“That Damned Smoke Grenade at Infantry School, Quetta”

By Lt Col (R) Ilyas Mirza (1st SSC)

Lt Col Ilyas Mirza, AviationEditor’s Note: Lt Col (R) Ilyas Mirza is from Engrs/Avn. After the retirement, he has settled in Rawalpindi.

Back in 1986, I was attending UCC-21 at School of Infantry & Tactics, Quetta. During an exercise, I was performing the duty of an air observer and I had to guide the PAF jet on to the target with the help of a smoke grenade. This was an exercise with troops and we were to engage the leading tanks with air force to stop the Advance.

School of Infantry & Tactics, Quetta

Smoke Grenade Photo of School of Infantry & Tactics, Quetta

For getting a clear view, I had positioned myself on the top of a rocky mound. As soon as I spotted the PAF jet, I immediately hurled the smoke grenade. It fell just 5 yards from me and could not roll down due to stones / pebbles. As there was no trench next to me, so for getting some protection, I immediately hit the ground and waited for the ‘trouble’ lying upside down. It was a very funny position. The next few seconds were terrible. And when the damn thing got burst, I got most of the “Chingaris” (Sparks) on my back. My shirt had turned into a “Changair” (sort of tray for ‘roti’) with black holes. I didn’t complain but didn’t know the shirt was telling the story. I was really looking horrible.

Maj Farooq (19th War Course), an Aviator and a fellow student, got me in an ambulance and rushed me to CMH Quetta. After that incident, I attended the remaining part of the course in Shalwar-Qameez and the great Lt Col Farhat Ullah, my Platoon Comd, who was one of the Directing Staffs, used to address me as’ This guy from MES’.

Editor’s Note: Lt Col Ilyas Mirza almost remembered the complete book, Infantry Battalion in Battle (IBIB) by heart and was known as ‘Chalta Phirtha IBIB’.

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

Editor’s Note: 
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  1. Brig ( R ) Muhammad Iqbal Awan says:

    Any one from 15th War Course who can add any incidents of humor in uniform?

    • Dear Brig Iqbal Awan,
      You may read the comment of Maj Aziz ur Rehman (15th War Course), dated 18 Apr 2015, in the following article, he has narrated three anecdotes:-

      • Brig ( R ) Muhammad Iqbal Awan says:

        Thanks for pointing out to the article. Maj Aziz ur Rehman is of course from 15th War course. My regards to him and all other who are making this forum very interesting.

        • Maj (R) Aziz-ur-Rehman says:

          Thanks for your warmth and the interest expressed in the forum. It has at least provided us the opportunity to come into contact which otherwise would have been improbable due to busy life.
          Stay blessed.

  2. Col (R) Qaisar Rashid, Baluch says:

    Col Ilyas,
    You must be having so many incidents like the one you have shared. I remember you took me in your aircraft and while flying from Quetta to Hanna Lake when in the narrow valley you said, “You have the control” and you put your hands on your head. What could, an Infantry “Pongo”, who had seen the cockpit for the first time, do except for reciting all the Quranic verses known by heart?
    I will always cherish the time we had together in Staff College. Jeetay raho, Sir.

  3. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah, Arty says:

    Well narrated, it reminds me of FAC Course we attended. Thanks for sharing, sir.

  4. Maj (R) Mohammad Safdar, Air Def (USA) says:

    Excellent episode. What a fabulous platform to share such like heart touching and memorable narratives to revive comradeship amongst loving friends and great warriors.
    Maj Amin Ullah, Sir, seeing you on board with your sweet remarks gave me great sense of pleasure. Everyone stay blessed.

  5. Chato,
    The big question is, how you managed to throw it just 5 yards away? It was UCC that you were attending with bags of experience.

  6. Maj (R) Amin Ullah Khan Gandapur, FF (Platoon Comd with 2nd SSC) says:

    The Infantry Bn in Battle remembrance by heart reminds me of something far back in sixties when an Armour Officer (one ‘Kasoti’ clue for 2nd SSC people, he was with us in 3rd Pak Bn, Tobe Camp) while in Lahore managed to be friendly with a Kinnaird College student came one day and told one of his unit friends that the girl has refused to see him again.
    “What did you do” he was asked.
    “Nothing” was his reply.
    Later, he explained that after he had explained to her Armour Regiment in Action in some detail; she simply got up and walked away saying “Do not try to contact me in future,”
    Even in Tobe Camp when I asked him about the incident, he was still confused and wasn’t sure why she did that.
    Now I leave it to your imaginations and memories of Tobe Camp.

    • Lt Col (R) Rashid Zia Cheema says:

      Dear Maj Amin Ullah,
      Sir, there were only two officers ex AC with 2nd SSC back in 1971-72, Maj Zafar Habib (Coy Comd) and Maj Tallat Saeed (Pl Comd).
      My answer for this Quiz is Maj Tallat Saeed.

  7. Col (R) Irshad Ahmed, Sigs says:

    Nice to read the story of Smoke Grenade during UCC. It reminded me that I also attended UCC in 1981, probably it was UCC 11. It’s nice to see the new building of S of I & T. I couldn’t go there after 1981. Good old days with then Brig Arif Bangash as Comdt.
    Thanks for this story ….

