|101 Brigade in the Sialkot area observed tanks and infantry forming up to
attack and asked for artillery fire to break up the attack but was over-ruled by the GOC
with the remark no provocation. At 1800 on 7 September, GOC and Colonel Staff 15 Division
after pre-conceiving the idea of a major Indian attack at Jassar, ordered 22 Brigade and
25 Cavalry, deployed at Charwa to intercept any Indian attack from the
Pathankot-Samba-Jammu road, to move to Narowal to counter attack the Indians if they
captured the Jassar bridge. On the morning of 8 September, while the GOC 15 Division was
planning his counter attack for the re-capture of Jassar bridge, information was received
that the Indians had launched a major attack with tanks at Bajragarhi and Charwa.
The move of 24 Brigade had created a gap of about 18,000 yards in the Charwa defences which had now to be defended by three companies of 3 FF, one company of 2 Punjab and a company of 13 FF (R&S). While the defences were being adjusted the Indian attack started, by 0600 hours on 8 September, the Indian Red Route Charwa-Chobara-Phillaurah was open for Indian tanks. Bajragarhe-Maharajke-Charwa held by 'B Company 13 FF was over-run by tanks, 69 and 99 Mountain Brigades, to form the firm base for the Indian 1 Armoured Division which advanced with 17 Poona Horse on the Kakhnal-Dograi route and 16 Cavalry on the Chobra-Philaurah route, 43 Lorried Brigade of the Armoured Division formed the second prong of the attack, 2 Lancers and 62 Cavalry protected the flanks. At 1000 hours the Indians had come eight miles from the border when they were contacted by 25 Cavalry.
On receipt of the news of the Indian attack, GOC 15 Division ordered 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry to return and re-occupy their defences. After re-fueling 25 Cavalry was moving back on the route Narowal-Pasrur-Chawinda, it had just cleared the Degh Nadi when at about 0800 hours it was informed that Indian tanks were advancing south with their location not known. The commanding officer 25 Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel Nisar Ahmad Khan, later brigadier, ordered his regiment, moving east to west, to turn right and move northward. Turning from line of march the regiment covered a front of about 12,000 yards with the right flank resting on the Degh Nadi. 'C' Squadron commanded by Major Effendi on the right, did not contact the enemy, in the centre the squadron commanded by Major Mohammad Ahmad, later brigadier, contacted and engaged 17 Poona Horse on the Tharoh-Durgi track, the left hand squadron commanded by Major Raza, later lieutenant colonel, contacted 16 Cavalry at Wachoke. One troop of this squadron had continued to move westwards till the squadron commander realized that the order had not been obeyed and again ordered the troop leader to turn right and advance, the troop turned where it was, started moving northwards and contacted the Indian 69 Mountain Brigade at Maharajke.
A tank versus tank engagement followed with the PAF joining in, the Indians broke contact and took up a defensive line Bhago-Chobara-Phillaraurah. GOC 15 Division, after ordering 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry to return to Charwa, returned to his headquarters at Sialkot and found reports that the Indians after forming up were attacking 101 Brigade without provocation on the Sialkot-Jammu road and Bajrajgarhe-Maharajke-Charwa road, he ordered his headquarters to withdraw to Sambrial. 1 Corps informed GHQ of this impending withdrawal and Brigadier Ismail was relieved of his command. Major-General Tikka Khan who was in Kharian assumed the command of 15 Division.
In the Sialkot area Indian 18 Cavalry tanks approaching from Bajragarhe were repulsed by a squadron of 31 TDU, on the Sialkot-Jammu road, the Indians captured the advance positions of 101 Brigade but three attacks on the main position were repulsed. On the morning of 9 September, Major General Tikka Khan launched counter attack to capture Suchetgarh with 20th Lancers less squadron, the corps reconnaissance regiment, a squadron of 31 TDU, two companies of 19 Baluch, a company of 14 Baluch and some elements of 13 FF, the Indians repulsed the attack knocking out four light and two medium tanks. Also on this day 24 Brigade attempt to recapture Chobara was repulsed, but 3 FF recaptured Rurki Kalan and Sardanwali. The Indian 43 Lorried Brigade occupied Bhagowal, and their 16 Cavalry attacked Gadgor but was repulsed by 25 Cavalry, who were now reduced to two squadrons.
