The Poona Horse is an armoured regiment in the Armoured Corps of the Indian Army. The regiment, known before independence as The Poona Horse (17th Queen Victoria's Own Cavalry), was raised as a regular cavalry regiment in the Bombay Presidency army of the East India Company. It was formed from the 3rd Regiment of Bombay Light Cavalry, raised in 1820, and the Poona Auxiliary Horse, raised about 1817-18. The latter unit was absorbed into the regular forces about 1860 and the two regiments later became the 33rd Queen Victoria's Own Light Cavalry and the 34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse. These were amalgamated in 1921 into the present regiment, the battle honours of which tell of service in three Afghan Wars, in Persia, Abyssinia and China, as well as in the Great War. The regiment has fought with distinction in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani Wars with an officer winning India's highest gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra, in each war.
In accordance with the article VI of The Treaty of Poona between the British Governor-General of India Lord Hastings and Baji Rao II (The Peshwa of the Maratha Empire), a cavalry regiment was raised on 15 June 1817. As per the treaty the force would be maintained by the Maratha Peshwa and was supposed to be permanently stationed in the territory of Peshwas. The interesting part of the treaty was that the force could have been used against the Peshwa by the British when necessary. The regiment was raised under the order of Mountstuart Elphinstone the Governor of Bombay.
The two regiments that would go on to form the Poona Horse were the 33rd Queen Victoria's Own Light Cavalry and the 34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse.
Raised at Sirur on 4 May 1820 by Major Peter Delamotte.
1820 3rd Regiment of Bombay Light Cavalry.
1861 3rd Regiment of Bombay Silladar Light Cavalry.
1861 3rd Regiment of Bombay Light Cavalry.
1876 3rd (The Queen's Own) Regiment of Bombay Light Cavalry
1903 33rd Queen Victoria's Own Light Cavalry.
1911 33rd Queen Victoria's Own Light Cavalry.
1921 33rd/34th Cavalry.
1922 17th Queen Victoria's Own Poona Horse.
1927 The Poona Horse (17th Queen Victoria's Own Cavalry).
1947 To Indian Army.
1950 The Poona Horse (17 Horse)
Raised at Poona (now Pune) on 15 July 1817 as a result of the treaty between the HEIC and The Peshwa Bajee Rao II.
1817 The Auxiliary Horse
1818 The Poona Auxiliary Horse.
1847 The Poona Irregular Horse.
1861 4th Regiment of Poona Silladar Horse.
1861 1st Regiment of Poona Horse.
1862 The Poona Horse.
1885 4th Bombay Cavalry (Poona Horse).
1890 4th (Prince Albert Victor's Own) Bombay Cavalry (Poona Horse).
1903 34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse.
1921 33rd/34th Cavalry.
1922 17th Queen Victoria's Own Poona Horse.
1927 The Poona Horse ( 17th Queen Victoria's Own Cavalry).
1947 To Indian Army.
1950 The Poona Horse ( 17 Horse)
In August 1914, the Poona Horse was stationed at Secunderabad, as part of the 9th (Secunderabad) Cavalry Brigade. They were brigaded with the 7th Dragoon Guards and the 20th Deccan Horse. The Brigade was dispatched to France and fought on the Western Front their first action being the First Battle of Ypres.
On 2 November 1914 the regiment was sent to reinforce the 2nd Gurkhas in the Neuve Chapelle sector on arrival they discovered that the Gurkhas defences had been breached and overrun. The Poona Horse was asked to recapture the position. The Regiment launched a counterattack in daylight and without any artillery support. The Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Swanston who was leading the attack was killed. In France the regiment would be involved in the Battle of Givenchy, Battle of La Basse, Battle of Armentiers, Battle of the Somme (1916), Battle of Flers–Courcelette and Battle of Cambrai (1917). In February 1918, the Poona Horse and all the other Indian cavalry regiments in France were deployed to Palestine to join General Allenby’s forces.
The Poona Horse arrived in Egypt in April 1918, they now formed the 14th Cavalry Brigade of the 5th Cavalry Division with the Deccan Horse and the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry.
The force also consisted of the 4th Cavalry Division, the Australian Mounted Division and the ANZAC Mounted Division.
On 19 September 1918, the allied offensive began. The Infantry broke through the Turkish defences and the Desert Mounted Corps followed up. When they reached the Gates of Damascus, the Poona Horse, along with rest of the 14th Cavalry Brigade, were tasked with patrolling the road from Homs to Damascus Road. When they charged a party of Arabs who ran off leaving a large car behind with a European seated inside the Risaldar Major Hamir Singh, believing him to be a spy, demanded his surrender. The European turned out to be Colonel TE Lawrence. “El Aurens” was not amused.
