Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, PVC - The man who destroyed 60 Pakistani tanks!!

Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore was an officer in the Indian Army and a recipient of the Param Vir Chakra. During World W...

Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore was an officer in the Indian Army and a recipient of the Param Vir Chakra. During World War II he saw action in the Middle East. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, he saw action in the Sialkot sector. Under his leadership the regiment destroyed sixty Pakistani tanks, while the Indians suffered the loss of nine. In this article, we will have a brief look on his life and his contributions to the country.

Quick Facts

  • Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore was born on 18 August 1923 in Bombay. 
  • Ratanjiba, one of Tarapore's ancestors, was a military leader under Chatrapati Shivaji. 
  • The family name "Tarapore" was the namesake of the village of Tarapur, Maharashtra. It was the leading village of those in the charge of Ratanjiba.
  • Later, Tarapore's grandfather relocated to Hyderabad and started working in the Customs and Excise Department of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
  • His father, B. P. Tarapore, was a scholar of Persian and Urdu languages. He also worked for the same Customs and Excise Department.
  • Tarapore joined Sardar Dastur Boys' Boarding School, Pune, at the age of seven. He was not good at academic subjects but was good at sports. 
  • He completed his schooling in 1940, and was the school captain that year. 

Military Career

  • After his schooling, he applied for selection in the Hyderabad Army and was selected.
  • He completed his initial training at the Officers' Training School (OTS) Golconda and OTS Bangalore. 
  • He was commissioned into the 7th Hyderabad Infantry as a second lieutenant on 1 January 1942.
  • He was unhappy as he did not want to join the infantry but he wanted to join an armoured regiment.
  • When his battalion was being inspected by Major General Syed Ahmed El Edroos, then Commander-in-Chief of the Hyderabad state forces, a live grenade accidentally fell into a bay area during a live-ammunition training exercise. Tarapore quickly picked it up and threw it away. The grenade exploded mid-air inflicting shrapnel wounds to his chest. Major General Edroos witnessed his actions and was impressed. He called Tarapore to his office and congratulated him. Tarapore took the opportunity to request a transfer to an armoured regiment. The general agreed and transferred him to the 1st Hyderabad Imperial Service Lancers. 
  • After Hyderabad State was annexed by India in 1948, Tarapore was selected to join the Indian Army.
  • He was commissioned again in April 1951, and was posted to the Poona Horse regiment, 17th Battalion. He was first posted on probation for two years to 'B' Squadron of the regiment and was later transferred to 'A' Squadron as its second-in-command
  • India acquired Centurion tanks in the early 1960s. He was selected to attend a training course on the Centurion tank in the United Kingdom. 
  • He was martyred in the Indo-Pak war of 1965 in the Battle of Chawinda at the age of 42.

Battle of Chawinda

  • On 6 September 1965, Indian forces crossed the Radcliffe Line, marking the official beginning of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
  • Indian I Corps was given the responsibility of capturing the Sialkot sector. 
  • Poona Horse was part of the 1st Armoured Division, attached to I Corps.
  • It was tasked to isolate Sialkot from Lahore. 
  • On 11 September 1965 Poona Horse launched an attack on Phillora. To surprise the Pakistanis, it was decided to attack Phillora from the rear. 
  • Lieutenant Colonel Tarapore was attacking Phillora from Chawinda. 
  • His troops encountered Pakistani armour advancing from Wazirwali. Tarapore held his ground and attacked Phillora under heavy enemy tank and artillery fire. 
  • He got seriously wounded but he refused to be evacuated. His regiment successfully captured Wazirwali on 14 September. 
  • On the 16 September, they advanced to capture Jassoran, supported by 9 Dogra and Butur-Dograndi, supported by 8 Garhwal. 
  • In the Butur-Dograndi battle his tank was hit several times. Tarapore was mortally wounded and he died. 
  • Under his leadership the regiment had destroyed sixty Pakistani tanks while the Indians had suffered the loss of just nine.
  • As a mark of respect, even Pakistani tanks held their fire during his cremation.
  • He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for leading the regiment while injured and inflicting significant tank losses on the Pakistani side.
  • His wife received the award on his behalf from the President of India. Later, as her own health deteriorated, it was handed over to the regiment and preserved in its quarter guard.

Official PVC Citation

"On 11 September 1965, the Poona Horse regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzarji Tarapore was assigned the task of delivering the main armored thrust for capturing Phillora in the Sialkot Sector in Pakistan. As a preliminary to making a surprise attack on Phillora from the rear, the regiment was thrusting between Phillora and Chawinda when it was suddenly counter attacked by the enemy’s heavy Armour from Wazirali. Lieutenant Colonel A. B. Tarapore who was then at the head of his regiment, defied the enemy’s charge, held his ground and gallantly attacked Philloira with one of his squadrons supported by an infantry battalion. Though under continuous enemy tank and artillery fire, Lieutenant Colonel A. B. Tarapore remained unperturbed throughout this action and when wounded refused to be evacuated. Inspired by his leadership, the regiment fiercely attacked the enemy heavy armour destroying approximately 60 enemy tanks at a cost of only 9 tank casualties, and when Lieutenant Colonel A. B Tarapore was mortally wounded the regiment continue to defy the enemy. The valour displayed by Lieutenant Colonel A.B. Tarapore in this heroic action, which lasted six days, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Army."

— The Gazette of India Notification No. 112—Press/65

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thRadical: Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, PVC - The man who destroyed 60 Pakistani tanks!!
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