Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Discuss issues and news related to PIA, Pakistani airlines and Pakistan's civil & military aviation.


User avatar
Abbas Ali
Site Admin
Posts: 32668
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 11:52 pm
Location: Pakistan

Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Post by Abbas Ali » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:45 am

An article on Pakistani aviation art in August 14 issue of 'The Express Tribune Magazine' reminded readers of supreme sacrifice given by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Martin B-57 Canberra bomber pilot Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqui during 1965 war. The article can be read >>here<<.

According to painting caption in the article the brave bomber pilot and his navigator Squadron Leader Aslam Qureshi remained undecorated.

Probably the two air warriors continue to remain undecorated ? If yes, then I feel Pakistan government and air force should recommend bravery medals for them as their supreme sacrifice has been confirmed and their fate is no longer a mystery.

The two brave men deserve at least 'Sitara-i-Jur'at'. It's never late to recognize sacrifice of such brave sons of the country.

Here's painting and its caption. The painting shows last moments of B-57 (serial# 33941) piloted by Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqui over Jamnagar Air Station, India, in early hours of September 7, 1965.
Image
Triple Attack - Painting by Group Captain (Retd.) Syed Masood Akhter Hussaini

On the first night of the 1965 Indo-Pak war, a valiant B-57 bomber pilot Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqui and navigator Squadron Leader Aslam Qureshi flew into enemy airspace for the third time within a span of 9 hours, creating a war-time record. After having successfully completed two bombing missions and returning home safely, the crew volunteered to fill in for another pilot who backed out from his mission and took off yet again at 0335 Hrs on the morning of 7 September 1965, never to return.

On their third mission the B-57 was lost and the fate of the crew remained a mystery leaving them undecorated for their exemplary valour despite their supreme sacrifice. Four decades later Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui’s wife approached the Indian Air Force for details and closure. What followed was a historic episode of camaraderie-in-arms when the IAF informed her that her husband’s aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed near IAF Base Jamnagar and invited her to visit the site for closure.

The painting visualises the last moments of the fateful B-57 bomber from Masroor Base Karachi after it was fatally damaged and was painted by Group Capt Hussaini as a tribute to these two unsung heroes of the PAF who sacrificed their lives on the very first day of war leaving a legacy of dedication beyond the call of duty which remains a hallmark of the PAF.


Abbas
Dil Dil Pakistan... Jaan Jaan Pakistan

See you at:
Image


User avatar
Abbas Ali
Site Admin
Posts: 32668
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 11:52 pm
Location: Pakistan

Re: Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Post by Abbas Ali » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:48 am

And here's an article about Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqi who within space of few hours piloted three B-57 night bombing missions against Indian Air Force station at Jamnagar. Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqi had the option to take break and rest after completing two bombing missions but he chose to fly third mission after taking little break. Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqi and his navigator Squadron Leader Muhammad Aslam Qureshi lost their lives on third mission flown by Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqi.

Beyond the Call of Duty

By Haris Masood Zuberi


0330 Hrs. Two young Squadron Leaders from No. 8 Squadron of the No. 31 Bomber Wing based at Pakistan Air Force Station Mauripur (now Base Masroor) at Karachi, sat strapped in the tandem cockpit of their Martin B-57B Bomber aircraft No. 33-941 performing final checks on takeoff, yet again, on a high risk deep-strike night mission into enemy territory. Their duty was to bomb India's Jamnagar Airfield 225 nautical miles (258 miles) South-East of Karachi.

In the front seat was the 31 year old pilot Sqn Ldr Mohammad Shabbir Alam Siddiqui, the jovial and dynamic officer who was quite popular among his colleagues for his spirited and compassionate nature. On the back seat was the 32 year old navigator Sqn Ldr Muhammad Aslam Qureshi, known as a thoroughly dedicated and professional officer. It was a motivating sight for everyone to witness two of the Wing’s senior officers leading from the front and going into action together. And surely for both aviators it was a matter of doing what they were best at; only this time with utmost vigour and precision since the nation's security and prestige were at stake.

