Military & Aerospace

The Last Gallop
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 18 May , 2020

“Cannon to right of them,
                  Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
                  Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
                  Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
                  Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.”
                                                  —LordAlfred Tennyson

In the last few days there has been a flurry of messages on social media on the proposed restructuring of an Indian Army regiment. This by itself would have been of no major interest or curiosity, except for the fact that the regiment in question was 61 Cavalry.

Just over a hundred years back, as the First World War drew to a close, two Indian Cavalry Regiments were tightening their stirrups and watering their war horses in preparation for a battle which would be etched in the annals of military history for all times to come – a battle between fortified positions supported by artillery and machine guns versus man and his steed, armed with just lances and swords.

The  task of capturing the Turkish strategic port of Haifa (now in Israel) and to rescue Abdul Baha, the spiritual head of the Bahais being held prisoner, was given to the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade comprising the Jodhpur and  Mysore Lancers. Not only was it a very formidable task both in terms of the enemy and the terrain, but the odds of overwhelming such a difficult objective by horsed cavalry were extremely slim.

This unique cavalry attack was launched on the afternoon of 23 September 1918 by the Jodhpur Lancers, led by  their Commanding Officer Maj Dalpat Singh Shekhawat,  closely supported by the Mysore Lancers from the flank. Reminiscent of Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade”, the Jodhpur cavalry galloped into the Valley of Death, overwhelming the Turkish defences by their sheer audacity and bravery. Haifa was won, but at a great cost. The gallant Maj Dalpat was killed during the charge while over 40 men and  150 horses lay dead or wounded.

The Haifa attack was one of the greatest ever cavalry actions in the annals of warfare and was in fact, the last great cavalry charge, probably never to be repeated again. In recognition of their exceptional bravery and leadership, several gallantry medals were awarded to the soldiers, including a posthumous Military Cross to Major Dalpat.

The next day,  the Mysore Lancers rescued Abdul Baha. As a direct outcome, today Haifa  is home to the Baháʼí World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a revered place for the faith.

The magnificent blood and guts cavalry charge at Haifa has been recognized time and again.  In 1922, the Teen Murti Memorial was created in Delhi  by the  British sculptor, Leonard Jennings, in honour of the Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad Lancers. In 2018, Prime Minister Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, formally renamed the iconic memorial  as Teen Murti Haifa Chowk. A year earlier, our Prime Minister had  especially visited the Indian cemetery at Haifa and paid homage to those gallant cavalrymen who had  laid down their lives in the attack. During the Centenary celebrations of the First World War, the President of India said : “We remember with pride those Indian troops who, one hundred years ago in Haifa, displayed valour, courage and heroism in the face of seemingly impossible odds”.

After Independence, as the Indian Army reorganized itself, the Gwalior and Mysore Lancers along with others, got amalgamated into a single cavalry regiment. Thus, in 1953, was born the present 61 Cavalry.  

The regiment, located at Jaipur, is today primarily ceremonial in nature, though it does have a limited combat role.  It   has a strong polo team and boasts of  some of India’s best international players. The unit has won laurels in polo and equestrian events including 11 Arjuna Awards. It also forms  the backbone of  equestrian training to cadets of our Military Academies, an activity which is critical to the development of young boys into soldiers.

Over the years, the issue of retaining 61 Cavalry or converting it into a tank regiment has been thrown up time and again at the very highest levels of the Army’s hierarchy.  Heated  and emotionally charged arguments have yoyo-ed between the traditionalists and the pragmatists but  at the end  status quo was always maintained.

However, today, the Haifa Horsed Cavalry stands at the threshold of finally shedding its beloved horses and saddles and converting into another armoured regiment. 

The arguments of the pragmatists are logical and need little debate – that a professional Army needs combat power and not ceremony, support to elitist equestrian sports and polo cannot be justified, providing equestrian infrastructure to the Academies can be provided by the Remount & Veterinary Corps and finally, the historical aspect will continue to be maintained just as is being done by other equally famous  armoured regiments.

