‘The Patton Killer’ Abdul Hamid, Param Vir Chakra at the Battle of Asal Uttar, 1965 War.

Abdul Hamid
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Jeep mounted recoil less gun

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M48 Patton Tank

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There would be very few names so aptly fitting a scenario than the Battle of Asal Uttar. Translated into English, ‘Asal Uttar’ means ‘Real Response ‘. And it was a hell of a response from the Indian Army to Pakistani Armed Forces who thought of themselves as a Martial Race which should be able to subdue the ‘Hindus and their Baniya mentality’ with a few hard hitting strikes. India emerged as the clear winner of this battle which was the biggest Tank battle since World War II. The star from Indian side was Havildar Abdul Hamid.

Abdul Hamid belonged to the 4th Grenadiers Battalion which was fighting in the KhemKaran sector. He had trained on the 106mm recoil less gun which was the preferred anti-tank weapon in those times. He had proven himself to be a good marksman with that large bore gun and was leading a platoon of these jeep mounted guns in the battle.

Let’s understand the importance of tanks in the modern war. Tanks first appeared on the trenches of World War 1, developed by the British. Although the Germans had to sustain heavy losses due to this new weapon system, they did become interested in the idea of a highly mechanized army units which should race through the battlefield and puncture large holes in the enemy lines. And they implemented those ideas to perfection during the 2nd world war. Before the Polish could spell ‘Blitzkrieg’, German Panzer Tanks were knocking on the doors of Warsaw.  Desert fox Rommel’s Afrika Corps had almost reached Cairo riding on the amazing out-flanking tactics of his Panzer divisions. Russian front also saw large amount of  armor being pitted against each other. It is said that the T-34 tank won soviets the war. Battle of Kursk is till date the largest tank battle with a total of 1500 armor units taking on each other. Germans lost bulk of their armor in that battle (close to 400 tanks) and the Russians were unstoppable after that.
Tanks and other armored vehicles form the spearhead of any attacking army. Both India and Pakistan tank regiments have served their country with guts and glory.

10 September 1965 was though a more glorious day for the Indians. They had laid a wonderfully planned and executed trap for attacking Pakistani armored divisions. Indian defensive line was in the form of a horseshoe and the center of the horseshoe had been flooded. Pakistani came in with their heavy armor- M48 Patton tanks which according to them was invincible as they believed that no Indian anti tank weapon could penetrate it’s seven inch armor. Abdul Hamid proved those assumption to be very very wrong, not once..not twice..but three times.

On  September 8, Hamid’s recoil less gun had obliterated two Pakistani tanks which were moving in a three tank formation. In a amusing result of his sharp-shooting, the crew of the other two tanks in both formations, abandoned their tanks and ran away which is what soldiers belonging to the ‘Martial’ race are expected to do. The  Four Pattons were readily  captured by the Indians.

On 9th September, two more Pattons surrendered their impenetrable reputation to Hamid’s 106mm gun.

On Sep 10, At 0900 hrs, Pakistani tanks finally broke through the forward Indian defensive line in the sector defended by the Grenadiers. The Grenadiers didn’t have any tanks in that area and the task to stop the rampaging Pakistanis rested solely upon the recoil-less gun platoons which were positioned intelligently. Hamid realizing the precariousness of situation, positioned himself among the tall sugarcane fields and started taking out leading tanks in each Pakistani formation. His 106 mm recoil less projectiles went through Patton’s armor like knife goes through butter.  He kept changing his position but still came under intense machine gun and tank fire. Despite all that, he destroyed two Pattons. By this time, Pakistanis had tracked him down and were now hell bent on eliminating him. Realizing this, Hamid told his jeep’s other occupants, the driver and the loader to get out and escape, while he took a final aim at a third Patton. In an amazing finale befitting a Hollywood thriller, both the combatants fired at the same time and none of them missed. The Patton blew up in a spectacular explosion while Hamid diminutive Willy’s Jeep was blown to pieces….so was Abdul Hamid’s body.

In total, his gun destroyed seven Pakistani tanks. a number unheard of in case of a defending infantry unit.

Pakistanis lost 99 of their prized Pattons in the Battle of Asal Uttar and it broke the back of their armor thrust. Abdul Hamid was awarded Param Vir Chakra for the skill, tenacity and courage shown on battlefield. Another glorious chapter in the history of our great armed forces.

Amazing leadership…awe-inspiring courage and tactical brilliance.

-Jai Hind.

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