1965 Indo-Pak War
The tank battles of 1965 took their place in annals of military history as the most intense ones ever, since World War II. Close to a thousand tanks, on both sides, took part in the pitch battles and offensives. At the start of the war, India had one armoured division and one independent armoured brigade, along with six armoured regiments supporting infantry divisions. Pakistan had two armoured divisions, equipped with the then very modern M-48 Patton tanks. India had an equivalent tank in the Centurion, but their strength was limited to only four armoured regiments.
India had its largest haul of Pakistani tanks when the offensive of Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division was blunted at the Battle of Assal Uttar on September 10th. Six Pakistani armoured regiments took part in the battle, namely the 19 Lancers (Patton), 12 Cavalry (Chafee), 24 Cavalry (Patton) 4 Cavalry (Patton), 5 Horse (Patton) and 6 Lancers (Patton). These were opposed by three Indian armoured regiments with inferior tanks, Deccan Horse (Sherman), 3 Cavalry (Centurion) and 8 Cavalry (AMX-13). The battle was so fierce & intense that at the end of the war, the 4th Indian Division (aka "The Fighting Fourth") had captured about 97 tanks in destroyed, damaged or intact condition. This included 72 Patton tanks and 25 Chafees and Shermans. 32 of the 97 tanks, including 28 Pattons, were in running condition. Indian losses in the Khem Karan sector were 32 tanks. Around 15 of them were captured by the Pakistan Army, mostly Sherman tanks.
India had its 1st Armoured Division on the offensive in this area. Equipped with four armoured regiments, this division faced stiff opposition from the Pakistani 6th Armoured Division. Some of the fiercest tank battles were fought at Phillora and then at Chawinda. At the end of the fighting, India had claimed more than 170 tanks destroyed, of which 42 were captured in the I Corps area (11 of them intact and 31 of them in destroyed or damaged condition). India's own losses in the area were 29 tanks destroyed and another 41 damaged, that were repaired after the war. This is substantiated by a Pakistani Official History of the 6th Armoured Division "Men of Steel" that states that 35 tanks were left in Indian control (17 M48, 9 M47, 9 M36B2) but that nine of these were recovered after the war when Indian troops vacated the area held by then.
But the fierce battles of 1965 were not limited to the Battles for Khem Karan, Phillora and Chawinda alone. The Indian forces fought Pakistani armour in other sectors as well and got the better of them. The famous see-saw battle for the village of Dograi resulted in seven Pakistani tanks falling into Indian hands on the night of September 22nd, just a few hours before the war ended. At Chamb, a courageous EME (Electrical & Mechanical Engineers) Officer worked under the Pakistani artillery fire to retrieve an abandoned Walker Bulldog reconnaissance tank right under the noses of Pakistani troops. Indian losses at Chamb were severe. An entire squadron of AMX-13 tanks of the 20th Cavalry was lost in trying to stem a Pakistani advance supported by a regiment of M-48 Pattons. By the end of the war, it is estimated that Pakistan lost nearly 300 tanks destroyed. India had more than 150 tanks in its hands as war trophies and it is not unsafe to assume that more tanks were destroyed, that were in Pakistani territory, both by army as well as air action. Indian losses were less than half at 128 tanks destroyed. About 40 tanks would have fell into Pakistani hands, most of them vintage AMX-13s from Chamb and Shermans from Khem Karan.