At 10:15 on the morning of 1 October 1918, the Regiment entered Damascus and after the rest of the Brigade. The Regiment was ordered to take Rayak and then march onto Aleppo, which they reached on 25 October just before the Armistice was signed on 30 October in Mudros Harbour, abroad the battleship HMS Agamemnon.
The 33rd Queen Victoria's Own were sent to Mesopotamia as part of the 6th (Poona) Division to counter Turkish advances and to protect the oil fields. They were involved in the Battle of Shaiba and the Battle of Ctesiphon.
In 1919, the 33rd Light Cavalry, now part of the 1st (Risalpur) Cavalry Brigade, was posted to Risalpur where they were brigaded with the 1st Lancers and M Battery, RHA. On 6 May 1919, they received the information that the Afghan Army had attacked the outpost at Landi Khanna, north of the Khyber Pass, and was advancing into India. The infantry attacked the Khyber Pass to push the Afghans back. Once the pass had been cleared the Cavalry advanced and after some skirmishing, and two set piece battles, the Afghan Army was dispersed.
In 1920, the decision was made to reduce the number of Indian Cavalry Regiments from 39 to 21. This would leave the army with 18 amalgamated regiments, plus the 27th Light Cavalry, the 28th Light Cavalry and the Guides Cavalry. This change was promulgated under Indian Army Order No 1257 November 22, 1921. Based on this decision, the 33rd Light Cavalry and 34th Poona Horse were amalgamated as the 33rd/34th Cavalry, which was changed in 1922 to the 17th Queen Victoria's Own Poona Horse. The Regiments new organisation was now three sabre squadrons and a headquarters squadron, which would contain all the specialists, i.e., machine gunners, signalers etc., into one squadron.
The Poona Horse was one of two Indian Army cavalry regiments selected to remain horsed while the rest of the cavalry was mechanised. This situation did not last long and just after the start of the war the regiment was mechanised. The Headquarters Squadron now had a mortar troop, signals troop, 'B' echelon administrative troop and light Aid Detachment for forward vehicle recovery and repair. The sabre Squadrons each now comprised a Squadron Headquarters, four armoured carrier troops and one rifle troop. Each troop had four Bren carriers and the rifle troop was mounted in four 15 cwt Chevrolet trucks now mechanised they become the Divisional reconnaissance regiment for the 6th Indian Division and deployed to Iraq. In 1942 the regiment was ordered to the middle east to join the British Eighth Army. In the closing stages of the First Battle of El Alamein, the Poona Horse was the guard force for General Claude Auchinleck, the commander of the 8th Army at the tactical headquarters sited on the Ruweisat Ridge, the most prominent tactical feature of the Alamein position. This was the highlight of the Regiment's war for they were then ordered back to Iraq as part of the British Tenth Army. In September 1944 the Regiment was sent to Cyprus on garrison duties and were still there in May 1945 when Germany surrendered. The Regiment returned to India in October 1945 and were issued their first tanks, the Stuart MK IV.
Post Independence the Regiment was part of the 1st Armoured Division (India) and participated in Operation Polo, Operation Ablaze and Operation Nepal. The division consisted of the 9th Armoured Brigade and 43rd Lorried Infantry Brigade. The Armoured Brigade consisted of the 16th Cavalry, Hodson's Horse and the Poona Horse equipped with upgunned Sherman tanks and Centurion tanks.
The list of battle honours and theatre honours of the Poona Horse are as follows:Pre World War I
Corygaum; Ghuznee 1839; Candahar 1842; Ghuznee 1842; Cabool 1842; Afghanistan 1839; Meeanee; Hyderabad; Reshire; Bushire; Koosh-Ab; Persia; Central India; Abyssinia; Kandahar 1880; Afghanistan 1879-80; China 1900; Afghanistan 1919.The First World War
La Bassee 1914; Armentieres 1914; Somme 1916; Bazentin; Flers-Courcelette; Cambrai 1917; France and Flanders 1914-18; Megiddo;Sharon; Damascus; Palestine 1918; Shaiba; Ctesiphon; Tigris 1916; Mesopotamia 1914-16.The Second World War
North Africa 1940-43.Indo-Pak Conflict 1965
Phillora; Buttur Dograndi; Punjab 1965.Indo-Pak Conflict 1971
Basantar River; Punjab 1971.
Members of the Regiment awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lieutenant Arthur Thomas Moore 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry. On 18 February 1857.
Lieutenant Frank Alexander de Pass 34th Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse. On 24 November 1914.
Lieutenant John Grant Malcolmson 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry. On 18 February 1857.
Lieutenant (later Field Marshal) Sir Henry Evelyn Wood whilst on attachment with the 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry. On 19 October 1858.
Since independence two members of the regiment have been awarded the Param Vir Chakra.Lt. Col. Ardeshir Tarapore (Posthumous), Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Battle of Butur-Dograndi
2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal (Posthumous), Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Battle of Jarpal