Image
B-57 pilot Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqi (left) and navigator Squadron Leader Muhammad Aslam Qureshi - Photo Source: 'Battle for Pakistan - The Air War of 1965' authored by John Fricker

Earlier on the morning of 6 September, eager crews of 31 Wing had listened to Field Marshal Ayub Khan's motivating speech declaring full-scale war with India. Sqn Ldr Shabbir Alam Siddiqui in particular was so enthusiastic about finally getting a chance to put to good use all their fierce training that he ‘had equipped himself with every kind of weapon - a pistol, a sten gun, and a long commando dagger hooked up by the side (and) appeared to be a walking armoury’. When during lunch friends joked with him about only lacking a tank to be hung by his side before going to war, he in his signature humorous style declared that he’d make use of any weapon available to take down as many of the enemy as possible, if he were to eject in enemy territory, and arranged for pistols and holsters for everyone.

Anticipating orders for night strike missions, the crews had been advised to rest, and while some officers opted to relax at home till 1500 Hrs when they were to report for expected briefings, Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui chose not to avail the time at hand to rest; instead he remained at the Wing to stay ahead of mission preparations. He did make a quick visit home to see his family, and informing them briefly about the situation and his upcoming missions issued some advice, explaining what would be the safest place for their two babies, in case there was an air strike on the base. Keeping in view his enthusiasm and the cheery and optimistic manner in which he left, his 21 year old wife Shahnaz did not think even for a second that it could well be the last time she was seeing him.

As the main feature of the air-war plan had been to ensure neutralization of vital elements of the much larger Indian Air Force at the very beginning of a full-scale war Air Marshal Nur Khan launched pre-emptive air strikes. By 1630 Hrs F-86 Sabres from No. 19 Squadron from Peshawar led by Sqn Ldr Sajad ‘Nosey’ Haider, No. 5 Squadron led by Sqn Ldr Sarfaraz A. Rafiqui and No. 11 Squadron led by Sqn Ldr M. M. Alam from Sargodha were ready to get airborne for strikes against Pathankot, Halwara and Adampur respectively. In the meantime at Mauripur; the PAF’s premier bomber base at Karachi, the night-intruder force of B-57 Bombers from No. 8 Squadron was ordered to prepare for a surprise dusk strike mission against IAF airfield of Jamnagar. As per available intelligence, Jamnagar airfield at the South-Western Indian town of Gujerat state was a major threat for Mauripur Base, Karachi and adjoining areas including other southern parts of the country. No. 8 Squadron led by Sqn Ldr Rais A. Rafi hastily geared up for their much-awaited missions. The attacks were to be carried out together by 6 B-57s.

The performance and plight of the fighters from initial missions in the north brought several heroes to the forefront. The loss of two fighters of No. 5 Squadron from Sargodha; Sqn Ldr Sarfaraz A Rafiqui and his wing-man Flt Lt Yunus Hussain, was, only several hours later followed by two bomber officers of No. 8 Squadron from Mauripur. Together it was these heroes who wrote exceptional tales of air-chivalry, courage and devotion on the very first night of the war which proved to be highly motivating for the PAF facing an enemy much larger in size and superior in numbers.

As aptly expressed by Gp Capt (Retd) S. M. Hali “Bomber crews are traditionally the unsung heroes of war…(their) exploits take place far away from their bases well outside the ranges of their own radar. Their missions are carried out mostly at night, with its inherent risks and dangers, and there are often no cameras…” The missions and achievements of the bombers from the same evening/night remained relatively under-explored. No. 8 Squadron persevered in silence while its crews diligently delivered the momentous tasks of preserving the defences of the south by offering the enemy repeated poundings significant enough to keep it on ground.

At 1800 Hrs as the crews of the 6 bombers ready for Jamnagar strike had performed R/T checks, the airmen, the Wing Engineering Officer and even the Station Commander Gp Capt Khaqan Abbasi stood on the tarmac waving the aviators good luck; it was quite a sight. Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui, the zestful officer who had the knack for charming everyone with his witty humour and could always be trusted with keeping any situation ebullient, chuckled over the radio, “It had to be war for our old man to wish us luck!”, and lightened up the anxious moods. The ensuing laughter that echoed added great flavour to the historic moment. At 1805 Hrs the B-57s took off one after another. 1850 Hrs at last light was the time over target (TOT). Within minutes the bombers left Karachi behind. Shortly after contact with Badin radar the navigators informed they were entering enemy territory. In order to avoid detection by radars they flew as low as 250 feet above ground level (AGL); almost at tree-top altitude. Clocking nearly 360 knots (415 mph) the bombers loaded with 4x1000lbs bombs, 56x2.75” rockets and 4x20mm cannons were over their target in nearly 45 minutes, now under the cover of spreading darkness. According to the strike plan one by one they climbed up to altitudes of 8,000 feet and descended to release their loads of 4 bombs on the airfield from the height of nearly 4000 feet. The formation quickly headed back to Mauripur, keeping very low till crossing the border.

