India Abroad September 25, 2015 A31 tHe 1965 WAr, 50 YeArs ON
be remembered in military history as the
Battle of Asal Uttar.
That it is fought in the village of Asal
Uttar (which means ‘befitting reply’ in
Hindi) is a coincidence that would not be
lost on the soldiers.
That day the Grenadiers face three tank
attacks. The tanks come down the road in
sets of three — at 9.30 am, 11.30 am and
finally at 2.30 pm.
Hamid destroys two tanks and Hav Bir
Singh of B coy another two.
Some of the anti-tank mines that had
been laid the previous night are heard
exploding and a few more tanks are disabled and deserted by the Pakistanis.
The soldiers settle down for another
night of fitful sleep. They know now that an
entire Patton tank division of the Pakistan
army has been attacking them.
However, they have faith in their World
War II vintage recoilless rifles that have
smashed, disabled and led to the abandonment of more tanks than an armoured formation could hope for in a tank-to-tank
On 10 September, the day dawns bright
but the Company Commanders are wary.
They are expecting an Infantry attack.
Every man is alert in his trench, finger on
Nothing happens till 8.30 am, when they
hear the rumble of enemy tanks again.
Three Pattons are coming down the road —
the first trundling down the middle, the
other two following, one on either side.
Hamid spots the first tank when it is 180-
odd metres away, allows it to get closer and
smashes it, quickly moving his jeep away so
that its location is not picked up by the
As had happened earlier, the soldiers in
the remaining tanks flee. At 9 am enemy
shelling intensifies and many start landing
in the C coy area, though nobody is injured.
Soon the men spot another armoured
Hamid destroys his sixth tank. He spots
the seventh tank at the same time that it
spots him. There is no time to change position in the face of relentless artillery fire.
Telling his driver and loader to get under
cover, he aims his gun at the Patton even as
it places him in its sight.
Two simultaneous explosions rend the air
— the tank as well as Hamid’s jeep blow
each other up simultaneously. The brave
soldier is dead, but there is no time to
mourn as three enemy RCl jeeps from the
Reconnaissance and Support Battalions
come down the road.
‘A colossal enemy dream
All India Radio broadcast the news of the
capture of Pattons in its afternoon bulletin.
So many enemy tanks littered the area that
lieutenant Colonel Caleb requested the
Brigade Commander to arrange for numbering the enemy tanks with paint in order
to make counting easier.
All the turrets of the captured enemy
tanks therefore showed a number in white
paint in addition to their original Urdu
later that evening, 3 Cavalry recovered
another war trophy — Operational order
no G-3548 (copy no 3) of Pakistan’s 4
Armoured Brigade, dated 8 September
This clearly stated that 4 Armoured
Brigade was to secure the Beas Bridge on
the main Grand Trunk Road. The order
now hangs in the Regimental Officers’
lieutenant Colonel Caleb called it a
‘colossal enemy dream come untrue.’
At 3.30 am on 13 September 1965, the
shelling finally stopped. A queer silence
descended on the battlefield of Asal Uttar.
Ceasefire had been imposed.
It is remarkable that 9 Horse, 4
Grenadiers, 3 Cavalry and 21 Rajasthan
Rifles successfully held back an entire
armoured division (350 tanks) of Pakistan
for seventy-two hours.
For the valor the battalion displayed on
the battlefield, 4 Grenadiers was awarded
nine Sena Medals, two Vishisht Seva
Medals (VSM) and the Battle Honor Asal
CQMH Abdul Hamid was posthumously
decorated with the Param Vir Chakra, the
highest gallantry award of India.
Military historian Steven Zaloga says that
Pakistan admitted to losing 165 tanks dur-
ing the 1965 war, more than half of which
were knocked out during the Battle of Asal
A famous participant in the battle was
Pervez Musharraf, who went on to become
army chief of staff and president of
Pakistan. At the time, Musharraf was a
young lieutenant of artillery in the 16 (SP)
Field Regiment, 1st Armoured Division
Its back broken, the Pakistani Armoured
Division eventually decided to pull out and
go towards Sialkot, leaving troops behind
in Khem Karan.
1965: Stories from the
Second Indo-Pak War
by rachna Bisht rawat. Penguin Viking,
with the publisher’s kind permission.
asal Uttar, the Battle that changed the 1965 War
Soldiers take a rest during a lull in the battle.
PhotoGRaPh: KInD coURteSy, 1965-StoRIeS FRom SeconD InDo-PaK WaR By Rachna BISht Ra Wat.
troops from the 4 Grenadiers which won the battle honor of asal Uttar.