Indian 10th Division at the  Battle for Chaamb, 1965
v.2.1 April 14, 2002

Ravi Rikhye & Dave Sandhu


This is an incomplete orbat and may be wrong in some respects because units were being shifted between formations all the time. We have relied primarily on:

·         Lt. Col. (Retired) Dr. Bhupinder Singh’s excellent doctoral thesis, 1965 War: The Role of Tanks in India-Pakistan War, published by BC Publishers, Patiala, India, 1982

·         Lt.-General Harbax Singh’s War Dispatches, Lancers Publishers, 1991, New Delhi

·         The unauthorized 2000 release by the Times of India of the Official 1965 War history, with thanks to Mr. Jagan Pillarisetti for providing a copy.

Akhnur was the key to lines of communication between Pathankot and Naoshera-Rajori-Poonch. India had to protect it at all costs.  India overinsured in this sector, and kept reinforcing even after the Indian I Corps counteroffensive eliminated any chance of Pakistani success – Pakistan had to withdraw units investing Chaamb-Jaurian to meet the Indian attack. This reduced the prospects for I Corps’ success, though we must keep in mind that many other factors were responsible, the main being the calling of the ceasefire before I Corps could begin the second phase of its offensive.

HQ XV Corps (Srinager) [Lt.-General K.S. Katoch]

This corps was responsible for a 950 km long border, of which 750 km was with Pakistan, and in turn, 550 km of which was high mountain terrain.

I. 191st Infantry Brigade Group August 16, 1965

The brigade was on counterinsurgent duty in the Chaamb-Jaurian area against Pakistan infiltrators. Its commander, Brigadier Masters, had been killed on August 15 and Brigadier M.M. Singh was arriving to take over.

The brigade sector ran to 115 kilometers screened by 66 border posts, manned by armed police and regular troops. It was directly under HQ XV Corps. It had two battalions at the time, units of every formation in XV Corps being dispersed hunting infiltrators:

-          3rd J & K Militia

-          3rd Mahar

-          3rd Punjab Armed Police (border posts)

II. 191st Infantry Brigade Group August 31, 1965

With Pakistan 12th Infantry Division having opened an offensive against Chaamb (launched September 1), Indian XV Corps had been hurriedly reinforcing the brigade. Meanwhile, HQ 10th Division was being rushed up from the south to Akhnur, to assume control of forces in this sector. The Orbat now was:

-          3rd J & K Militia

-          3rd Mahar

-          6th Rajput (arriving from 163rd Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Leh)

-          6th Sikh Light Infantry (from September 1)

-          9th Punjab

-          15th Kumaon (from September 1)

-          B/20th Lancers (AMX-13 light tanks)

-          85th Light Battery

-          14th Field Regiment

-          39th Medium Regiment (- 1 battery and one section)

-          3rd Punjab Armed Police

III. 191st Infantry  Brigade Group, September 2 – 5, 1965

As Pakistani forces pushed Indian troops back from Chaamb, more reinforcements arrived and 10th Division took over control of the defense. See below. The Indians then stabilized their positions and planned a counterattack. This never got seriously going as troops were withdrawn from 10th Division for other sectors.

HQ 10th Infantry Division (Chaamb) [Maj.-General D.B. Chopra]
A new forming HQ with 30% of its establishment, transferred from Hyderabad/Secunderabad as war with Pakistan became imminent. It was sent to take command of 191 (Independent) Brigade and 80 Brigade from 25 Division, thus shortening the line for 25 Division and improving command and control over the 110 km gap between Jammu and Naoshera. It had no troops of its own.

191st Infantry Brigade Group [Brigadier M.M. Singh] (now at Akhnur and Kalidhar/Sunderbani)


-          15th Kumaon [Lt. Col. A. Joseph]

-          6th Sikh Light Infantry [Lt. Col. Nand Gopal]

-          6th Rajput

-          6/5th Gorkha Rifles [Lt. Col. D.S. Katoch]

-          3rd Punjab Armed Police (remnants)

-          14th Field Regiment [Lt. Col. Bajaj] (elements)

Kalidhar/Sundarbani [Hill subsector to the NWW of Chaamb]

-          3rd  Mahar [Lt. Col. J. Sangha]

-          3rd Jammu & Kashmir Militia [Lt. Col. Sahi]

-          9th Punjab

-          123rd Medium Regiment (one troop only)

41st Mountain Brigade [Brig. Rajwade] Arrived September 2 from corps reserve, where it has been inducted from outside the theatre during the anti-infiltrator operations. It was now deployed at:

Jaurian-Troti [Behind – to the NNE – of Chaamb, protecting the route to Akhnur]

-          9th Mahar

-          1/8th Gorkha Rifles

-          161st Field Regiment

-          123rd Medium Regiment (minus 1 battery and the troop at Sundarbani)

28th Infantry Brigade [Brigadier Pritpal Singh] from Pathankot, went into corps reserve to replace 41st Mountain Brigade as XV Corps reserve, but was also immediately deployed to 10th Division.  It was located at:

Damana/Fatwal Ridge

-          1/1st Gorkha Rifles

-          2nd Grenadiers

-          5/8th Gorkha Rifles

52nd Mountain Brigade (arrives September 11, 1965, from ??? (ex XI Corps, where it had been sent as a reinforcement from outside the theatre).

-          1 Madras

-          5/11 Gorkha Rifles

-          10 Madras

The Brigade when the war began had 1st Madras, 3 Rajputs, and 8 Genadiers.

Concluding Note

India put 15 infantry battalions into the defense of Akhnur, against’s Pakistan’s nine battalions – seven infantry and two tank. India continued reinforcing even when Pakistan gave up its attack, under pressure from Indian I Corps’s offensive to the east of Chaamb-Jaurian-Akhnur. The piecemeal committal of forces and defensive mind-set, an Indian specialty, had two unfortunate consequences. It drew away resources from the I Corps offensive, and it precluded India from launching a major outflanking offensive from Naoshera against Pakistan held Kashmir. 

If India had simultaneously resumed its offensive in the Poonch-Rajori area, it might have made major inroads into Pakistan Kashmir. Of course, considering India had 41 infantry battalions in 19th and 25th Division versus 15 in the opposing Pakistan 12th Division, taking battalions away from Akhnur was not necessary for an offensive in Kashmir.  Nonetheless, from the Akhnur sector to the north, India had 56 infantry battalions to Pakistan’s 22, favorable odds it is unlikely to see again.

Our comment is purely theoretical: India was at no point thinking of an offensive against Kashmir.  It was focused simply on protecting or recovering every border post lost to Pakistan during the infiltration and subsequent battles. We cannot criticize the Army for failing to do something it never intended in the first place.

We are, however, entitled to ask of the higher military and political leadership: why were you not thinking of an offensive? What else did you feel you needed before you attacked? If Pakistan Kashmir belongs to India, was it not your obligation to get it back?

What happened at Chaamb-Akhnur shows how India has repeatedly failed to translate its numerical superiority into a decisive victory over Pakistan. The honorable exception was the East Bengal campaign in 1971. Yet, that India could succeed when it put its mind to the task makes it all the harder to understand why it failed every other time.

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All content © 2003 Ravi Rikhye. Reproduction in any form prohibited without express permission.