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Old 06-09-2008, 05:59 PM
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Heart Pak Defence Day .Congrates > Aye Rah-e-Haq Ke Shaheedo

Defence Day - 6 September 2008:

"Aye Rah-e-Haq Ke Shaheedo"

A main feature of this year's Defence Day Celebrations
for 6 September 2008 is a special SALUTE to a rather unsung war hero of the skies from the
Indo-Pak war of September 1965.

Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqui Shaheed

Sqn Ldr Shabbir Alam Siddiqui

A PAF Bomber pilot stationed at PAF Base Mauripur (now Masroor) in 1965 when the war broke out.

He belonged to the No. 8 Squadron of PAF under the No. 31 Bomber Wing, which flew Martin B-57 Bombers.

Martin B-57 Bomber

Friends and the family of Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui relate that he was an extremely energetic and patriotic individual. 6 feet tall and a mountaineer by hobby he was the kind who keep looking or challenges. He always used to pray to be able to deliver his best for service to Pakistan whenever need arises and often used to wish to be able to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the Pakistan which he had seen gaining independence during his student days. He had seen the sacrifices and hardships that had been faced in order to gain freedom and Pakistan. And he was sure he would never think twice if he was needed to play a crucial role for Pakistan's security.

He had initially been commissioned into PAF in 1954 as a navigator, but being in love with flying he convinced the PAF Chief AM Asghar Khan to allow him to return to the PAF College Risalpur as a commissioned officer to get re-trained as a fighter pilot. He remains the first officer in PAF history to have achieved this distinction.

On 6 September 1965 he left home in the morning after being informed of the war. He and his companions waited impatiently for orders to pounce at the enemy. By noon after FM Ayub Khan's blood warming and motivating speech they received orders to strike India's Jamnagar Airfield at dusk, in order to neutralize the threat to Southern parts of Pakistan from India's air base just 258 Miles from Karachi.

6 bombers flew at dusk and delivered a surprise attack successfully and returned. Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui was one of the bombers in the team. After return it was decided that the bombers would continue to bomb the airfield through out the night in a bombing 'shuttle service' of sorts. Only this time each B-57 bomber would fly as a single attacker.

Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui went on his second mission at about 2200 Hrs with his navigator Sqn Ldr Aslam Qureshi. They returned by midnight safely with after carrying out their duty and completing the mission.

Sqn Ldr Aslam Qureshi

By this time both must have been extremely tired, and Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui must have been highly fatigues as every aviator or anyone for that matter knows that flying repeated missions is no easy task. A single mission is extremely exhausting and demanding. Regular military training missions alone are very tough. This was a real war mission in the face of great danger after intruding into Indian air space.
Sqn Ldr Shabbir Alam Siddiqui had just flown two repeated missions. And now he was ready and volunteering for a third mission right away after having an aircraft ready, refueled and armed for him to attack again.
This heroic Pakistan warrior of the skies was now about to fly on his 3rd mission within 9 hours. Which is not just a PAF record in war missions but even in regular training missions as well.

The B-57 Bomber with the two brave aviators, Alam Siddiqui the pilot in the front and Aslam Qureshi in the back as navigator flew off Pakistani soil at 0330 Hrs on the morning of 7 September once again. Volunteering for the dangerous mission. They felt that since they had been over the target multiple times they had better knowledge of the area than others who had not been there yet or those who had been there just once.

By all means this was a gesture of service beyond the call of duty, in the face of grave danger and with disregard for personal well being and safety, only out of love and devotion to the motherland and the service to which they belonged.

As they neared their target in the darkness the area was covered with low clouds as reported by pilots who had just returned from there while they were approaching.

Suddenly the aircraft lost control and crashed in a field around Jamnagar in Gujrat state.

A painting by Gp Capt Hussaini depicting a B-57 bomber crashing while attacking over an Indian air base

For many years it was believed that either out of fatigue, or due to being spatially disroiented due to lack of visibility and bad weather, the B-57 must have hit the ground while the pilot tried to descend very low to ensure bombing precision. And for years it was thought by PAF as well as the family of Sqn Ldr MS Alam Siddiqui that he must have ejected and would have been taken POW along with his companion Sqn Ldr Aslam Qureshi.

