1st Armoured Division (India)

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The 1st Armoured Division is an armoured division of the Indian Army. It is part of II Corps and is headquartered at Patiala, Punjab. It is part of the Indian Army Western Command.

The division was formed when the 31st Indian Armoured Division was redesignated on September 1, 1945.[1]

The 1st Armoured Division was one of two divisional headquarters transferred from the British Indian Army to the Indian Army upon the partition of British India in August 1947.[fn 1] At the time it had its divisional headquarters at Secunderabad and the 43rd Lorried Infantry Brigade away with the Punjab Boundary Force. In June 1946, the wartime 255th Indian Tank Brigade was redesignated as 1st Armoured Brigade and assigned to 1st Armoured Division.[3]

The division played a major role in Operation Polo, the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union in 1948. During this time Major General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri was serving as the division's commander, also serving as Military Governor of the state in the immediate aftermath of the invasion. For the Hyderabad operation, the division controlled the 1st Armoured Brigade and the 7th and 9th Infantry Brigades.[4]

The 1st Armoured Division played an important role in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. The Division, also nicknamed the 'Black Elephant' or 'Airawat' Division, consisted in 1965 of the 17th Cavalry, The Poona Horse, the 4th Hodson's Horse, the 16th 'Black Elephant' Cavalry, the 7th Light Cavalry, the 2nd Royal Lancers, the 18th Cavalry and the 62nd Cavalry, the two first named being equipped with Centurion tanks. During the war Major General Rajinder Singh Sparrow was GOC of the Division,[5] he won the Mahavir Chakra for his role.[6]

After the war the division still consisted of the 1st Armoured Brigade and the 43rd Lorried Infantry Brigade. The Armoured Brigade consisted of the 16th Cavalry, Hodson's Horse and the Poona Horse equipped with upgraded Sherman and Centurion tanks.

The 16th Light Cavalry was also equipped with Centurion tanks. The regiment was the leading element and suffered one officer casualty only. During the 1971 war the 16th's two squadrons stayed in defences, while its A Squadron took part in operations in a supporting role of an infantry brigade in Shakargarh sector and was highly decorated. Three out of the four officers of Alfa Squadron went on to become Lieutenant Generals in the Indian Army career while the fourth left the army and settled abroad.

Following the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, the division was reorganised with the 1st and 43rd Armoured Brigades and relocated in 1972 to Ambala. In 1984, it was reorganized with the 1st, 43rd and 98th Armoured Brigades.[4]

The division may also include the 5 Armoured Regiment. 63 Cavalry may also be with the 43 Armoured Brigade.[7]


  1. ^ A third divisional headquarters, of the 4th Indian Division, had become the Punjab Boundary Force.[2]


  1. ^ Rikhye, Ravi (August 25, 2002). "Indian Armored Divisions in World War II". orbat.com. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  2. ^ Rinaldi & Rikhye (2011), p. 33.
  3. ^ Rinaldi & Rikhye (2011), p. 166.
  4. ^ a b Rinaldi & Rikhye (2011), p. 35.
  5. ^ "Major General Rajinder Singh Sparrow, MVC, GOC 1st Armoured Division". Bharat Rakshak. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  6. ^ "Former Congress (I) MP Rajinder Singh Sparrow passes away: Signposts". India Today. May 15, 1994. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  7. ^ Rawat, D. S. (November 1, 2000). "A Trekking Expedition". Sainik Samachar. Archived from the original on July 20, 2012.
  • Rinaldi, Richard & Rikhye, Ravi (2011). Indian Army Order of Battle. General Data LLC. ISBN 978-0-98205-417-8.