3rd Battalion – The Frontier Force Regiment (3 FF)

As the ominous clouds of war gathered, the battalion was first moved out to a dispersal area as a protection against enemy air attacks but by September 1st the battalion was concentrated in the area of Phillaurah. On September 5th and 6th the battalion O.P.s noted the heavy movement of tracked and wheeled vehicles across the border. These overtures of battle made 3 FF readjust its defensive position to take on a possible threat. The Indian Army started its aggression on September 7th, 1965 at 2215 hours by a sudden and intensive shelling programme on the entire front of the battalion.

This was followed by an infantry attack supported by armor. For various reasons, portions of the battalion had been earmarked for other operations which left 3 FF less one company holding a front of 9,000 yards. The line communication between companies was destroyed by the movement of our own tanks in the area and wireless communication was not working satisfactorily owing to the distance. The fog of war and uncertainty were very apparent.

The enemy attack on the forward companies (B and C) came in three distinct waves and were all thrown back but not without hand-to-hand fighting in which the bayonet was used. In this action Major Dost Mohammad Hayat and Subedar Khunab Gul were given immediate awards of Sitara-e-Jurat while a posthumous award of Tamgha-e-Jurat was given to Naik Ghafran Shah, all of C Company.

The Indian attack, being their main effort, consisted of not less than an armored division and three other divisions. This large force easily outflanked 3 FF’s position and the battalion was ordered by its formation to fall back to Chawinda by the early hours of September 8th. This was achieved with great difficulty owing to the proximity of the enemy, who were constantly trying to outflank the battalion at each position.

On September 8th, 3 FF withdrew to Chawinda where it organized a hasty defensive position. Meanwhile there was some re-grouping in the Pakistan Force now that it was realized that the Indian Army’s main effort was in this area. 3 FF was grouped with 24 Brigade at Chawinda and this formation decided to try and retake the area previously lost to the enemy onslaught.

The advance was resumed at 1100 hours towards Phillaurah with C and D Companies leading. Small parties of the enemy were mopped up and the battalion managed to reach the approximate area of Gadgor by the night of September 8/9. Here it spread out to the north-west to protect the flank of the other unit of 24 Brigade.

On September 10th, 3 FF came under intense shelling and an assault by armor. Our own tanks came up in support and there was much confusion in the din and fog of battle. Line communications were cut by the movement of tanks.

By the evening of September 10th, 24 Brigade was relieved by a covering force consisting of 11 Cavalry (FF) and 9 FF. 9 FF was to relieve 3 FF. For the subsequent action of this covering force the reader should see the account under 9 FF. After relief from the Gadgor area 3 FF was ordered to Pasrur to give the men some rest. They arrived in Pasrur by 0630 hours but on the same day the battalion was ordered to move back to Chawinda to take up a defensive position in conjunction with other units of 24 Brigade.

The enemy launched an armored attack during the early hours of the morning of September 14th, from the direction of Chak Dea Singh and Alhar. The enemy tanks overran a company on the right of 3 FF and then swung to the right rear of 3 FF D Company position and shot up D Company from there. This meant further readjustment and a tighter defence was formed closer to Chawinda.

September 16th was the day that the greatest tank battle yet fought in this sub-continent took place. 3 FF not only had a grandstand view of this battle was also in the thick of it. Enemy tanks and infantry concentrated at Wazirwali and Jassoran. The Pakistan Artillery fired magnificently to break up enemy attacks and many of the targets were indicated by our officers and J.C.O.s. This temporarily halted the enemy advance.

On September 16th the battle was continued all along the front. The intensity of battle and the speed with which each situation changed was countered by the other side, which caused much confusion. For example, information was received that friendly forces would be operating towards Chawinda from Badiana, but in the dust and smoke of battle it was difficult to tell friend from foe.

At 1600 hours on September 16th, enemy armor managed to capture Bathur Dograndi and threaten the road from Chawinda to Pasrur. This village of Bathur Dograndi was to change hands again later. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammad Akbar Siddiq, after the loss of Bathur Dograndi ordered his companies to fall back on the railway line area. This would not only give them a tactically sound defensive position but would also make a closer defense of Chawinda.

At 0600 hours on September 17th the battalion was ordered to advance with elements of 25 Cavalry in support, to capture Bathur Dograndi. At this stage this village was defended by a company of enemy infantry supported by tanks.

