Battle of Asal Uttar
|Battle of Asal Uttar
आसल उत्ताड़ का युद्ध
|Part of Indo-Pakistani War of 1965|
Captured Pakistani tanks on display near Bhikhiwind, India
|Commanders and leaders|
|Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh
Lt. Gen. JS Dhillon
Maj. Gen. Gurbaksh Singh
Lt Gen Hanut Singh Rathore
Maj. Gen. Nasir Ahmed KhanBrigadier A.R.Shami †
|45 Centurion tanks,
45 M4 Sherman tanks,
8th Light Cavalry (45 AMX-13 tanks)
6th Lancers (44 Patton tanks)
24th Cavalry (44 Patton tanks)
|Casualties and losses|
|10 tanks destroyed or damaged||Over 99 tanks destroyed|
The Battle of Asal Uttar (Hindi : आसल उत्ताड़ असल उत्तर नहीं ,[a] Punjabi: ਆਸਲ ਉਤਾੜ) was one of the largest tank battles fought during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. It was fought from 8 to 10 September 1965, when the Pakistan Army thrust its tanks and infantry into Indian territory, capturing the Indian town of Khem Karan 5 km from the International Border. The Indian troops retaliated, and after three days of bitter fighting, the battle ended with the Pakistani forces being repulsed near Asal Uttar. Factors that contributed to this were the fierce fight put up by Indian army, conditions of the plains, better Indian tactics and a successful Indian strategy.
This battle is compared with the Battle of Kursk in the Second World War for how it changed the course of the India Pakistan war of 1965 in India's favour. War historians, including Dr. Philip Towle, regard the Indian resistance near Khem Karan as one of the key turning points of the war, one which tilted the balance of the war in favour of India. Peter Wilson states that the defeat of Pakistan Army in the battle of Asal Uttar was one of the greatest defeats suffered by Pakistan forces in the course of the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965.
The battle is described as one of the greatest tank battles since the Battle of Kursk in the second world war. Pakistan's invading force, consisting of the 1st Armoured Division and 11th Infantry Division, crossed the International Border and captured the Indian town of Khem Karan. Considering the situation, GOC Indian 4th Mountain Division (Maj. Gen. Gurbaksh Singh) immediately ordered the division to fall back and assume a horseshoe shaped defensive position with Asal Uttar as its focal point. The battle strategy was the brainchild of Brigadier Thomas K.Theograj 
In the night, the Indian troops flooded the sugar cane field, and the next morning, the Pakistani tanks of the 1st Armoured Division, consisting mainly of M47 and M48 Patton tanks, were lured inside the horse-shoe trap. The swampy ground slowed down the advance of the Pakistani tanks and many of them could not move because of the muddy slush. Ninety nine Pakistani tanks mostly Pattons, and a few Shermans and Chaffees, were destroyed or captured while the Indians, by their account, lost only 10 tanks during this counter offensive.
Despite the initial thrust of the Pakistani Army into Indian territory, the battle ended in a decisive Indian Victory. The commander of Pakistani forces Maj. Gen. Nasir Ahmed Khan was killed in action. According to military historian Steven Zaloga, Pakistan admitted that it lost 165 tanks during the 1965 war, more than half of which were knocked out during the "debacle" of Asal Uttar.
Pervez Musharraf, later Army Chief of Staff and President of Pakistan, participated in this battle as a lieutenant of artillery in the 16 (SP) Field Regiment, 1st Armoured Division Artillery. The battle also witnessed the personal bravery of an Indian soldier, Abdul Hamid, who was honoured with the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military award, for knocking out seven enemy tanks with a recoilless gun.
This battle led to the creation of Patton Nagar (or "Patton City") at the site of the battle. This is because a large number of Patton tanks fielded by the Pakistani forces were either captured or destroyed at the scene.
- Wilson, Peter. Wars, proxy-wars and terrorism: post independent India. Mittal Publications. pp. 83–84. ISBN 81-7099-890-5.
- History, Official. "All out war pg 39" (PDF). Official History of 1965 war. Times of India. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
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- Singh, Lt.Gen Harbaksh (191). War Despatches. New Delhi: Lancer International. p. 108. ISBN 81-7062-117-8.
- Zaloga, Steve. The M47 and M48 Patton tanks. Osprey Publishing, 1999. ISBN 978-1-85532-825-9.
- Peter Wilson Prabhakar (2003). Wars, Proxy-wars and Terrorism: Post Independent India. Mittal Publications. p. 84. ISBN 978-81-7099-890-7.
- Wilson, Peter. Wars, proxy-wars and terrorism: post independent India. Mittal Publications, 2003. ISBN 978-81-7099-890-7.
- Jaques, Tony. Dictionary of Battles and Sieges. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. ISBN 978-0-313-33538-9.[page needed]
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- R.D. Pradhan & Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan (2007). 1965 War, the Inside Story: Defence Minister Y.B. Chavan's Diary of India-Pakistan War. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 47. ISBN 978-81-269-0762-5.
- B. Chakravorty (1995). Stories of Heroism: PVC & MVC Winners. Allied Publishers. p. 17. ISBN 81-7023-516-2.
- Towle, Philip (1982). Estimating foreign military power. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7099-0434-2.
- Maj Gen Cardozo, Ian (2003). PARAM VIR. New Delhi: Lotus Collection. ISBN 81-7436-262-2
- The Param Vir Chakra Winners' home page for Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid indianarmy.nic.in
- There is great confusion resulting out of Re-translation of word Asal Uttar. आसल उत्ताड़ (pronounced like - Aasal Uttaard) is the actual name of the village in Khemkaran Sector where this battle was fought. आसल उत्ताड़>>Asal Uttar>>असल उत्तर. Due to Phonetic differences between Hindi/Punjabi and English Language, English spelling does not carry the actual sound in exact manner. Incidentally the wrong understanding is wonderful, the wrong pronunciation actually changes the meaning. Asal Uttar read as असल उत्तर means "Real Reply" or a "befitting response", so it easily fits into a situation like this, especially for the readers from the winning side who often misunderstand this wrong/restricted spelling/pronunciation to be the code name for this battle. It may please be noted that this battle is named after the place where it was fought. Regarding the actual name & pronunciation of the village, reference of government records (Election Commission data) is provided. Same can be checked from other official data also.
- 1965 Official War History, Ministry of Defence, Government of India
- The Battle of Assal Uttar: Pakistan and India 1965, Orbat.com, February 24, 2002