14th Prince of Wales's Own Scinde Horse
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|14th Prince of Wales's Own Scinde Horse|
|Branch||British Indian Army|
|Part of||Indian Cavalry Corps|
|Engagements||Second Sikh War
Second Afghan War
World War I
World War II
The 14th Prince of Wales's Own Scinde Horse was a regular cavalry regiment of the British Indian Army it can trace its formation back to The Scinde Irregular Horse raised at Hyderabad on 8 August 1838. It was named after the province of Sind now in Pakistan, where it was raised to protect the trade route from the Bolan Pass to Sukkur on the Indus River and fight against the marauding Baluchi warriors. It later expanded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Scinde Horse. These three regiments were absorbed into the regular forces after the Mutiny of 1857 and became the 35th Scinde Horse and the 36th Jacob's Horse. They saw active service in Northern and Central India, Persia, Afghanistan on the North West Frontier and, during World War I, where they served in France and Palestine. The two regiments were amalgamated in 1922, as the present 14th Prince of Wales's Own Scinde Horse which served in World War II. Scinde Horse is the only regiment known to honour its enemy till date (the Baluchi warrior on its badge) and has not changed its badge since its raising, unlike others who have done so-numerous times. At one point, the regiment carried 9 Standards while on parade (regiments normally hold 1), a unique privilege given to it for its valor. The regiment was the first Cavalry unit in the British Indian Army to get mechanized in the Indian sub-continent at Rawalpindi, in 1938. It was also the first Cavalry regiment to get the President of India's Standard post independence.
The Scinde Horse was raised on 08 Aug 1838, in the Province of Sind (Then spelt as Scinde) now in Pakistan. It was therefore, called the Scinde (Sind) Horse. It was raised to protect the British Caravans traversing the Spice Route (From the Bolan Pass in Afghanistan, to the Indus at Sukkur and then via Fort Abbas to Bikaner, Hissar and Delhi. The route through the Thar Desert via Jaisalmer was too difficult and dangerous). Since this involved corridor protection along the route, laying in ambush and also accompanying the caravans, they travelled mostly in civil dress with weapons hidden to look inconspicuous. As a result, they were popularly called “The Scinde Irregular Horse”. The term Irregulars is carried with pride amongst Scindehorsemen to this day as they have consistently surprised the adversary both in times of war and in competitions during peace to gain an upper hand. The Irregulars have always thought “out of the box” and accomplished the seemingly impossible. The Badge The adversary during the early days, were the Baloochi marauders of the hill tribe of “Jekhranis”. On numerous occasions the Irregulars raided their camps to recover the booty they had looted from the caravans. However, the Irregulars respected the Jekhranis for their skill and valour in combat, so they adopted a Badge, depicting a Baloochi warrior with his spear (Jezail) charging on a Stallion, to remind them of a brave and valiant enemy who they repeatedly vanquished. The Scinde Horse, apart from its unique Badge, also is perhaps the only Regiment to have retained the same badge since inception. It adopted its Garrison Town, Khangur, West of Sukkur on the Indus, which came to be called as Jacobabad, after its first Commandant. This Name still remains and Jacobabad is now a major Garrison Town and Airbase in Pakistan.
John Jacob Having been raised as a contingent from detachments of The Poona Horse and others under Captain William Ward, the Scinde Irregular Horse got its first Commandant, John Jacob, an engineer from the Artillery. John Jacob Commanded and then remained a mentor of the Regiment from 1839 to 1856, in the process, achieving the Rank of Brigadier General, attained Knighthood and Governorship of the Province of Scinde. Brigadier General Sir John Jacob was buried at Jacobabad, named after him. Being an engineer, during his illustrious career, he led the Regiment in the Famous Charge at Meeanee, invented a rifled gun which fired both shot and shell accurately up to 1200 yards and used a straight cavalry Sabre as a bayonet. This invention finds a place in the Handbook of Ancient Firearms. His Saddlery and Gun along with the Sabre are placed in the Officers’ Mess in the Regiment. He also gave great thought to the location of his Grave and selected a spot in the flood plains of the Indus, wherein the flood waters would rise to the level of the foot of his grave and then recede due to overflow into the next area. This unique phenomenon resulted in the locals believing him to be a saint (Peer) and his grave is worshipped to this day. In fact, in 1997 the Pakistani Government spent a few lakhs of rupees to renovate the Grave and invited John Jacob’s decedents at the re-inauguration. After that, they visited India as honoured guests of the Regiment.
