Abdul Hamid was born in Dhamupur village of Ghazipur district, United Provinces, British India, on 1 July 1933, into a Muslim family. His father was Mohammad Usman.
Abdul Hamid joined the The Grenadiers regiment of the Indian Army on 27 December 1954. He was later posted to the 4th battalion of the regiment, 4 Grenadiers, where he served for the rest of his life. During his service, Hamid served with his battalion in Agra, Amritsar, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, NEFA and Ramgarh. During the Sino-Indian War of 1962, Hamid's battalion was part of 7th Infantry Brigade commanded by Brigadier John Dalvi, and participated in the battle of Namka Chu against the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Surrounded and cut off, the battalion had made a fighting breakaway into Bhutan on foot and then to Misamari. A young officer of 4 Grenadiers, 2 Lt. G.V.P. Rao, was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his actions during the war - the medal highest gallantry award received by the battalion since Indian independence until Hamid's own award eclipsed it.
After five years of service in the anti-tank section of 4 Grenadiers, Hamid was promoted and was given charge of the quartermaster stores for his company. As he was the best M40 recoilless rifle shot in the battalion, he was reverted to his former charge as the Non-commissioned officer commanding the battalion's recoilless rifle platoon.
In the Lahore sector of operations during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Indian 4th Mountain Division, having been rebuffed in its advance to the Ichhogil Canal by the Pakistani counter-offensive, fell back to the Khem Karan area. In the new defence plan of the division, 4 Grenadiers, along with three other battalions, formed a defence line between the villages of Asal Uttar and Chima on the Khem Karan-Bhikhiwind-Amritsar road and the Patti axis. 4 Grenadiers was on the northern flank in the general vicinity of Chima while other battalions were to the south ending with its sister battalion, 7 Grenadiers, in Asal Uttar itself.
Earlier the battalion had captured its objective on the Ichhogil Canal but, being outflanked by the Pakistani counter-offensive, was ordered back to new positions. It had already been in combat for more than 24 hours when it began digging trenches and weapon pits in its defensive positions. The battalion's defensive area was covered with cotton and sugarcane fields and the battalion was able to camouflage its location, using ploughed fields for field of fire. The 106mm recoilless rifles were deployed along the Khem Karan-Bhikhiwind-Amritsar road. On 8 September, the Pakistanis made repeated probing attacks on 4 Grenadiers' position. The battalion's recoilless rifles and automatic weapons were effectively sited by two officers, Lt. H.R. Jahnu and 2 Lt. V.K. Vaid. That afternoon Hamid himself destroyed two Patton tanks, the commander of one of which asked Hamid for directions just before Hamid destroyed the tank.
On 10 September 1965 at 0800 hours, a battalion of Pakistani armour supported by Patton tanks attacked 4 Grenadier's position but was unable to locate the battalion's defences. The attack was preceded by intense artillery bombardment to soften the target and to garner heavy fire in an attempt to draw an Indian response. By 0900 hours, the enemy tanks had penetrated the forward company positions. In the melee, Hamid saw a group of Pattons heading towards his battalion defences. Seeing the gravity of the situation, he moved out to a flank with his gun mounted on a jeep. Intense enemy shelling and tank fire did not deter him. He fired continuously, knocking out three Pattons one after another, but was killed by tank fire from the fourth before he could engage it.
Successful actions by Indian armour, artillery and infantry anti-tank actions, such as those of Abdul Hamid, tarnished the reputation of the M48 Patton and after the 1965 war, the M48 was largely replaced by the M60. India set up a war memorial named "Patton Nagar" ("Patton Town") in Khem Karan district, where captured Pakistani Patton tanks are displayed.
The Param Vir Chakra citation on the official Indian Army website reads as follows:CITATION
COMPANY QUARTERMASTER HAVILDAR ABDUL HAMID
4 GRENADIERS (NO 2639985)
At 0800 hours on 10 September 1965 Pakistan forces launched an attack with a regiment of Patton tanks on a vital area ahead of village Cheema on the Bhikkiwind road in the Khem Karan Sector. Intense artillery shelling preceded the attack. The enemy tanks penetrated the forward position by 0900 hours. Realising the grave situation, Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid who was commander of a RCL gun detachment moved out to a flanking position with his gun mounted on a jeep, under intense enemy shelling and tank fire. Taking an advantageous position, he knocked out the leading enemy tank and then swiftly changing his position, he sent another tank up in flames. By this time the enemy tanks in the area spotted him and brought his jeep under concentrated machine-gun and high explosive fire. Undeterred, Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid kept on firing on yet another enemy tank with his recoilless gun. While doing so, he was mortally wounded by an enemy high explosive shell.
Havildar Abdul Hamid’s brave action inspired his comrades to put up a gallant fight and to beat back the heavy tank assault by the enemy. His complete disregard for his personal safety during the operation and his sustained acts of bravery in the face of constant enemy fire were a shining example not only to his unit but also to the whole division and were in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.
The award was announced on 16 September 1965, less than a week after the battle that cost his life. The award was presented to his spouse, Rasoolan Bibi by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, then President of India during the 1966 Republic Day Parade.
In Hamid's memory, a mausoleum was constructed on his grave by 4 Grenadiers at Asal Uttar and each year a "mela" is organised on the date of his martyrdom. The residents of Asal Uttar have named and operate a dispensary, library and school in the village. In his honour, the Army Postal Service issued a special cover on 10 September 1979.
In the 1988 Television serial Param Vir Chakra by Chetan Anand, Abdul Hamid was portrayed Naseeruddin Shah.
A pictorial postage stamp of value Rs. 3 was issued by India Post on 28 January 2000 as part of a set of five postage stamps on gallantry award winners. The stamp had Abdul Hamid's bust on it along with an illustration of a jeep with recoilless rifle.
Hamid's widow, Rasoolan Bibi, met the then President of India, Pratibha Patil, in Lucknow in 2008 with a number of requests including the creation of a military recruitment center in his village, converting Hamid's home in Dullapur into a memorial, observing the day of his martyrdom as an occasion at the national level and help for her grandchildren to get government employment.
A memorial to Abdul Hamid was constructed in his home village of Dhamupur but later fell into neglect. The memorial was renovated in 2011 by the Flags of Honour Foundation on Hamid's 46th death anniversary. The renovation included the installation of a new statue of him, repair and painting of gates and boundary and improvement of the garden. Indian Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar, founder of Flags of Honour, spoke on the occasion.