Major Effendi while rummaging in the 16 Cavalry commanding officer's abandoned tank found a copy of the Indian 1 Armoured Division operation order which confirmed the Division was operating in the area. 24 Brigade, at once, asked for reinforcement from 15 Division which made a squadron of 31 TDU available and asked 1 Corps for reinforcements. 1 Corps on their part asked GHQ for reinforcements. GHQ placed 6 Armoured Division and 14 (para) Brigade under 1 Corps who divided the responsibility in the area between Chenab and Ravi, 15 Division with three infantry brigades, two armoured regiments 31 and 33 TDUs and 20 Lancers, Corps Reconnaissance Regiment was made responsible for Sialkot and Jassar, and 6 Armoured Division with 14 (para) Brigade, commanded by Brigadier AAK Niazi, later lieutenant general and 24 Brigade was made responsible for Pasrur-Chawinda area from the night of 9/10 September.
On the 15 Division front, 10 Brigade, withdrawn from Chamb and deployed at Faizgarh-Pattanwali area on 10 September, captured Kalarwanda on 12 September but lost it to a counter attack. On 16 September, 15 Division was ordered to relieve the pressure on 6 Armoured Division, it attacked Kalarwanda but failed to capture it . A 20 Lancers squadron, commanded by Major Durrani, given the task of holding a dominating feature called 'bench mark' between 101 and 104 Brigades, made it a habit of occupying it during the day and withdrawing to a leaguer at night, on the night of 18/19 September the Indians occupied the feature. After the ceasefire negotiations began, 15 Division was ordered to recapture before the ceasefire, the feature was captured after a heavy artillery bombardment but was lost again to a counter attack.
On the front that was to be taken over by 6 Armoured Division, the Indian 1 Armoured Division, on the morning of 10 September, renewed its attack on Gadgor and Philaurah but was repulsed by 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry. On this day Major General Sahibzada Yaqub Khan who was appointed 'adviser' to 1 Corps Commander, advised the deployment of a brigade at Zafarwal and another at Pasur and an armoured regiment with a motor battalion to hold the Deg Nadi-Philaurah-Badiana Line. 4 FF from 14 (para) brigade was to deploy at Zafarwal, 24 Brigade at Pasrur, 11 Cavalry with 7 FF was to take over the Gadgor-Philaurah front from 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry. Guides Cavalry and 14 FF were placed in reserve at Badiana and 22 Cavalry was to cover the gap between 6 Armoured Division and 15 Division. The deployment was defensive.