On the other hand, great institutions do not necessarily always  run on cut and dry logic or hardnosed pragmatism. The very foundation of the Indian Army is based on intangible but strong core values of  regimentation, tradition and history, apart from a host of other institutional pillars that support this great organization. All these values are deeply ingrained into our DNA. And it is this DNA, it is this ethos and spirit, it is these traditions and sense of history, it is these sacrifices of our forefathers, it is all these intangible but critical facets of military life that we have nurtured over many years which  enable our soldiers to go into combat and die like they did in Haifa or in Handwara. 

It is because of these core values and traditions that we could reconsider the decision to convert 61 Cavalry. The major arguments of retaining the regiment in its present form are simple and straightforward. One, we as a nation, are not so starved for funds or resources that we have to disband a  historical unit just to create another regiment. Two, the regiment can be easily trained and equipped for meaningful operational roles like reconnaissance, defence of critical rear area establishments, manning & defending logistical chains, anti heliborne operations and so on. Three, if ceremonies are considered redundant, the same logic could apply to   the President’s Bodyguard and  other ceremonial symbols  like our military bands which play during Republic Day and Beating of the Retreat.   

While the Cavalry fraternity and other traditionalists await the final decision on the future of this elite regiment, it appears that the Last Post has already been played for the Haifa Warriors.

“When can their glory fade?
                 O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
                 Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
                 The noble six hundred”

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen SR Ghosh

Former GOC-in-C Western Command

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46 thoughts on “The Last Gallop

  1. It was a great read and enjoyed the article by Gen Shankar Ghosh
    “The Last Gallop “. The manner in which the Author covered the topic of the article is something we rarely find in the other Authors who contribute to the Indian Defence Review.No doubt the inimitable place of glory enjoyed by the 61 Cavalry is itched in the
    minds of all of us other than that the Armoured Corps brothren from
    time immemorial and difficult to realise that the Horses mounted Cavalry will disappear soon
    May be the strength of the Tank Regiments incrementally goes up,
    but the role played by the 61 Cav for decades though more of a ceremonial in nature cannot be overshadowed.
    Hope the top echelon of our great Indian Army would have weighed in the SWOT analysis to convert the existing Cav unit into a Tank Regiment despite the sentiments of the Cavalry men in the
    Olive Green. The Author has glorified the Cavalry, the least best he
    could do at this juncture.We wish and hope to read more contributions from the Author in future also through The Indian
    Defence Review. Happy

  2. Brig Vivek Mehta, Veteran from the our first Cavalry Regt to be Mechanised in Apr 1938 on said:

    Very well written. A sensible mix of Historical Facts and present sentiment, which makes an appealing read and hits home hard.
    Gen Shankar Ghosh with his forte of logic and spirited aplomb, has brought out a very important point which could have far reaching effects on Army Traditions, which are the bedrock of motivation in the Armed Forces.
    I’m sanguine that the powers that be take heed and reconsider.

  3. An excellent mix of History, Pragmatism & Military Ethos… Gen Ghosh has covered it all… being a tankmen myself, understand the requirement of additional tank-regiments, but dont really understand the burning need to erase a legacy, for after all, traditions, ethos & historical perspectives are the backbone of our Indian Military…frankly, its ‘Naam, Namak aur Nishaan’, it’s the emotional connect too!

  4. Its total Failure of the AG, Army HQ and in particular, the Addl DG , Ceremonial and Welfare in guarding such precious jewel of our times , of which everyone in uniform was and still is proud of. Allowing this historic entity to be Thrown mindlessly into the MoD babus’ dustbin for a few dollars more is crass appalling ! Converting it into another Armd Regt is adding insult to injury. The only ostensible reason for the downright slander decision is perhaps to save on the expenses of maintaining the 61 Cav. By the same token , all ceremonial outfits like the President’s Body Guards should also be dispensed with. Infact , the entire gamut of maintaining institutions associated with the pomp and show at Rashtrapati Bhawan and Raj Bhawans in the states and union territories must be addressed concurrently. Showcasing INDIA’s most precious pageantry to the world now appears to be a sham , if we are going to allow the only one horsed cavalry regiment in the world to bite dust. Equestrian events in the world , polo tourneys and the like have been dominated by 61 Cav which brought laurels to the name and glory of the country in the centre stage of fame, year upon year. Saga of bravery , courage and chivalry flood the annals of history of 61 Cav offrs and men who have toiled hard relentless to earn the swashbuckling awe the Regt prided in amongst global players , fellow competitors and visitors alike. Their mastery over the quinine symbolizes their exceptional leadership qualities taming the strongest and fastest horses in a unique man – animal bond , so carefully groomed over years of training and toil. All that is being sadly sought to be brought to a naught. The
    Current Pandemic sweeping the globe underlines the utility and imperatives of retaining such an outfit , as the shadow of doom looms across every horizon. It’s time BiRA and his cohorts revisit and review the decision.