Upon landing at 1940 Hrs, they were greeted by cheers. The 6 B-57s were back from enemy airspace unscathed, completing a dangerous deep-strike operation. The enemy had indeed been stunned. Element of surprise was evident by the non-existence of fighter interceptors and more surprisingly anti-aircraft artillery (AAA). This observation on the first bombing mission of the day from Mauripur proved crucial for proceeding decisions. Crews were briefed about the next missions to be taken up. It was decided to continue a ‘Bombing Shuttle Service’ over Jamnagar throughout the night, but this time as single aircraft sorties, following each other with regular intervals till dawn. Every pilot who had flown the dusk mission was being stretched to a second sortie, with the same navigators in most cases. Owing to darkness as well as the enemy by now having been alerted and prepared for air defence, conditions were to be much more risky and complex. Out of the six pilots who had just returned from the dusk mission, Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui was the first to head back to the target for further attacks. As the aircraft were being refueled and reloaded with bombs, the crew had a light dinner and while some of the pilots were still writing reports, Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui hopped into another B-57 aircraft (No. 33-945) with call-sign ‘Zulu 753’. This time the rear-seat companion was the senior and experienced navigator Sqn Ldr Aslam Qureshi, who held the appointment of the Wing Navigation Leader. He had earlier been among the crews reserved for Peshawar when the dusk strike went ahead. Since the move to Peshawar with No. 7 Squadron was called off at the last moment, he had remained unable to fly a mission and was by now keenly looking forward to getting a chance to fly. Since he had the authority, he availed the opportunity to fly his first war mission by removing Flt Lt Taufique from the second mission accompanying Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui.

They took off at 2240 Hrs and proceeded towards the target in darkness. The expert navigator had no difficulty reaching the target head-on at the right time despite the navigation difficulties involved in the low-level deep night-strikes. When above the target, they dropped bombs at approximately 2325 Hrs. With the mission successfully completed they quickly headed back. Thus winning against odds once again, Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui landed at Mauripur at 0025 Hrs in the initial moments of 7 September 1965.

Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui got back to the Operations Room throbbing with an extraordinary determination and energy to keep contributing to the effort. All pilots upon return from second missions were supposed to rest till further orders. Then holding additional responsibility of the Wing Operations Officer, Alam Siddiqui had been on his feet since he reported for duty early in the morning. Throughout the day he had kept busy with arrangements at both Squadron and Wing level, interacting with various officers and crews as well as inspecting aircrafts. By now he had already done his part, playing his role very well on the very first day of the war and luckily, without any mishap. He now deserved to head back home to his anxious young wife and two babies for rest, leaving further responsibilities for fresh pilots.

Instead, even at 0300 Hrs, his Wing mates and fellow pilots were surprised to find him still lurking around in his flight suit, appearing fully ready for more action. Since his return at 0025 Hrs he hadn’t even considered going back home while some of his colleagues were still flying. He had been looking for an opportunity to take greater part in the activities. And if luck be with him, get a chance to get airborne and head back to the target yet again! It had been inconceivable for the perpetually dynamic and zealous Alam Siddiqui to leave the hub of activity in the midst of decisive action. Therefore, after some anxious wait he eventually came across an ideal opportunity. Wg Cdr Hameed Qureshi had been scheduled to take-off on his second mission at 0335 Hrs. However, since return from the earlier dusk mission he had suffered some medical condition and was under treatment by the flight surgeon. It was construed he couldn’t fly; which caused concerns among the crews regarding disruption of the planned sorties. When Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui was informed of the development, he readily volunteered himself for the mission and at once decided to fill in and go instead. This sortie was supposed to be the last bombing mission of the night from Mauripur and Alam Siddiqui was glad to find this opportunity. Though he was not required to fly for the 3rd time during the night within a span of 9 hours, he enthusiastically opted for this mission, fully anticipating that there would be no respite possible even the next day. The significance of his decision to make sure this last raid was not skipped turned out as a correct decision, as learned later through Indian accounts from Jamnagar, which are recounted in detail farther in this narrative.