11 Cavalry and 7 FF relieved 25 Cavalry and 24 Brigade on the night between 10/11 September. At 0500 hours on 11 September, artillery fire on Gadgor and Phillaurah started, the Indian 1 Armoured Division renewed its attack in this sector. At 0800 hours 17 Poona Horse contacted 'C' Squadron 11 Cavalry at Wachoke, 4 (Hodson's) Horse passing west of Rurki Kalan contacted 'A' Squadron 11 Cavalry and 'A' Company 9 FF at Josun, in the tank battle that developed 'C' Squadron 11 Cavalry equipped with M36B2 'tank destroyers' was shot out. 'B' Squadron at Maral was ordered to reinforce 'C' Squadron, 'B' Squadron moved and contacted 17 (Poona) Horse at Kotli Khadim Shah, 'A' Company 9 FF contacted by 4 (Hodson's) Horse abandoned its position. 2nd Lancers, protecting the eastern flank of the Indian armoured division contacted 'C' Company 9 FF, out-flanked it, advanced towards Maral, found the gap created by the move of 'B Squadron 11 Cavalry and trapped A Squadron 11 Cavalry between itself and 4 (Hodson's) Horse, totally destroying it and isolating 9 FF in area Gadgor. The Indian 43 Lorried Brigade, moving behind the armoured brigade, advanced from Rurki Kalan towards Libbe. 'B' Squadron 11 Cavalry was the only organised force left in the area. At about 1130 hours 6 Armoured Division counter attacked with two squadrons of Guides cavalry to clear Chahr and Libbe occupied by the 43 Lorried Brigade, Chahr was captured by 'A' Squadron, 'B' Squadron attacking Libbe came under heavy fire, moved towards Bhagowal, contacted 62 Cavalry protecting the western flank of the armoured division and captured Bhagowal. At about mid-day 11 Cavalry withdrew from Phillaurah to Chawinda, 17 (Poona) Horse occupied Phillaurah, was relieved by 43 Lorried Brigade and the lorried brigade in turn was relieved by the 99 and 6 Mountain Brigades which formed the firm base for the Indian armoured division. 25 Cavalry was called into the battle line again and again checked the Indian tanks south of Phillaurah. On the night 11/12 September, 9 FF, withdrawing from Gadgor where they were cut off, were ambushed by 5 Jats while passing through Phillaurah, lost 10 killed, 27 captured and became useless for the rest of the war. In the day's fighting 6 Armoured Division lost two squadrons of one regiment, one squadron from another and one motor battalion was badly mauled. The five armoured regiments of the Indian armoured division were concentrated, ours were fed into the battle one squadron at a time. Also the route of withdrawal of 9 FF through a village held by the Indians was ridiculous.
As the battle swayed 1 Corps placed 10 Brigade under 6 Armoured Division but Major General Tikka Khan protested very strongly and the order was cancelled. On the evening of 11 September, 1 Corps Commander ordered 6 Armoured Division to recapture Phillaurah, 6 Armoured Division commander advised the corps commander that he had barely adequate troops to hold the existing front, an attack could not be mounted without reconnaissance and additional infantry. The Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Rana, then asked the GOC 6 Armoured Division to inform General Musa personally about this and a telephone call was made to the Chief of General Staff.
My friend Major Z. U. Abbasi was killed on this day when an artillery shell went through the open turret hatch of his tank. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurrat for the successful attack that he had led.
On the night 11/12 September and on 12 September, 6 Armoured Division adjusted defences, on the right at Chawinda, 24 Brigade with 25 Cavalry held the front from Jassoran on the right to Dogranwali on the left. In the centre Guides Cavalry with the remaining squadron of 11 Cavalry under command and a company of 14 FF, held about 6000 yards of front, on the left 22 Cavalry with one company 14 FF held 5000 yards from Jheje to Gunna Kalan, linking up with 15 Division, in depth at Pasrur, 14 (Para) Brigade was deployed with 9 FF under command.
'A' Company SSG, operating from Zafarwal, prevented movement on the Pathankot Samba-Jammu road at night. When the operations started Subedar Khudadad (KD), the senior JCO of the company prevented the company from crossing the border because he thought that the company would be destroyed and had to be taken to task for it. 'J' Company was also deployed in this area but was withdrawn into GHQ reserve. On 12 September civilians rushing through Zafarwal informed 'A' Company that a large body of Indian soldiers were resting in a nullah bed and gave the location. Major Shamim Alam, later General, took the SSG jeeps fitted with machine guns and engaged them till they withdrew in confusion.
In the adjustment of defences on 11 September, Zafarwal had been left undefended, on 12 September an Army Aviation aircraft reported Indian tanks moving towards it, 6 Armoured Division hurriedly moved 4 FF and a squadron of 22 Cavalry, two troops of 33 TDU and a platoon of 15 Division R&S battalion. The Indians attacked twice with a battalion and a squadron of tanks and were repulsed. 4 FF was undergoing a change of command when the Indians attacked again with two squadrons of tanks and an infantry battalion, the out-going lieutenant colonel ordered the defences abandoned. Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Hayat, later brigadier, the incoming commanding officer, with great difficulty managed to keep the battalion and a troop of the squadron of 22 Cavalry in position, the Indian attack was repulsed. Lieutenant Colonel Hayat and the troop leader were awarded the SJ and the 22 Cavalry squadron commander was court martialed after the cease fire.
