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61st Cavalry (India)

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The 61st Cavalry Regiment of the Indian Army is believed to be the largest non-ceremonial horse-mounted cavalry unit remaining in the world.

Contents

History

At the time of Indian Independence in 1947, the only mounted cavalry remaining in service were the President's (formerly Viceroy's) Body Guard and several units that had formed part of the Imperial Service State Forces, provided by the Indian Princely States. Upon the integration of the State Forces into the regular Indian Army in 1951, the remaining horsed cavalry units were reorganized and reconstituted into the Gwalior Lancers, the Jodhpur/Kachhawa Horse, the Mysore Lancers, and B Squadron, 2nd Patiala Lancers. In May 1953 it was decided to amalgamate these separate horsed cavalry units into a single regiment. On 1 October 1953 the "New Horsed Cavalry Regiment" was established at Gwalior, with Lt. Col. Phulel Singh of the Jammu and Kashmir State Forces as its first Commandant. The new regiment was re-designated as the "61st Cavalry" in January 1954.

Modern role

Today the 61st Cavalry is one of the limited number of unmechanised mounted cavalry regiments in the world, alongside such units as the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the 11th Cavalry Regiment of the Moscow Military District. While a number of armies still maintain mounted units these are generally intended for parade and other ceremonial purposes. The Army of the People's Republic of China maintains operational mounted cavalry for frontier duties but these are believed to be of only squadron size.

While primarily employed on ceremonial occasions, the 61st Cavalry Regiment can be deployed for internal security or police roles if required. The last publicized occasion on which the regiment saw active military service was when it undertook mounted patrol work during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. On Republic Day each year the 61st Cavalry and the President's Body Guard parade in full dress uniform in New Delhi, in what is probably the largest assemblage of traditional cavalry still to be seen in the world.

Recruitment

The regiment recruits Rajputs, Marathas and Kaimkhanis in equal numbers. This ratio was established on Prime Minister Jawarharalal Nehru's instructions.

Sports

The regiment has a strong polo playing tradition, producing some of India's best polo players. Members of the regiment have won the Arjuna award – India's highest award for outstanding sportsmen – four times for polo and five times for equestrian events.

Notable servicemen

Off-duty Captain Manjinder Singh Bhinder of the 61st Cavalry died in Delhi's Uphaar cinema fire tragedy in 1997 while attempting to guide theatre-goers to safety.

References

61st Cavalry (India) Wikipedia


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