The Bangladesh War 1971

The Amphibious Armour Advantage

© US Armour Association, May/June 2001

Introduced by the Soviet Army in 1952, the PT-76 light tank was very lightly armoured, with a large hull because of the volume required to maintain its buoyancy. Adam Geibel discusses the tank's role in the 1971 Indo-Pak Conflict. CPT Adam Geibel is the S2, 5/117th Cavalry, 421D (NJARNG). In civilian life, he is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Military Ordnance and a freelance writer.

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Longewala : Best of Braves

 Colonel Anil Shorey (Retd) © Sainik Samachar- Vol.52, No.4, 16-28 February 2005

The Battle of Longewala goes down in the annals of military history as a classic case of human resolve and motivation in the face of extremely heavy odds. In this battle a handful of troops, numbering approximately 100, not only faced a brigade attack supported by a regiment and a squadron of tanks but successfully stalled the same after incurring heavy losses on the enemy at the cost of negligible casualty to the defenders. In addition, as a result of the subsequent combined Army-Air Force effort, the enemy suffered more casualties thereby turning the tides against the superior force of the attackers. The enemy had no option but to withdraw from the battle area. In 1971, Major K N Chandpuri was commanding 'A' Coy of the 23 Punjab Regiment which was occupying a defensive position at Longewala, a small hamlet in Rajasthan situated in the Thar desert. The rest of the battalion was at Sadhewala, about 17 km to his north-east. While Major Chandpuri had under his command a detachment of the Border Security Force (BSF), a section each of medium machine guns (MMGs) and 81mm mortars and his two recoilless gun detachments were under training at the battalion headquarters. He had no armour and artillery support. Defences were sited on a high sand dune.Immediately after Pakistan's pre-emptive air sorties on Indian airfields on December 3, 1971, Major Chandpuri dispatched a strong patrol of 20 men under Lieutenant Dharam Vir towards Boundary Pillar (BP) 638, erected right on the international border. On the night of December 4/5th, Lieutenant Vir reported noises from across the border suggesting a major armour movement. Since this development was totally unexpected and uncorroborated by Indian intelligence, the initial reaction to this news up the channel of command was casual. Shortly afterwards, Lieutenant Vir reported a very large number of tanks and other vehicles crossing the border and heading towards Longewala. Soon the Pakistanis started shelling the Longewala position by medium artillery guns from across the border, killing five BSF camels. When Major Chandpuri heard the enemy tanks advancing, he directed his patrol to shadow the enemy forces and sent an urgent message to his battalion headquarters for reinforcements, armour and artillery support.

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The Lord of Boundary Pillar BP 638

During the many notable battles were fought in the Western Theatre too to contain and destroy our adversary. One such Battle was “The Battle of Boundary Pillar (BP) 638” fought by 13 Kumaon on 9 December 1971 near Longewala in Jaisalmer Sector against utter combat confusion and heavy odds. Colonel N N Bhatia writes the story of the battle.

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