Some of his companions tried to dissuade him from volunteering to fly again and pointed at pilots who hadn’t been on any mission yet. He in turn pointed at the lack of time available for briefing fresh crews and emphasized he was totally prepared himself. “They have not seen the target, (and) I have returned from there just now and know it backwards. I can cause more damage…that is why I want to go once again…” he said to his friend and former squadron OC Sqn Ldr Saeed A Ansari who had also been his instructor during his Risalpur flight training days on T-6G Harvards almost a decade earlier. Determined and decisive as he always was; Alam convinced Ansari with his typical smile and energetic handshake and drove off in his jeep.

Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui had first taken off at 1805 Hrs and was now ready to take off for the third time at 0335 Hrs. Flying 3 combat missions within 9 hours is widely accepted as no minor feat and is quite a record within PAF, at least during both the wars of 1965 and 1971, in any case as far as war-time bombing sorties were concerned. In the war, stretched beyond usually accepted practice, two operational missions in a night was considered the limit. Although there was no restriction as such, and if one volunteered, nobody objected. Even IAF Canberra crews never took up more than one or a very rare second mission in a day.

Sqn Ldr Rais A Rafi the OC No.8 Squadron had already left for his second mission. With the Squadron OC absent, the Wing OC getting medical assistance, Alam Siddiqui, as a senior officer of the Squadron and Wing took decisive initiative. While nobody stepped beyond the second mission, he was the first and the last PAF pilot to have flown three war-time operational sorties in the same night, leaving an unprecedented example and an unbeaten record. Thus in the wee hours of 7 September 1965 this dauntless pilot was now rolling off Pakistan’s soil to strengthen its defences by giving the enemy yet another pounding; true to the motto of his squadron ‘Ik Aur Zarb-e-Haidery’. Their TOT was approximated 0415 Hrs; almost first light, shortly before dawn.

Sqn Ldr Aslam Qureshi meanwhile had been up to his own heroics. The daring navigator, right after landing from his first mission, had decided to fly again and once more used his authority to assign himself the navigation slot on the upcoming mission accompanying Wg Cdr Hameed Qureshi. Once settled with arranging his next mission and supervising crews about navigation details he had just reclined in an empty room for some rest before further tasks when he was informed of the altered situation. Appreciating the noble initiative by Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui, he quickly went ahead for briefings. He could have avoided going on a second mission on the pretext that he had flown earlier and had pressing responsibilities on ground. Contrarily, using his authority he chose to assign himself the last sortie to fly as navigator on this highly dangerous and difficult mission replacing the navigator originally assigned the sortie.

After their final briefing the two officers drove in Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui’s jeep towards the flight lines. As Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui completed quick external checks, climbed the trestle and raised one foot to step into his cockpit he heard a jeep approach with lights off. He saw a jeep passing by and was addressed from behind. Looking over his shoulder he found Sqn Ldr Shuaib Alam Khan and Flt Lt Amin Khan Khalil. This crew had been scheduled to take off on a sortie preceding Sqn Ldrs Alam and Aslam. It had so happened that when the starter cartridge was fired in their B-57, it sheared. It used to take more than twenty minutes at least to start with another cartridge once the system cooled. The two officers were disappointed and in a fix due to the unexpected delay. Sqn Ldr Shuaib Alam Khan was aware that the next sortie scheduled 30 minutes after their takeoff time was being flown by Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui who was now going ahead for the third time. He knew that the delay caused by their aircraft meant they could not fly that night at all, as the raids were to cease before dawn. Already some time had been lost and by now it was almost time for Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui’s takeoff. Having anticipated his mission all evening, he was restless. Just then the OC passed by and so he sought permission to convince Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui to let them take his aircraft, as he was going for his 3rd mission and could now take a well deserved break. They had thus approached Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui’s B-57 parked nearby. Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui carefully listened to their request but flatly refused. “Nothing doing…!” he said rejecting the proposal, reasoning that, “We have been briefed in detail together and can’t sit back now…” Sqn Ldr Shuaib Alam then insisted that at least he as navigator be allowed to go with him instead. Sqn Ldrs Alam and Aslam both refused and said “If both are re-briefed now more time would be consumed, and there’s no time left before dawn to be wasted…” Disappointed but convinced, the eager officers stepped back from the aircraft and bade the crew farewell.

Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui took off for their target from runway 27 on the last bomber sortie of the night from Mauripur in B-57 Bomber No. 33-941 at 0335 Hrs bearing call-sign ‘Z-6’ (apparent continuance of ‘Zulu’ series). As the huge dark warrior-aircraft aptly signed ‘Zulu’ took a sharp left turn with heading of 130 degrees towards Jamnagar leaving Karachi behind, the night sky was moon-lit. In all probability keeping in line with the profile followed by the night’s earlier sorties, the crew flew low at no more than 500ft AGL. At a speed of nearly 360 knots (415 mph) their aircraft fast approached Jamnagar. En route they established radio contact and had a short chat with Sqn Ldr Rais A Rafi who was exiting the area after his attack at 0340 Hrs. He advised Sqn Ldr Alam to “Watch out for low clouds developing over area and use flares to light up the target”; like he had just done himself moments earlier. It was important information as both bombing precision and altitude had to be taken delicate care of. The aircraft reached over the target at approximately 0415 Hrs, nearly some 40 minutes after takeoff from Mauripur, loaded with 4x1000lbs bombs to wreak havoc on the enemy airfield.

As per procedure the crew had climbed up for the dive bombing to about 5000ft or more AGL and dived to release the bombs at about 3000 feet or less AGL, first dropping flares to light up the target during the descent and owing to Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui’s zealous nature almost certainly going lower below the gathering clouds for precision. With the airfield below now lit up and visible they made the first bombing run and dropped 2x1000lbs bombs over the airfield which caused explosions. Although the flares had been a risk, they were used by pilots for accuracy. While they made the airfield below visible to the bomber they lit-up the attacker for AAA gunners below as well. Just when the lone B-57 ‘Zulu 6’ had suddenly showed up again diving through the clouds to deliver its fury over the enemy airfield, 8 Seahawk fighter aircraft of the No. 300 Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) were preparing for a massive strike against PAF’s Badin radar installation at dawn on 7 September. The B-57 meanwhile making a quick circuit swiftly climbed and came in for another dive for the second run to release the 2 remaining 1000lbs bombs in the last attack. By now the silence of the previously blacked-out airfield which had been on the receiving end of PAF’s wrath since 1900 Hrs (PST) opened up its furious retaliation with AAA fire. As ‘Zulu 6’ dived in for the second bombing run, it was inevitably caught in an Ack Ack (AAA) barrage.

While flying through the fierce fireworks, hurriedly to get rid of excess weight the crew jettisoned the B-57’s 2 rocket launcher pods. They landed very close to the INAS Seahawks, and have since been preserved by India as souvenirs of the PAF night-raid. Suddenly, the most dreaded moment of any aviator’s career struck. ‘Zulu 6’ suffered direct hits from Indian AAA below causing serious damage. The aircraft began to lose control. Already low, the now damaged bomber began losing altitude. Unable to pull through much farther, with the B-57 clocking somewhere between 360 and 400 knots (415 -460 mph) and going down at a shallow angle impact was now imminent. The B-57 No. 33-941 eventually crashed in open agricultural ground 10 miles East of the Jamnagar airfield, apparently martyring both the highly valuable, courageous and skilled officers on impact.

However, unusual absence of any prompt news about the bomber and its crew officially received from India following the loss initially caused helpless bewilderment. As a result the fate of this intrepid duo remained uncertain for days and eventually decades. IAF’s unexpected tardiness in claiming a ‘kill’ implied other reasons of the loss. Combined with the details on absence of Ack Ack or interceptors experienced on previous raids, weather and presence of low clouds, low flight profile and possible fatigue due to the pilot flying 3rd mission; ‘spatial disorientation’ struck as a plausible theory. These points were mentioned in the mission debrief and log book of Sqn Ldr Rais A Rafi the next morning which fostered all kinds of speculations about ‘Z6’ including the possibility of having crashed into the Arabian Sea en route.