The Regiment John Jacob was also a very able administrator and that is why the Scinde Horse was so successful in its task and kept the region under control. There was a special bond between the Regiment and the “Bootgee” Tribe, which was formed out of mutual respect amongst the most fierce warriors in the entire Scinde and Baloochistan Provinces. While keeping the caravans safe from marauders, the Regiment ensured a fair contribution to the tribals of the lands through which the caravans passed. In those days, recruitment and salaries were uniquely determined. The remuneration was as per service and rank. It was paid out of the earnings or bounty earned by the Regiment. Since the Scinde Horse was mostly on operational tasks and effected numerous recoveries, it earned a large amount of bounty and paid its officers and men handsomely. A result, recruitment into the regiment also had a high price which was a record in its own right – a soldier had to bring his own horse, Groom and also pay an enrollment fee as high as 800 rupees. Despite this, there was a rush to join The Regiment and soon the Regiment expanded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Scinde Horse. It was later consolidated into the 35th Scinde Horse and 36th Jacob’s Horse, before it was amalgamated into one Regiment during the reorganisation of the Indian Army in 1921 as “The 14th Prince of Wales’ own Cavalry, The Scinde Horse”. The Badge remained the same while the shoulder titles were distinctive.
The Prince of Wales’ Own The Horsed Cavalry Regiments were named according to their operational role and weapons they carried. The “Cavalry” Regiments carried Sabres and were further divided into Light Cavalry and Cavalry. They were employed to outflank the enemy in the battlefield and charge through his ranks to cause destruction. Whereas the Cavalry carried a Sabre and Broadsword, the Light cavalry carried only sabres and relied on swiftness and surprise to vanquish the enemy. The “Lancers” Regiments, apart from Sabres, carried Lances to destroy enemy infantry hiding in trenches as well as using spears to protect themselves from the mounted troops. The “Horse” on the other hand, was a very versatile and heavily weaponised Regiment. It carried a Sabre, Broadsword and also a Rifle. It was capable of fighting both mounted and dismounted. The Horses were huge, rising to 17 Hands and carried additional provisions and ammunition, giving the “Horse” Regiment a capability to undertake long marches and engage the enemy at a standoff or hold blocking positions to give the main force to organise itself. The only time The Scinde Horse carried Lances, was in a ceremonial role when it was chosen to escort His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, on his visit to Delhi for the Royal Durbar in 1921. The Pennants on the Lances were Primrose and Blue. His Royal Highness, consented to become the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment and thence forth, the Regiment was Known as “The Prince of Wales’ Own (PWO) Cavalry, The Scinde Horse.
The Regimental Colours and Motto. The Regimental Battle Flashes and colours of the flag are also significant in their meaning. The Light Green, Scarlet Red and Emerald Green signify “From Green Fields, Through Blood, To the Meadows (Glory or Death) Beyond”. The motto of the Regiment is therefore also significant and is: “Man Dies but the Regiment Lives”, In Hindi it goes: “Insaan toh mar jata hai, magar Regiment hameshan zinda rehete hai” thus putting the interest of the Regiment above all.
Battle of Meeanee
On the 17th of February 1843, as part of Sir Charles Napier’s Advance Guard of his Expeditionary Force to Conquer the Province of Scinde (Sind, Now in Pakistan), The Scinde Horse came across the Forward Elements of the combined Forces of the Waziri Tribals of Sind, led by Mir Nuseer Khan, entrenched in the Fulaillee Nala, near Meeanee, 23 Miles ahead of Hyderabad, the Capital Town of Sind. Along with the Scinde Horse, there were amongst others, 5 RAJRIF (Napiers Rifles), The Cheshire Regiment and The Poona Horse, bringing up the rear, with the Madras Engineers providing Engineering Support.. Not to be deterred, the Regiment Reconnoitred the area and made an outflanking move through dense forest and broken country, most unsuitable for Horses. In an unparalleled outflanking manoeuvre in which over 70 Horses died of fatigue, The Scinde Horse surprised the enemy by appearing at their rear and routed them in a Cavalry Charge, capturing the Principal Standard of Mir Nuseer Khan in the process. Seeing their Standard Captured, the enemy capitulated and Sind was Conquered. Sir Charles Napier cryptically signalled back “Pecavi” (I have Sinned (Sind)). As a reward for this Cavalry Charge, unsurpassed in the Annals of Warfare, The Regiment was presented Eight Cavalry Standards (one per Troop) and also allowed to retain Mir Nuseer Khan’s Principal Standard, with the Hand of Allah atop it, as its main Standard. This hand of Allah has played a major role in looking after the Regiment in times of need, ever since. The Scinde Horse has had the unique privilege of carrying Nine Standards on Parade. Unlike the Charge of the 600 who rode to their death in Crimea, showing foolhardy Bravado, the 640 (8 Troops) Scinde Horsemen showed both unsurpassed Courage and Tactical Acumen in Routing the enemy and winning an entire Campaign. Unfortunately, there was no Tennyson to write a ballad for this successful charge, instead of the one he wrote for the fatal Charge of the Light Brigade.
