corps. There were countless such villages from Hissar in the West till Allahabad in the east of Hindustani Pathan Muslims who supplied recruits to the cavalry units of the Marathas , the Nawabs of  Oudh and the English East India Company’s armies.

12 Page-243- Britain and Her Army- Correlli Barnett- Penguin Books-London-1974.

13 Page-141-Philip Mason-Op Cit.

14 Page-169-The Battle Book- Bryan Perrett- Arms and Armour-London-1996.

15 Pages-82 to 90-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit.

16 Page-33- The Maratha and the Pindari War” - Lieutenant Colonel R.G Burton - Compiled for the General Staff -  India -Government Monotype Press, Simla - 1910.

17 See Class Composition tables on Pages-329 & 405-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit.The Muslims dominated all ten regular units of the Bengal Army which rebelled or were disbanded in 1857. (See History of British Cavalry-Op Cit).The following table taken from Page- 45-Pakistan Army Till 1965-Op Cit.Calculated by the author from details given in the appendix of the Royal Commission on the reorganisation of the Indian Army-London-1858, shows the Muslim preponderance in cavalry right till 1857:-

ARMY        TOTAL                 MUSLIM            MUSLIM          TOTAL                          MUSLIM             TOTAL                    MUSLIM

                   STRENGTH         TROOPS            % age                INFANTRY            TROOPS            CAVALRY        TROOPS

 MADRAS      45,341      17,880    39.43 %           45,725 OR 52        15,856             2,616 OR 7       2,024

 ARMY                                                                                     REGIMENTS                         REGIMENTS

 

 BOMBAY      26,894       2,630      5.8 %                      25,433 OR 29  2,159             1,461 OR 3         471     

 ARMY                                                                                     REGIMENTS                        REGIMENTS

18 Pages-44, 46, 47 & 48- The Indian Army and the King’s Enemies-1900-1947- Charles Chenevix Trench-Thames and Hudson-London -1988.

19 Page-49-C.C Trench-Op Cit. The reader may note that the newly formed Royal Tank Corps did win four Victoria Crosses (Refers-Pages-22 & 23- Tank Commanders- George Forty-Firebird Books-Dorset-UK-1993)  in WW One from 1917 till armistice and played a decisive role in the defeat of  Germany.

20 Page-213- A Concise History of World War One- Brig Gen Vincent . J.Esposito-Pall Mall Press- London -1965.

21 Pages-91 to 99-C.C Trench-Op Cit.Pages-432 to 440-History of the First World War- B.H Liddell Hart-Pan Books-London-1972.

22 Page-941 & 942- Brassey’s Encyclopaedia of Military History and Biography- Edited by Col Franklin.D.Margotta-Brasseys-Washington-1994. Page-73- A Dictionary of Battles- David Eggenberger- George Allen and Unwin-London-1967.

23 Page-38-George Forty-Op Cit.

24 Page-102-Brig Esposito-Op Cit. Liddell Hart insists in his book that there were several German batteries who did it , however Liddell Hart is a Britisher and a tank enthusiast , I have not relied on his judgement since both national feeling and personal likes may have influenced his judgement in this case. The legend went that one German artillery officer knocked out sixteen tanks although Liddell Hart insists that only five tanks were knocked out. (Refers-Page-344-Liddell Hart-Op Cit).

25 Page-18-Eggenberger-Op Cit.

26 Page-22- George Forty-Op Cit.

27 Page-55-Shahid Hamid-Op Cit.

28 Page-135-C.C Trench and Page-56-Shahid Hamid-Op Cit.

29 Report of Auchinleck Modernisation Sub Committee -Ministry of Defence-Historical Section-New Delhi-1938.

30 Page-135 - C.C Trench -Op Cit.

31 Page-135-Ibid and Pages-534 & 535-Lieut Gen S.L Menezes-Op Cit.

32 Page-135 & 137-C.C Trench-Op Cit.

33 Pages-187 & 188- Our Armoured Forces- Lieutenant General G.L.Q Martel-Faber and Faber-London-1949.

34 Pages-277 & 278-C.C Trench-Op Cit.

35 Page-3 & 4-Campaign of the 14th Army in Burma-Compiled by 14th Army Headquarter-1945-Printed in Government Printing Press-Calcutta.Presented by Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Chief of the Imperial General Staff for use by the Pakistani Armed Forces. General Francis Tucker a veteran of WW Two admitted that the Japanese in Burma were “weak in armour and motor transport”. (Refers-Page-73-The Pattern of War- Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tucker-Cassell and Company Limited-London-1948.