  5. An excellent article by the most experienced officer of Indian Army. I fully agree with the views of the author. I feel our great nation can afford a cavalry regt which has a very rich history. Unfortunately we Indians are good at creating history but are poor at preserving the same. I hope and pray that some good sense prevails and the decision is reviewed in national interest.

  6. I support your views Gen Ghosh . History , DNA and Izzat amongst others play an intangible and a crucial role in performance of Indian Armed forces . I am saying this being a third generation soldier myself with 35 years of active service .
    With a Trillion $ economy maintaining 61 CAV should of no consideration .for Indian Army .
    Keep it up General , lets have more inputs for RESTRUCTRING of Armed Forces since we have begun with CDS. Though presently he is for name sake only .
    Brig Opinder Singh (R)

  7. You can always raise a new tank regiment but no way we can ever raise another 61 Cavalry. Pomp and show has always been a part of military might for all nations and 61 Cavalry has fulfilled that role in a fitting manner.

    I live in USA and our New Year starts with the Rose Parade in Pasadena CA with marching bands and Riders dressed in U.S. Cavalry uniforms of the 1880s. I also make it point to watch the Republic Day Parade on January 26 when I can just to watch the the fine cavalrymen of the 61 Cavalry performing the national salute. It would be a sad day if they are replaced by tanks.

  8. Lt Gen Ghosh has written a very well researched and pragmatic article. It is a great read for even those who have never donned a uniform. 
    61 cavalry no doubt is the jewel in the crown not only of the cavalry but whole Indian  army, but the trumpet seems to have been sounded for 61 cavalry to prepare for its last mounted parade. 
    61 cavalry besides their ceremonial duties has been a nursery for preparing riders of repute at national  and  international level for playing polo and other equestrian events.A lot of them have brought  laurels to the country. 
    As per plan 3 independent sqns are to be merged to raise this armoured regiment but these sqns are doing  stellar operational commitment on their own since last many years. They have taken decisive part in the 1971 war ,won battle honours, citations and gallantry awards. What special purpose will they serve by being clubbed together is not understood. 
    Pomp and show is part and parcel of the indian army. I would shudder to imagine our army without their respective bands and the president’s body guards .Witnessing 61 cavalry in fuIl regalia take part in the parade brings a rush of blood into  the veins of most of us. 
    .I fully agree that the officers and men should be ready to take on combat roles when required.  This can be very well achieved by making cross attachments compulsory.  
    I being a third generation cavalry officer certainly feel that our nation is not so impoverished that we cannot maintain 61 Cavalry with its horses. Keeping in mind the chivalry and sacrifice of the cavalry charge at Haifa the trumpet today should not sound the last post,  rather it should hum the notes of the decisive cavalry charge. TALLY HO !

  9. The importance and relevance of retaining 61 Cavalry in its present form has been very aptly elucidated by the Army Commander. Traditions evolved over decades/centuries and the tales of heroism by their predecessors instil a sense of pride amongst the young soldiers. These play a significant role in raising the morale and motivation levels, so correctly described as DNA by Gen Ghosh.

    61 Cavalry not only occupies a place of pride amongst the mounted units/corps , reminiscent of their past glory, but also acts as a showpiece of the Indian Army during equestrian events held in India and abroad.

    Elimination of the special status of such an elite unit and it’s downgrade to that of a common tank regiment is just unthinkable, unless it’s being done out of vengeance. I am sure the Army and the Nation can afford the meagre
    expenses in maintaining 61 Cavalry in its present form.

