A Tribute to Riflemen | An Ode to Gunners

Chawinda, a small town on Shakargarh-Narowal-Sialkot crossroads
I spent some time here under canvas, back then the area was at fingertips
In 1965 it saw a huge tank battle
This thread however is not about that

A little towards town’s center City Park is a memorial to 65 War
In the neighboring graveyard a walled compound houses some distinguished graves
A few belong to 11 Cavalry, others to 14 Baloch
Soldiers who fought to their death at this very ground defending Chawinda at all cost

This insignificant town in bigger operational picture somehow seduced the Indians into a series of deliberate attacks
This 24 Brigade’s stronghold would prove to be a tough nut to crack
14-19 Sep with three attacks repulsed the defenders of Chawinda prevailed
This is their story

This is a story of valiant riflemen of Chawinda, of 2 Punjab, 3 Frontier Force, 14 Baloch and 13 Frontier Force
It’s a story of Gunners of Artillery IV Corps and their aggressive pounding
and it’s about 8 Garhwal Rifles, the only battalion to cause a wedge in Chawinda Defences

It began on 14 Sep when 9 Dogra company with armour support attacked Wazirwali north of Chawinda
Piffers patiently awaited but in the nick of time their anti tank Cobra Missiles failed to secure a direct hit
Wazirwali was taken but an attack on Chawinda will take another two days

16 Sep saw 8 Garhwal Rifles uprooting 3 FF from their defences west of Chawinda Railway Station
Their courage for once shook 24 Brigade
8 Garhwal fought for two days without food and on person ammunition
They beat back two counter attacks and lost 28 soldiers including their CO

Next attack came on 19 Sep when 6 Mountain division crossed start line at 0100 hrs
14 Baloch and 25 Cavalry tanks halted them
Maj Kaimkhani tell us “We were in trenches, illuminating ammunition was used and we inflicted heavy casualties”
This was Pakistan Artillery in action

Gunners of Chawinda

With Artillery IV Corps Headquarters at Pasrur, the real trick was a balanced mix of all caliber pieces and a forward bold deployment
Artillery Guns were deployed immediately south of Chawinda barely a thousand yards away from the infantry positions

Such was the effectiveness of Artillery fire that on 14 &15 Sep more casualties were caused by Artillery and Air than in actual tank to tank battles
On 15 Sep while preparing for attack on Chawinda 20 Rajput while moving to Wazirwali suffered 27 casualties due to Artillery fire

During the attack on 19 Sep, Artillery support was phenomenal
In the words of Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh “Enemy shelling created such confusion that all control was lost
Leading troops lost direction and 14 Rajput barged into our own neighboring position held by a company of 5 Jat. There was a brisk exchange of fire between our forces. 5 Jat taken completely by surprise, abandoned their positions.14 Rajput equally stunned by the unexpected opposition en route to their objective also dispersed in confusion.”

On the same night on 19 Sep, Indian 35 Infantry Brigade’s Forming Up Place was effectively shelled by Pakistan artillery
One of the attacking battalions was repulsed half way
After first light the other battalion that had reached Chawinda was also forced to withdraw

Chawinda dear reader, bears witness
to valiant attackers who came in waves
to fearless defenders who took the last stand
to brave sons of Artillery who stood true to their salt “Izzat O Iqbal”

A true defender never abandons his trench, he fights from it, he then sleeps in it

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