“1965 War; To Whom it May Concern”

By Maj Siraj Syed, Retired (17 PMA)

OH-13S helicopter of Pakistan ArmyMajor Siraj Syed (17 PMA)Editor: Maj Siraj Syed is from Arty/Avn. He has settled in USA since 1978.

During 1965 Indo-Pak War, I was attached with 11  Div HQ at Khem Karan Sector and flew the GOC, Maj Gen Abdul Hamid Khan, in OH-13S helicopter all over the operational area.

Gen Hamid mostly used to sit out of his bunker and also asked me to sit with him. One day as usual both of us were sitting outside his bunker. Suddenly there was a siren indicating that some enemy aircraft were flying in our area. I immediately jumped into a trench but Gen Hamid kept sitting out calmly and said to me, “Siraj, if it is time for you to die, your name would have been written on a bullet and jumping in the trench will never save you.”

His remark reminded me of an old joke and I said to the Gen,”Sir, what about that bullet on which it is written ‘To Whom it May Concern’?”

My remark made him laugh so loudly that his staff came running out of the Command Post to check if everything was OK.

Pakistan Army Generals at Khem Karan Railway Station in 1965n

Related Pages:
Humour in Uniform
Army Jokes (in Urdu/Punjabi)
Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)

Editor’s Note: 
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  1. Maj (Ret) Zia ur Rahman, EME/Aviation, 13th Long PMA says:

    Dear Siraj,

    You were always a good one for playing pranks and concocting stories. I remember two of your gems from PMA – you may remember them too.

    I, as your senior, had ordered you to do ten front–rolls. After the tenth one you continued rolling. I yelled “Stop!”, but you continued. I thought perhaps your brain was adversely affected, went up to you and lifted you up. When I let go, you started the rolls again. I knew then that it was a prank. From then on, whenever I saw you, you were ordered to do ten rolls. I never stayed long enough to see you complete them.

    On one of these occasions I asked you where you were from as you looked a little different from the rest of us. You promptly said you were originally from “Dong-ding-dig-reeri”.
    “Where the hell is that?” I asked.
    “It’s in Thailand, Sir!” You replied very confidently.
    Years later when I was stationed in Bangkok with the UN, I looked for “Dong-ding-dig-ree-ri” , but it had existed in you pleasantly affected brain only!!!

    Thanks for this one. Love you a lot!

  2. Maj Khalid Saeed Shah (r), Arty (2nd SSC) says:

    RIPPLES in the pond of memory lane. Thanks for sharing, sir.

  3. Lt Col Muhammad Akram Abbasi (R) Sigs says:

    Thank you every body, nice narrations by every one.

  4. Enjoyed….
    Maj Siraj Sir and Lt Col Irshad…..Thanks for bringing smiles on our faces.
    Thumbs up for Col Cheema (Editor) for being a source of joy for many!

  5. Maj Rehmat Elahi (R) says:

    Amazing anecdote.

  6. Lt Col Qadeer A. Ch. (r) Punjab says:

    A very nice anecdote. Enjoyed.

  7. Lt Col Irshad Ahmed (Retd) Sigs (11th War Course) says:

    Very witty and abrupt reply. Enjoyed the anecdote. Some time something minor would click a senior officer and his inner Subaltern would come out. Once probably in 1973 we were in Tilla Ragers. I was Sig Officer (as a Capt) with 15 Div Arty which had come for firing from Sialkot, then Brig Fayaz was Comd, Maj Hashmat BM and Maj Inayat Sher as GSO-2 (I). We were all sitting in the mess (tent), Brig Fayyaz was a very sober officer and a hard task master, his staff wouldn’t dare to speak a word extra with him but I, though the junior most could talk freely with him as he had been my Company Comd (Ghaznavi Coy) in PMA.
    So in reply to one of his question I narrated a small funny incident which had happened in my Sig Unit few months back when I was the Adjt. Somehow it clicked the Commander who gave a big laugh, then something strange happened, probably that big laughter triggered his “laughing mechanism” and he wouldn’t end it. The staff got panicked, BM stared at me with anger, I tried to be serious realizing my “guilt” but kept on smiling to support the continuous laughter of the Comd. He was deliberately trying to take a break but whenever he used to see me his chain of laughter would again be strengthened. Finally BM signaled me to vanish from the scene. I immediately went out and then the Comd, who was out of his breath, could slow down.