  10. I am a veteran for the past 26 years and I decided to settle down in Jaipur in 1994 .
    Jaipur is famous for two things . Firstly it is the Pink City and a great tourist destination . And secondly , it has a unique , one of its kind Army Units , a fully horsed unit , We the residents of Jaipur are proud of these two unique features . The first represents the art and architecture and the second Bravery and Grace .

    Good equestrian with high breed horses and tall handsome riders have their own admiration ,awe, attraction , charisma ,reverence with regards and respect. These qualities go in a long way to add to the already good reputation of the Armed Forces .

    The Armed Forces have a strong bond with the reputation and history of its ancestors . 61 CAV is one such set up which is distinct and one of its kind not only in India but also in the world .Morever , it has history of bravery and laurels . Such unique items need to be preserved and cherished .It has plenty of sentimental value attached to it . And we fauzis are very sentimental !!
    We will regret later doing away with such an unique organisation . And once the deed is done it just cannot be undone ! We have therefore to think n number of times before taking this harsh and irreversible act .
    Let us sit back and relax and give a second thought to the decision of converting 61CAV to a normal regiment . Like I have stated that once the decision is taken, it is irreversible . We would lose much more than we gain . We would lose the intangible aspects like history , tradions , admiration and sentimental feelings .
    So once again , think before you leap !
    God bless the right people in the right place .

  11. Sir a very well written article giving both sides of this decision.I do hope the Senior officers do give a rethought to this concept.Old traditions of our Army and in particular the Cavalry Regiments should not be given away because this is what makes our Army.

  12. Our former Army Commander has taken the words out of my mouth, however, the major difference lies in the manner in which he has candidly expressed himself with clarity, brevity and soldierly logic, which I could’ent have. Needless to enumerate that the bed rock of the Army and particularly at the regimental level, rests on military history, traditions, tales of valour and bravado. All these amalgamate to become beacons of inspiration and motivation. In the case of 61 Cavalry, the Haifa action would remain embedded with golden letters in the annals of world cavalry history. It was valour, bravado, determination and offensive spirit / action displayed in the highest traditions / standards of the army. I would like to endorse the author’s view point that the issue needs to be reviewed in favour of maintaining status quo

  13. Excellent piece; makes a strong pitch for retaining the Regiment.

    If there are other reasons for the disbandment, they should be dealt with separately on merit.

    I see once again what I had stated in an earlier case where IT Exemption for the war disabled is sought to be taken away, that the military hierarchies seem to revel in “throwing the baby with the bath water”. Are there similar reasons for this decision too? If so, this issue also needs to be stayed and reconsidered de novo

  14. Very well researched Article. I don’t understand really what saving are we going to make in this grand old unit’s conversion . 61st cavalry unit has traditions and has made a name for itself in our great Army as has been amply brought out in the Article. Don’t we have a camel battalion of BSF which is also meant more for ceremonial role than any operational role . Incidentally have also visited the magnificent Bhai’s Centre at Haifa.

  15. Military history plays a crucial role in a soldiers life. Regimental spirit is enhanced when we imbibe values and virtues passed onto the next gen by their ‘ buzurgs”. Hence we must ensure that the old symbols of our glorious history are retained.
    The general has so very rightly brought forth this issue. In the true spirit of our army it would be crucial that we continue to maintain remnants of our past for the future generations to take pride aas well as imbibe the true values.

  16. I am in full agreement with the Army Commander. It is not always logic that is paramount…..emotions mean more in the military than anywhere else. And here is a case for both logic and emotions. The author has tackled the issue well and come up in support of not converting 61 Cav into an Armoured Regiment. What % of combat power will be added to the mighty Indian Army by one additional armoured regiment? On the other hand, we would lose the world’s only horsed cavalry regiment. Professionalism is on holding onto the old and welcoming the new…..thus it is the combination that matters. And what the hell!….after all, it is only one cavalry regiment….why not retain the old spirit! Cheers!

  17. A very well articulated piece , Shanks. While you have accomodated both traditionalists and pragmatists with their view points but you have rightfully sided with the symbols of history. One does not discard one’ parents because they have become old and useless for any useful purpose. Parents are a reminder to every human being of one’s existence . So is the case of 61 cav— a symbol of past history and also the parenting symbol of modern Indian armoured corps .

