Battle Of Asal Uttar: When The Indian Army Destroyed 165 Pakistani Tanks

During the Indo-Pak War of 1965, a battle took place, which the Indian army had already lost, on paper. Although, what happened on the battlefield proved yet again that the bravery and courage of the Indian army soldiers is beyond measure. This was the Battle Of Asal Uttar or ‘The Real Answer’.

At the peak of the war of 1965, Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan devised a strategy to capture Amritsar and block the supplies of the Indian Armed Forces stationed in Jammu & Kashmir. The task was handed over to the ‘1st Armoured Division’ aka the ‘Pride Of Pakistan’. Pakistan’s motive, in a nutshell, was to defeat India in the worst way, inflicting as much collateral damage as possible.Backed by America, the Pakistani army back then, was armed with the world’s best Patton Tanks. The Indian army was still recovering from the loss it had suffered against China in 1962 and the military modernization was still underway. On 8th September 1965, Pakistan army launched its first arm of offensive in the Khem Karan area of Punjab with over 220 Patton tanks ready to turn everything in that came their way to dust. Lt. General Harbaksh Singh was commanding the Indian battalion that was to face this massive attack. The Pakistani offensive outnumbered the Indian defensive by the number of soldiers and tanks. It was up to Lt. Singh to either withdraw or defend his position. Instead of withdrawing, he rearranged his forces in a U-shaped formation around the town of Asal Uttar. The idea was to assault as many tanks as possible from all three sides.

Thinking that Indian troops had withdrawn, the Pakistani tanks got lured into the U-shaped area. The Indian army had already flooded the sugarcane fields with water that led the thick armored Pakistani Patton tanks to sink and get stuck into the mushy soil. The entire Pakistani cavalry of 200 plus tanks was now immobilized. At this time, the soldiers and tanks of Indian army commenced a massive fire assault. The tall sugarcane grass allowed the Indian forces in the U-formation to remain hidden but yet, stay very close to the Paki tanks. The result was that out of 220 Patton tanks, 170 were destroyed or abandoned and 11 captured. Only 32 Indian tanks were damaged. The sight of the destroyed tanks was such that the town was named Patton Nagar aka The Graveyard of Pattons. The story of Lt. Singh’s brilliant strategy is still told at military schools all over the world. This battle went down in history as the largest tank battle after World War 2.

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