During this period the Guides Cavalry was stationed in general area Bhureshah-Alhar while 11 Cavalry reached Pasrur on night 9/10 September. 22 Cavalry was in general area Badiana and 25 Cavalry alongwith 24 Brigade was holding general area Gadgor-Phillora and not in contact with the Indians who as we discussed earlier had gone temporarily on the defensive in box formation from the afternoon of 8th September. The 6th Armoured Division was not given any operational responsibility on 9th September and at this stage 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry were still functioning under command 15 Division. Finally on the night of 9/10 September the much needed change in area of responsibility was made by Headquarter 1 Corps assigning the area expected to be soon threatened by the 1st Indian Armoured Division;ie area Charwa-Phillaurah-Chawinda-Chobara-Badiana-Pasrur; to the 6 Armoured Division;alongwith 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry.61 At this stage GOC 6 Armoured Division made a plan to contain the Indian main attack which was based on the rationale that either the Indians would attack on axis Phillora-Chawinda-Pasrur-Daska or on axis Bhagowal-Badiana and west of Sialkot towards general area Ugoke-Umman with the aim of isolating Sialkot.Based on this assumption about enemy intentions Major General Abrar issued the following orders:– (1) Phillora-Gadgor to be continued to be held by 24 Brigade-25 Cavalry battlegroup (2) Chawinda to be prepared/earmarked as alternative position for 24 Brigade or as depth position for reinforcements (3) Badiana to be covered by one tank regiment (4) Zafarwal to be thinly masked by elements of the R & S Battalion (13 FF) (5) Pasrur to be held by 14 Para Brigade which was previously Corps Reserve (5) Artillery Brigade 4 Corps to support 6 Armoured Division Operation.62 At 0900 hours on 10th September Shaukat Riza claims that the Indians attacked 25 Cavalry opposite Gadgor and lost seven tanks 63, but the Indians did not mention any such attack! GOC 6 Armoured Division was called to 1 Corps Headquarter at 0900 hours on 10th September and asked to make the following amendments to his plan on the recommendations of Major General Yaqub in the capacity of Deputy Corps Commander:– (1) Zafarwal to be held by 14 Para Brigade with one TDU tank squadron from 33 TDU and one company R & S under command (2) 11 Cavalry and 9 FF to hold Phillauarah (3) Guides Cavalry and 14 FF to hold Badiana area (4) 22 Cavalry in area track junction (5) Pasrur to be held by 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry.64 In the afternoon on the same day Yaqub arrived in 6 Armoured Division Headquarter to ensure implementation of his amendments in Abrar’s plan, with particular emphasis on 11 Cavalry relieving 24 Brigade and 25 Cavalry at Gadgor.This decision was criticised by both Shaukat Riza and General K.M Arif who was grade two operations staff officer in 6 Armoured Divisional Headquarter during the war.65
Battle of Phillora– 11th September 1965:- The Indian 1 Corps/1 Armoured Division finally gathered greater resolution and recommenced their advance on 11th September. It may be noted that by now two more infantry brigades i.e. 58 and 116 Brigades (Originally on the ORBAT of 14 Division) moving up from Pathankot had joined the Indian attack force.116 Brigade minus one battalion joined 14 Division for operations opposite general area Zafarwal while 35 Brigade and one battalion of 116 Brigade were placed under command 1st Armoured Division.58 Brigade was placed under command 6 Mountain Division.66 The Indian plan of attack was based on a preliminary deception plan to impress upon the Pakistanis that the main Indian attack was coming from the direction of Sabzpir, while the 1st Armoured Brigade was to mount an attack originating from Rurki Kalan67. Details of this plan were as following:– (1) 43 Lorried Brigade (two battalions) to capture area Rurki Kalan by first light 11 September .In the next phase it was assigned the be prepared task of assisting 1 Armoured Brigade in reducing Phillora (2) 1 Armoured Brigade (three tank regiments) to break out at first light 11 September with two regiments i.e. 4 Horse and 17 Poona Horse encircling Phillora from both flanks by a pincer movement (17 Poona Horse isolating Phillora from the west and 4 Horse from the east) while the third regiment 16 Light Cavalry was to advance towards road junction area near Khakan wali on Phillora-Sialkot road with the aim of intercepting any Pakistani armour from interfering with the main armour attack against Phillora.(3) 62 Cavalry and one infantry battalion functioning as a separate battlegroup directly under command 1st Armoured Division were to function as right flank protection force against any threat from Sialkot. The whole brunt of the Indian tank attack was directed against 11 Cavalry and 9 FF who had just relieved 25 Cavalry and 24 Brigade during the night of 10/11 September and had had no opportunity to orientate themselves with the terrain during day time. The assault on Rurki Kalan commenced at 0600 hours and Rurki Kalan was captured by 0640 hours.
The main tank battles took place on line Libbe-Nathupur-Saboke and 11 Cavalry with two tank squadrons of Pattons and one of obsolete Tank destroyers and not knowing the area ,was no match to the overwhelming Indian superiority68 of six squadrons of Centurions with intimate infantry support of two battalions. 6 Armoured Division ordered Guides Cavalry and 14 FF to mount an attack from Bhagowal-Bhureshah area against the right flank of the Indians aimed at area Libbe-Chahr at 1130 hours on 11th September. The aim of this attack was to relieve pressure on 11 Cavalry. This Guides had a severe firefight with 16 Light Cavalry losing many tanks as well as destroying some enemy tanks but was unable to make any impression and the main Indian attack against 11 Cavalry holding Phillora proceeded smoothly .Phillora was captured by the Indians on 1530 hours on 11th September. I1 Cavalry fought well and lost so many tanks that from 11th September onwards it ceased to function as a complete tank regiment. The Indians fought well but in the overall strategic context capture of Phillora was of little consequence. Had the Indians shown similar resolution and a little more coup d oeil and modified their plans at the brigade and divisional level on the 8th of September, by 11th September they would have been leisurely holding the east bank of MRL. Gurcharan Singh accurately described the situation from 11 September onwards as one in which; ‘there was little hope of a battle of manoeuvre any longer’.69 The Pakistani position on the night of 11/12 September was serious but luckily Pakistan possessed an extremely resolute man in the person of Major General Abrar Hussain (an MBE of Second World War). Abrar remained calm and unperturbed and luckily the Indian higher commanders opposite him failed to understand that by remaining inactive on 11 th and 12th September they were losing their last opportunity to inflict a decisive defeat on Pakistan at a time when fresh tank regiments from the 1st Pakistani Armoured Division had not yet reinforced 6 Armoured Division.