36For the relative inferiority of the Japanese tanks see-Pages-240 to 251- Hand Book on Japanese Military Forces-US War Department-Technical Manual-TM-E-30-480 -1October 1944-United States Government Printing Office-Washington-1944-Reprinted by Louisiana State University Press-Baton Rouge-1995. Slim does not tell us anything about the overwhelming British tank superiority in his otherwise excellent book Defeat into Victory.Neither does General Gul Hassan who was then serving as an ADC and was to later lament about the anti armour bias in the Post 1947 Pakistan Army.

37Page-9- Article-Higher Conduct of 1965 War-Brigadier Riaz Ul Karim Khan, LOM, MC-Defence Journal-Volume Ten-Number-1-2-1984-Karachi. Riaz ul Karim was Director Armoured Corps in the General Headquarters once the 1965 broke out . Director Armoured Corps at that time or even now a post occupied by those in the run! This claim made by Riaz ul Karim may or may not be wholly accurate.The author welcomes any gentleman who is better informed and can point out any factual errors so that these can be incorporated for the sake of historical accuracy.

38 Some Indian cavalry units did have tanks at time like the Central India Horse ( Refers-Page-317-The Sidi Rezegh Battles-1941- J.A.I Agar Hamilton and  L.C.F Turner-Oxford University Press-Cape Town-1957

39 Page-483-Rajendarsinhji later the Indian C in C was a remarkable man in many ways .He was offered to be the first Indian C in C but refused voluntarily stating that the decision should be taken on the basis of seniority as a result of which Cariappa became the first Indian C in C of the Indian Army (Refers-Page-448-Lieut Gen S.L Menezes-Op Cit) .Rajendarsinhji was also the first Indian to command an armoured regiment, although in a peacetime location from November 1943 to May 1945 (Refers-Page-557-The Indian Armour-1941-1971- Major General Gurcharan Singh Sandhu-Vision Books -Delhi-1990).

40Page-432-J.A.I Agar Hamilton-Op Cit.

41Pages-190 to 194- The Pakistan Army-1947-1949- Major General Shaukat Riza-Wajid Alis (Private Limited) -Lahore-Printed for Services Book Club-1989.Pages-59 to 105-Sons of John Company-John Gaylor-First Published in UK by Spellmount-1992-Reprint-Lancer International-New Delhi-1993.Pages-559 to 561-The Indian Armour-1941-1971-Op Cit. This table may not be wholly accurate.The author welcomes any gentleman who is better informed and can point out any factual errors so that these can be incorporated for the sake of historical accuracy. The reader may note that the second table may also not be wholly accurate .  The author welcomes any gentleman who is better informed and can point out any factual errors so that these can be incorporated for the sake of historical accuracy.

42 Page-153-Shaukat Riza-Op Cit.

43 Pages-178 to  187-Shauakat Riza-Op Cit. This table may not be wholly accurate.The author welcomes any gentleman who is better informed and can point out any factual errors so that these can be incorporated for the sake of historical accuracy. Facts in the column “Remarks” are based on Annexure-”A”-Page -307-Ibid.

44 He lacked the qualities of slavishness or diplomacy to become a general officer in the Ayubian army ! This explains why he did not go beyond a brigadier! Tommy Masud who was a very famous figure in Lahore Gymkhana finally settled in Lahore where he died in the late 1990s. The unit conducted very aggressive actions under his able leadership , one of the proofs of which i.e two captured Indian Armoured cars of the 7th Light Cavalry still adorn the front of the unit quarter guard . Till 1983 when this scribe joined the unit Tommy Masud was remembered with great respect and admiration by many reservists and old timers both from the officers and the rank and file who were attached with or visited the unit .

45 Pages-275 to 277-The Indian Armour-Op Cit.

46 Pages-284 to 286-Ibid.

47 Page- 295-Ibid.

48 Pages-296 & 296-Shauakat Riza-Op Cit.

49 Refers-Pakistan MDA Programme- Memorandum for the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff  Admiral Arthur Radford  by the Special Assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for MDAP Affairs Major General  Robert.M.Cannon  dated 23 November 1955. Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-Washington D.C.