In India however, the fate of this bomber and its crew was always more than certain. Ack Ack had indeed claimed B-57 No. 33-941 kill which was acknowledged by the Indian authorities shortly afterwards. Indian military had retrieved a diary attributed to the pilot. Images of its pages were immediately released to the media. Naturally utilizing propaganda value in the middle of war various Indian English and Hindi daily newspapers had published news of the shooting down along with images of the diary pages as well as the B-57 wreckage declaring that the crash had taken place very close to Jamnagar airfield.

Image
Page of diary belonging to Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui recovered from PAF B-57 crash site near Jamnagar Air Base - Photo Source: www.bharat-rakshak.com

When a POW exchange took place between the two nations in January 1966, India handed over a broken fragment of an oxygen mask attributed to the pilot along with the wallet of Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui, in a worn out and grazed condition but still holding its contents including family photographs. The Government of Pakistan had then changed the status of the lost crew from MIA to KIA, but somehow the uncertainty regarding their fate perpetuated in the absence of an official verdict. In 2005 the acclaimed book ‘The India Pakistan Air War of 1965’ by P. V. S. Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra revealed further anecdotes on this crash based on eye witness versions including that of Air Cdre K A Hariharan, an IAF pilot then stationed at Jamnagar who had witnessed the last bomber’s raid, the illumination by its flares and eventually its being hit by Ack Ack.

In 2006, 40 years after the September 1965 war Air Cdre (Retd) Najeeb Ahmed Khan Sitara-e-Jurat, met Mrs. Shahnaz Alam in Canada. Having been very close to Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui Shaheed, he was touched by his dear friend’s wife’s sentiments for her martyred husband four decades later, owing to the uncertainty. He decided to request the IAF by writing to then CAS, Air Chief Marshal S. P. Tyagi, to extend some information and details about the fate of the crew from the critical mission of 6-7 September 1965. In a rare historic gesture and tribute to the profession of arms the CAS responded positively. The IAF carried out exclusive research on this B-57 loss and officially informed that as per historic records, eye witness accounts of locals, images and material attributed to the wreckage and the crew it was certain: B-57 No. 33-941 had indeed made it right over Jamnagar Airfield, dropped two bombs, was making a second circuit to drop the two remaining bombs, and was caught up in AAA, was inevitably hit, and minutes later crashed few miles across the airfield, martyring the crew. IAF further pin-pointed the crash site at an agricultural field 10 miles east of the airfield and facilitated a visit to the location. A documentary was produced on the trip by CNN-IBN showing the location and old pictures including one from a local daily displaying the wreckage with Indian Navy officials standing beside it.

Image
1965 photo of Squadron Leader Najeeb Ahmed Khan with a B-57 in the background. Now retired Air Commodore, Najeeb can be seen visiting crash site of his friend Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqi near Jamnagar in CNN-IBN special 'Missing in Action' documentary. In 1965 war, Najeeb piloted B-57 in bombing attacks on various IAF bases including Ambala, Jodhpur, Halwara and Adamapur - Photo Source: Book titled: 'Story of PAF Heroes' - by Mohammad Afzal

CNN-IBN special 'Missing in Action'.


Part 1


Part 2


Facts are more than evident 44 years after the ultimate sacrifice by this dauntless duo of Pakistan Air Force. In having so gallantly laid their lives during discharge of their duty for the nation and their service, despite having found multiple options to take a break and let others take over, they had continued their duties; thus adding a golden chapter in the history of PAF, which is enriched, and made glorious by such traditions of selfless devotion and service literally beyond the call of duty.

