Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid (1933-1965) was a soldier in the Indian Army, who had participated in the India-Pakistan War of 1965, and was deployed on the Western front. In 1966, he was posthumously awarded India’s highest gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra for participating in the Battle of Asal Uttar. CQMH Abdul Hamid died on 10 September 1965, while protecting his position from the advance of the Pakistani tank column. In the course of the battle, Abdul Hamid destroyed 9 Patton tanks of the Pakistani Army.
CQMH Abdul Hamid was born on Saturday, 1 July 1933 (age 32 years; at the time of death) in Dharampur village, Ghazipur district, United Province (now Uttar Pradesh), British India (now India). Abdul Hamid started his education in the village’s Primary School. Abdul went on to study till class 8th. Abdul had always been interested in joining the Indian Army. As soon as he was of the legal age; Abdul attended the recruitment rally being held at Varanasi. Abdul was only 20 years old when he joined the army. He completed his training and joined his unit, 4 Grenadiers, in 1955.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name was Mohammad Usman, who was a tailor by profession. His mother’s name was Sakina Begum. He also had three brothers and two sisters as siblings.
Wife & Children
Abdul Hamid had five children; one daughter and four sons. His eldest son’s name is Junaid Alam.
His two sons, Zainul Hasan and Talat Mehmood joined the Army. His daughter’s name is Nazbun Nisha.
Participation in the 1962 Sino-India War
During the Sino-Indian War of 1962, Abdul Hamid along with his unit, the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Regiment, was deployed at Thag La, near Namka Chu river, in the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) (Now Arunachal Pradesh). His battalion was a part of the 7th Mountain Division, which was entrusted with the defence of the Namka Chu area. On 10 October 1962, his battalion faced an overwhelming number of Chinese troops. While defending the position from the Chinese forces, the battalion ran out of war reserves, and hence, it was decided to withdraw from the position to a safer location. Abdul Hamid, along with his entire battalion, was completely cut-off by the advancing Chinese troops and had to withdraw to the safer lines, through the Bhutanese territory. The Grenadiers: A Tradition of Valour
In her book, The Brave, the author, Rachna Bisht Rawat, wrote,
He fought in the ‘62 war in Thag La, then in the North-East Frontier Province, as part of the 7 Mountain Brigade, 4 Mountain Division, and came back disappointed with the war.”
The silence before the storm
After the end of the 1962 Sino-Indian War; Abdul Hamid with his unit was posted to Ambala, Punjab. There, he was promoted to the rank of Company Quarter Master Havildar and was given the charge of an administrative company. Abdul and his unit stayed there from 1963 to 1965.
Pakistan launches Operation Gibraltar
In September 1965, the Pakistan Army, along the Line of Control, launched a military operation called Operation Gibraltar. The Pakistani military believed that while India was coping with the defeat it suffered during the 1962 Sino-India War; the Pakistani military could launch a surprise attack on India and snatch Kashmir. The Pakistani military had sent their soldiers to Kashmir, dressed as locals, in the hope of starting an armed revolution against India. Within a few months of launching Operation Gibraltar, Pakistan’s plans were exposed, as the Indian Army captured many Pakistani troops. This resulted in Pakistan declaring a war on India.
Abdul Hamid was moved to the Khem Karan Sector of Asal Uttar
India knew that Pakistan had dedicated a majority of its forces to the Kashmir region, so India opened up the Punjab front and attacked Pakistan. The 4th battalion of the Grenadier Regiment was moved to the Khem Karan sector in Punjab. Before getting deployed, CQMH Abdul Hamid acquired the newly inducted 106 mm Recoilless Guns (RCL). The unit was short of anti-tank commanders, hence Abdul Hamid was made the anti-tank detachment’s commander. Abdul was an excellent marksman, and nobody doubted his aiming capabilities. He was among the first few soldiers, to have been trained to use the Russian made RCL guns.
