Service No: IC-6850
Date of Birth : Mar 06, 1931
Place of Birth : Mongrol, Gujarat
Last Rank : Major
Last Unit : 16 Lt Cav
Regiment : Armoured Corps
Operation: Op Riddle
Date of Martyrdom : Sep 08, 1965
Major Mohammed Ali Raaz Sheikh was born on 6 March 1931 in a princely family of Mongrol, Gandhinagar District, Gujarat. He completed his early education in Rajkot and joined the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 6 June 1954 in the regiment of the Indian Army’s 16th Light Cavalry. Major Sheikh was very tall and handsome man but was a shy person with a gentlemanly swagger. He was always elegantly dressed and possessed social graces of an aristocratic extravagance.
Op Riddle : 08 Sep 1965
Major Sheikh was serving as Aide-De-Camp (ADC) to Gen JN Chaudhuri, then Chief of Army Staff (COAS). When he reverted to regimental duty in 1965, war clouds were already looming in the horizon. Major Sheikh was given command of A Squadron, when the 16th Light Cavalry was given the unique honour of leading the advance of the Indian Army’s 1st Armoured Division into Pakistan territory on 8 September 1965.
The regiment, after crossing the IB at first light on 8 September 1965 , formed the spearhead of the 1st Armoured Division advance into enemy territory. Moving with lightening speed, brushing aside minor opposition and without any care for his personal safety, Major Sheikh led his squadron along with other sub-units of 16th Light Cavalry and hit Gadgor village by around 0900 hours.
Between 0930 hours and 1430 hours, fierce tank to tank engagements ensued in which 16th Light Cavalry, including Major Sheikh’s squadron, destroyed eight enemy Patton tanks, two RCL guns and some of the enemy infantry. The enemy, comprising a squadron of Pakistan’s 25 Cavalry as it was found later, was located in well concealed positions around Gadgor village which halted the regiment’s advance temporarily. While B Squadron tanks went on engaging the enemy armour through the Gadgor position up to the outskirts of Phillaura, A Squadron under the command of Major Sheikh was ordered to outflank the enemy location from the South-West. During this manoeuvre, Major Sheikh, while leading from the front, was the first to draw enemy tank fire and was mortally wounded. Unmindful of his personal injuries, Major Sheikh, who was a determined combat tank Commander, continued leading the advance with speed and momentum, fully realising that this move by his Squadron was critical to the success of the regiment’s overall advance into enemy territory. During this action, Major Sheikh was hit in the neck and right shoulder and was severely wounded. Later, Major Sheikh succumbed to his injuries and attained martyrdom while fighting the enemy.
For his bravery, raw courage and leadership Major Mohammed Ali Raaz Sheikh was awarded with Vir Chakra posthumously.
Citation for the Vir Chakra Awarded to him reads:-
On the 8th September 1965, Major Mohammed Ali Raaz Sheikh, who was in command of a Squadron of an Armoured Brigade in the Sialkot Sector in Pakistan, was ordered to outflank an enemy force from the east of Gadgor to cut it off. Another Squadron of the Regiment, advancing up to Gadgor had contacted a Squadron of enemy armour and infantry in well prepared and concealed positions. As Major Sheikh advanced about 3000 yards, he also contacted enemy armour which was supported by dug-in recoilless guns. He at once ordered deployment of his Squadron and himself took up position beside the leading troop. A fierce tank battle ensued, in which Major Sheikh himself took a prominent part and destroyed two enemy tanks. He was hit by an enemy shot and was severely wounded. Even so, he kept on engaging the enemy till he was evacuated to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The exemplary courage and leadership displayed by Major Mohammed Ali Raaz Sheikh were in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
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