C Company with great bravery captured the southern half of the village but due to enemy fire could not capture the other half. However, it did capture an officer of 17 Poona Horse and some other ranks of 8 Garhwal Rifles. In addition one enemy tank in running condition was captured by this infantry company. With the help of an N.C.O. of 25 Cavalry the tank was sent back and later was shown all over Pakistan as a war trophy.

Since C Company had failed to capture part of Bathur Dograndi, A Company was ordered to accomplish this. Artillery support could not be given because of the close proximity of C Company and perhaps because of this, A Company could not capture its objective, although it lost some fourteen people killed, including two J.C.O.s. As soon as the situation stabilized a bit, tank hunting parties were sent forward and they also indicated artillery targets.

It was apparent on the night of September 17/18 that some of the enemy were withdrawing from this area and tanks were heard also on the move from Bathur Dograndi. This enabled C Company to capture the rest of the village of Bathur Dograndi and they found there some 55 enemy dead bodies together with two destroyed tanks.

The Indian forces, although they had withdrawn from Bathur Dograndi, were not leaving the area completely but were regrouping to make one more attempt to capture Chawinda. Thus when Captain Shafiq Ahmad, commanding D Company, was informed that some enemy troops were moving from north to south in front of his position, he refused to believe that this was so. He went out with a small recce patrol to see for himself. Not until he actually heard the Indians talking amongst themselves in Hindi did he realize that something big was afoot. It appeared to him that the enemy were forming up for a major attack.

Captain Shafiq Ahmad immediately got in touch with his C.O. for permission to attack the enemy concentrating in his forming-up position. Even as the Commanding Officer agreed. the enemy started moving forward. It appeared now that this attack was launched by a brigade. With this preponderance in force Jassoran was attacked in strength and 3 FF companies again had to withdraw back to the railway line.

This withdrawal brought the battalion headquarters almost into the front line but 3 FF was ready for this. Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammad Akbar Siddiq had already organized his headquarters into small groups under different officers. The C.O. also commanded a group, in addition to keeping in touch with his companies. The adjutant, Lieutenant Tariq, and the Subedar Major, Nazir Rahman, misled the enemy by shouting out the names of imaginary platoons and companies, thus giving the impression that there was a large force in position. Lieutenant Qais, the medical officer, continued shouting the numerous wounded personnel at his aid post even when the enemy got to within fifteen to twenty yards.

The dawn of September 19th saw the enemy starting to withdraw, leaving many of their wounded and killed behind. Battalion headquarters, led by the C.O. and all officers of headquarter company, inflicted many casualties on the retreating enemy. To show the intensity and proximity of the enemy to battalion headquarters it is pertinent to point out that this headquarters captured two officers, one J.C.O. and 69 other ranks during this action. The enemy withdrawal was covered by tanks which fired at anything that moved, but the back of the enemy attack was broken.

On the night of September 19/20 the battalion was relieved by 6 FF. Though 3 FF moved back to Pasrur it had left its mark on the battle of Chawinda. A search was carried out by 6 FF on September 20th in the area of our defensive position and this revealed enemy losses at over 200 dead, together with large quantities of small arms and equipment.

Pakistan has acclaimed the battle of Chawinda as the turning point of the war with India in 1965. The capture of Chawinda and a move of the Indian forces towards Pasrur and Daska would have outflanked Sialkot and strategically would have placed the Indian Army in a most favorable position. The garrison of Chawinda therefore stands with those other brave soldiers of any country who have defended their homeland against invaders.

While the whole garrison must take the credit for the successful conclusion of’ this battle, few can deny that the 3rd Battalion of The Frontier Force Regiment added even greater laurels to their already high record of bravery and courage. During this entire war, September 7th to 23rd, the battalion was in the thick of operations and in recognition of its role was awarded immediate operational decorations of six Sitara-e -Jurats and four Tamgha-e-Jurats. The following officers were present with the battalion during 1965;

Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammad Akbar Siddiq
Major Abdul Wahid Qureshi
Major Dost Mohammad Hayat
Captain Shafiq Ahmad
Captain Rahim Shah
Captain Abdul Waheed
Lieutenant Mohammad Tariq
Lieutenant Parvez Masood Akhtar
2/Lieutenant Khaleeq Ahmed Khan
2/Lieutenant Wakil Khan Afridi
Lieutenant Mohammad Qais, A.M.C.