The Charge at Khushk-e-Nakhud. The Scinde Horse was tasked as the Rear Guard for the Forces returning from the First Afghan Campaign. On 26 Feb 1878, it was at Khushk-e-Nakhud near the Afghan Border that the Regiment had taken an administrative halt and was carrying out saddelery inspection, that the early warning elements reported a large body of Afghan Tribesmen approaching the Camp. The men hastily gathered their weapons and mounted their horses, without saddles to engage the approaching enemy. The Regiment, led by Maj Reynolds, charged the enemy before it could form up near the camp and routed them, killing many times their own numbers. Unfortunately, Maj Reynolds was martyred in this charge. Maj Douglas Giles, who was there, reduced an eyewitness account in a Famous Painting, 10’x6’, completing it in 1883. This painting was popularly displayed in the Louvre in Paris, from 1913 to 1921, till it found its final place in the Officers’ Mess. It is unique in that it has every eye catching detail. The colours used are from natural pigments and regain their brightness when exposed to the sun. In the Officers’ Mess Ante Room, this painting is faced by a lone Horseman’s Silver Trophy, Representing Maj Reynolds. Ever after this Battle, The Scindehorseman never removes his sword from his person. “Taiyar-bar-Taiyar they call it. That is why, in the Officer’s Mess, now-a-days, where normally, the Belt is removed on entry, symbolising removal of the Sword, we Scindehorsemen continue to wear our Belt at all times. Charge of “A” Squadron at Battle of Ephey(?), France & Flanders 1917 The Fortress of Ephey, on the Franco-Prussian Border, had withstood a long Siege by the Allies, as it was well stocked and had natural water springs. “A” Squadron was called in to assist the Allies to break the Siege and word was spread that wild men from India had been brought, who eat wood and they’d take the walls apart stone by stone. The fortress commander sent out spies early morning to see these wild men for themselves and found our ferocious Sikhs with their hair and beards open, brushing their teeth with Neem ka Datun and washing their faces. Such was the fear generated, that when “A” Squadron approached the Fort on their horses, they found it abandoned. “A” Squadron then charged and routed the fleeing enemy with great success.
Mechanisation and Regimental Standard The Scinde Horse was also the first Indian Cavalry Regiment to get Mechanised and Paraded their Horses for the Last Time at Rawalpindi on 14 Apr 1938, led by their Commandant, Col Malcomson. For many years, till the turn of the Century, this Day, 14 Apr was celebrated as Armoured Corps Day, till for some inexplicable reason, 1 May came to be Celebrated instead. Subsequently, the Regiment was also the first to get T-55 Tanks in 1966 and amongst the first to get T-72s in 1980-81. Being the unique Regiment to parade 9 Standards, it was decided to replace them by presenting the President’s Standard to the Regiment after Independence. The Day was fixed as MEEANEE DAY, 17 Feb 1949, at Meerut. However, due to an oversight at Army Headquarters, the Standard to be Presented had the British Crown instead of the Ashoka Lion. So the mounted parade was allowed to proceed without presentation of the Standard and was reviewed by the Then C-in-C, Gen Cariappa, who promised that The Scinde Horse would be the first Regiment of the Army to be Presented the Standard. However, even though this promise was broken by a subsequent Chief, Gen Thimmaya, who Presented the Standard to his own Kumaon Regiment, The Scinde Horse was the first Armoured Regiment to be Presented the Regimental Standard by Dr Radhakrishan in 1961.