Abdul’s bravado in the Battle of Asal Uttar
Abdul and his unit were tasked with the defence of the strategically important Cheema village, which was situated in the Khem Karan sector. Abdul’s orders were clear; he had to hold the line and thwart any attempts made by the Pakistanis to infiltrate. On 8 September 1965, at around 9 am, Hamid through his binoculars spotted 3 Pakistani Patton tanks moving towards their forward location. Abdul and his RCL jeep were under the cover of a lush sugarcane field, situated nearby. In the book, The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories, the author described the situation as,
The fields are rustling with sugar cane and even as Hamid sits in the passenger seat of his jeep, which has mounted on it a recoilless (RCL) gun, he can hear the wind. The jeep trundles over a narrow mud track ahead of Cheema village. Hamid knows Pakistan has launched an attack with a regiment of Patton tanks that has barged right into the forward position. He hears the rumble of armour first and then catches sight of a few tanks that are heading towards his battalion.”
Abdul instructed the RCL gunner to hold his fire until the tanks were directly under their line of fire. As soon as the unsuspecting tanks came within the effective firing range, Abdul commanded his men to open fire from their RCL guns. The shells directly hit the leading Pakistani Patton tank; blowing it to smithereens. The noise of the fire was so loud, that it scared the crew of the two other remaining tanks; the enemy troops abandoned their tanks and ran away. In her book, The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories, the author Rachna Bisht Rawat wrote,
The tank is burning in front of his eyes. Hamid and his men rejoice. ‘Shabaash!’, Bravo, he mouths and they exchange wide smiles. They spot the crew of the two following tanks dismount and run away. Hamid orders the driver to reverse and move.”
At 11 am, 3 more Pakistani tanks led the charge against Abdul and his men. The tanks met the same fate, as the previous ones that came before. The leading tank was destroyed, and the remaining two tanks were abandoned by the scared Pakistani crew. On 8 September 1965, Abdul destroyed 2 enemy tanks and captured 4 tanks. On 9 September 1965, Hamid, along with his men managed to destroy 2 more enemy tanks, while firing from the cover of the sugarcane fields. For destroying 4 enemy tanks and capturing 4 more, Abdul Hamid’s name was recommended for a Param Vir Chakra. Rachna Bisht Rawat, in her book, The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories, exclaimed,
That night Abdul Hamid sleeps well. He is happy with his achievement. His citation has been sent for a Param Vir Chakra (PVC). It credits him with the destruction of four tanks.”
Abdul’s devastation of the Pakistani tanks continues
Even after Abdul’s name was recommended for the Param Vir Chakra; the war was not yet over for him, as he was determined to defeat the enemy and save the Khem Karan sector from Pakistani aggression. On the morning of 10 September 1965, Abdul saw a large number of Pakistani tanks moving towards his location. This time, the enemy’s armoured column was supported by heavy artillery shelling and infantry troops. Abdul and his men were waiting patiently for the enemy to close in. As soon as the tanks came within the effective firing range of the RCL guns, Abdul and his anti-tank detachment opened fire; leading to the destruction of 4 more Pakistani tanks. The enemy, by now, had spotted the exact location, from where Abdul and his men firing at them, and hence, concentrated their tank’s fire upon the RCL jeeps. While moving from one position to another, Abdul aimed at a Pakistani tank and fired at it. Both Abdul and the enemy were under each other’s crosshairs. As soon as Abdul fired upon the enemy’s tank, the enemy also fired upon Abdul’s RCL jeep. A plaque erected by Abdul’s unit, 4 Grenadiers, states,
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.”
Awards, Honours & Achievements
- CQMH Abdul Hamid was awarded India’s highest gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra. The award was received by his wife Rasoolan Bibi on 26 January 1966.
- On 10 September 1979, the Army Postal Service Corps released a postal cover in honour of the brave soldier.
- On 26 January 2000, the Government of India released a postal stamp in honour of the brave soldier.
- Every year on 9 September, the village of Assal Uttar organises a sports and cultural fest, in honour of CQMH Abdul Hamid.
- On 10 September 2017, the then Army Chief, late General Bipin Rawat inaugurated Abdul Hamid’s memorial at his hometown in Ghazipur.
- The Indian Army has constructed a Mazar, in honour of the brave soldier in Asal Uttar.
