The Indian Army’s Armored Corps is celebrating its 74th Armor Day on Tuesday. This day commemorates the mechanization of Indian Cavalry regiments. The Scinde Horse became the first regiment on May 1, 1938 to dismount from their horses and move to tanks, the Vickers light tanks and Chevrolet Armored Cars.
The Indian Armored Corps inducted the more modern Sherman tanks (M4) of US origin in 1943 and such regiments formed the spearhead of the 14th Army during its pursuit of the withdrawing Japanese in the liberation of Burma. After independence, Indian Armor lost one third of its units and training establishments to Pakistan with twelve regiments remaining in India. These regiments nurtured the Corps and helped expand it to the force it is today.
After independence the Armored Corps inducted Centurions Mark VII and AMX-13 light tanks. And since then, the Armored Corps has operated the indigenous Vijayanta tanks, the Russian T-54 and T-55, T-72 and T-90 tanks and the Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT).
The Corps showed its steel in the India-Pakistan war of 1965 when the fairly sophisticated Pakistani Patton tanks were decimated by India’s Centurian tanks to form the famous Patton Graveyard, near Khemkaran in Punjab.
Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore of The Poona Horse was posthumously honored with the Param Vir Chakra for his gallant action at Phillora in the Sialkot sector at the Battle of Chawinda. The Param Vir Chakra is India’s highest gallantry award in wartime.
The Corps proved its mettle again in the 1971 war with Pakistan in which tanks were at the forefront of action in the plains on, both, the Western and Eastern fronts. Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal fought gallantly and made the supreme sacrifice in the Battle of Basantar River earning for his regiment The Poona Horse, yet another Param Vir Chakra.
The men of India’s Armored Corps have earned for it two Param Vir Chakras, 15 Maha Vir Chakras and 60 Vir Chakras amongst a large number of gallantry and distinguished service awards bestowed upon officers and men of the Armored Corps. The Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra are India’s second and third-highest gallantry awards during war.
The Corps contributes substantially to the counter-insurgency operations as well. This includes service with the Rashtriya Rifles, Assam Rifles and other paramilitary forces. The Corps is also contributes to the UN peace keeping mission in Lebanon, apart from individual representations.