India however never claimed shooting down the bomber or having the crew as POW. Until 2006 that is!

In 2006 Mrs Alam Siddiqui and her long hope and love for her husband inspired an old friend of her husband who was also an ex PAF pilot Sqn Ldr later Air Cdre Najeeb Ahmed Khan to write to then Indian Air Force Chief ACM S P Tyagi, for some help and details about what really happened.

Surprisingly ACM Tyagi responded enthusiastically and welcomed the wife and friend of the lost warrior to India. There they showed them records, took them to the crash site and it was confirmed that the B-57 Bomber aircraft had indeed been shot down by Indian AAA fire and the bodies were buried near crash site and acknowledged the brave actions of the pilot and honoured his wife and friend.

A sad note remains that both heroes Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui as well as Sqn Ldr Aslam Qureshi remained undecorated and received no medals in recognition for their selfless devotion and ultimate sacrifice for the motherland. Their families and their children have prospered and have made a good name for themselves. Alam Siddiqui's wife was 21 when he was martyred and his two sons were 13 months and 1 month old respectively. One is an airline pilot and the other a surgeon. Aslam Qurehi's wife was 23 and their kids were a 2 year old daughter and a 1 month old son, a marketing executive and a lawyer respectively.

The service beyond the call of duty and ultimate sacrifice of their fathers in laying down their lives for their beloved Pakistan they embraced eternal glory and shall forever be remembered among the brightest of stars in the hall of fame of Pakistani war heroes and makes the entire nation and ever new generation proud of our valiant war heroes.

Courtesy the family of Sqn Ldr Shabbir Alam Siddiqui Shaheed, here is a short documentary as part of a program 'Missing in Action' produced in India on Mrs Siddiqui and Air Cdre Najeeb Khan's visit in 2006. The IAF and then Chief played a very commendable role in true spirit of the profession of arms and camaraderie of soldiers. This prog has probably never been seen before and I thank the family of the Shaheed hero for providing access to it. This program does some justice to the never ending eternal glory of Sqn Ldr Shabbir Alam Sidiqui Shaheed.

A painting by Gp Capt Hussaini of B-57s performing a loop.

Source GS

Major Aziz Bhatti

Born 1928 in Hong Kong. Commissioned into the Punjab Regiment, 1950. On 6 September 1965, as Company Commander in the Burki area of the Lahore sector, Major Bhatti chose to move with his forward platton under incessant artillery and tank attacks for five days and nights in the defence of the strategic BRB canal. Throughout, undaunted by constant fire from enemy shell arms, tanks and artillery, he organized the defence of the canal, directing his men to answer the fire until he was hit by an enemy tank shell which killed him on 10 September 1965. He was 37 years old.

Sq. Ldr. Mohammad Mahmood Alam

On 6th September, 1965, during an aerial combat over enemy territory, Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam flying as pilot of an F-86 Sabre Jet, shoot down two enemy Hunter aircraft and damaged three others. For the exceptional flying skill and valor displayed by Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam in operations, he was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat. On 7th September, 1965, in a number of interception missions flown by Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam against the enemy aircraft attacking Pakistan Air Force Station, Sargodha, Squadron Leader Alam destroyed five more enemy Hunter aircrafts. In less than a minute , which remains a record till today. Overall he had nine kills and two damagers to his credit. For the exceptional flying skill and valour shown by him in pressing home his attacks in aerial combats with the enemy, Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam is awarded a bar to his Sitara-i-Juraat.

Sq. Ldr Alauddin Ahmed

Squadron Leader Alauddin Ahmed, led his squadron in twenty combat missions against the Indian ground and air forces. His leadership throughout the operations was cool, courageous and most determined which inspired the greatest confidence amongst pilots of his formations and resulted in destruction of many Indian tanks and vehicles. In his last sortie, he attacked and blew up an important ammunition train at Gurdaspur rail-head in complete disregard to his personal safety. During this attack on September 13, his aircraft was damaged and was reported missing over enemy territory. Subsequently, it was confirmed that the officer died in this action. For his exemplary leadership, courage and valour, Squadron Leader Alauddin Ahmed was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.