  8. Lt Gen Mustafa Kamal Akbar (R), AMC says:

    Nice one, Partner.

  9. Maj Jamil (r) 55 PMA says:

    Nice anecdote, thanks for sharing.

  10. Lt Col Ghulam Jilani Khan (R), AEC says:

    Dear Maj Soraj,
    I am a retd AEC officer. I joined Pakistan Army in 1968 as a direct short service commission officer and retired in 1996. Have a humble ambition to see mil hist literature published in our national language URDU. Have translated a number of English military books in Urdu like “Defeat into Victory” by Slim, “Private Army by Popiski”, “1971 War” by Maj Gen Hakim Arshad, “Making of Frontier” by Algernin Durrand, “Working with Zia and Khaki Shadows” by Gen KM Arif, “Unlikely Beginnings” by AO Mitha, etc. I also penned down history of some Inf regts of the Pakistan Army like SSG, NLI, Baluch and very recently History of 6 FF Regt, in 3 volumes (From 1849 to date ) is going to the press. Some of the original works have also been published viz INFANTRY MALKA -a -JANG, JANG-a-AZEEM DOEM KEY AZEEM COMMANDER, etc.
    Kindly do not think it a sort of self-praise. I abhor the notion. The aim is to glean the truth from the anecdote mentioned by you. The big question is who was right and who was wrong? During the long course of my studies of military history literature this anecdote has been very disputable. Kindly comment.

  11. Col Jamal Hussain Shah (r) says:

    Maj Siraj,
    It.s really a very nice anecdote. May God bless you.

  12. Enjoyed the anecdote………. it gives a humane face to war.

  13. Maj Amjid Quamber (Retd), AC says:

    The pic brings back fond memories, Brig Sahib Dad was in 1 Corps. He was in Kharian along with my father in 1961-62. His children, 3 boys used to be in our Colony in Lala Musa and at school with us. The great Gen Hamid was a close friend of my father and my best friend was his younger son Khalid, his second son Tarim was from 42nd PMA L/C.
    Great times and fond memories. When this pic was taken my father was inspector EME and was working on recovery in Chawinda.

    • Brig Majid Azim (r), Baluch (3rd SSC) says:

      Maj Amjad Quamber,
      Sir, his (Gen Hamid’s) second son’s name is Tariq and he is from 43rd PMA L/C. He retired as Brig. Now living in Islamabad area.

  14. Tariq Syed says:

    The General should have replied that even “to whom it may concern” usually concerns someone. But your reply at a time like that was a result of a great natural talent you are blessed with.
    Well done, Maj Siraj.

  15. Maj Munir Ahmed (Retd), FF (2nd SSC ) says:

    It requires real courage to keep your nerves cool under such circumstances. My smart salute to the old veteran.

  16. Brig Shaukat Qadir (r), FF (42 PMA) says:

    Very apt response.

  17. One of the best I’ve ever read and one that upholds brevity as the soul of wit!

    • Maj Pervez Minhas (r) 19 Baluch (49th PMA) says:

      I recollect Lt Azam Gill replying to the CO on firing range.

      • Sorry for the late reply, my dear friend, and thank you for remembering. My e-mail address here would automatically be posted on my blog, so if you wish to honour me please send me your e-mail to Rashid Cheema (Editor). Respectful salutations.

  18. Maj Mohammad Safdar (R) USA says:

    You are the pioneer and legend of this great Army. Stay ever blessed.

  19. Dear Maj Siraj,
    It is a nice nostalgic anecdote. Please share more.

  20. Col Shah Alam (R) Avn (34 PMA), Canada says:

    Dear Maj Siraj!
    That was great wit and an apt reply. Later when serving together in 1 Avn Sqn in the second war (1971) I witnessed you never let go off that humor and the forever-smile. Sharing this anecdote today confirms that you are still brimming with this asset. Stay healthy & blessed.

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