    61 Cav— is the only link with the past . It is keeping the game of polo alive I. This country. It represents India honourably in all horse shows across the world. Therefore it’s retention is utmost desirable .

    Of late ,I find a lot of changes are being made in the army in a hurry , as if there would be NO tomorrow. I just heard of ToD ( Tour of Duty) cadre of officers being introduced in the army. This is being done to make up the shortage of 7648 officers in Infantry and RR Battalions. I am told the young men would serve in the army for three years and then sent out. There is NO surety of lateral absorption for those who come out alive after three years. It is a sure way of using the youth of this country as cannon fodder. What a brain wave of brainless guys!

    Shanks ! You are in a position to raise voice against such knee jerk reactions. And you must do . You have wonderfully pleaded against disbandment of 62 CAV. Kudos to you.

    I would like you to raise your voice against this ToD commission too. This remedy is worst than the disease.
    Finally , a very good read and very well articulate. I would expect you to be made re active on this front. You need to be more vocal I. Such subjects. I would look forward to it

    ( Col Rajinder Singh)

  18. Military traditions are built with blood n guts as highlighted by Gen Shankar Ghosh, the charge by Indian Cavalry beats the other cavalry charges any time. By a stroke of pen these cannot be set aside as seems to be the growing norm n needs to be brought to a grinding halt. If we require another armoured regiment raise another one but such a move appears a short cut. 61 Cav is world famous n we need to be proud of this outstanding Regiment, am sure these very logical n worthy comments by Gen Ghosh will drive home the point to make no change in the status of 61 Cav, let’s keep our traditions live, God Bless

  19. Shankar, I am an optimist and do hope and pray that good sense prevails, especially, in light of what has been articulated by you in the last few paragraphs of this article and this is NOT the last post for this fine unit. 61 Cav should not be viewed as an Armoured Corps Unit alone, but as a pride of the Indian Army. Its ethos, traditions, culture, achievements should be exploited and showcased to rightly project the image of a potent Army, which is not only a lean and mean fighting machine, but also retains its age old traditions and elan.
    As regards converting to raise another armoured regiment with tanks is concerned, let me state that we have already reached the optimum as far as number of Regiments required for fighting a two front war. What we need is to ensure is that those that we have, are hundred and NOT seventy percent fit. We have a serious issue of dwindling night fighting capabilities for want of spares and lack of much needed ammunition for training and war. Numbers wont matter, its the fitness and potency of those that we have that will matter in the next war.
    Lastly, I wish to state that we have a very serious issue of parochialism in the Indian Army, which has reached its peak in the last couple of decades. While the role of a particular arm, which is fighting a decades old war in difficult conditions in the North and East cannot be denied, lets not deride an arm which will win you battles not only in the plains but certain high altitude areas. I am referring to the over looking of some outstanding commanders of mechanised forces for higher ranks. We need to remember, we need such commanders who understand the nuances of handling large mechanised forces in times of war.

  20. A balanced view by Lt Gen Ghosh. As AMS6A, in 1988, I saw this issue played out. Late Lt Gen KS Randhawa was the DGMF. 61 CAV stayed. Have those yester arguments become invalid? I expect so. It is odd to believe that one settled unit of horse cavalry has the CDS & other Army hierarchy in a twisted knot. Will upset the balance & power of the Armd Corps. Do they realise that they are temporary occupants of their present appointments? The ‘dharohar’ will just vanish – a page in history. Their contribution.

  21. Amazing contribution of Indian Cavalry Regiments during the First World War has been very aptly summed up by the author. Famous “Charge of the Light Brigade” will always inspire the coming generations to perform incredible tasks in future as well.
    The contribution of Cavalry in Haifa will be remembered as a supreme example of the ultimate & indomitable spirit of all ranks participating in the legendary operation. The performance of 61 Cavalry has been par excellence always.
    Alas, we now hear that the legendary 61 Cavalry may be converted into an Armoured Regiment. I wonder if the adverse impact of this move has been seriously thought of. It may be wiser not to do away with time-tested traditional cavalry while at the same time we may raise additional Armoured regiments to meet the operational requirements.
    I strongly feel that this proposal should be dropped because this may set precedence for many other similar cuts which will be detrimental to the interest of the Armed forces.. The suggestions made by the author are very valid and need to be pondered upon.

