Air Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi shot down a Hawker Hunter of the IAF's 7 Sqn "Battle Axes", flown by Sqn Ldr Deba Prasad Chatterjee, during the famous air battle over Lahore on 20th September 1965, nicknamed 'Bo Kaata' - a reference to the downing of kites, during Basant.
Beyond the Call of Duty . 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.
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.
On this day 27 Sep 1927, brave and impassioned air warrior of PAF, Sqn Ldr Muniruddin Ahmed (Shaheed), SJ was born. As an epitome of leadership and bravery, Muniruddin imprinted his name in the glorious history of PAF with display of utmost valour & sacrifice during 1965 Indo-Pak war.
Munir was the proud member of PAF ‘Falcons’ aerobatics team who made the world record by performing a 16-ship F-86 fighter formation loop first time in aviation history. He was also a proud member of the famous ‘Sabre Nine’ aerobatics team, which continued to mesmerize the audience during early 60s.
During 1965 war, Munir was posted at Sargodha as the Wing Ops Officer. He never liked the desk job and always pleaded his commander, Wg Cdr Anwar Shamim to detail him for Ops missions and kept requesting his colleagues to temporarily relieve him from Wing Ops duties so that he could participate in combat.
From 4-11 Sep, he participated in close support missions, especially in Chamb Sector, destroying a number of tanks and armored vehicles. On 10 Sep, he also shot down a Gnat in a clash at Ferozepur sector.
During War, Munir volunteered for the daring & dangerous strike missions aimed at destroying formidable Amritsar Radar station, which was heavily defended and shrewdly camouflaged.
After several determined missions by PAF fighters, eventually this highly defended radar station was rendered ineffective. In all these missions, Sqn Ldr Munir Ahmed unhesitatingly flew without regards for his personal safety and exposed himself within the firing zone of enemy guns for long periods in attempts to locate and destroy the targets. In the final successful attack on Sep 11, he made the supreme sacrifice when his aircraft was fatally hit by the heavy concentration of ack-ack guns. To acknowledge his bravery and sacrifice for the nation, Sqn Ldr Munir Ahmed (Shaheed) was awarded Sitara-e-Jurat.
The dedication, bravery and loyalty of Sqn Ldr Munniruddin (Shaheed), SJ will always be remembered.
Wing Commander Mervyn L Middlecoat
(Sitara-i-Jurat & Sitara-i-Basalat)
(6 July 1940 – 12 December 1971)
He was a Pakistani fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) who was involved in a number of aerial battles during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars, before being shot down on 12 December 1971. He was one of a number of distinguished Pakistani strike and fighter pilots of the period. Before his death he was stationed at Mauripur, Karachi .
On 27 September 1957, he married Jeanne Viegas, the daughter of a Christian family living in Lahore. On 21 October 1959, a daughter named Leslie Ann was born to the Middlecoats while he was stationed at Mauripur, Karachi.
Soldiers of Pakistan. Men of honour. Defenders of the motherland. They are aplenty, as are their stories. Each story unique, each man precious, each one a hero. But some of them stand out even among the multitude of heroes. Mervyn Lesley Middlecoat was one such hero — a martyr. a patriot, a non-Muslim defender of the land of the pure.
When the Indian Air Force attacked Karachi, the PAF sent F-86 Sabre aircrafts to defend the skies. True to form, Mervyn was flying one of those aircrafts.
In the dogfight that followed, Mervyn shot down two enemy aircrafts, a feat for which he came to be known as the ‘Defender of Karachi’. He was then deployed at Mushaf Air Base, Sargodha, where he was given the command of Squadron 9. During the three-week war, he kept his squadron’s spirits high with the firm conviction of a commander who leads from the front. He performed an impressive series of seventeen ‘Air Sorties’ and three ‘Photo Reconnaissance’ missions.
At the end of the war, he was awarded the richly deserved “Sitara-e-Jurat” for his bravery and professional leadership. A road in Mauripur was named Middlecoat Road in his honour.
We lost colleagues, instructors & subordinates at the middle age, to ensure defence of our country. We must remember their sacrifice, Who fly on the edge of life so that people like YOU breathe in the free Muslim state. May you be the custodian of the cause we die for ...
18 October, 2021 marks the 5th Shahadat Anniversary of Wing Commander Fayyaz Athar (Shaheed).
He embraced martyrdom in a Mirage crash while on a routine training Sortie during the Air Exercise High Mark 2016 near PAF Base, Masroor.