|24 Cavalry advanced without the 1 FF Company which was grouped with them,
reached Munawan from where wheeled vehicles were sent back, and then contacted the Indian
defences between Munavan and Chima with one squadron. The second squadron on the Khem
Karan-Bhikkiwind contacted the Indian defences south of Chima, and the third squadron
contacted the Indian defences at Bhure Khuna, between Chima and Voltoha. These were the
main Indian defences, each position was held by a battalion and the brigade had an
armoured regiment in support. 24 Cavalry asked for infantry and wanted to concentrate on
Chima but the brigade commander ordered the main road cleared. The regiment attacked Bhure
Kuhna, the Indians abandoned it but it could not be occupied because there was no
infantry. At nightfall 24 Cavalry was also ordered to fall back to Khem Karan.
On the night 8/9 September, Brigadier Bashir, while going to the 11 Division headquarters, was fired upon by a jittery guard on the BRB bridge and returned to his headquarters. The commanding officers had collected for orders and were asked to report the state of their equipment. The brigade commander then asked the GOC 11 Division to call off the operations for the next day, the GOC told brigade commander that written orders were being sent. The brigade commander taking this as an approval of his request, dispersed his commanding officers without any orders for the next day. At 0400 hours on 9 September the orders from the GOC arrived to capture Assal Uttar and Voltoha. The commanding officers were asked to reassemble at the brigade headquarters but they could not find the headquarters till 1200 because it was hidden from infiltrators and had no marking.
At about mid-day on 9 September, commander 5 Armoured Brigade ordered 6 Lancers with two companies 1 FF to capture Voltoha, 24 Cavalry with two companies 5 FF to advance on the road Khem Karan-Bhikkiwind and 1 FF less two companies to establish a firm base at the junction of the roads Khem Karan-Voltoha and Khem Karan- Bhikkiwind.
1 FF quickly established the firm base and contacted the Indians at Assal Uttar, 6 Lancers advanced and contacted the Indians at Voltoha, Lieutenant Colonel Sahibzad Gul, while standing on turret of his tank and observing the Indian position was shot dead, Major I. B. Khan, the second in command refused to assume command and none of the squadron commanders rose to the occasion. 6 Lancers became paralysed. 24 Cavalry advanced to Bhure Kuhna, there under Indian shelling the commanding officer collapsed and this regiment also went out of control. At night the brigade commander again concentrated on the brigade in Khem Karan.
During the night 8/9 September, 4 Armoured Brigade commanded by Brigadier 'Tony' Lumb, concentrated in the bridgehead, it had 4 Cavalry commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Nazir, 5 Horse commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Khan and 10 FF, an armoured infantry battalion, while the brigade was in the bridgehead, the IAF appeared and attacked the brigade. The brigade was ordered to capture Chima, the brigade commander planned to capture Mastgarh with 5 Horse, Bhure Karimpur with 10 FF, secure the line Duhal Kuhna-Kalangar Uttar with 5 Horse and then attack Chima.
The 4 Armoured Brigade advance started at about mid-day, 5 Horse moved about 4000 yards in four hours and secured Mastgarh without opposition, then instead of advancing eastwards, moved towards the Pakistan border, went to Sankhatra and reported contact with the enemy. 10 FF advanced and occupied Bhure Karimpur without opposition, half the tank squadron supporting the battalion got bogged down and they made no effort to advance to Kalanger Uttar. At about 1600 hours the brigade commander asked the GOC to call off the operation for the day, the GOC refused and ordered the brigade to replenish at Mastgarh and complete the mission at night. To do this the brigade commander asked for flank protection and a squadron of 12 Cavalry was sent to the area Lakhna-Kalangar Uttar but the brigade made no effort to complete the mission.
On 10 September plans were revised. 4 Armoured Brigade was ordered to outflank the Indian defences by securing Mile 32 on the Khem Karan-Bhikkiwind road and clearing Chima while 5 Armoured Brigade advanced on the road Khem Karan-Bhikkiwind.
