The cavalry in Europe has had its ups and downs but in the
armies of India the cavalry has held a pre-eminent position over a continuous
period of over 1200 years — beginning from the introduction of the stirrup in
the 5th century (when was chariots yielded place to the cavalry) right up to
World War I. A familiarisation with the history of the horsed cavalry,
particularly the role it played during World War I, would therefore form a
necessary part of any complete understanding of warfare in general. The
Indian Cavalry deals primarily with the British Indian Cavalry — that
glorious institution which became a befitting culmination to the Indian Cavalry
tradition — unique in its combination of an age-old system and modern military
methods. As a cavalry which acquired legendary fame in a very short span of
time, it is still remembered as the ultimate in colour and dash and all the
romance and fascination associated with the word ‘cavalry’.
The British started to raise Indian Cavalry units in the
middle of the 18th century and continued to do so until the end of World War I.
The success of these units lay largely in the intelligent selection of training
methods by he British.
The traditional system of raising the cavalry was adopted
nearly unchanged by them. While old rank designations, weapons and equipment
were retained, Western battle drills were incorporated with local methods which
in turn set great store by individual proficiency. The Indian cavalryman had
been a man of substance since the 7th century since he had to provide his own
horse, uniform and equipment. This added to the prestige of the service in the
This book deals at length with the wars fought by the
Indian Cavalry in Afghanistan, Persia, Ethiopia, Egypt and China during the 19th
century and its participation in various momentous battles during World War I,
i.e., in France, the Netherlands, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Russian Turkestan
and its service in East Africa, Aden and Persia. The book contains an account of
the magnificent battle of Megiddo — ‘one of the most complete victories’ — in
which two Indian Cavalry Divisions took part and which was perhaps the last
occasion on which massed horsed cavalry played a decisive role in a major
An entirely unique feature of the book is its discussion,
in each case, of the tactics employed by the cavalry units and of the reasons
why victory went to the side that it did.
mechnisation of this famous horsed cavalry in the late’40s completely
transformed it, relics of the original pomp and splendour of the British Indian
Cavalry cab be glimpsed in the President’s Body Guard (which is maintained to
this day) on the annual spectacle of the Republic Day Parade in Delhi.