Squadron Leader Muhammad Iqbal

Squadron Leader Muhammad Iqbal flew many operational missions which played a vital part in the success of the Pakistan Air Force during the India-Pakistan war. He carried out these missions with determination, enthusiasm, outstanding ability and at great personal risk. His performance, throughout, was exemplary and highly inspiring for the personnel under his command. For his outstanding leadership, valour, loyalty and invaluable services to the Pakistan Air Force and the country, he was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.

Squadron Leader Munir Ahmed

During the war a high-powered heavily defended radar station near Amritsar was attacked repeatedly by PAF fighters. In all these missions, Squadron Leader Munir unhesitantly volunteered to fly without regard for his personal safety, exposed himself to intense ack ack fire for long periods in attempts to locate and destroy the target. In the final successful attack on September 11, he made the supreme sacrifice when his aircraft was hit. Before his last sortie, Munir flew eight combat missions and shot down an IAF Gnat on September 10. For displaying courage and determination in the face of heavy odds and beyond the call of duty, Squadron Leader Munir-ud-Din Ahmed was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.

Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui

On 6th September, 1965, Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui led a formation of three F-86 aircraft on a strike against Halwara airfield. Soon after crossing the Indian border Squadron Leader Rafiqui had been warned about a large number of enemy interceptors being in the air by the leader of a returning F-86 formation. He, however, continued his mission single-mindedly. On the way back, the formation was intercepted by about ten Hunter aircraft out of which Squadron Leader Rafiqui accounted for one in the first few seconds. After Squadron Leader Rafiqui shot down one Hunter aircraft, his guns jammed due to a defect and stopped firing upon which he refused to leave the battle area as he would have been perfectly justified to do; he, instead ordered his No. 2 to take over as leader and continue the engagement with the enemy. He himself now took up a defensive position in the formation in an attempt to give it as much protection as was possible by continuing fighting maneuvers in unarmed aircraft whilst the remainder proceeded to give battle to the enemy. This called for a quality of courage and dedication on the part of Squadron Leader Rafiqui equal to the best in the history of air-fighting. The end for him was never in doubt. He chose to disregard it and in the process, his aircraft was shot down and he was killed but not without his action enabling his formation to shoot down three more Hunter aircraft. Squadron Leader Rafiqui thus provided exemplary leadership in battle and displayed outstanding courage in the face of exceptionally strong opposition. His inspiring leadership and selfless example significantly affected the subsequent course of the air war in which the P.A.F. never failed to dictate terms to an overwhelmingly larger and better equipped enemy. Squadron Leader Rafiqui's conduct was clearly beyond the call of duty and conformed to the highest tradition of leadership and bravery in battle against overwhelming odds. For this and his earlier exploits, he is posthumously awarded Hilal-i-Juraat.

Flight Lieutenant Saifullah Khan Lodhi

Flight Lieutenant Saifullah Khan Lodhi was a navigator of exceptional ability and a completely dedicated officer. He possessed unusual skill, enthusiasm and drive, which enabled him to make a valuable contribution towards operations. He undertook several operational missions most cheerfully and enthusiastically, invariably attaining outstanding results. It was on one such mission on 11 September 65, that he lost his life. For his extreme dedication to duty, Flight Lieutenant Saifullah Khan Lodhi was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.

Flight Lieutenant Yunus Hussain

Flight Lieutenant Younus Hussain fought in air battles aggressively, fearlessly and with great professional skill. During one such engagement, he fought singly against six enemy aircraft and shot down two Hunters. Though his own aircraft was damaged in this encounter, he managed to bring it back to base safely. On 6 September, while attacking Halwara airfield, his small formation was intercepted by a large number of enemy and, although his aircraft was hit, he refused to break off the engagement, in complete disregard of personal safety, and was reported missing from this mission. He became a symbol of courage and professional ability for other pilots. For his , valour, professional skill and devotion to duty he was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.

