Zoji La had been seized by Pakistani raiders in 1948 in their campaign to capture Ladakh. The pass was captured by Indian forces on 1 November in a daring assault, which achieved success primarily due to the surprise use of armour, then the highest altitude at which armour had operated in combat in the world.
Initially, an unsuccessful attack was launched by 77 Parachute Brigade (Brig Atal) to capture Zoji La. Operation Duck, the earlier epithet for this assault, was renamed as Operation Bison by Lt Gen Cariappa, the Western Army commander. M5 Stuart light tanks of 7 Cavalry were moved in dismantled conditions through Srinagar and winched across bridges while two field companies of the Madras Sappers converted the mule track from Baltal up the Zoji La to Gumriinto a jeep track. The surprise attack on 1 November by the brigade with armour supported by two regiments of 25 pounders and a regiment of 3.7 inch guns, saw the Pakistanis being surprised. The pass was forced and the raider column pushed back to Matayan and later Dras. The brigade linked up on 24 November at Kargil with Indian troops advancing from Leh while the Pakistanis eventually withdrew northwards toward Skardu. .
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Sinha, Lt. Gen. S.K. (1977). Operation Rescue:Military Operations in Jammu & Kashmir 1947-49. New Delhi: Vision Books. pp. 174. ISBN 81-7094-012-5. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=SMwBAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
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