- A memorial was erected by the Government of India in his hometown at Dharampur.
- CQMH Abdul Hamid has also been decorated with other medals such as Samar Seva Star, Raksha Medal and Sainya Seva Medal. Stories of Heroism: PVC & MVC Winners by BC Chakravorty
- At Jodhpur military station, CQMH Abdul Hamid’s bust has been installed in his honour.
On 10 September 1965, Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid’s jeep was struck by the fire from the enemy’s tank, upon which he was aiming at. Even though the tank was hit by Abdul’s RCL gun; it managed to fire back at Abdul’s jeep, destroying it, and killing Abdul on the spot.
In her book, The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories, Rachna Bisht Rawat wrote,
Another tank slowly lumbers towards him, but he does not have the time to move since they have both spotted each other. Both place each other in their sights and shoot. Both shells hit their targets. There is a loud blast, fire and smoke. Even as the tank is blown up, its shell hits the RCL jeep. The impact flings it in the air. There are screams of pain, a lound crash and then complete silence intercepted only by the crackle of flames. Abdul Hamid is dead. He has blown up a total of seven enemy tanks, even more than an armoured formation can hope for.”
- During the battle of Asal Uttar, on 10 September 1965, Abdul Hamid fought the Pakistani forces, continuously, for 9 hours.
- The tanks destroyed by CQMH Abdul Hamid have been kept at Patton Nagar, near the village of Asal Uttar, Punjab.
- Abdul Hamid’s family was against his decision to join the Indian Army.
- During the last day of battle, the Pakistani Army fielded 14 newly acquired Patton tanks against 4 Grenadiers.
- Due to the daredevilry of Abdul Hamid, and the men under his command, his unit, 4 Grenadiers, was honoured with the Battle Honour of Asal Uttar and Theatre Honour (Punjab).
- There is an entire chapter, named Vir Abdul Hamid, in the NCERT textbook, dedicated to the brave soldier.
- Abdul Hamid always placed his duty towards the country before anything else. That is why when his wife asked him to stay back for just one more day; he calmly refused.
- To rejoin his unit for the 1965 war, Abdul was to leave for the railway station. While packing his bedding, the rope, which he was using to bind his belonging, snapped. While he was on his way to the railway station, his bicycle broke down. His wife considered all of this, a bad omen. Rachna Bisht Rawat wrote,
Hamid presses his rolled-up bedding with his knee and knots the thick rope binding it together. He is giving it another tug to make the bed roll tighter when the rope suddenly snaps, leaving one half in his hand. The bedding unfolds, spilling the contents. Amongst these is a muffler that Rasoolan Bibi has bought for her husband from a fair in a nearby village. She is in tears. That is a bad omen, she says, Please do not go today.”
- CQMH Abdul Hamid’s citation states that he managed to destroy 4 Pakistani Patton tanks, whereas, in reality, he managed to destroy 8 enemy tanks. This discrepancy is found because Abdul Hamid was recommended for the Param Vir Chakra on 9 September 1965, after which he managed to destroy more Pakistani tanks. The Better India
- Abdul Hamid was an excellent marksman. During his younger days, he accepted the challenge of a local zamindar; to shoot a particular variety of a bird, which Abdul managed to do with ease. While telling about the incident, Abdul’s grandson, Jameel said,
Haseen Ahmed, the zamindar of a nearby village, who was a very good marksman, offered a big prize money to anyone who would shoot down a particular bird which Ahmed himself had not been able to do. My grandfather borrowed his friend Bachu’s gun and shot the bird, but refused to go to the zamindar for the prize money. It was Bachu who went there instead and when the zamindar asked for my grandfather to come to collect the prize, he refused, saying, ‘I might be poor, but I don’t go begging to people’s houses.’ The zamindar later had the prize money sent to his house.”
- Abdul Hamid also enjoyed sports. He was interested in wrestling, swimming and hunting. He was also good at playing Gatka, which is a sword fighting sport. The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories
- In 1988, the famous film actor, Naseeruddin Shah played the role of Vir Abdul Hamid, in the TV series, Param Vir Chakra. The series was aired at DD National.