  22. Sir I disagree with the argument of retaining horses.

    All the older regiments of the Indian army were horsed cavalry with many more years of history, battle honours, gallantry awards and traditions behind them than these state forces. Their conversion to tank regiments did not in any way alter their history nor did it dampen their spirit or ethos. 61Cavalry with tanks, would not only retain its glorious past but would be empowered to create history in any future war.


  23. Excellent, Shanks ! Beautifully put across ! The valor and courage of the horse cavalry can only be glorified. While modernisation and progress cannot be denied, I also feel tradition plays a major role in motivation. 61 Cav has always held a special place and commanded respect in the hearts of all the three services.

  24. A very well researched article by Lt Gen Shankar Ghosh bringing out the historical perspective of India’s Horsed Cavalry, laced with details of bravery at Haifa that went to form the DNA of 61 Cavalry now set for conversion into a mechanised regiment.

    Detailing the pros and cons of the proposal the General makes a strong case for preserving the Regiment – perhaps the only one of its kind in the world – by giving it a dual role in operations. Thereby lies the solution to preserve the stem cell of this great Regiment and keep alive the smell of rich traditions including equestrian sports that add to national prestige.

    With the admitted reduction of physical contact in future wars the proposal needs a serious relook.

  25. A very beautifully articulated, on paper, the history we are going to bury forever if the ” have nothing else to do — so do something to stay relevant” paupered mentalists have their way.

    We have always lived on regimental history and w/o it will end up as the force under MHA .

    I say this with emotion as one who daily filled the Bn History Book , 4 Raj Rif ( Outram’s) as adjt , for 2 yrs.

    Your article will touch many ❤️’s and I hope the generations to come are kept alive to our 61st Cav history & ” THE LAST GALLOP”.

    It’s sad to see history put in the ” shredder” to suit some .

    I salute ur article and still maintain as I have always told U —- Come on National TV and let the nation know the ” other side” of ‘ bowing down’ to the incompetent policy makers.

  26. THE RISSALA the original & pure regiment …..

    61 CAVALRY- The Tallest Cavalry unit of the World beholding Heritage, History traditions and Legacy of Jodhpur Lancers, Kacchhawa horse, Mysore Lancers, Patiala Lancers and Jammu & Kashmir state Forces will be just allowed to melt into times.
    Any sensible , honourable and upright Cavalier will simply say a “Big No”…If every Cavalier and Armoured Corps Offr is for “ SIXTY FIRST” Then a moot and obvious question arises. WHO ARE THE VILLAINS OF THIS GREAT REGIMENT ??? A very hard but a very pertinent question that must have an answer so that history treats those Vengeful Leaders accordingly. But WHO ARE THESE MISCHEVIOUS MACHIVILLIANS. A Regt is like a home headed by A Comdt who is called the FATHER OF THE REGT. Its his singularly Moral, professional and Ethical duty to safeguard the Regt, its Rank and File, traditions, customs, history and Legacy under any circumstances during War and peace alike. So has the present Incumbent Commandant Failed to do so..????Obvious answer is A Big YES.
    Army has a very well laid out heirarchy. And for entire Armoured Corps they have a very Coveted DGMF-Director General of Mech Forces. He is almost like the Big Daddy of entire Armoured Corps. Is it not his responsibility to safe guard his “ SIXTY FIRST”. But did he do it.. Again the ans is a ver BIG NO… Now this leaves the Rank and File to wonder about what was ingrained into their minds… NAAM, NAMAK, NISHAAN.. Are they not entitled to their NAAM, NAMAK, NISHAAN for which they toiled day in and day out. Will any soldier ever trust again if a Comdt or A senior officer ever reminded them to live and die for their NAAM, NAMAK, NISHAAN.. when they see that their selfish leaders did not safe guard their NAAM,NAMAK,NISHAAN for them. These self centred Egoists wrote off their entire Identity with just a stroke of a pen. … and for gaining what ?? Will a Soldier ever believe in his colours and traditions.. I would leave it to the self

  27. Salutes to Gen Ghosh!!! The Rissala *MAKE MUCH OF YOUR HORSES*
    As the last Horse Cavalry Regt / Rissala converts to Tanks. Its an enormous loss to the country, the sport of polo & equestrian & the loss of great tardation amd heritage. The legendary Rissala is the only one of its kind on the planet. *”Aaan-Baan & Shaan”* of any army & country.

