We were still wet behind our ears so to speak. It was a day in early 1950, perhaps in late February or early March some time. By the pronoun ‘we’ here, I identify the young cadets of the third batch of ISW-AFA (Inter Services Wing of the Armed Forces Academy) at Clement Town Dehradun who had joined the Acdemy during the last week of January.
We had just about finished our ‘Drill Square’ test (which certified that we were considered fit to appear in public in uniform without disgracing ourselves) and were in the process of fitting in into the daily life of the Academy. A restricted holiday declared at short notice made the next weekend into a long one. Some of the young instructors thought that it would be an ideal opportunity to go out for a trek into the lower Himalayas. The snow cap in the Banderpunch range had started melting, but patches of snow were still visible on the northern slopes which lay in shadows for most of the day. These late winter / early spring days in the Doon valley were exquisite; all the dust in the sky washed away by the passing Western Disturbances. Bright sunshine and cool breeze, bright blue skies with streaks of very high cirrostratus clouds heightening the framework of dark blue/green Himalayas to the north and the grey/green Shiwalik to the south; Clement Town in such times was a beautiful place to stay in.
Lieutenant Saldanah, a short fair smart restless young exec officer from the Navy who was a Div Officer with Baker Squadron, was the main instigator of the idea and he soon gathered a bunch of other young officers around him. He picked an isolated peak called Top Tibba as his target for the climb. The idea caught on. Read the rest of this entry
I am referring to a whole lot of comments that originated on the Halwara set of posts. Read the rest of this entry
The morning after the war ended was strangely quiet. We had not restarted routine training flying and there were no operational tasks. In any case it was a Saturday. Read the rest of this entry
The mood on the station on the morning of 15th was indeed joyous. The most important piece of news this morning was the resignation of the Governor of East Pakistan as a result of a very accurate air attack on the Government House in Dacca. The last symbol of legitimate governance of the Eastern Wing of Pakistan was gone. Read the rest of this entry
General wisdom says that the flame of a lamp about to die-out burns brighter for a brief moment before it extinguishes. The condition of the war seemed to follow the same path on the morning of the 14th. By all indications, Pakistan was in no condition to continue with this war; in response, our war effort was on the up-swing without a doubt. Read the rest of this entry
Start of the day on the 12th of December was rather slow. For the first wave at sunrise there was only one request for close support that was grabbed by Chopra and Bapat. It was actually getting to be quite difficult to pick crew for a strike mission. Over the past two days the demands had shrunk and there was a scramble for every mission that came about. Those not chosen were disappointed and crest fallen, but if targets are not found, can missions be mounted? Read the rest of this entry
As I had noted earlier, the war was steadily taking the shape of an exercise. On the night of 6th December, the feeling of relief amongst the aircrew on the station was quite palpable. After dinner, I switched on the small transistor at the BADC tuned to Radio Pakistan Lahore. Read the rest of this entry
The battle on the ground and air seemed to go quite according to our plans. Pakistan had been made to commence the operations and our response from the air was quite overwhelming. The land forces had planned to blunt any Pakistani advance and it seemed that their plan was working too. Read the rest of this entry
As the sun set on 4 December 1971, with the war between India and Pakistan being barely 24 hours old, I was already burdened with a personal loss. Gopal, my closest associate for the past three days was gone. Read the rest of this entry
TeeOH and Suzie Apte landed back at 0950. Their attack on Walton was successful. They were able to locate their targets camouflaged and hidden in blast pens. They found no ack-ack and no air opposition. Read the rest of this entry