4 Armoured Brigade ordered 4 Cavalry to advance to Mastgarh-Mile 32 while 10 FF with a squadron 5 Horse was to capture Chima. The advance started and after sometime the brigade commander discovered that 4 cavalry and 10 FF were on wrong routes and were corrected. 10 FF after being corrected started moving from Sankhatra towards Duhal Kuhna, the 12 Cavalry squadron deployed at Lakhna-Kalangar Uttar had not been informed about the 10 FF movement and when 10 FF tried to pass through 12 Cavalry opened fire. 10 FF panicked, abandoned their armoured personnel carriers, rushed past the brigade headquarters where the company under command 4 Cavalry also joined them, the battalion crossed the BRB and collected in 106 Brigade area. The second in command of the battalion, Major 'George' Rabbani, spent the next few days recovering the abandoned APCs.
4 Cavalry advanced and contacted the Indians holding the line Lakhna-Duhal Kuhna, an outflanking attempt towards Bhikkiwind failed with the loss of two tanks, but trying the other flank the regiment reached its objective, Mile 32, with 11 tanks, at about 1600 hours and waited for the brigade to link up. The regiment had no wireless contact with 4 Armoured Brigade because the commanding officer's tank with the wireless link had bogged down, the second link was in the commanding officer's rover which the second in command, Major Khalid Kayani, had taken away, the third in the regimental command vehicle had also gone back. The commanding officer did not send back an officer to the brigade to inform that the objective had been taken and the brigade commander made no attempt to establish communications and find out what had happened to the regiment.
4 Cavalry deployed the 11 tanks that had reached the objective in the area Mile 32, the crews of the bogged down tanks were collected after nightfall, the commanding officer discussed the situation with his officers and stated that if the brigade did not link up he would surrender. One officer and about seventy men decided to return to the bridgehead and marched back. The administrative echelon of the regiment started from the administrative area but after going some distance returned without re-supplying the regiment.
Nothing happened during the night, after sunrise an Indian jeep came along the track which crossed the road at Mile 32, stopped and a very surprised Sikh lieutenant saw a dozen M 47 Patton tanks lined up with no signs of the crew, he drove away and came back an hour later. This time he climbed on a tank, looked inside and drove away, after sometime an Indian Patrol of about ten men arrived, a white flag was waved, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Nazir and about a squadron strength of 4 Cavalry surrendered.
On 10 September, 6 Lancers was declared unfit for battle and 5 Armoured Brigade was ordered to advance on their old beat, Khem Karan-Bhikkiwind, 1 FF was to contain Assal Uttar while 24 Cavalry with one company of 1 FF and two companies of 5 FF was to advance and attack it. 24 Cavalry attacked with two companies of 5 FF and a squadron of tanks, the attack started well but when one company commander was killed and one wounded, both the companies ran back firing at their own troops, 24 Cavalry, left without infantry, pulled back.
At this juncture the Chief of the General Staff arrived to investigate the difficulties of the 1 Armoured Division. He decided that Chima should be captured by 24 Cavalry and 5 FF, to put this into effect commander 5 Armoured Brigade, the divisional artillery commander and the officer commanding the SP Field Regiment supporting the brigade moved forward on the Khem Kharan-Bhikkiwind Road, they were ambushed and Brigadier Shamsi, the divisional artillery commander was killed. The reserve squadron of 24 Cavalry tried to clear the ambush site but without infantry could not do so.
The news of the ambush spread and the troops started moving back bringing the operations to a standstill. The GOC 1 Armoured Division while moving through Khem Karan ordered 1 FF to clear the town and it was finally done. On this day 3rd Armoured Brigade, which had remained in reserve, was ordered to move to Gujranwala.
On 11 September, the Indians breached the Upper Bari Doab Canal and flooded the area around Khem Karan making further armour operations in the area impossible.
On 11 September, 4 Cavalry and 10 FF were assembled to reorganise them as fighting units. Assessment of losses showed that 1 Armoured Division had lost ninety tanks, 4 Cavalry was dismounted and its remaining twelve tanks were divided between 6 Lancers and 24 Cavalry, 4 Armoured Brigade was reorganised with 5 Horse and 1 FF, 5 Armoured Brigade with 24 Cavalry and 10 FF and 1 Armoured Division less 5 Armoured Brigade was ordered to move to Gujranwala. The GOC 1 Armoured Division, and the commanders of 4 and 5 Armoured Brigades were relieved of their commands while almost all the staff officers were transferred. This ended the ambitious, ill planned and very badly executed plan of defeating the Indians at one stroke.
