India Abroad September 25, 2015 A29 tHe 1965 WAr, 50 YeArs ON
8 september, Khem Karan sector
CQMH (Company Quarter Master Havildar) Abdul
Hamid sits in the co-driver’s seat of his jeep which has a
recoilless gun mounted on it, and as he passes through the
sugar cane fields, he can hear the rustling wind in his ears.
The jeep trundles over a narrow mud track ahead of
Chima village. He knows Pakistan had launched an attack
with a regiment of Patton tanks and has barged right into
the forward position.
He hears the rumble of armour first and then catches
sight of a few Pakistani Patton tanks that are heading in the
direction of his battalion. Taking cover behind the tall crop,
he points his gun in their direction and waits.
The Grenadiers hold their fire so as not to warn the
enemy. Just as the tanks come within shooting distance,
Hamid asks his loader to load the gun and fire.
He watches the shell as it shoots out and arches towards
the first enemy tank. Even as he picks up his binoculars,
he hears the blast. The tank goes up in flames in front of
Hamid and his men rejoice. ‘Shabaash! (Bravo!)’ he
mouths and they exchange wide smiles. They spot the
crew of the two following tanks dismount and flee. He
orders the jeep driver to reverse and move.
Around 11.30 am, the battalion is subjected to heavy
artillery shelling. Soon after, they hear the familiar rumble again. Hamid whips out his binoculars.
Three more tanks are heading in their direction. He
asks his driver Mohammad Naseem to position his jeep in
the middle of the field so that it is hidden from view and,
adjusting his weapon, he waits.
The moment the tank comes within shooting distance,
he signals to the loader and watches the trajectory of the
shell. It hits its target and one more tank is aflame in front
of his eyes, while the remaining two are again abandoned
by the Pakistanis.
By the end of the day, Hamid has destroyed two tanks,
while four have been abandoned. They call on the engineers to immediately lay out anti-tank mines in the area
as that is where the enemy tanks are coming from.
They do the best they can in the little time available. It
is clear that the battalion is facing a Brigade-level attack
from the Pakistani armoured forces and all they have to
fight them with are recoilless guns.
That doesn’t daunt the soldiers who are in high spirits
after their initial victories.
Hamid doesn’t get time to jump off.
A deafening blast follows, and then
there is complete silence
The next morning Hamid is back at his recoilless gun.
The battalion also faces an air attack from Pakistani Sabre
jets but these don’t do much damage.
By the end of the day, he and his team have shot down
two more tanks — a remarkable achievement. That night
Hamid sleeps peacefully. His citation, crediting him with
the destruction of four tanks, has been sent for the award
of Param Vir Chakra.
The following day he shows up on the battlefield yet
again, to destroy as many as three more tanks; however,
these will not enter his records as his citation has already
On 10 September, 4 Grenadiers comes under heavy
enemy shelling. After that there is another assault by
enemy tanks. They are moving in a formation of three.
Hamid lies in wait, hidden by the thick vegetation and,
when the first tank gets close, he blows it up, quickly asking
his driver Naseem to move away.
Just as they do, a tank shell bursts at the very spot where
they were a few minutes back. By then the brave
Grenadiers have moved to another point behind a thicket
of babool trees, from where they are training their gun on
They shoot down one more Patton. By now, the shelling
has started. The tanks have noticed the RCl jeeps and
they start raining down concentrated machine-gun fire
Hamid is tricking them by constantly changing his position and keeping his jeep camouflaged amidst the tall cotton crop growing in the fields. Another tank is slowly lumbering towards him and he does not have time to move
since they have both spotted each other.
He tells his driver and loader to jump off. ‘Hum kapas ke
khet mein kude aur roll hokar naale mein ludak gaye (We
jumped into the cotton field and rolled into a drain),’ says
Both Hamid and the enemy tank place each other in their
sights and shoot. Both shells hit their targets. There is a
loud blast, fire and smoke. At the same moment that the
tank is blown up, its shell hits the RCl jeep.
Hamid doesn’t get time to jump off. A deafening blast follows and then there is complete silence.
CQMH Hamid is dead. He has destroyed a total of seven
enemy tanks, many more than what an armoured formation could take on.
For his remarkable achievement, bravery and courage,
CQMH Abdul Hamid is awarded the Param Vir Chakra
posthumously. The battalion is awarded the Battle Honor
Asal Uttar and the Theatre Honor Punjab.
It is a first in military history that a battalion armed with
nothing more than recoilless guns has fought off an
Excerpted from 1965: Stories from the
Second Indo-Pak War by Rachna Bisht Rawat.
Penguin Viking, with the publisher’s
a Hero’s Hero
company Quarter master havildar abdul hamid’s act of valor documented on a plaque.
the jeep that company Quarter master havildar abdul hamid used in the battle.
the bust of company Quarter master havildar abdul hamid at the Grenadiers Regimental centre.
‘Abdul Hamid is dead. He has destroyed a total of seven enemy
tanks, many more than what an armored formation could take on.’
rachna Bisht rawat salutes Abdul Hamid’s incomparable
courage in the 1965 War.