Today, July 1, marks the birth anniversary of Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid of 4 Grenadiers, remembered for the indomitable valour he put on display in the battle of Asal Uttar, one of the fiercest tank battles who fought during the India-Pakistan war in 1965.
Hamid made the supreme sacrifice defending the country against the Pakistani Tanks on September 10, 1965, and was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra (PVC).
Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid–’The Tank Destroyer’
On September 8, 1965, as Pakistani tanks were advancing towards the Indian battalion in Khem Karan sector, Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, who was commander of an RCL gun detachment, jumped on to his jeep which had a gun mounted on it and rushed to the spot, under intense enemy shelling and tank fire. Having served for 5 years in the anti-tank division and being the best the 106mm recoilless rifle shot in the battalion, he drew on his past experience to knock out the advancing enemy tanks.
CQMH Abdul Hamid of 4 Grenadiers took an advantageous position behind a tall crop in his jeep, allowing the enemy tanks to come within his firing range. As soon as they close in, Hamid ordered his loader to load the anti-tank gun and fire and watches the tank go up in flames.
Later in the day, Abdul destroyed another Pakistani tank which had dared to cross the border and approach towards the Indian posts. By the end of the day, Abdul had destroyed two Pattons while the remaining 4 had been abandoned. Engineers were called in to lay out anti-tank missiles in the areas where enemy tanks were advancing from.
The next day, i.e September 9, 1965, Abdul was again back on his recoilless gun and faced aerial attack from Pakistan Sabre jets which did not cause much damage. At the end of the day, Hamid had destroyed two more enemy tanks. His citation, crediting him for the destruction of 4 tanks, had been sent for the award of Param Vir Chakra after that.
The following day, September 10, 1965, Abdul Hamid had destroyed 3 more tanks before laying down his life defending the country. However, these will not be entered in the records as his citation was already been sent.
While there is confusion over the exact number of Pakistani Patton tanks destroyed by Hamid in the war against Pakistan, with numbers ranging from 4 to 11, his exemplary courage and daring acts of valour in smashing Pakistani Tanks earned him the title of ‘The Tank Destroyer’ after he attained martyrdom. However, the Param Vir Chakra citation read only 4 tanks.
“At 0800 hours on 10 September, 1965 Pakistan forces launched an attack with a regiment of Patton tanks on a vital area ahead of village Cheema on the Bhikkiwind road in the Khem Karan Sector. Intense artillery shelling preceded the attack. The enemy tanks penetrated the forward position by 0900 hours,” the citation stated.
“By this time the enemy tanks in the area spotted him and brought his jeep under concentrated machine-gun and high explosive fire. Undeterred, Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid kept on firing on yet another enemy tank with his recoilless gun. While doing so, he was mortally wounded by an enemy high explosive shell,” the citation read.
Memorial to Abdul Hamid reads he destroyed 8 Pakistani Pattons
However, various other reports claim that Abdul Hamid destroyed at least 8 Pakistani tanks. According to those accounts, the citation for Param Vir Chakra went before Hamid blew up other Pakistani tanks, resulting in the PVC citation noting only 2 tanks. But, the106 recoilless gun kept as a memorial to Abdul Hamid’s otherworldly courage mentions that he destroyed 8 Pakistani Pattons in 1965 India-Pakistan war.
“Never in the history of warfare have so many tanks been destroyed by any infantry man-a feat achieved by CQMH Abdul Hamid of 4 Grenadiers who destroyed 8 Pakistani Patton Tanks with this 106 recoilless gun before laying down his life for the nation. He was awarded Param Vir Chakra Posthumously for his daring act,” the memorial read.
Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat touches feet of 1965 War Hero Abdul Hamid’s Widow
On September 10, 2017, the 52nd death anniversary of the war hero Abdul Hamid’s martyrdom, the then Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had bowed and touched Rasoolan Bibi’s feet as a mark of respect at an event in Dhamupur village of Ghazipur.
The Army Chief, along with his wife and other officials had felicitated Rasoolan Bibi, bowed in respect and touched her feet. The 1965 war hero Abdul Hamid’s wife later remarked, “The General is more like my son”.
Unfortunately, the Param Vir Chakra awardee Abdul Hamid’s widow, Rasoolan Bibi, 95, passed away in her house in Dhamupur village of Ghazipur district in Uttar Pradesh last year on August 2, 2019.