Memories, 1965: Air Cmde VK ‘Murph’ Murthy.

I was commanding No 101 FR Sqn based at Tezpur and moved to ATW Jamnagar during Kutch Operations in May 1965. The Squadron was undergoing annual Armament Training there.

Gp.Capt. George King was the Station Commander then  and Air  Marshal Engineer was DCAS.

I was given a secret mission by Air Hqs via Station Commander ATW Jamnagar to undertake photo reconnaissance (Photo Recee) mission along the Kutch/ Pakisthan  border.

My mission was to photograph enemy positions, tanks, or any vehicle movements and troops in the border area extending to 10 km inside Pakisthan all along the border.

I was flying Vampire T11 fitted with forward facing F-95 Camera in the nose and two side cameras. I took Fg. Officer Utpal Barbara as my Camera Operator in all my three sorties. None in the Squadron knew my mission except the Station Commander and Air Hqs Director of Ops, then Air Cmde Barker and DCAS.

Air Hqs had been presenting their Intellengence Report that Pakisthan Army is making moves using Patton tanks near Kutch border. Pakistan denied use of any foreign tanks in the area. Paper reports from the field were not good enough proof. The only concrete proof was to provide aerial photos.

That is how, 101 Sqn, which was a low level tactical recce squadron and was under going Annual Armament Training at ATW, Jamnagar got involved.

The task was given to me to seek and search enemy territory along Kutch border. When the photographs were developed at Jamnagar and processed by Flt.Lt Sethia  all movements of vehicles, tracks and battle tank tracks were clearly seen in those areas.

I was asked to fly with all the prints marked TOP SECRET and asked to deliver at  Palam earliest. By the time the prints were made ready with photo interpreter’s comments at Jamnagar , it was late in the evening. Next day, I took off and landed at Palam Air port at 9 am. to find AM Engineer, DCAS, on the tarmac. He asked me to accompany him to South Block in his flag car. That was my first visit to South Block carrying the prints with Air Marshal.

Immediately thereafter I was posted as Ops-1, Eastern Air Command. I was on my way to take over when Fg Offr Barbora did the last sortie on 26 Apr 65, in the Biar Bet area, as he knew the location and area of the movements. His camera operator was Plt Offr Chettri and they spotted and photographed the tanks operating in the area. These photographs were later published in the Calcutta Statesmen.

Finally we had our proof.

In 1962 it was a debacle, 1965 a face saving truce and in 1971 a decisive victory war.

I was commanding No 101 FR Sqdn at Tezpur in 1962, Kutch Operations in June 65 prelude to 1965 War in Sep 65 and a Base Commander at UTTERLAI during 1971 war.

Air Commodore V.K. Murthy AVSM.VM(Gallantry)
Ser No 4022 F ( P)
54 th Pilot’s Course
Sr Veteran aged 84 yrs.

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3 Responses to Memories, 1965: Air Cmde VK ‘Murph’ Murthy.

  1. kittujanak says:

    Correction….I was posted as Ops1 and not Air 1 in 1965. Later in my carrier I was posted as Air 1 at EAC 1980 ,my last posting before retirement.
    V.K.Murthy

  2. JL Bhargava says:

    Good & interesting memories. Sir he is Utpal Barbara ( my course) and lives in Guwahati. Brother Bhargava

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