2nd Indian Cavalry Division

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2nd Indian Cavalry Division
Active September 1914 – March 1918
Country British India
Allegiance British Crown
Branch British Indian Army
Type Cavalry
Size Division
Part of Indian Cavalry Corps
Engagements

Western Front in World War I

Battle of the Somme
Battle of Bazentin Ridge
Battle of Flers-Courcelette
Hindenburg Line
Battle of Cambrai

The 2nd Indian Cavalry Division was a division of the British Indian Army formed at the outbreak of World War I. It served on the Western Front, being renamed as 5th Cavalry Division on 26 November 1916.[1] In March 1918, the 5th Cavalry Division was broken up. The British and Canadian units remained in France and the Indian elements were sent to Egypt to help constitute 2nd Mounted Division.[2]

History[edit]

The division sailed for France from Bombay on October 16, 1914, under the command of Major General G A Cookson. During the war the division would serve in the trenches as infantry. Due to the difference on troop levels each cavalry brigade, once dismounted, formed a dismounted regiment.

In March 1916 the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division was attached to the British Fourth Army. On July 1, 1916 the Secunderabad Cavalry Brigade moved into a reserve position on the Somme, ready to exploit any breakthrough. The same brigade was sent up again on July 14, to Montauban to support the attack on the BazentinLongueval ridge. At 17.30 the leading two regiments were ordered to advance between High Wood and Delville Wood. The British 7th Dragoon Guards and the Indian 20th Deccan Horse galloped forward to a position between the woods, but little could be achieved. At 03.30 on July 15, they returned to Montauban, having suffered casualties of 74 men and 110 horses. Cavalry units were again brought forward on September 15 to support the attack on Flers-Courcelette, but were not drawn into the fighting and played no further part in the Battle of the Somme except as labour units in reserve. The high number of officer casualties suffered early on had an effect on its later performance. British officers that understood the language, customs, and psychology of their men could not be quickly replaced, and the alien environment of the Western Front had some effect on the soldiers.[3] The 2nd Indian Cavalry Division was renamed the 5th Cavalry Division on 26 November 1916 and attached to the 5th Army.[4] In March 1918 the division was transferred to Egypt,[5] although its two British regular cavalry regiments (8th Hussars and 7th Dragoon Guards) remained in France.

Order of Battle December 1914[edit]

Troops of the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division during the Battle of the Somme

5th (Mhow) Cavalry Brigade to 15 September 1915, then to 1st Indian Cavalry Division

6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons
2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
38th King George's Own Central India Horse
X Battery, Royal Horse Artillery

7th (Meerut) Cavalry Brigade to June 1916

13th Hussars
3rd Skinner's Horse
18th King George's Own Lancers
V Battery, Royal Horse Artillery

9th (Secunderabad) Cavalry Brigade

7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards
20th Deccan Horse
34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse
N Battery, Royal Horse Artillery

II Indian Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery

N Battery, RHA attached to 9th (Secunderabad) Cavalry Brigade
V Battery, RHA attached to 7th (Meerut) Cavalry Brigade
X Battery, RHA attached to 5th (Mhow) Cavalry Brigade then 3rd (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade
II Indian RHA Brigade Ammunition Column

Order of Battle March 1917[edit]

3rd (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade from 1st Indian Cavalry Division on 15 September 1915

8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars
9th Hodson's Horse
30th Lancers (Gordon's Horse)
X Battery, Royal Horse Artillery
14th Machine Gun Squadron

9th (Secunderabad) Cavalry Brigade

7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards
20th Deccan Horse
34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse
N Battery, Royal Horse Artillery
13th Machine Gun Squadron

Canadian Cavalry Brigade from June 1916

Royal Canadian Dragoons
Lord Strathcona's Horse
Fort Garry Horse
Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade (A and B Batteries, RCHA)
Canadian Cavalry Brigade Machine Gun Squadron

XVII Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery (II Indian Brigade, RHA redesignated)

N Battery, RHA attached to 9th (Secunderabad) Cavalry Brigade
X Battery, RHA attached to 3rd (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade
XVII RHA Brigade Ammunition Column

Order of Battle September 1918[edit]

13th Cavalry Brigade (Brigadier General Philip James Vandeleur Kelly)
Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
9th Hodson's Horse
18th King George's Own Lancers
14th Cavalry Brigade (Brigadier General Goland Vanhalt Clarke)
Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry
20th Deccan Horse
34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse
15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade (Brigadier General Cyril Rodney Harbord)
Jodhpur Lancers
Mysore Lancers
1st Hyderabad Lancers
B Battery, Honourable Artillery Company
Essex Battery RHA with Divisional Ammunition Column.[6]
11th LAM Battery
No. 1 Light Car Patrol[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Perry 1993, p. 18
  2. ^ Perry 1993, p. 19
  3. ^ Haythornthwaite 1992
  4. ^ Baker, Chris. "The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line". The Long Long Trail. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Sumner 2001, p. 9
  6. ^ Preston 1921, p. 336
  7. ^ Wavell 1968, p. 216

Bibliography[edit]

  • Haythornthwaite, Philip J. (1996). The World War One Source Book. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-351-7. 
  • Perry, F.W. (1993). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 5B. Indian Army Divisions. Newport, Gwent: Ray Westlake Military Books. ISBN 1-871167-23-X. 
  • Preston, R.M.P. (1921). The Desert Mounted Corps: An Account of the Cavalry Operations in Palestine and Syria 1917–1918. London: Constable & Co. OCLC 3900439. 
  • Sumner, Ian (2001). The Indian Army 1914–1947. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-196-6. 
  • Wavell, Field Marshal Earl (1968) [1933]. "The Palestine Campaigns". In Sheppard, Eric William. A Short History of the British Army (4th ed.). London: Constable & Co. OCLC 35621223.