Veer Abdul Hamid, Param Vir chakra Awardee who destroyed 8 tanks alone in 1965 India Pakistan war
Veer Abdul Hamid was born on 1st July 1933 in Ghazipur district in Uttar Pradesh. He was only 20 years old when he was recruited into the Army. After his training, he was posted in 4 Grenadiers in 1955. Initially, he served in a rifle company. He also fought in the 1962 war with China.
Abdul Hamid had already completed ten years of service in the Indian army when India and Pakistan went to war in 1965.
During the war, the news of pakistan’s attack on Aknoor in Jammu came. The Pakistani army aimed to cut off communication and supply routes to the Indian forces on the border of Jammu and Kashmir through this attack. In the war, Pakistan Army was using M48 Patton tanks which were supposed to be very strong and a distinct strategic advantage for them.
4th Grenadiers, which was Abdul hamid’s battalion, occupied a important area near Chima village on the road to Punjab’s Khem Karan sector. His battalion was given the job of holding the enemy near the village of Asal Uttar. This village is a mere 60 km from Amritsar in Punjab.
On September 8, 1965 the Grenadiers’ position was attacked repeatedly. They were however able to push them back each time. Seeing their resilience, Pakistani army initiated a serious assault with the advancement of a regiment of Patton tanks.
As soon as Veer Abdul hamid saw this, he moved out with his gun mounted on a jeep. As soon as the tanks came within a shooting distance, he fired at one of them. The shell hit its target and the tank went up in flames. When the enemy soldiers saw this, they abandoned two more tanks. After this, he called army engineers immediately and asked them to lay out anti-tank mines. Only after two hours, another armoured battalion tried to move forward and 4th grenediers were able to shoot two tanks.
The next morning he again swung into action with his recoilless gun. His battalion held on to their position under extreme attacks. They were also able to destroy two more tanks on 9th September. Veer Abdul hamid was so effective during the war with his strategic movements under intense firing that a citation to award him the Param Vir Chakra – the highest military decoration in the forces was sent immediately. By this time, he already had the destruction of four tanks to his credit. There were four more tanks that he destroyed which were not added to the citation at the time.
On September 10, 1965, a battalion of Pakistani Patton tanks attacked the holding area of the 4th Grenadier positions savagely. Indian soldiers came under intense artillery bombardment but they tried to hold on to their position and didn’t respond. Within an hour’s time, Pakistan army penetrated forward in Indian positions and the situation became really bad. In this stressful situation, Veer Abdul hamid noticed six Pakistani tanks heading towards his men. He immediately took a decision and hopped on to his jeep with had a gun mounted on it without caring for his life. He rushed towards the tanks.
The enemy was firing intensely but that did not stop him from going into offence. He used the tall crops growing in the fields in a very clever manner and camouflaged his position. This allowed him to attack the tanks without being spotted. He destroyed the leading tank at first. He changed his position and kept attacking. He ended up destroying two more tanks.
However, the enemy had spotted him by now. They used machine guns and explosives to attack him. He fired on the 4th tank but as he hit it, he got mortally wounded by an exploding shell.
Throughout this attack, Abdul hamid had managed to destroy eight enemy tanks all by himself. This feat is really unparalleled in war history because so much damage to the enemy army is difficult even with an armoured formation. His bravery inspired others to put up a strong fight and to beat back the heavy tank assault. Approximately 97 Pakistani tanks were destroyed or abandoned during this battle. Pakistani army was defeated and never made it past Khem Karan.
This was actually the first time that an armoured division of tanks was so heavily damaged by RCL rifles. Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan had dreamt of capturing Amritsar during the war but that dream turned into a nightmare.
Abdul hamid was posthumously awarded India’s highest wartime gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra. He lies in a modest grave at Asal Uttar today. It has a roadside plaque with the words ‘memorial of CQMH (Company Quarter Master Havildar) Abdul Hamid’.