1st Punjab Cavalry

John Watson VC

Watson was an important figure in the Punjab Cavalry. He was a particularly brave officer who led his squadron in many battles against Afghan tribemen. But it was during the Mutiny that, whilst a lieutenant, he won the VC at Lucknow on 14th Nov 1857. He and his squadron came upon a group of enemy cavalry which attacked them and engaged Watson in a fierce sword fight. Watson received several cuts but carried on until his men came to his aid. There was a confused melee which ended with the retreat of the rebels.

The photo shows Watson in 1865, as a major. His tunic is blue with buff coloured collar and cuffs decorated with silver lace and braid. In 1868 the buff and silver was changed to red and gold. Irregular cavalry had rather flamboyant additions to their uniform, including a cummerbund sash worn over the tunic, and a colourful pagri tied around the helmet.

John Watson was born in Chigwell Row on 6th Sep 1829. He served in the 3rd Punjab Cavalry before transferring to the 1st. By 1877 he was the commandant of the Central India Horse. As well as the VC he was appointed CB and then GCB, reaching the rank of general. He died on 23rd Jan 1919 at Finchampstead, Berkshire.

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