The Indians now attacked 11 Division but Major General Abdul Hameed Khan skillfully held his front and did not lose any ground. My brother Major Firoz Alam noticed that every morning Major General Abdul Hameed Khan turned out immaculately and visited his front line companies. He enquired from the general where he went every day. The general told him that he had no reserves, that his resources were limited therefore he showed himself to the troops in the front line to assure them that he was confident and all was well. The division withstood nine counter attacks in twelve days.
On 19 September, General Musa and Air Marshal Nur Khan met President Ayub. General Musa reported that the army had run out of armour piercing tank ammunition due to the stocking of HE ammunition instead of 'AP' (armour piercing). I had pointed out, when I had had the ammunition of 6 Armoured Division inspected, as the DQ of the division, that our tank crews were not familiar with HEAT ammunition and would not accept it as armour piercing ammunition but familiarisation was overruled to surprise the Indians. The Air Force reported that the Air Force was running out of spares. Both asked for a ceasefire which was arranged and came into effect on 23 September.
The 1965 war with India was started by us to force a favourable settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Operation Gibraltar was badly planned and badly executed, it ended with the loss of over 5,000 Azad Kashmiris forcibly recruited and sent as infiltrators. Operation Grand Slam was very near a success on 6 September but failed due to commanders and staff officers, from the regimental to the divisional level, not being alert to the opportunity that 13 Lancers had presented the army. The incorrect assessment of the situation at the Army level after the Indian attack resulted in the changing of the 'aim', in contravention of the first principle of war, 'maintenance of aim', by changing the effort of the army from cutting off Kashmir by the capture of Akhnur to defeating the Indian army by the capture of Raya with 1 Armoured Division when the required infantry was not available to assist the armoured division. It is obvious that the 1 Armoured Division operation was 'pre-conceived', the warning order to the 1 Armoured Division was issued on the same day that the attack in Chamb was launched. In the post war armchair strategy, the 1 Armoured Division should have been held in reserve till the Indian deployment and intentions were clear. Its best employment after the Indian 1 Armoured Division was located in the Chawinda area, was in the Zafarwal area where, with 6 Armoured Division holding Chawinda, a thrust could have been made to cut the Pathankot-Jammu road and cut off Kashmir from India.
The tactical handling of the 1 Armoured Division was extremely poor, with two Corps reconnaissance regiments available, after the bridgehead was established by 11 Division, Khem Karan should have been cleared and the bridgehead should have been held by the two reconnaissance regiments making the infantry available to clear the built-up areas and to hold the ground won by the tanks. Everyone knew that there was a shortage of infantry but there was no innovation to overcome it.
The command failure in the 1 Armoured Division is a sad reflection on the systems of selection of key commanders. The division commander and two brigade commanders performed unsatisfactorily, there was command failure in 4 Cavalry, 5 Horse, 24 Cavalry, 1 FF, 5 FF and 10 FF and the Engineer battalion.
The tactics of 6 Armoured Division left much to be desired, squadrons were employed to attack areas held by tanks and led to heavy tank losses. The best tactics for tanks is to seize or hold ground which the enemy must attack and destroy his tanks firing from static positions with stable gun platforms and pre-determined ranges. The capturing of ground with tanks and withdrawing to leaguers at night allowed Indians to re-occupy the lost ground and our tanks had to attack again to get it back. It made no sense.
In the Lahore sector the failure of Major General Sarfaraz Khan was not that he failed to occupy his defences before the Indian attack but in not moving his defences to the UBDC after the rout of the Indian 15 Division and consolidating his success.
The discipline and the determination of our troops in adversity requires a deep study. Generally when officers got killed the troops abandoned their mission, which means that fighting arms require more officers to ensure succession of command and continuation of command and control. This was rectified in the Armoured Corps where officer troop leaders replaced JCOs. The employment of superseded officers as second in commands and at the company command level is also questionable. The succession in command in battle should be to an officer who is approved for command and not one whose capability has been found wanting.