The significance of their raid, initiative and sacrifice was evidently tremendous to such extent that had Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui slackened, or had this last raid been skipped and called-off due to crew discrepancy and lack of time for re-brief, the INAS attack aircrafts ready at Jamnagar would have created a different story; leaving the PAF close to devastation. Sqn Ldrs M S Alam Siddiqui and M Aslam Qureshi prevented the Indian strike planned against Badin at Dawn on 7 September 1965 when their B-57 33-941 suddenly showed up right above the enemy airfield ferociously descending through the clouds about the same time when the INAS Seahawks were preparing for the raid. They annihilated the Indian assault, hampering movement due to destruction caused to the runway and control tower while also leaving no time for the Seahawks to reorganize and make it to their target before dawn. This intrepid duo of Pakistan Air Force played a crucial role in the defence of their motherland and saved Pakistan, PAF and Badin from a huge threat and preserved the national prestige, sanctity as well as the significant edge, which PAF maintained throughout the war. As Rear Admiral (Retd) Satyindra Singh of Indian Navy puts it, ‘Had the eight Seahawks at Jamnagar been allowed to bomb the 'seeing-eye' of the PAF and its air defence establishment at Badin (…) on the morning of 7 September as had been scheduled, the war would have been over much earlier and (Indian) aircraft losses would have been minimised’.

For a relatively smaller PAF facing a much larger IAF, the performance of the aviators on the challenging initial missions was destined to set the pace for the war in the air as well as shape the psyche of the PAF air-warriors, thus proving directly decisive for the final outcome. From the very onset the F-86 fighter squadrons in the north and B-57 bomber squadrons in the south correspondingly demonstrated parallel heroism and coined identical tales of valour. The Shuhada (Martyrs) from the first day of the war played a most crucial role in multiplying the spirit of devotion and boosted the morale exponentially, all which was an undeniable force-multiplier for PAF against a larger enemy. These martyrs inspired their colleagues to emulate their fearlessness, redeem the losses and while hitting back hard, reinforce the gains of the initial operations achieved by their valiant lost colleagues. The PAF was thus led by their glimmering examples of seamless devotion to duty, dauntless courage and fearless initiative in the face of grave danger on the very first night.

Source: www.defence.pk
Dil Dil Pakistan... Jaan Jaan Pakistan

See you at:
Image

User avatar
FULLTHRUST
Registered Member
Posts: 777
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:57 pm

Re: Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Post by FULLTHRUST » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:33 am

Many thanks Abbas for bringing this topic.

offspring
Registered Member
Posts: 142
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:33 am

Re: Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Post by offspring » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:28 am

The government is busy awarding its own jiyalas. The list published for civil awards includes every tom, dick and harrry including mera.

It is about time that we sort this mess out.

User avatar
Abbas Ali
Site Admin
Posts: 32668
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 11:52 pm
Location: Pakistan

Re: Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Post by Abbas Ali » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:35 pm

FULLTHRUST wrote:Many thanks Abbas for bringing this topic.
You're welcome.

Here's excerpt from book titled ‘Flight of the Falcon – Demolishing myths of Indo-Pak war 1965 & 1971’ authored by Air Commodore (Retd.) Sajjad Haider.

“Then the bomber wing had its first casualty. The dedicated Sqn Ldr Alam Siddiqui and his navigator Sqn Ldr Aslam Qureshi on their third mission of that night were possibly shot down by Ack Ack, though it is possible that fatigue may have taken its toll and they suffered from spatial disorientation in the clouds covering Jamnagar airfield. A combination of fatigue and low clouds over Jamnagar were the most probable cause of this tragic loss. It would be prudent to mention that this mission was originally to be flown by the OC 31 Wing, Wg Cdr Hamid Qureshi, According to his navigator known for his candidness, his captain Qureshi declined the mission for some inexplicable reason and Sqn Ldr Siddiqui volunteered to take on the mission even though he had already flown two missions on the same night. The crew died setting the highest standards for the PAF, while Hamid Qureshi survived to become an Air Vice Marshal in the hazy aftermath of the 1965 war.”

I read somewhere that after the loss of this B-57, PAF prevented B-57 crews from taking part in more than two missions within space of few hours to ensure crew got proper rest and did not suffer from fatigue.

In book titled 'The India-Pakistan Air War of 1965' authored by PVS Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra, it's stated that target locator flares launched by the ill-fated B-57 to locate/illuminate targets on ground at Jamnagar air base somehow also illuminated the aircraft itself making the bomber aircraft - painted black for night strike missions - visible target for Jamnagar anti-aircraft artillery. The B-57 crashed outside Jamnagar air base after receiving hits from anti-aircraft guns. Bodies of pilot and navigator were recovered from crash site by Indian authorities.