Baba Karam Singh. “B” Squadron, Sikhs, from Guides Cavalry, which was exchanged with our Pathan Sqn at Partition, brought with it, an invaluable and unique legacy. Baba Karam Singh, “Hoti Mardan Wale”, was enrolled as a Sowar in B Sqn and served there till he got a calling to preach. The British officers tried to dissuade him from this and on the day he was scheduled to preach on the banks of the Beas River, put him on duty in the Quarter Guard. The Duty Officer was sent to the River Bank to see if Sow Karam Singh was there. On finding him preaching there, the Officer galloped back to the Quarter Guard to note Karam Singh absent but miraculously found Karam Singh on Duty in the Quarter Guard. Soon Baba Karam Singh felt that it would be difficult to keep serving in the Army and requested his Squadron Commander for a discharge. On being told that he could not be given a premature discharge, Baba Karam Singh asked as to how a person be forcibly kept in the Army when he was not even listed on its rolls. On repeated scrutiny of the rolls of the Squadron, Baba Karam Singh’s name was missing, so Baba Karam Singh devoted his entire time to the Guru and opened his Dera, which shifted at the time of Partition and is now near Kapurthala. With this double boon of the Hand of Allah from Mir Nuseer Khan’s captured Standard and the Blessings of Baba Karam Singh, the Regiment is twice blessed in all its endeavours and prides its place amongst the finest Units in the Army.
The Regimental War Cry. The Scinde Horse Spirit is epitomised in its Unique War Cry, which naturally, has some very strong words in the beginning of the last line, to spur the Scindehorseman to decimate the enemy:- JAI MATA KI! JAI CHHATRAPATI KI! HAR HAR MAHADEV! BOLE SOH NIHAL – SAT SRI AKAL! HAT JA B...-C..., HERE I COME!!!
The Regimental Religious Chant (Jayakara”). The Regiment, comprising now of Two Sqns of Sikhs and one Sqn of Dogras, also has adopted a Unique “Jayakara” which is an amalgamation of both faiths and collective chanted in the Regiment :- BOLE SOH NIHAL – SAT SRI AKAL! BOLE SOH ABHAY – BOL SRI KRISHAN BALDEV KI JAI! JAYAKARA BAJRANG BALI – HAR HAR MAHADEV ! WAHE GURU JI KA KHALSA – WAHE GURU JI KIH FATEH!
- 1st Scinde Irregular Horse
- in 1861 became the 5th Bombay Cavalry
- in 1903 35th Scinde Horse
- 2nd Scinde Irregular Horse
- in 1861 became the 6th Bombay Cavalry
- in 1903 36th Jacob’s Horse
In 1922 the two regiments were amalgamated as the 14th Prince of Wales’s Own Scinde Horse.
35th Scinde Horse
36th Jacob's Horse
Raised by Lieut. John Jacob of the Bombay Artillery, they served first in Southern Afghanistan and later under Sir Charles Napier in the taking of Scinde. They later were involved in the Second Sikh War and the Second Afghan War. During World War I the 36th Jacobs Horse was a part of the 8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade, 1st Indian Cavalry Division which saw action in France on the Western Front and later moved to Egypt for the Palestine Campaign; the brigade formation was:
World War II
In World War II the 14th Prince of Wales's Own Scinde Horse was attached to the newly formed 31st Indian Armoured Division, that had been raised in July 1940. The division trained extensively but with very few tanks — the tank Regiments assigned to 1st Indian Armoured Brigade had three M3 Stuart tanks each, though a number of the obsolete India Pattern light tanks were used for crew training. The final formation of the Division was the 252nd Indian Armoured Brigade and the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade Though lacking tanks, the 252nd Armoured Brigade was detached and sent to Iraq in January 1942. Division headquarters moved to Iraq in June 1942, where it took command of the shattered remnants of 3rd Indian Motor Brigade which had been detached and overrun by the Italians at the Battle of Gazala and the 252nd Indian Armoured Brigade, which still had no tanks.
The Armoured Brigade formation was,
- 14th Prince of Wales's Own Scinde Horse , Grant Tanks
- 4th Duke of Cambridge's Own Hodson's Horse , Stuart Tanks
- 14th/20th King's Hussars, Grants Tanks
31st Armoured Division never saw action as a unit, its closest brush with combat coming in April 1944 when it was rushed to Egypt to crush a mutiny among the Greek 1st Infantry Brigade. The Brigade received M4 Sherman tanks in November 1943, apparently in preparation for transfer to combat in Italy, but only drove them in Iraq, Syria and Egypt.