Armour Day is celebrated on 01 May every year to commemorate the commencement of mechanisation of the Indian Cavalry regiments.
On this date in 1938, The Scinde Horse became the first regiment to shed their horses and to be equipped with tanks. The first such equipment was the Vickers light tanks and Chevrolet Armoured Cars.
Perhaps the toughest thing in the transition phase for the officers and men of the regiment was to bid farewell to their horses. On April 14, 1938 the last mounted parade led by the Commandant, Col McMahon at Rawalpindi ended with the order “Make much of your horses.”
THE SCINDE HORSE
The 14th Prince of Wales’s Own Scinde Horse was raised as The Scinde Irregular Horse at Hyderabad on 8 August 1838. It was named after the province of Sind, where it was raised to protect the trade route from the Bolan Pass to Sukkur on the Indus River and fight against the marauding Baluchi warriors.
Scinde Horse is the only regiment known to honour its enemy till date (the Baluchi warrior on its badge) and has not changed its badge since its raising, unlike others who have done so-numerous times. At one point, the regiment carried 9 Standards while on parade (regiments normally hold 1), a unique privilege given to it for its valor.
THE SCINDE HORSE BADGE
The adversary during the early days, were the Baloochi marauders of the hill tribe of “Jekhranis”. On numerous occasions the Irregulars raided their camps to recover the booty they had looted from the caravans.
However, the Irregulars respected the Jekhranis for their skill and valour in combat, so they adopted a Badge, depicting a Baloochi warrior with his spear (Jezail) charging on a Stallion, to remind them of a brave and valiant enemy who they repeatedly vanquished.
Scinde Horse adopted its
“Man Dies but the Regiment Lives”,
“Insaan toh mar jata hai, magar Regiment hameshan zinda rehete hai”
The Regt motto in itself is as unique as its badge. In 1947 partition of India also resulted in partition of the Armed Forces. During partition the composition of the regiment with two Mohamedan Squadrons(Pathan & Ranghar) was seen as likely to be allotted to Pakistan. The Sikhs were worried about the transition but stoic. It came as a surprise that the regiment would be retained by India.
Scinde Horse was to shed its Pathan squadron to the Guides Cavalry, which was allotted to Pakistan, and receive the Sikh Squadron from the Guides Cavalry.
The Ranghar Squadron in early October 1947 was transferred to the 13th Duke of Connaught’s Own Lancers. A Dogra Squadron from the Guides Cavalry was received.
By January 22, 1948 The Scinde Horse got composed of two Sikh and one Dogra Squadron, changed from the original pre-partition composition of two Mohmedan Squadrons and one Sikh Squadron.
Lieutenant Colonel KR Brooke in his book The Scinde Horse (14th Prince of Wales’ Own Cavalry) wrote of the occasion —
“The Regiment formed line opposite the Quarter Guard and saluted their old comrades as they left their lines for the last time. On arrival in their new regiment, which was also stationed in Ahmadnagar, they formed up opposite the Sikhs who were to relieve them. Each man of both squadrons removed his Regimental cap or pagri badge, as the case might be, and handed it over to his opposite number”.
The then Risaldar Major of Scinde Horse, Niaz Mohd Khan, a Pathan, was so torn up by the decision to leave the regiment and serve under Pakistan that he did not sign his papers till the moment of departure of the Squadron, that too on the urging of his Commanding Officer.
Till the end he maintained that he had enlisted with the Scinde Horse and that was where his loyalty lay.
“Insaan toh mar jata hai, magar Regiment hameshan zinda rehete hai” were the departing words of Risaldar Major Niaz Mohd Khan.
ALL ROYAL TITLES WERE SHED WHEN INDIA BECAME A REPUBLIC.
TODAY THE 14TH PRINCE OF WALES’S OWN SCINDE HORSE IS KNOWN AS 14 HORSE(SCINDE HORSE).
THE BADGE IS STILL THE BALOCH HORSEMAN, THE REGIMENTAL MOTTO IS STILL THE WORDS OF RISALDAR MAJOR NIAZ MOHD KHAN
Lt Gen A K Singh, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM (Retd) is privileged to be Colonel of the Regt 14th Horse, apart from 5 other Armd Regts incl the famous 7th Light Cavalry.
He is erstwhile Lt Governor of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry and Ex GOC in C; Southern Command.