On Sept 23, 1918, Mysore Lancers, the personal army of the erstwhile Maharaja, played a
crucial role in winning one of the greatest battles of World War-I


Every year on September 23, the Indian Army celebrates 'Haifa Day' in remembrance of the Battle of Haifa — one the bravest battles of World War-I. Even as the 95th anniversary of the battle was celebrated this year, not many outside the Army are aware of the Karnataka connection to it. Mysore Lancers, the personal army of the Mysore Maharaja, played a crucial role in winning the battle for the Allied Powers.

Along with the Jodhpur Cavalry and sixteenth Imperial Cavalry Brigade, soldiers from Mysore Lancers charged on Turkish positions in and around the city of Haifa. The Indian soldiers were armed only with lances and swords while the Turks were armed with artillery and machine guns.

This battle is one of the last cavalry charges that resulted in a victory in a modern war. By the end of WWI, horses had become redundant in wars.



The Israel Ambassador to India, Alon Ushpiz, who participated in the Haifa Day celebration at Teen Murti Bhavan on September twenty third, said in his speech, "The heroism, tenacity and cavalry skills of the Mysore and Jodhpur Lancers that took control of the city from the Turks on September twenty third, proved to be a decisive factor in the victory over the Ottoman Empire. The historical battle of Haifa paved the way to the victory of the British Army and thirty years later — to the creation of the State of Israel." Haifa is today the third largest city in Israel with a population of over three lakh.

When Mysore Lancers saved the city, they ended the Ottoman Empire's four hundred-year long rule over the region. The Ottomans joined WWI on the side of the Central Powers (Germany) against the British Empire, France and Russia. Twenty five years later, Haifa became a part of
the newly formed nation of Israel. Though one and a half million Indian troops are recorded to have fought in WWI on behalf of the British Empire, the participation of troops from Karnataka, then mainly the Mysore Kingdom, is largely forgotten from public memory. Memorials to the Mysore Lancers in New Delhi and Bangalore are also no more in public view. A long forgotten memorial to the Mysore Lancers in Bangalore states that Mysore Lancers, Mysore Transport Corps, and Mysore Imperial Service Troops participated in the 'Great War'.



The Mysore Lancers served at the Suez Canal and in Gaza, Meggiddo, Sharon, Damascus and Palestine. The Mysore Transport Corps served at Tigris Kut-Al-Amara and at Baghdad. The Bangalore memorial has a list of Mysore soldiers who died including that of two officers, A Lingaraj Urs and Meer Ashroff Alli. Other soldiers who died were Venkata Rao Maney, Annaji Dhummal, Rachunatha Rao Birjey, Mohammed Abdul Sattar, Nar Singh, Mohammed Peer Khan, Rahimon Khan, Ganapaty Rao Sindhey, Rama Rao Gaikwad, Manadeva Rao
Bobdey, Sheik Ibrahim, Sham Singh, Roya Sundaram, Chithambara Rao Ithapay and Meer Abdul Latheef. The Lancers returned home on February twenty first, to a rousing reception by His Highness Nalwadi Krishna Raja Wadiyar. The Lancers were merged with the Indian Army in nineteen fifty and lost their distinct identity.



On September twenty third, the fifteenth (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade was ordered to capture Haifa. The area to be captured lay between Kishon River and Mount Carmel. The Jodhpur Lancers entered the field from the south while the Mysore Lancers moved around and attacked the town from east and north. They had to take on the Turks, who were supported by German machine gun troops and Austrian soldiers manning field guns. One set of Mysore Lancers attacked the Austrian battery at two pm after climbing a steep slope of Mount Carmel. They captured the guns and took prisoners. The rest of the Mysore Lancers joined forces with the Jodhpur Lancers to launch the main attack on German machine gunners from behind. This attack led to the capture of two machine guns, two camel guns and thirty prisoners. The road to Haifa had been opened. The Jodhpur Lancers then charged into the town, while the Mysore Lancers provided fire support and followed them into Haifa. The two managed to capture a thousand three hundred and fifty, German and Ottoman soldiers. Artillery and machine guns were captured. Nobody knows how many Mysore Lancers and Jodhpur Lancers fought in that battle.

There are about eight hundred graves of Indian soldiers in Israel today.

By Shyam Prasad S.

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