  8. Lt Col (R) Muhammad Arshad Meer says:

    Good one. Should have preserved your trousers. Stay blessed. Keep contributing.

  9. Lt Col Khalid Masood Malik (Retd) 34 th PMA says:

    I am also reminded of an incident that took place at the Niaz Baig Ranges Lahore in 1967. As a Lt I was asked to conduct grenade throwing. Some how my 2IC, a recalled reservist, wanted to demonstrate as to how grenade should be lobbed and hence asked me to give orders to him to throw the grenade. I vividly remember the order I gave “ready, pin out, throw”. To my horror my 2IC instead of throwing the grenade threw the pin and held the grenade in his hand. When I yelled at him, he let go the grenade just a yard or so outside the trench in which we we standing. Like lightning we both sunk inside the split trench and saved ourselves for getting hurt. What happened thereafter, I leave it to your imagination. After this incident the 2IC never demonstrated any thing.

  10. Smoke grenades were too dangerous to be trifled with. After the 1971 War we were issued many for training because the stocks were expiring and we used them for troops training. There were many duds and to explode them I used to fire a .38 round into it and after a few seconds it used to explode.
    My troop leader Anwar Khan Afridi liked the idea and decided he would also fire at a dud which he did from a safe range of 20m and missed. So he took a couple of steps forward and fired again and missed…….. another couple of steps….fire …..and miss……. finally from a fairly close range he hit it…… the grenade started hissing and Anwar calmly turned around and walked back….. next there was a big WOOOOOOOOSh and the grenade exploded. Suddenly I saw Anwar start what to me looked like an Indian War Dance as bits of Phosphorus that had struck his jacket started burning through…………. he rapidly pulled off the Jacket and luckily did not get any severe burns.

  11. Col (R) Azam Qadri says:

    Interesting indeed.

    I have a similar story to share with my comrades in arms about a 3.5 inch Rocket Launcher incident at School of Infantry and Tactics in Aug 1971. I have a memorable story to share about. I do it now for two reasons, firstly to remember my old friends, one of whom left us mysteriously later on and secondly for posterity and as an incident to share with other brother officers.

    I was attending an OW and JTC Course in 1970 (Jul-Sep). I being from Armour, was part of four who were in two details of 3.5 inch Rocket Launcher firing. The four comprised of (Late) Captain Tariq Rahim (13 Lancers), Captain Derek Joseph (13 Lancers), Captain Mansoor Siddiqui (28 Cavalry) and myself.

    Tariq Rahim and Derek Joseph were No. 1 and No. 2 in the first trench and I and Mansoor were No. 1 and No 2. in the next trench. Before the word for “Fire” was given the firing mechanism of the RL malfunctioned and got fired before Derek could take cover on the side while Tariq was still to pull the trigger.

    The RL fired early and due that Derek, who was still behind, came in the back-blast and got thrown back, all burnt up and unconscious. It was Tariq Rahim, myself and Mansoor who took him to a waiting ambulance and later to hospital.

    Derek survived and lived on to take part in the Battle of Barapind, where I was also in the same battle (then a Captain in 31 Cavalry). Derek got decorated for valour and got a TJ. He retired later as a Colonel and living a retired life in Peshawar.

    Tariq Rahim (May Allah Bless his soul), was ADC with Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto and went to Foreign Service later on. He was on the fateful PIA plane that was hijacked by Al-Zulfiqar and taken to Kabul somewhere in 1981, where Tariq Rahim was shot and his body thrown at the Kabul airport. The rest is history.

    Mansoor Siddiqui left service as a Major in early 80s and is settled in USA.

    • Dear Col Qadri,
      Which friend left you mysteriously? It is a bit confusing for us, as all four (including you) have been accounted for in your above narration?

    • Incidentally, Tariq Rahim and Derek Joseph were my very close friends in Cantt Public School and Edwardes College Peshawar. I also served as first Adjt of 35 FF which took part in famous battle of Barapind, but I was posted out to 4 FF, where I took part in even more famous and epic battle of Hilli in East Pakistan. My friend Kamran Tajik from Edwardes College was also there as FO of 80 Field Regt. So was my course-mate Shahid Rehman, troop commander 29 Cav. The incident quoted above explains the razor edge on which Army officers and men walk on throughout their service whether in peace or war.

  12. Lucky you that you survived in one piece!
    Lucky me! While posted in 1 Avn Sqn Mangla, I guided the PAF jets from the high perch of my L-19.

  13. Great!

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

    Good one, Ilyas.

    Farhatullah (may Allah Bless his soul) was my course-mate and known for his instinctive humor. No wonder how he renamed you :)

    Hope you are still maintaining as sharp a memory as claimed by the Editor and no “chingari” has affected that.

    Good luck & Best wishes.

  15. Col (R) Tughral Bashir (50 PMA) says:

    Good one sir Chato. You did not mention about your trouser as to how many holes it had especially while lying upside down. An awkward position to talk about. Hahaha.

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