Friday, September 17, 2010

AIR WAR OF 1965 - Interdiction over Gurdaspur

PAF loses one of its finest pilots

While at Sargodha, a keen rivalry had developed between 17 Squadron, commanded by Squadron Leader Azim Daudpota, and its sister unit, 18 Squadron, led by Squadron Leader Alauddin ('Butch') Ahmed. Thirty-four year old 'Butch' Ahmed was one of the most dynamic characters in the PAF. The son of a well known eye specialist in East Pakistan, he was very short in stature but had the heart of a lion. He also suffered from the-physical disability of having one leg slightly shorter than the other, but a measure of his forceful personality was the fact that he nevertheless managed to storm his way Past the PAF medical board for pilot training despite their stringent standards.

Trains have always presented temting targets for ground attack and the PAF had a notable encounter of this type on 13 September. On that day, four 32 Wing Sabres led by 'Butch' Ahmed, accompanied by Flight Lieutenants Saleem , Amanullah and Manzoor, were making their second offensive patrol of the morning, having blasted a number of enemy tanks and guns in the Chawinda-Narowal sector soon after first light. Flying low along the Batala Gurdaspur railway at about 1030 hours the 4 Sabres came across a train on which they dived, only to pull away without attack when it was identified by Ahmed as carrying civilian passengers.

Reaching the end of their patrol line within distant sight of the runways at Pathankot, the Sabres set course towards the town of Gurdaspur still searching for signs of Indian Army activity. In the goods yard of Gurdaspur station the PAF section had better luck, and a long line of freight wagons soon yielded some spectacular explosions as the probing fire from the F-86s set ammunition and military stores ablaze. Pressing home his attacks to point blank range, 'Butch' Ahmed flew so low that his aircraft was struck by fragments from the exploding wagons, but with no apparent damage he continued diving into the thick pall of smoke which quickly shrouded the scene. 

Allauddin Butch Ahmed (File Photo)
Because of the restricted visibility, his last attack was lower than ever, and his salvo of rockets found a store of high explosive which engulfed his Sabre in a massive blast of pressure waves and debris. So violent was the explosion that the other Sabres were buffetted almost out of control, and 'Butch' had no hope of taking avoiding action. With Pakistani territory barely 12 miles away-just about one and a half minute's flying time-he called, "My cockpit is full of smoke", and tried to head his crippled aircraft towards the west. A moment later he added, "It seems to be all right now", but those were the last words ever heard from him. 
It is known that 'Butch' Ahmed ejected from his burning Sabre, and 2 other F-86s from Peshawar flying in the vicinity were diverted by S/L 'Nosey' Haider to cover him on his way down. PAF aircrafts assisted by Army L-19s, spent five hours searching the area in an attempt to rescue him. But Ahmed was dead by the time he reached the ground and is generally thought to have been shot while hanging helplessly from his parachute. "If he'd reached the ground alive, nothing on earth could have stopped him from escaping", was Squadron Leader Haider's comment. A fitting epitaph, perhaps, for one of the finest and most popular officers in the PAF. Squadron Leader Alauddin Ahmed was awarded a posthumous Sitara-e-Jurat for "his exemplary leadership, courage and valour.

3 comments:

  1. Well researched and chronicled note. Flt Lt. Qais Mazhar Hussain was flying under his command in 18 Squadron in 1965 war. while a talk with him Qais said to me," It was heat of the moment that Butch got so low while attacking, and we lost a really great commander..


    Sqn Ldr Salman Ali

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  3. More authentic information on the 1965 war are currently being updated and have been posted on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/combataviationhistoryofpakistan.

    They includes detailed articles with references and pictures. Would be posted in the blog after DESERT VIPERS are completed.

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