The history of this regiment can be traced to 1784 when a force of cavalry was hired from the Nawab of Arcot by the East India Company. These regiments subsequently mutinied over pay issues. The regiments involved were disbanded and from their remnants, volunteers formed the 2nd Madras Cavalry. This new regiment would eventually become the 7th Light Cavalry.
The title was first changed to that of 3rd Madras Native Cavalry. Under this designation the regiment first saw action during the Third Mysore War in 1790, against Tipu Sultan.
The regiment was next in action during the Fourth Mysore War in 1799. It subsequently fought with distinction at the Battle of Seringapatam and at the Battle of Mahidpur in the Pindari War of 1817, after which it was renamed the 3rd Madras Light Cavalry. For these actions the regiment was awarded the battle honors Mysore, Seringapatam and Mahidipore.
The regiment was subsequently involved in several minor operations against the southern Mahrattas from 1844 to 1855. A detachment of the 3rd Madras Light Cavalry was then sent to join the Deccan Horse during the Mutiny of 1857. During the remainder of the 19th century the regiment did not see any action.
In 1891 the regiment was converted to lancers, becoming the 3rd Regiment of Madras Lancers. In the reorganisation of the Indian Army of 1903, their title was changed to the 28th Light Cavalry. During this time the class composition of the regiment was 33% Tamils from Madras Presidency, 33% Rajputs from Rajasthan and 34% Punjabi Dogras.
At the start of World War I, the regiment was stationed in Quetta as part of the 4th (Quetta) Division.
In July 1915 two squadrons were sent to Persia where they were mounted on camels. In this role they were tasked with stopping German agents from traveling across Persia to Afghanistan.The remainder of the regiment was posted to Persia in November 1915.
The regiment's effectiveness in Persia was demonstrated when a detachment captured a German officer, Lieutenant Winkleman, who was attempting to reach the Amir of Afghanistan to convince him to rebel or start a Jihad, against the British in India.
Following the Russian Revolution the regiment was sent to Trans-Caspasia in May 1918 to assist the White Russian Menshevik forces to fight the Bolsheviks. In April 1919 the regiment returned to Meshed in Persia, where it stayed for seven months employed in escorting convoys. In November 1919 the regiment started back for India and reached Lucknow in February 1920.
The regiment received the battle honors Merv and Persia 1915 for their services in the Great War.
In 1921 the 28th Light Cavalry left Lucknow for Dera Ismail Khan on the North West Frontier.
In 1922 another reorganization saw the regiment renamed as the 7th Light Cavalry and the class composition was altered. The proportion of Tamils was reduced to 25% while that of the Rajputs from Rajasthan was increased to 42%.
From 1924 to 1929 it was stationed at Bolarum, followed by Sialkot, then Jullunder until October 1933. The regiment then moved to Loralai in Baluchistan. It stayed there until October 1935 before moving back to Bolarum where it was stations at the start of World War 2.
The same year the ‘Indianization’ of the Indian Army officer corps began in selected regiments. Initially in the cavalry the two units selected were the 7th Light Cavalry and the 16th Light Cavalry. Under this policy British officers would no longer be appointed to the regiment. Instead newly commissioned Indian officers, initially trained at Royal Military College, Sandhurst and from 1932 onwards at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, would be appointed instead. The first Indian officer was appointed in December 1923. By September 1939, 16 of the 22 officers of the regiment were Indian.
At the start of the Second World War the regiment was stationed in Bolarum as part of the 4th (Secunderabad) Cavalry Brigade. The 7th Light Cavalry were brigaded with the:14th/20th Hussars
Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry
3rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
4th Cavalry Brigade Signal Troop.
The last mounted parade of the 7th Light Cavalry took place in 1940. However even by early 1941 the only mechanical transport provided for the now dismounted regiment was an Austin car for the commandant and a few motorbikes for dispatch riders. Vehicles trickled in and finally a full complement of 52 Stuart tanks was received by April 1943.
The regiment was then attached to the 254th Indian Tank Brigade, in November 1941.
The brigade came under the command of Brigadier Reginald Scoones. When it was moved to Imphal in November and December 1943 the 254th Indian Tank Brigade consisted of the following major units:7th Light Cavalry
3rd Btn 4th Bombay Grenadiers
The brigade served with the 5th Indian Division and the 7th Indian Infantry Divisions in Burma. It participated in the Battle of Imphal, Battle of Kyaukmyaung Bridgehead, Battle of Meiktila, and Operation Dracula (Rangoon Road).
In June 1945 the 7th Light Cavalry sailed from Rangoon to Madras and by July was stationed at Ahmednagar.
In August 1945 it was selected to form part of the British Indian Division (BRINDIV) This division served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) as part of the Allied Occupation Forces in Japan. The move to Japan occurred during March/April 1946. The regiment returned to India in August 1947.
In 1947 the regiment passed to the independent nation of India. From late 1947 it played a key role in the Jammu & Kashmir operations, surmounting the heights of Zojila at 11,500 feet, and the break-through on 1 November 1948. The first troop leader was Capt Sharakdev Singh Jamwal. The commanding officer of the Regiment was awarded the coveted Maha-Vir-Chakra.
1784 – 2nd Regiment of Madras Native Cavalry
1786 – 1st Regiment of Madras Native Cavalry
1788 – 3rd Regiment of Madras Native Cavalry
1819 – 3rd Regiment of Madras Light Cavalry
1891 – 3rd Regiment of Madras Lancers
1903 – 28th Light Cavalry
1922 – 7th Light Cavalry
1947 - 7th Light Cavalry (to India on Independence)
L/Daffadar Gobind Singh, 28th Light Cavalry February 1, 1917 Place of Action: east of Pezières, France attached to the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
Citation: Lance Dafadar Gobind Singh of the Indian Cavalry was awarded the Victoria Cross "for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in thrice volunteering to carry messages between the regiment and Brigade Headquarters, a distance of 1½ miles over open ground which was under the observation and heavy fire of the enemy. He succeeded each time in delivering his message, although on each occasion his horse was shot and he was compelled to finish his journey on foot."
During the early years of its existence the regiment wore red coats with green facings and gold lace. In 1814 the uniform was changed to dark blue with orange facings. In 1817 a general order instructed that the dress of all regular native cavalry in the service of the HEIC should be changed to French grey (a light blue/grey colour). This was to remain the full dress coat colour of the 7th Light Cavalry until 1914. The distinctive orange facings were changed to buff in 1846.
In 1923 the pattern of badge introduced comprised crossed lances with the number "7", surmounted by a crown. In 1930 the design changed to crossed lances with a crown on the intersection, over a scroll with the regimental title.