Abbas
Dil Dil Pakistan... Jaan Jaan Pakistan

See you at:
Image

meekal ahmed
Registered Member
Posts: 417
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:35 am

Re: Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Post by meekal ahmed » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:01 pm

Great story.

User avatar
Abbas Ali
Site Admin
Posts: 32668
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 11:52 pm
Location: Pakistan

Re: Valiant PAF B-57 Canberra Pilot Remains Undecorated ?

Post by Abbas Ali » Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:57 pm

Unsung heroes: Fate of lost PAF aviators uncovered

By Haris Masood Zuberi

Published: September 10, 2011

KARACHI:
When Squadron Leaders Shabbir Alam Siddiqui (pilot) and Aslam Qureshi (navigator) did not return from their third bombing mission on the night of September 6, 1965, details regarding their fateful mission remained obscure for decades.

Consequently, they were declared missing in action by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and never decorated for their valiant service. Their wives, Shahnaz Alam and Parveen Qureshi, both new mothers in their early twenties at the time, lived with an anguishing lack of disclosure.

It took Shahnaz more than 40 years of undying love and relentless determination to uncover facts about her loving husband’s fate. She was finally able to draw attention of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2006 through help from Air Commodore (retired) Najeeb Khan, himself a decorated war veteran and a colleague of the lost officers.

In a historic gesture, then IAF Chief Shashi Tyagi responded compassionately and ordered exclusive research into the fate of this dauntless crew. He officially invited Shahnaz to India and informed her that the PAF B-57 bomber from Mauripur (Masroor) Base in Karachi had reached over its target Jamnagar Airfield shortly before dawn on September 7, 1965. After dropping two bombs it was in circuit to drop the remaining load when it was hit by anti-aircraft (AA) fire and crashed. The pilot and navigator were killed on impact and buried in nearby fields.

IAF revelations therefore cleared the various misconceptions regarding this fateful mission, which had accumulated over the decades. PVS Jagan Mohan, renowned Indian military historian and author of the highly-acclaimed book The India-Pakistan Air War of 1965, points out that, “The impression about this B-57 crashing into the sea en route was incorrect as the IAF had claimed shooting down the bomber in 1965. It seems due to the atmosphere of hostilities and distrust, the PAF may not have believed the IAF claim.”

Further research into Indian accounts of the war revealed that this crew had bombed the enemy airfield at a very critical time, when aircraft of the Indian Navy Air Squadron were preparing for a massive raid against PAF bases at dawn on September 7. Their daring mission annihilated the planned Indian assault.

Rear Admiral Satyindra Singh of the Indian Navy states in his book Blue Water – Indian Navy 1961-1965 that, “Had the eight aircraft at Jamnagar bombed the ‘seeing-eye’ of the PAF air defence establishment at Badin, the war would have been over much quicker…”

Five years after these crucial revelations from India, their families are hopeful that the President and PAF chief will at last honour these unsung national heroes.

“My family and I have never sought any financial reward that accompanies a decoration. All I have longed for nearly 50 years is the gallantry award acknowledging my husband’s valour and sacrifice alongside celebrated war heroes of 1965,” says Shahnaz.

There are numerous examples of delayed gallantry awards the world over. Squadron Leader AB Devayya of IAF, who was lost in aerial combat over Sargodha in 1965, was decorated with a posthumous Maha Vir Chakra during the 1980s when details of his last mission were revealed over two decades later. In May this year, US President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honour to families of two soldiers killed in 1951 during the Korean War.

Another example is of Sipahi Maqbool Hussain of Pakistan army who was taken as a prisoner of war by the Indian army in 1965 and tortured for decades. When released few years ago, he managed to reach his regiment where his amazing saga was revealed and he was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat.

Parveen requests authorities to also try and bring the remains of these officers home, so they can be buried in their own soil. A cited example is that of Mati-ur-Rahman, the Bengali pilot who was killed while attempting to hijack Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas’ aircraft in 1971. His remains were excavated from a graveyard at Masroor Base and handed over in 2006. Rahman is a recipient of Bir Sreshtho, Bangladesh’s highest military award.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2011.

Source: tribune.com.pk
Dil Dil Pakistan... Jaan Jaan Pakistan

See you at:
Image