Battle of Chawinda fought between the armies of Pakistan and India is considered one of the largest tank battles in history since battle of Kursk in 2nd world war.
Strength of both armies
Indian side made a strike force comprised of 1st armored division “Fakhr e Hind” aka Black elephant accompanied by 6 mountain Division, 14th division and 16th division.
Pakistani force comprised of 6th newly raised armored division later reinforced by 1st armored division, 4th corps artillery, 15th, and 8th infantry division.
Battle: Indian army presumed that Sialkot is poorly defended and capturing it would be like a walk in the park. Initial objectives of the Indian offensive were to capture the Grand Trunk Road near town of Wazirabad and then capturing nearby town of Jassorian resulting in Indian army control over Sialkot-Pasrur railway. Indian attack begun on 7th September and achieved its initial objectives without much resistance as they over run Pakistan army defenses at Jassorian and Sialkot-Pasrur railway.
A Pakistani brigade commander Brigadier Abdul Malik sensed this threat and ordered his brigade to Chawinda, 25th cavalry “Men of steel” being available at the movement under command of Colonel Nisar Ahmad Khan was ordered to put his two squadron of tanks on offensive. For the first time in armored warfare history two squadron of tanks took on an armored division. This courageous decision would later prove to save fall of Sialkot and Pakistan from an inevitable defeat.
Heroics of 25th Calvary “Men of Steel”
25th cavalry was a newly raised (raised in 1962) but finest tank regiment of Pakistan armored corps commanded by a capable armored officer Colonel Nisar khan. As the Indian army over run Pakistan defenses and crossed international border, brigade commander asked Colonel Khan to do something. The regiment filled up fuel and rushed to Jassorian, at the time only A and B squadron of the regiment spearheaded to the objective while the “C” squadron was in Pasrur due to initial orders which later followed the rest of regiment to the battlefield.
September 8-10 saw the finest hours of “Men of steel” as “B” squadron of 25th Cavalry met 1st armored division of Indian army. 2 regiments of the division 16 light cavalry regiment and 17 Poona horse regiment were at the front supported by a Gurkha infantry battalion.
25 Cavalry “B” Squadron commanded by major Ahmad met advancing tanks of 16 light cavalry regiment and personally destroyed 4 Indian centurion tanks. 16 light cavalry CO brought another squadron to outflank Major Ahmad but got exposed to “A” Squadron of 25th Cavalry thus losing many tanks including the commander of squadron.
Seeing the losses of 16 light cavalry regiment the Poona horse turned to give support but due to less regiment gap, incompetence of commanders the Indian tanks opened fire on each other as narrated by Gurchan Singh.
Brigadier K.K Singh commander of 1st armored division seeing the losses of his tanks concluded that he’s held up by two Patton division and had no more chance of advance showing his mental defeat and fear of more losses.
The day was saved by “Men of steel”, Major Ahmad fought all day against 10 times superior army in numbers and firepower till martyrdom without retreating an inch back.
Total of 55 Indian tanks were destroyed as “Men of steel” shattered finest of Indian armored regiments 16th light cavalry and 17th Poona horse into pieces of burning metals. Later 25th cavalry paraded captured Poona horse commandant tank, a prized possession.
Colonel Nisar and officers like Major Ahmad, Captain Effendi, Captain Shamshad, Captain Raza and JCOs like Risaldar Riaz and Naib Risaldar Khaliq snatched the victory from hands of Indian army.
Colonel Nisar along with four other officers, 10 soldiers and JCOs were awarded Sitara e Jurrat, making this regiment most decorated unit in one battle of Pakistan armored corps.
25th cavalry was given the battle honor of “Men of steel” by General Musa Khan after war.
Aftermath: Pakistan army successfully defended its territory as by 18 September Indian offensive involving 1st armored division and 6th division retreated to its defensive position and the 1st armored division (Fakhr e Hind) ceased its offensive operations for rest of war. The Indian army lost 120+ tanks and Pakistan only lost 44 tanks.
A counter offensive was proposed by high command of Pakistan army to attack the retreating enemy, but it didn’t happen as it had no strategic importance as the enemy had suffered huge losses and was in no position of offensive operations also the government of Pakistan at that time had made mind to accept the Indian requested cease fire resolution in UN.
Thanks to the incompetency and complete poor operational capabilities of Indian army at unit and brigade level things turned out quite easy for Pakistan army.