50Page-134-Memoirs of General Gul Hassan Khan-Lieutenant General Gul Hassan Khan-Oxford University Press-Karachi-1993)

51Page-24-My Version-Indo Pakistan War 1965-General Musa Khan-Wajid Alis Limited-Lahore-1983.and Page-66- The Military in Pakistan-Image and Reality- Brig A.R Siddiqi-Vanguard Books-Lahore-1996.Gul Hassan cites 1961 (Page-142-Gul Hassan Khan-Op Cit) as the year but both Brig A.R Siddiqi and Musa cite 1960

52 Page-142-Gul Hassan Khan-Op Cit.

53 Page-142-Ibid and Page-66-Brig A.R Siddiqi-Op Cit.

54 Ibid.

55 Page-143-The Story of the Pakistan Army-Major General Fazal Muqeem Khan-Oxford University Press-Lahore -1963

56 Page-25-Musa-Khan-Op Cit. Brigadier Zaheer Alam Khan states that these changes in the organisation of the armoured regiment  took place after “Exercise Milestone” held in 1962 (Refers-Page-126-The Way It Was- Brigadier Z.A Khan-Dynavis Private Limited-Pathfinder Fountain-Karachi-1998) and that these were taken on the initiative of Brigadier Bashir , the then Director Armoured Corps. Gul is unfortunately no longer alive to correct us but in all probability it appears that the changes in tank regiment organisation were initiated based on Exercise Tezgam held in 1960 as per Musa and Siddiqi or in 1961 as per Gul Hassan. As per Gen Mitha “Exercise Milestone”  in 1961 in addition to the armoured division exercise (i.e Exercise Tezgam) was held to test the “New Concept of Defence” and 10 Division Plus took part in it. (Refers-Page-33-Fallacies and Realities-An Analysis of Gul Hassan’s “Memoirs”-Major General Aboobakar Osman Qasim Mitha-Maktaba Fikr O Danish-Lahore-1994.

57 Page-117-Brig Z.A Khan-Op Cit.

58 Comparison of Tank Platoon and  Tank Company-FM-17-32 -Department of the Army-Field Manual-United States Government Printing Office-Washington D.C-1950 as discovered by this scribe in the store room of Tactical Wing Nowshera one very notoriously cold evening in January  1991 and  General Staff Publication Number-1622- Troop Leading in Armoured Corps -1967 and General Staff Publication Number-1851- Troop Leading in Armoured Corps-1991-GHQ Rawalpindi. One glaring example is one of the ugliest and shabbiest map of a tank counter attack taken from the 1950 US manual and reproduced  without any improvement in both the Pakistani publications of 1967 and 1991 ! Even a ten-year-old can draw a better and far neater map! There are pencil cuttings on the US manual which once incorporated by a typist typing a new draft , exactly match with the typed final proof of the Pakistani tank manual!

59 Page-243-Correlli Barnett-Op Cit.

60 Page-493-Article-Infantry Thinking-Lieutenant General Atiq Ur Rahman - Soldier Speaks-Selected Articles from “Pakistan Army Journal”-1956-1981 - Army  Education Press-GHQ-Rawalpindi-1981.

61 See Page-42-Brig A.R Siddiqi-Op Cit. Brig Siddiqi states in his excellent and thought provoking book , that General Azam “carried with him a copy of the newly published ‘Rommel Papers’ and was full of it”.

62 Page-26-Brig Z.A Khan-Op Cit.Brig Z.A Khan states that Liddell Hart’s book was given to all cadets in the military academy. I hold Liddell Hart in very high esteem and as a matter of fact started my study of military history with this book and Palit’s essentials of miltary knowledge .However it is not clear what purpose Liddell Hart could serve for cadets in a military academy learning the basics of infantry tactics. I may add that I met very few officers during my entire military service who had read this particular book of Liddell Hart from first to last page.

63 Page-209-Gul Hassan Khan-Op Cit

64 Based on orders of battle of various divisions given in - The Pakistan Army-War-1965-Major General Shaukat Riza (Retired) - Army Education Press-GHQ-Rawalpindi -1984.

65 Page-126-Behind the Scene-An Analysis of India’s Military Operations-1947-1971-Major General Joginder Singh (Retired) - Lancer International-New Delhi-11993.

66 Page -126-Ibid.

67 Page-343-Gurcharan Singh Sandhu -Op Cit.

68 Page-344-Ibid.

69 Ibid.

70 Page-123-Shauakat Riza-Op Cit.

71 According to the 11 Cavalry history it was 0855 hours while according to Brigadier A.A.K Chaudhry it was 0830 hours .See Page-49-September 1965-Before and After-Brig Amjad Ali Khan Chaudhry-Ferozesons Limited-Lahore-1977.Page -Page-43-Short History of 11 Cavalry (FF)-Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Khalid -Quetta Cantonment-1999.Published by the unit and distributed only to selected list of serving and retired officers. The readers may note that 11 Cavalry’s history was compiled only 42 years after independence through sole voluntary efforts of Lieutenant Colonel Khalid , despite the fact that the unit produced many two three and four star generals from 1947 to date. Brigadier Amjad Ali Khan Chaudhry’s book soon went out of stock after its publication in 1977-78 .Interestingly this scribe found it at a outwardly most hopeless looking bookshop at Kohat some “Aziz News Agency” on Monday 30th March 1981 on the evening of the fourth day of the ISSB at Kohat . At that time the ISSB used to last for five days.

