Commissioned in the 17th Poona Horse in April 1951, Lieutenant-Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore took part in the biggest tank battle of the 1965 Indo-Pak War. The battle took place in Pakistan’s Sialkot Sector in September 1965. Indian troops were moving to capture Phillora, Wazirwali and Chawinda when the Pakistani forces launched a counter-attack with heavy armour, infantry and artillery.
Lt Col Tarapore, who was leading the Poona Horse Regiment as part of the campaign, held his ground and attacked Phillora with the support of an infantry regiment after repelling the Pakistani charge on 11 September. They were under continuous enemy fire as they moved ahead. Tarapore, fondly known as Adi, received shrapnel injuries on his arm but he refused to leave the battlefield.
(Also Read- Abdul Hamid, other participant in 1965 Indo-Pak War)
Bravery On The Battlefield
The citation for his Param Vir Chakra gives details of his bravery on the battlefield. “On 14 September 1965, though still wounded he again led his regiment to capture Wazirali. Such was his grit and determination that unmindful of his injury, he again gallantly led his regiment and captured Jassoran and Butur-Dograndi on 16 September. His own tank was hit several times, but despite the odds he maintained his pivots in both these places and thereby allowed the supporting infantry to attack Chawinda from the rear,” says the citation.
Over the next few days, Indian troops went on to capture some other Pakistani targets even as Tarapore’s tank was hit several times by the enemy. “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 Lt.- Col A. B Tarapore was mortally wounded, the Regiment continued to defy the enemy,” says the citation.
Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore is said to have died inside his tank when it went up in flames after being hit by the enemy. He was conferred a Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his bravery.
The officer began his career in the military as a member of the Hyderabad State Force in 1942, initially with the infantry and subsequently with the armoured division which he had always aspired for. He participated in World War II in west Asia. Major Somnath Sharma and Lance Naik Karam Singh were other two PVC winners who took part in World War II.
The force was amalgamated with the Indian Army when Hyderabad merged with India and Tarapore became part of 17th Poona Horse.
(Read Also- Arun Khaterpal, other PVC winner to be commissioned in 17th Poona Horse)
By the time he was killed in action, Tarapore had earned the reputation of a commander who inspired and motivated his men by actions like opening his tank’s cupola (turret) and standing up even when the enemy was firing.