Battle of Chawinda
|Battle of Chawinda|
|Part of Indo-Pakistani War of 1965|
A captured Indian centurion tank at Chawinda, September 1965.
|Commanders and leaders|
| Maj Gen Abrar Hussain[note 1]
Lt Col Nisar Ahmed Khan
Brig. Sardar M.Ismail Khan
Brig. S. M. Hussain
Brig. Abdul Ali Malik
Maj Gen Tikka Khan
Lt Gen Bakhtiyar M.Rana
Maj Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan
Brg. Amjad Chaudhry
| Lt Gen Pat Dunn
Lt Col Ardeshir Tarapore †
22nd cavalry (44xM48)
10th Cavalry (44x Patton)
25th Cavalry (44x Patton)
33th TDU sqn (15x Shermans)
19th Lancers (44x Patton)
11th Cavalry (44x Patton)
Total: 132+150 (tank reinforcements)
4th Horse (45x Centurion)
16th Cavalry (45x Centurions)
17th Poona (45x Centurion)
2nd Lancers (45x Sherman)
62nd Cavalry (45x sherman)Total 225 tanks
|Casualties and losses|
44 tanks (Pakistani claim)Over 518 km2 (218 mi2) of territory lost
|29 tanks lost (Indian claim)
120 tanks (Pakistani claim)
The initial clashes at Chawinda coincided with the tank battle near Phillora and the fighting intensified once the Pakistani forces at Phillora retreated. However, the Indian assault was repelled, resulting in a Pakistani victory. The battle finally ended due to the UN ceasefire of the 1965 war.
General Dunn, the commander of I Corps Indian Army was given an assortment of units: 1 Armoured Division, 6 Mountain Division, 14 Division and 26 Division. The Pakistani force expected to oppose the Indian thrust consisted of 15 Division, 6 Armoured Division (equivalent to armoured brigade group) and 4 Corps Artillery. Later reinforcements included 8 Infantry Division and 1 Armoured Division.
The aim of the attack was to seize the key Grand Trunk Road around Wazirabad and the capture of Jassoran which would enable domination of Sialkot-Pasrur railway, thus completely cutting off Pakistani supply line. The striking force of the Indian 1st Corps was the 1st Armoured Division supported by the 14th Infantry and 6th Mountain divisions and Indian infantry seized the border area on 7 September. This was followed by a short engagement at Jassoran in which Pakistan lost 10 tanks and ensured complete Indian domination of Sialkot-Pasrur railway. Realising the threat, the Pakistani rushed two regiments of their 6th Armoured Division from Chhamb to the Sialkot sector to support the Pakistani 7th Infantry Division there. These units, plus an independent tank destroyer squadron, amounted to 135 tanks; 24 M47 and M48 Pattons, about 15 M36B1s and the remainder Shermans. The majority of the Pattons belonged to the new 25th Cavalry commanded by Lt. Col. Nisar, which was sent to the Chawinda area. Fighting around the Gadgor village between the Indian 1 Armoured division and the Pakistani 25th Cavalry Regiment resulted in the Indian advance being stopped.
The Indian plan was to drive a wedge between Sialkot and the 6th Armoured Division. In fact there was only a single regiment there at the time. The Indian 1st Armoured Division's drive quickly divided, with the 43rd Lorried Infantry Brigade supported by a tank regiment attacking Gat, while the main blow of the 1st Armoured Brigade was hurled against Phillaura. Pakistani air attacks caused moderate damage to the tank columns, but exacted a heavier toll on the truck columns and infantry. The terrain features of the area were very different from those around Lahore, being quite dusty, and the approach of the Indian attack was evident to the 25th Cavalry by the rising dust columns on the Charwah-Phillaura road.
The Indians resumed their attacks on 10 September with multiple corps sized assaults and succeeded in pushing the Pakistani forces back to their base at Chawinda, where they were stopped. A Pakistani counterattack at Phillorah was repulsed with heavy damage, and the Pakistanis settled in defensive positions. The Pakistani position at this point was highly perilous, the Indians outnumbered them by ten to one.
However, the Pakistani situation improved as reinforcements arrived, consisting of two independent brigades from Kashmir, 8 Infantry Division, and most crucially, their 1 Armoured Division. For the next several days, Pakistani forces repulsed Indian attacks on Chawinda. A large Indian assault on 18 September involving India's 1st Armoured and 6th Mountain Divisions was repelled, with the Indian 1st Armoured and 6th Mountain divisions taking heavy losses. On 21 September the Indians withdrew to a defensive position near their original bridgehead, with the retreat of Indian first armoured division, all their offensives were ceased on that front. Pakistani General vetoed the proposed counterattack "Operation Windup", According to the Pakistani C in C the operation was cancelled since ‘both sides had suffered heavy tank losses......would have been of no strategic importance....’ and above all ‘the decision...was politically motivated as by then the Government of Pakistan had made up their mind to accept cease fire and foreign sponsored proposals’.
The battle has been described as the largest Tank Battle since the World War II. On 22 September, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that called for an unconditional ceasefire from both nations. The war ended the following day. The military and economic assistance to both the countries had been stopped when the war started. Pakistan had suffered attrition to its military might and serious reverses in the battle at Khemkaran and Chawinda which made way for the acceptance the UN Resolution.
At the end of hostilities on 23 September 1965, India held about 200 square miles (518 square kilometres) of Pakistani territory in the Sialkot sector including the towns and villages of Phillora, Deoli, Bajragarhi, Suchetgarh, Pagowal, Chaprar, Muhadpur, Tilakpur south east and east of Sialkot city, which were returned to Pakistan after the Tashkent Declaration in January 1966.
- "He had fought in the World War II and won the MBE due to his bravery as a young army lieutenant. Later in the 1965 War, he was awarded the gallantry award, Hilal-i-Jurat, for leading an infantry brigade as part of the 6th Armoured Division that fought the famous tank battle with the Indian Army at Chawinda in Sialkot and halted the advance of the invading Indian troops in Pakistan’s territory."
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- Battle of Chawinda – Comedy of Higher Command Errors
- In Memory of Martyrs (first-hand account of the battle)