Pakistan Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1947-1971

Part I: The Early Years

This article is Part I of the three part series on Pakistani AA Artillery. The other parts are:

Part II – Pakistani AA Artillery in 1965 war.

Part III – Pakistani AA Artillery in 1971 war.

During World War II, Indian Artillery reached its peak strength of sixty one regiments by 1944 and had more AA regiments than field regiments for a brief period till the waning Japanese air threat resulted in demobilisation of a number of AA Regiments. The cut-backs continued in the later stages of the war and by the end of 1946, Indian Anti-Aircraft Indian Artillery had shrunk to only four Anti-Aircraft Regiments of which one was a Heavy AA while the remaining three were LAA Regiments. There were no self-propelled regiments on the order of battle though truck mounted L/60 AA guns were aplenty piled up in ordnance depots.  The proposed LAA Regiment for the Airborne formation had also not fructified as no suitable LAA gun could be identified even as a LAA Regiment had undergone conversion training for its new role.

 

The partition of India and Pakistan in August 1947 meant that the Artillery was also to be divided between the two countries as with all other elements. The distribution proposed between the two countries was of 18 ½ Regiments for India and 8 ½ Regiments for Pakistan. The latter was to get two Heavy and Light AA Regiments each but with the condition that it would  convert one Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment to a Field Regiment, and one Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment to an Anti-Tank Regiment, thus limiting its AA Regiments to two. In the end, however, two Anti-Aircraft Regiments viz 18th (earlier designated as 2nd )  Heavy AA Regiment and 25th ( earlier designated as 1st ) Light AA Regiment were transferred to Pakistan. They were the oldest surviving AA Regiments of Indian AA Artillery but owing to their class composition had been selected for transfer to Pakistan. India, as its share, retained 26 and 27 LAA Regiments.

Soon after partition, Pakistan Artillery, shedding its link to the Indian Artillery, re-designated its regiments and formation headquarters and with this 18th HAA Regiment now became the  5th HAA Regiment and 25th LAA Regiment became the 6th LAA Regiment. Even the batteries were numbered afresh as follows:

                        Indian Designation                           Pakistani Designation

            5 HAA Regiment

                        1 HAA Battery                                    12 HAA Battery

                        7 HAA Battery                                    18 HAA Battery

                        8 HAA Battery                                    24 HAA Battery

6 LAA Regiment

                        3 LAA Battery                                     14 LAA Battery

                        6 LAA Battery                                     20 LAA Battery

                        7 LAA Battery                                     21 LAA Battery

The two artillery formation headquarters were also designated afresh:

            HQ Artillery, 7 Infantry Division            HQ 1 AGRPA

HQ 2 Army Group, Royal Indian Artillery      HQ 2 AGRPA

Of the two formation headquarters, 2 AGRPA had been raised as HQ 59 Army Group, Royal Indian Artillery at Secunderabad. Shortly before Independence, it was designated as  2 AGRIA and moved to Peshawar. It underwent another change in November 1947 when it shifted to Karachi as HQ RPA, Sind Area before moving to Multan as 2 AGRPA.  Both AA Regiments, located at Malir Cantt, were grouped under 2 AGRPA.  

The official history of Pakistan Artillery records that M.A. Jinnah visited 5 Heavy AA Regiment on 27 February 1948 making it the first army unit to be visited by Jinnah. The day is commemorated by the regiment as the ‘Day of Honour’ and it calls itself as the ‘Fakhr-e-Quaid’.

During the first India-Pakistan War of 1948, both the AA Regiments fielded detachments albeit in ground role.  Four Anti -Aircraft guns were deployed besides Medium and field artillery in Pandu and Chota Kazi Nag Sector while 2 x Heavy AA guns and 4 x Light AA guns were deployed in the Uri and Akhnur Sectors. 3.7-inch Heavy AA guns ex 5 Heavy AA Regiment and 40 mm AA guns of 6 Light AA Regiment were also employed in ground role in the Jhelum valley.

It was after the first Kashmir war that Pakistani AA Artillery saw its first expansion when 3 AGRPA was raised in March 1950. Shortly afterwards, 13 LAA Regiment was raised in April 1950- the first AA unit to be raised in independent Pakistan, followed by 45 Independent LAA Battery.  With the raising of an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Operations Room (AAOR) on 27 July 1951, Pakistani AAA was getting its AA organisation in place.

All the AA units and the AAOR were placed under 3 AGRPA with Lt Col Calver, commanding officer of 6 LAA Regiment, appointed as its first commander. He was succeeded by Brigadier Pinchard in October 1950. While Major Shirazi, a ‘fresh off Staff College’ officer was appointed as the DAA&QMG, he was soon enough shifted as the Brigade Major with an infantry officer posted in as the DAA & QMG. One plausible reason of doing so was that there was an acute shortage of qualified artillery officers and the priority was to post them to the field units rather than to headquarters.

The other AA Regiments raised during the period were

13 LAA Regiment                   April1 950

19 LAA Regiment                   August 1951

20 HAA Regiment                   May 1951 (Converted to LAA regiment 1 March 1960)

The first HQ Corps Artillery came up in 1951 with Brig J.H. Frowen D.S.O. appointed as its first commander with 13 LAA Regiment and 82 LAA Battery forming part of it besides the four 40mm LAA and two 3.7-inch HAA guns pooled in ex Artillery Centre. This HQ was designated as HQ 1 Corps  Artillery in 1957 ( and later as HQ 4 Corps Artillery after the 1965 war- swapping the designation with HQ 4 Corps Artillery that became HQ 1 Corps Artillery).

1954 was a major milestone for Pakistan Army as the U.S. Military Aid Programme (MAP) was initiated this year. Keeping in mind the manpower ceiling of 40,000 as laid down as a condition for implementation of MAP, Pakistan Army went about laying down the details of units to be raised. As regards AA Artillery, the MAP resulted in a marginal increase of two LAA Regiments and one LAA Battery, as given below:

            Units before MAP (Nov 1954)                 Units after MAP (Dec 1959)

            LAA Regiments –   3                                        LAA Regiments. –  5

            HAA Regiments –   2                                       HAA Regiments –  2   

            LAA Batteries.    –   2                                       LAA Batteries     –  3

With time, the HAA Regiments were converted to LA Regiments as the 3.7-inch HAA guns were phased out. Pakistan also received the  M24 Twin 40mm AA Gun ‘Duster’ from U.S.A. 19 LAA Regiments (SP) was the regiment to be equipped with this mobile gun system. The other change was the induction of 20mm Quad AA guns.

It was with this order of battle and inventory that Pakistan AA Artillery went to war in 1965.