72 Page-49-Brig Amjad Chaudhry-Op Cit.

73 Page-394-Gurcharan Singh-Op Cit.

74 Page-101- War Despatches- Lieutenant General Harbaksh Singh-Lancer International-New Delhi-1992.

75 Page-10 and 11-Brigadier Riaz ul Karim-Op Cit. Mishandling of the 5 Armoured Brigade is a well confirmed fact and there is a consensus in Pakistani military analysts and direct participants that it was mishandled on 7th, 8th and 9th September 1965. Refers:— Page-56-Musa Khan-Op Cit. Musa thus observed  “Twice in two days,5 Armoured Brigade reached Valtoha railway station and Assal Uttar,approximately 12 and 6 miles respectively beyond Khem Karan,but for inexplicable reasons,the brigade commander issued confusing orders on it on both occasions to return to Khem Karan and leaguer there at night,instead of arranging to send up motorised infantry to hold the ground his armour had captured”. Also see Page- 200-Gul Hassan Khan-Op Cit. Also pages-238 & 239-Pakistan Meets Indian Challenge-Brigadier Gulzar Ahmad-Al Mukhtar Publishers-1967 and Reprinted by-Islamic Book Foundation-Lahore-1986 The Leaguer is a formation adopted by an armoured regiment or squadron after the battle. Leaguer was a conservative British countermeasure adopted after last light to secure tanks against night raids by tank hunting parties.The Germans noted this serious British failing in North Africa (See Pages-109-The North African Campaign -Captain B.H Liddell Hart-Reprinted by Natraj Publishers-Dera Dun-1983)  which led to loss of initiative as well as time and space.The Germans on the contrary did not adhere to this ridiculously cautious drill or battle procedure but occupied the same area that they had occupied in the days fight at night.But Bashir following the typical British tradition was concerned more with safety than with rapid progress of operations. After all “Mission Oriented Approach” had no chance in the “Orders Oriented “ army of that time and with my thirteen years service from 1981-1994 even of this time ! In all fairness to Bashir it may be said that he was at least on papers among the best and he did what was taught or interpreted at schools of instruction as such . He was a product of that age and must be viewed with this perspective. Innovation , dynamic thinking and serious professional study had limited room in the old polo playing ceremonial British Indian Army. Even Gul who so vehemently criticised Bashir, had no tank experience in WW II having been from infantry and an aide de camp throughout the war . So no one can never know how Gul or any other armour brigade commander may have behaved in that situation. There was one man who may have behaved differently , but he was from infantry i.e the indomitable Brigadier Eftikhar Khan , a half Pakistani/Janjua who was at least technically a non Muslim ,had he lived in Mr Bhutto’s time  being from the Ahmadiya community!Later around 1950s emphasis on ceremonial and polo playing was largely substituted by sycophancy once all patronage was concentrated in the hands of one man from 1958 to 1988 whether a civilian or an army man . The situation today is that the army is composed of more educated ( professionally) but more ambitious, far more calculating and careerist type men. Men who would make good bankers and excellent peace time decision makers when all is well , but certainly not men of crisis, which unfortunately occur rarely .These are the  typical hole punching men well described in “Crisis in Command by Gabriel and Savage. Of all the people above cited Brigadier Riaz ul Karim, MC ,  who never became a general is definitely the most competent in his criticism since he was the only one from armoured corps who commanded a tank squadron in Burma and also won an MC . All praise to the Ayubian selection boards that this most professional man was not promoted while men like Bashir and Nasir became Major Generals . After all Riazul Karim was neither  from those indomitable martial races north of Chenab,nor did he have that pleasing sycophantic personality that gave the south of Chenab races a waiver to enter general rank  !  I had the opportunity of meeting this very fine gentleman and officer on various evenings in Lahore’s Polo Ground where he used to come to refresh himself with an evening walk in the 1990s. The jogging track of that Polo Ground on Sarwar Road apart from the other more sensually refreshing spectacles is a military historians paradise since one gets the opportunity to meet many retired officers of all ranks and types. Alas that old breed is fast vanishing and many historical records will be lost since Pakistani officers are not interested in writing.

76 Page -94-Harbaksh Singh-Op Cit.

77 Page-357-Gurcharan Singh-Op Cit.

78 Page-206 & 207-Shaukat Riza-1965-Op Cit and Page-180-Brigadier Z.A Khan-Op Cit

(To be continued)

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