    The conversion of Indian Cavalry regiments to Armd Regiments, which began on 14 April 1938, with The Scinde Horse parading it’s horses for the last time , is now set to be completed 82 years later, with the last horse cavalry regiment, the 61st Cavalry converting to T-72 Tanks.
    The announcement marks the end of an era that has left many of the old world expressing a feeling of void & anguish. While the current Military hierarchy contest that this was the need of the hour, many senior cavalry veterans feel that 61 Cavalry was much more than just a regiment. It was a symbol of Rissala traditions, heritage, culture & legacy, & therefore needed to continue as such. The forefathers of 61 Cavalry fought the Battle of Haifa, one of the last magnificent cavalry charges, 100 years of which were celebrated recently & the Teen Murti Memorial was renamed Haifa Chowk by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. It also carries on its shoulders the history & legacy of State Forces like Kachawwa Horse, Mysore Lancers, Jodhpur Lancers, Gwalior Lancers, Kashmir, and the Patiala State Forces which were all amalgamated to form the 61 Cavalry in 1953.
    There are some who consider the Regt as a legacy of Raj & Royalty. All pomp & show & flamboyance. They regard Polo matches as Page 3 events where the who’s who is present & all that glitters is gold. Some others who are uninformed consider the 61st Cavalry as largely a ceremonial unit, that also engages in sporting activities like polo. To set the record straight, the achievements of the Regt have been creditable, the result of great amount of hard work, training & sweat.
    The 61st Cavalry has been co

  28. Very thought provoking article. It is s pity that s tradition of Indian Srmy I’d being sacrificed at the altar of economics. How I wish that Indian Govt could find the miniscule amount to keep the uniqueness of 61 Cav alive.

  29. Lt. Gen Ghosh has written a magnificent analysis on the current crisis facing 61 Cav.
    I would like to mention that the Bahais who were given refuge in generous Australia are well aware of the effort made in Acca to free their Spiritual Lender Abdul Baha. It is well documented in their Teachings and Book of Martyrdom.
    Two of my Uncles commanded 61 Cav. They were Lt. Col Billy Sodhi and Lt. Col Pickles Sodhi.
    It is always Regimental Tradition and Honour that enables soldiers to lay down their lives
    for their Nation.
    Be grateful INDIA.


  30. The opinion of experienced,talented senior veterans like the author should be taken very seriously since they have served in all theatres and the powers that b should apply their mind whole heartedly to their opinion and view point. It is traditions of valour,bravery and past glory which make a unit of regiment proud and leads the troops to futher brave actions in war.The Army must safe guard that so that it is a proud and dedicated fighting force. This author view need a very serious look.

  31. It would be a sad day if the powers to be allow 61 CAV to turn mechanized. We would have lost a part of heritage.
    Austria has its Spanish Riding School. Englan, Weeden, etc etc;
    USA closed Riley. Morven Park was set up as a private institution- lasted some 20 years – closed due to lack of good candidates. USA has used French Samuar Officers to help with their team.Any way too much to write to make a coherent case. Just upsetting to me!!
    Again really great article hope it has the positive effect to leave 61 CAV alone.

  32. The article is an objective analysis of tradition in the Indian Army acting as a great motivator. This is something our decision makers shouldn’t ignore when planning the future of the last cavalry regiment in the world. Perhaps, dual role could be considered for its reorganisation.

  33. Surely both the ceremonial and tactical roles can well be inculcated to and on our young officers and soldiers. Very often extra courage emnated from a simple song that soldiers sing — so why not from a ceremonial display of unity.

  34. Very well analyzed and written. History is replete with cases wherin because of the regimental traditions men have gone far beyond the call of duty and saved the day. We need to be sensitive to the Indian psyche, particularly of the soldier, and not get carried away by pragmatism alone. Symbolisms play a major role in keeping the Indian Army at the top of the ratings – DON’T TAMPER, just to penny pinch.

