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Ace under fire

[During the war in what became Bangladesh, some Pakistani officers] showed flamboyant bravery. At Jamalpur, near Dhaka, an Indian Brigadier, Hardit Singh Kler, surrounded a Pakistani unit led by Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Sultan. On 10 December the two officers exchanged letters. The first, written by the Indian Brigadier, was taken across the front line by an elderly man who delivered it by hand.
The Commander Jamalpur Garrison

I am directed to inform you that your garrison has been cut off from all sides and you have no escape route available to you. One brigade with full complement of artillery has already been built up and another will be striking by morning. In addition you have been given a foretaste of a small element of our air force with a lot more to come. The situation as far as you are concerned is hopeless. Your higher commanders have already ditched you.

I expect your reply before 6.30 pm today, failing which I will be constrained to deliver the final blow, for which purpose 40 sorties of MIGs have been allotted to me.

In this morning’s action the prisoners captured by us have given your strength and dispositions, and are well looked after.

The treatment I expect to be given to the civil messenger should be according to a gentlemanly code of honour and no harm should come to him.

An immediate reply is solicited.

Brigadier HS Kler. Comd.
The reply was sent a few hours later.
Dear Brig,

Hope this finds you in high spirits. Your letter asking us to surrender has been received. I want to tell you that the fighting you have seen so far is very little; in fact the fighting has not even started. So let us stop negotiating and start the fight.

Forty sorties, I may point out, are inadequate. Ask for many more.

Your point about treating your messenger well was superfluous. It shows how you underestimate my boys. I hope he liked his tea.

Give my love to the Muktis. Let me see you with a sten in your hand instead of the pen you seem to have such mastery over.

Now get on and fight.

Yours sincerely,

Commander Jamalpur Fortress (Lt Colonel Ahmed Sultan)
Owen Bennett Jones, Pakistan: Eye of the Storm
The Pakistani effort was doomed and 230 men died the next day when trying to break out—I'm unclear whether Lt Colonel Sultan was one of them—but that's not really my point here. Or perhaps it is.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2010 08:49 am (UTC)
Jul. 6th, 2010 12:42 pm (UTC)
Awesome - wonder if he was bluffing?
Jul. 6th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
His casualty list insists that he was. Whether he was knowingly bluffing, however, is quite another question.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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