Aircraftman Anwar Hussain

Leading Aircraftman Anwar Hussain was on duty at a vital point. His position was rocketed by enemy aircraft and the place caught fire. Anwar Hussain was the only person on duty over there. He fought the fire single-handedly with the available fire appliances and managed to control it and thus saved expensive equipment. His death is an example of courage and unfaltering devotion to duty towards the service as well as to the country. He was awarded Tumgha-i-Juraat.

The Forgotten Few!
By Tyrone Tellis

Pakistan came into being as a sovereign nation on the 14th of August 1947. Over 97 percent of its population is Muslim while the minorities consist of Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs and Christians, to mention the major groups. Though they make up a tiny percentage of the population, the minorities have played a significant part in the nation’s history prior to the independence, particularly in the development of the city of Karachi. Wealthy Hindus and Parsis helped to setup the city as a center of commerce. They not only added beautiful buildings, but also formed important institutions such as hospitals, schools and other infrastructure. Along with the Memon and Bohri community, Karachi owes its present importance as a hub of commerce and trade to minorities as well.
The Christians who migrated to Pakistan at the turn of the last century also had roles to play in the country’s growth and prosperity. In fact, they have provided yeomen’s service to the nation before independence, during the turbulent partition period, in the early years when Pakistan was just starting up and up to the present day.

They have served as ambassadors in sports – Wallis Mathias, Milton Soares, P.P. Fernandes. In law and civil administration we have names like Justice Cornelius - a figure revered to this day for his dedication. Yet, their services in the hour when their nation required them have sadly faded into obscurity!
You may wonder where I am leading to. Well, dear friends, I am referring to the exploits of the Christian pilots of the PAF. Next time, on the 6th of September, when you say a prayer for MM Alam and Rafiqui and Rashid Minhas, spare a line or two for their colleagues – Middlecoat, Cecil Chaudhry, Nazir Latif and co.!
So, read on to learn about the tremendous service given to the nation by the forgotten few!

Wing Commander Mervyn L Middlecoat

Wing Commander Middlecoat was abroad when war broke out in 1971. He immediately rushed back to his country to make himself available for active duty. This act inspired all the squadron pilots. The day after his arrival, he took off for a strike mission on the heavily defended Jamnagar airfield. While he was returning after accomplishing the mission successfully, he was engaged by two enemy Mig-21s. In the ensuing dogfight, his plane was hit by a missile. He was heard to be ejecting over Indian territory and was officially declared Missing in Action. This fearless man was posthumously awarded a Bar to Sitara-i-Juraat - a testimony to his love of duty and courage.
(When an award has been previously received and an officer or soldier is again commended, he is awarded a bar to the award. Very few members of the PAF have earned the distinction of being awarded a bar to their Sitara-i-Juraat.)

Squadron Leader Peter Christie

Peter Christie, also, was not on active duty when the war started. He was with the Pakistan International Airlines Corporations (PIAC) when he was recalled to his squadron. He was always available for out of the way missions. People close to him say that his sense of humour under war conditions, his dedication to the cause of the country and his personal courage contributed immensely to his squadron’s morale. On December 6, 1971, he was on duty as a navigator for a bombing run on Jamnagar. He did not return and was officially declared Missing in Action. He, too, was posthumously awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.

Group Captain Eric Gordon Hall

Group Captain Hall played a vital role in the 1965 war as the Station Commander of the Chaklala Base. He truly led by example, flying himself and personally leading several missions. This leadership raised the morale of his men to great heights. Group Captain Eric Gordon Hall was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat for his "courage and example beyond the call of duty". His contribution was not limited to this, however, as this scribe found out something interesting about Group Captain Hall in a usual supplement for the Defence Day of a newspaper. A writer credited Group Captain Hall with the idea of turning transport planes into bombers! Not only was this innovation surprising for the enemy, it also proved highly effective for our forces.
Eric Hall rose to the rank of Air Vice Marshal and eventually Chief of Staff, PAF. During his service, he was in charge of a number of PAF bases and also served as the Commandant of PAF Staff College, and Defence and Air Attaché’ in USA.

Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry

Three against ten! How do you like those odds? This was the situation confronting three pilots of the PAF on 6th September 1965! In one of the three planes was Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry. They were on their way to attack Halwara field when they encountered ten Indian Air Force Hunters. During the fight the leader of the group, Rafiqui’s guns jammed so he gave Cecil Chauhdry the lead. Cecil fought on ably, and managed to destroy two enemy aircrafts over India. His friends were shot down, but he managed to return safely to the base. This action was not a one-off occasion!
On 15th September, 1965, in spite of insufficient information from Ground Radar, Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry pursued his attack aggressively on enemy bombers and chased them 150 miles from his base. During the engagement, he destroyed one enemy Canberra bomber. He was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat for his "acts of courage, dedication and professional ability".
In 1971, as a Squadron Leader, he served above and beyond the call of duty despite being shot down over India and being injured! Cecil Chaudhry retired in 1986 as Group Captain. During his career he commanded the prestigious No. 9 Squadron, as well as Combat Commander’s School PAF.

Flight Lieutenant William D. Harney

Do you remember that in school there would always be this one student who was everything you ever wanted to be? Diligent, systematic, effective and accurate, as well as efficient – the total package! Well, imagine someone like that - but in a war scenario, and you’ll get a glimpse of William Harney. The man did everything including flying planes while having an injured hand! Hard to believe? That is what his citation tells us. It says that he flew 14 operational missions and all were "significant" in establishing the PAF’s superiority. Flight Lieutenant William D. Harney was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.
He served with distinction in 1971 and retired in 1974.

Wing Commander Nazir Latif

Just before the 1965 War, Nazir Latif commanded a Bomber Wing. Under his leadership the Wing was all set for operations and dangerous missions that required great accuracy. Wing Commander Nazir Latif, like Eric Hall, led by example, personally leading the most challenging raids including the famous raid on Ambala. This was a target deep in Indian territory and supposedly guarded by anti-aircraft missiles! He was twice hit by anti-aircraft guns, but he pursued his attack and managed to land safely at his base. For his "exceptional flying skill and valour" he was awarded Sitara-e-Juraat.
In 1971, too, while commanding PAF Base Masroor, he served with distinction - flying several dangerous missions. During his service he had the honour of commanding three different fighter and bomber wings and two bases. He also served as Director of Operations and Plans at the Air Headquarters. In 1972, after doing yeoman’s service, he retired.

You may think that these were the only Christians that excelled in our nation’s hours of need. However, sources say that Christians have served the PAF from its inception - Eric Gordon Hall, who came to India from Burma in 1942, was a pilot in the RAF in the World War II and in 1947 opted to come to Pakistan. Steve Joseph and M. J. O’Brian, like Eric Hall, rose to the rank of Air Vice Marshal and achieved the penultimate position in the PAF and served as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff. Air Vice Marshal O’Brian also achieved thea rare distinction of having been so far the only PAF Officer to serve as the Commandant of National Defence College. If I remember correctly, at least the first two heads of the PAF were British officers who stayed on to help get the then Royal PAF off the ground!

I won’t give the full list, but will mention that out of 70 Sitara-e-Juraats awarded to PAF officers in both the Wars, Christian officers won seven! Seven out of 70 is a high number, as the Christian officers were in the minority. So, dear friends, as I said in the beginning, by all means sing the praises of Rashid Minhas, M. M. Alam and all the daring heroes that helped safeguard our skies in times of peril! However, at the same time, it would do them no dishonour to remember the gallant fliers I have mentioned above.

In our nation’s hour of need the Christians and in fact all the people belonging to minorities in general stood shoulder to shoulder with their Muslim brothers whether serving in the army, navy or in the air force. They faced the same hardships, made the same sacrifices and even gave their lives in the service of the nation.

The PAF remembers her sons no matter what creed they follow indiscriminately, heaping honour and appreciation on them. I believe it’s only fair that the youth of the nation are told about Middlecoat, Chaudhry and company so that these stalwarts will not ever feel that their sweat, toil and blood was spent in vain!!!

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