  35. Well written and analysed article.
    Traditions are a great motivator for professional armies.
    Considering the glorious past of this unit, it should have been retained in the present form. Even nows they do have an operational role and not only for ceremonial purpose.

  36. Impulse of cold calculations of an accountant to save a few pennies need to be balanced against the the core values of regimentation, tradition & history which are the intangibles that make a soldier to charge into enemy without disregard to his life. These are battle winning factors. In war there are no runners up, but only victor’s & vanquished. Populations of vanquished nations go through misery ,shame & loss of pride .Ceremonials insitill the core values in the armed forces & inspire citizens to take pride in their country. While performing ceremonial duties during peace,61 Cavalry can be effectively utilised for important task of perimeter security of forward airfieds during war.On the balance ,maintence of 61 Cavalry , the only Horse Cavalry Regiment in the world in present form is in greater national interest than converting it to a role which can be performed by other units of Indian Army. Relevent issues have been analysed very well in the article.

  37. An interesting article . Another solution is to have two squadrons of latest potent upgraded tanks and keep two squadrons with the best equine. The troops must be rotated among the squadrons. In the event of war , the commanding officer must lead the tank component. The Regiment past history is a matter of pride for our Nation India . I will go a step further by suggesting that 61Cav Contigent must take part in the Republic Day Parade by having a combination of Horses and Tanks . The author has rightly touched THE NERVE OF PRIDE of this famous Regiment

  38. Thank you General Ghosh for an objective analysis of this knee jerk decision. Learnt about the historical issues linked to our Horsed Cavalry. Very interesting read.
    The Indian Army is steeped in tradition and, in some cases, ceremonials – very important to the culture. All in all these together make the Indian Army the force irrespective of some senior officers (less said the better). General Shekatkar’s recommendations are quite old in 2020. The top brass definitely needs to rethink converting ^! Cavalry into a tank regiment. General Ghosh is spot on – “raise another armoured regiment”.
    Thank you for a wonderful article

  39. A very balanced article with well considered arguments of both pragmatists and those who hold strong views on the core values of Regimentation and Traditions. Rightly history and traditions, the bedrocks of armed forces cannot be just wished away. Traditions are the main morale boosting war winning factors for units / armies and must not be tempered with at will.

  40. Very well articulated. The CAPF are increasing their ceremonial activities after seeing the pride it brings to their Services. And we are proposing to go the other way. The cost of maintaining all the huge Raj Bhavans on primest of prime real estates in India apart from the fabulous Rashtrapati Bhavan supported by legions of caretakers of various trades, would be incalculable. If we are going to weigh our heritage in pieces of silver, then how, can we justify all the expenditure being incurred on renovation and maintenance of historical mausoleums and such like buildings., which ought to be converted into hospitals or schools… Using the same yardstick. A rethink is definitely required.

  41. Sir,
    Very nicely articulated article giving insight into the chivalry of 61 Cav and battle of Hafia. The article is a great read. Sir, for ceremonial purpose PBG is ideally suited and loc in Delhi. 61 Cav should take operational task as light Armd Regt. For Polo and Equestrian, the responsibility can be given to RVC for National and International Competitions. Sir, core values and traditions are very important for men in uniform and one must follow them. In this case also, 61Cav can follow old traditions in new avatar.
    Regards .
    Ajay Mahajan

  42. The author has very lucidly covered the logic of retaining 61 Cav in its present form. It’s not the money always that makes the mare go, especially so in the Armed Forces ; much more beyond the arguments of rationalists are the factors that coalesce a fighting Unit . I fully support and endorse the authors views

  43. The author has beautifully connected the glorious past of the regiment to the present and the possibilities for the future for this regiment that epitomizes the spirit of valour, sacrifice and traditions.His justification for retaining this regiment are spot on.It is one thing to read history, quite another to see the regiment in flesh and blood who bring to life the Haifa charge in the same physical to as theu were a hundred years ago. Tradions and spirit is the driving force of the army. Where they can be retained, we should retain.Dont we we feel proud when the national anthem is played on Olympics.
    Very effectively depicted. RVC could do alot of their jobs, but they did not charge at Haifa.Excellent article
    Maj Gen Anil Sengar

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