With 14 (Para) Brigade under command of 6 Armoured Division, an ad hoc armoured brigade headquarters was created to control the armour of the division. This headquarters called 'Wajahat Force' was the regimental headquarters of 11 Cavalry and the force consisted of the remaining armour elements of 6 Armoured Division, Guides Cavalry, 22 Cavalry and 14 FF.
On 13 September the Indians captured Bhagowal and in reaction Wajahat Force was ordered to capture Phillaurah. Movement started late in the afternoon and our tanks withdrew after nightfall, the Indians occupied Vinjal, Wadianwali, Alhar, Fatehpur, Rakh Baba Bhure Shah and Koga. The next morning 22 Cavalry moving towards Bhagowal was engaged by 16 Cavalry, the Guides by 4 (Hodson's) Horse at Alhar and 25 Cavalry by 17 (Poona) Horse. During the night Alhar, Fatehpur, some ground between Sialkot-Phillaurah and Sialkot-Narowal was lost because contact was not maintained at night when tanks withdrew to their leaguers.
On 15 September, 6 Armoured Division with Guides Cavalry, now two squadrons, 22 Cavalry and 19 Lancers, ex-1 Armoured Division tried to recapture Fatehpur and Rakh Bhure Shah but failed to do so. The Indians attacked Chawinda, Jassorian and Badiana but were repulsed. 19 Lancers knocked out some of their own tanks by mistake. The news of Indian tanks at Badiana, made Brigadier Hisam-el-Effendi, attached as advisor to the GOC 6 Armoured Division, ordered a withdrawal of the division headquarters but this was countermanded by the GOC and Brigadier Effendi was removed from the headquarters.
1 Corps, now with 1 Armoured Division less 5 Armoured Brigade under command, planned to recapture Phillaurah, Chobara and Maharjke. No plan to cut the Pathakot-Samba-Jammu road by advancing north from Zafarwal was made which would have had the same effect as the capture of Akhnur. GHQ had forgotten the purpose of the whole affair, 1 Corps and its advisor played safe and showed no boldness.
On 16 September the Indians captured Jassorian and Buttar Dograndi and almost achieved their aim of cutting the Chawinda-Pasrur road. The Indian GOC encouraged 17 (Poona) Horse to cut the road at mile 3 by promising the 'Maha Vir Chakra', the highest Indian gallantry award to the commanding officer. The Indian tanks advanced towards Chawinda railway station and were engaged by 1 (SP) Field Regiment over open sights by Major Rashid till 25 Cavalry tanks arrived and in the tank battle, the tank of the commanding officer of 17 (Poona) Horse was knocked out, the commanding officer was killed and the attack fizzled out. With Jassorian and Butter Dograndi lost, Chawinda, defended by 24 Brigade, was outflanked from the west and the brigade commander had doubts about holding on.
The Headquarters 4 Armoured Brigade was now made available to 6 Armoured Division to command its armour elements which now consisted of 19 Lancers, 22 Cavalry and 14 FF and was given the task of containing the salient across the Sialkot-Narowal railway line. 22 Cavalry was deployed between Badiana and Gunna Kalan, linking up with 15 Division and 19 Lancers between Badiana and Chawinda linking up with 24 Brigade.
On 18 September, 1 Corps reorganised the command between the Chenab and the Ravi rivers, 15 Division with 51, 101 and 104 Brigades was to defend Sialkot, 6 Armoured Division with 4 Armoured Brigade and 14 (Para) Brigade was made responsible for the area up to Chawinda and 8 Division, now commanded by Major General Naseer who had been removed from the command of 1 Armoured Division, with 10, 24 and 115 Brigades, was made responsible for Chawinda, Zafarwal and Narowal.