In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Brief History
Probyn Leading a Charge, 1860
Probyn's Horse was raised during the Indian Mutiny. Sir John Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of the Punjab ordered two regiments of Sikh irregular cavalry to be raised. The 1st was raised by Captain F Wale of the 18th Irregular Cavalry. When the regiment reached full strength it was sent to the United Provinces. They covered the 80 miles from Lahore in a single march. They were not uniformly dressed and disciplined at this stage but were experienced fighters and horsemen. Wale was shot dead on 1st March 1858 when he was ambushed by a mutineer whilst leading the regiment in pursuit of fleeing enemy. He was succeeded by Captain Jones but in 1860 Major Dighton Probyn VC took over.
Second China War 1860
The Indian Army was in a state of change at this time, following the mutiny. But there was still the rest of the Empire to keep going. The Chinese government were anxious about British opium trading activity in their country and forced them to remain within Hong Kong. An incident in 1856 when the Arrow, a ship flying the British flag, was seized and it's Chinese crew arrested for piracy, caused the British to send an expedition under Lord Elgin. In 1858 the British took Canton and followed up by an unsuccessful naval attack on the 3 Taku Forts situated at the mouth of the Pei-ho river. The Chinese refusal to comply with the Treaty of Tientsin caused the escalation of the war and in 1860 British units gathered in Hong Kong under Lt-General Sir J Hope Grant. There were 4 infantry brigades of British and Indian troops and a cavalry brigade that included Probyn's Horse, Fane's Horse and the King's Dragoon Guards. In all there were 11,000 British and Indian, plus 6000 French troops.

Landing at Odin Bay, 1860
The 1st Sikh Cavalry (Probyn's Horse) consisted of 17 officers, 446 men and 433 horses. Service overseas was voluntary and each man was asked if he was prepared to go and all agreed. They marched from Lucknow to the railhead at Raneegunge, 600 miles in 18 days, and embarked on 1st April for Hong Kong. The expedition arrived at Odin Bay and landed on 1st August. There were actions on the 3rd, 12th and 14th August around Sinho. Probyn's were armed with the lance for the first time and were up against Tartar cavalry armed with bows and arrows. Their casualties at this stage were 'two officers, 2 sergeants and 2 rank and file wounded'. Sowar Muttah Singh was wounded in the chest and later died. They weren't involved in the actual storming of the Taku Forts which was bravely carried out by a combined British and French force of infantry. The advance to Peking, 100 miles from the Taku Forts, resumed on 8th September. In another action during the advance, Probyn's played a major role: 'Chinese cavalry hovered in large masses on our entire left flank, so that Sir J Michel was unable to perform the flank movement that had been intended, until the 1st Sikh Cavalry had, by a brilliant charge, discomfited the Tartar Horse'. This enabled the Allies to advance and drive the enemy back for some miles. Probyn's suffered six more wounded. Another fight at Pa-li chiao involved a cavalry charge which drove the enemy back to within 6 miles of Peking. A sowar of the regiment, Ahmud Khan was killed, proof that even at this stage the regiment wasn't exclusively Sikh.

The British entered Peking on 24th October 1860 under Lord Elgin and put on a show of strength with a parade. The emperor's fabulous Summer Palace was sacked and burned, although this is hardly surprising as there was great anger at the way British and French envoys had been tortured to death over four days. The force stayed on into 1861 and did not leave until the autumn. The cavalry embarked at Taku at the end of November, the regiment losing 15 horses on the way home due to stormy weather. The bravery of the Indian troops impressed everyone involved and Probyn's were said to have 'performed their work most admirably. On more than one occasion... they successfully charged a vastly superior force of the enemy's cavalry.'

Post Mutiny
Principal Campaigns and Battles
1842 Lucknow
Taku Forts
1842 Pekin
1878 - 80 Afghanistan
1878 - 80 Ali Masjid
1878 Chitral
1878 Punjab Frontier
1878 Malakand
Predecessor Units
Wale's Horse
1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry (Wale's Horse)
(1857 - 1860)
1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry (Probyn's Horse)
(1860 - 1861)
11th Bengal Cavalry
(1861 - 1864)
11th Bengal Cavalry (Lancers)
11th Bengal Lancers
(1864 - 1876)
11th (Prince of Wales's Own) Bengal Lancers
(1876 - 1903)
11th Prince of Wales's Own Lancers
(1903 - 1904)
Successor Units
11th King Edward's Own Lancers (Probyn's Horse)
(1906 - 1921) 11th/12th Cavalry
(1921 - 1922) 5th King Edward's Own Probyn's Horse
(1922 - 1927) Probyn's Horse (5th King Edward's Own Lancers)
(1927 - 1947)
Suggested Reading
The History of Probyn's Horse (5th King Edward's Own Lancers)
by Major C A Boyle
India's Army
by Donovan Jackson
Regiments and Corps of the British Army:
A Critical Bibliography

by Roger Perkins
Sons of John Company
by John Gaylor
Armies of India
Painted by Lovett, Text by Macmunn
The Indian Army
by Boris Mollo
Forces of the British Empire
by E. Nevins and B. Chandler

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by Stephen