The Dronacharya Officers’ Mess in Bengaluru’s Victory Layout houses a tank which pays homage to India’s victory against Pakistan in the 1965 war— an M47 Patton, one of the advanced tanks captured by the Indian Army. Any war veteran hearing the word M47 Patton is likely to respond that it is a “war-winning tank”.
Named after General George S Patton, the commander of the US Third Army during World War II, this M47 Patton was captured at the Bhikhiwind village in Punjab’s Khem Karam sector on September 10, 1965, during the battle of Asal Uttar. It was one of the largest tank battles fought during the war.
The M47’s turret points downward acknowledging the defeat it suffered. The tank is barred to outsiders but visible from the footpath adjoining it. It is maintained daily and painted annually.
Colonel (retired) V N Thapar, a 1962 commissioned officer who is a veteran of the 1965 and 1971 wars, recalls those times. “We went to battle with Centurion and Sherman tanks. There was another one, the AMX-13 tank, which was just like a matchbox. None of these tanks matched the M47 because it was the most advanced tank and we had no option but to fight. Having these tanks displayed highlights two things: We were victorious because of the high spirits and a reminder that we may have to fight in future and need to be prepared,” says Col Thapar.
He also says the captured M47 Patton was a medal to the Indian Army and displays the shame of Pakistan’s military.
Unfortunately, he adds, the Army needs to fight with what they have and there is a lack of modernisation in the force from time to time.
The M47, which was considered to be a lethal weapon, can cover a range of 130 kilometre and has a power of 810 horsepower at 2,800 rpm. It weighs 46,160 kg when loaded for combat. The firing rate is eight rounds a minute and the main run ammunition has 71 rounds.