1st Punjab Cavalry

In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Indian Mutiny 1857
1st Punjab Cavalry
Lt Watson VC
The 1st, along with the other Irregular regiments, remained loyal during the Mutiny and one squadron fought at Delhi under Lieutenant John Watson who later won a VC at Lucknow. At Agra this squadron captured 3 guns and 5 standards from the rebels. They helped relieve Lucknow, during which they were led by Watson in a brave charge against a large force of cavalry. They went on to Rohilkhand, and finally re-joined the regiment at Bijnor in June 1858.

The other three squadrons had been employed suppressing mutiny at Mooltan, Ambela and Karnal. They were in Lord Clyde's campaign in Oudh. These operations did not cease until 1859. Detachments of the regiment were used to help in the task of restoring the civil government and at one stage a detachment was led in a charge against rebels by a civil servant.

In 1890 the future heir to the throne became their honorary colonel which meant that they now became 1st (Prince Albert Victor's Own) Regiment of Punjab Cavalry. He was the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. He died in 1892 but the regiment retained the title, even after they were amalgamated with the 23rd Cavalry in 1922.

They fought in the Mahsud operations of 1894-95, and in the Tirah campaign the 1st were at Tochi. They were split up into small detachments throughout this campaign and the whole regiment was involved in fighting and scouting continuously.

In 1903 the Punjab Cavalry regiments were re-numbered to fall in line with the cavalry regiments of Bengal, Madras, Hyderabad and Bombay so that the 1st became the 21st Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry (FF).

Action at Wana, Nov 1894
The 1st Punjab Cavalry were part of the operations in the Waziristan in 1894-95 commanded by General Turner. His despatches praise the actions of Captain O'Malley's squadron at Wana:

'The cavalry, after trotting about 3 miles, came in sight of the retreating enemy, the main body of whom they estimated to number 1000 or 1500 men. Here the ground was very broken and covered with large stones, and it was impossible to go faster than a trot. On gaining slightly better ground the squadron of 61 sabres, under O'Malley, cut into the line of the enemy's retreat, and charged where the crowd was thickest, inflicting great loss.

After pursuing some distance the squadron was reformed under a fire from both sides and again charged where the enemy was thickest. By this time the Waziris were so scattered and the ground so bad that 'pursue' was ordered and the enemy was cut down or speared singly, the lance proving its excellence as a weapon of pursuit. The cavalry horses were beginning to tire, so rallying for a last effort, the squadron charged up a steep slope among olive trees at the last of the enemy within reach. The ground was now quite impracticable for mounted action, sections were dismounted and the retreat harassed by volleys as long as within range.'

Captain O'Malley was praised in the despatch: 'For the vigour of the pursuit and the gallantry with which he made repeated charges amongst the mass of the flying enemy' His aggressive leadership of the 1st Punjab Cavalry resulted in an estimated tally of 50 enemy dead.

1849 - 1903
1849 - 1903
Battle Honours since 1849
1849 1st Regiment of Punjab Cavalry
1851 1st Regiment of Cavalry, Punjab Irregular Force
1865 1st Regiment of Cavalry, Punjab Frontier Force
1865 1st (Prince Albert Victor's Own) Regiment of Cavalry, Punjab Frontier Force
1901 1st (Prince Albert Victor's Own) Punjab Cavalry
Successor Units
1903 21st Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry (Frontier Force)
1904 21st Prince Albert Victor's Own (Frontier Force) (Daly's Horse)
1921 21/23rd Cavalry
1922 11th Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry (Frontier Force)
1927 Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry (11th Frontier Force)
1947 to Pakistan, except the Sikh squadron
Further Reading
History of The 1st Punjab Cavalry
(Lahore 1887)

Punjab Frontier Force 1846-1924
by R North

India's Army
by Major Donovan Jackson

Indian Army Uniforms Under the British from the 18th century to 1947 Cavalry
by W Y Carman
(Leonard Hill 1961)

Indian Cavalry Regiments 1880-1914
by A H Bowling
(Almark 1971)

The Armies of India
by Major G F MacMunn
(Adam and Charles Black 1911)

An Assemblage of Indian Army Soldiers and Uniforms
by Michael Glover
(Perpetua Press 1973)

The Indian Army
by Boris Mollo
(Blandford Press 1981)

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by Stephen