Those men fought for their dignity and pride. They fought despite negative conditions.
This story is about indomitable courage and valour shown by the troops of the British Indian Army. The battle of ‘Haifa’.
Apparently, this battle is regarded as “THE LAST GREATEST CAVALRY CAMPAIGN IN HISTORY!”
Historic Battle of Haifa
The Battle of Haifa took place on 23 September 1918. During the Sinai and Palestine campaign of the First World War.
This battle liberated the city of HAIFA from 4 centuries of Ottoman rule.
Haifa is a city in contemporary ISRAEL. This battle gave rise to present-day Israel.
Indian overwhelming participation
The Indian, 15th(Imperial service) cavalry brigade and part of the Desert mounted corps attacked rearguard forces of the Ottoman Empire that resulted in the capture of the towns of Haifa and Acre.
The division’s third brigade, the 15th (Imperial Service) cavalry brigade, normally comprised three cavalry regiments from the Indian Princely states of Jodhpur, Mysore, and Hyderabad.
Indian forces had to face a mix of well-reinforced Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian troops.
The action began
A squadron from the Mysore Lancers and a squadron from the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade formed the initial attack on an Austrian artillery battery before moving forward with the Jodhpur Lancers and a light car patrol, to attack the main German rearguard position and capture the town.
Enemy controlled the approach road from the east which ran between the mountain and the Nahr el Muqatta.
This strong position could not be outflanked because the Nahr el Mugatta river was edged on both sides by marshes, making it virtually impossible to cross.
The area between the Nahr al-Muqaṭṭaʿ, also known as the Kishon River, and the slopes of Mount Carmel was well defended by Ottoman gun emplacements and artillery. The brigade’s Jodhpur Lancers were tasked to capture this position. The Mysore Lancers moved around to attack the town from the east and north.
A squadron of the Mysore Lancers and a squadron of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry attacked the Austrian battery of light field guns on the slopes of Mount Carmel at 14:00 hours.
The squadron of Mysore Lancers had moved into position by climbing up a steep track to capture and silence the guns. The Jodhpur Lancers launched the main mounted attack on the rearguard of German machine gunners. Which blocked the 3.2 km road.
Eventually, the Jodhpur Lancers charged the Ottoman position, crossing the Acre railway line, but came under machine gun and artillery fire. Moreover, quicksand on the river banks further obstructed the charge. So, they manoeuvred to the left onto the lower slopes of Mount Carmel.
As a result, the regiment secured the position capturing thirty prisoners, two machine guns, two camel guns and opening up an access route into Haifa. The Jodhpur Lancers continued their charge into the town, surprising the defenders.
Those Mysore Lancers who had been giving fire support to the attacking regiment mounted and followed them into the town.
The Sweeter Victory
Together the two regiments captured 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners. Including two German officers, 35 Ottoman officers, 17 artillery guns including four 4.2 guns, eight 77mm guns and four camel guns as well as a 6-inch naval gun, and 11 machine guns.
Thia victory opened the way for British forces to establish there.
Remembering The Fallen Ones
Major Dalpat Singh Shekhawat was posthumously awarded with the Military Cross.
Unfortunately, casualties amounted to eight dead and 34 wounded. Many horses lost their lives too.
Essence Of The Battle
61st Cavalry Regiment in the Indian Army now represents the Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers. They still commemorate the battle every year on 23 September as Haifa Day.
Haifa battle is the foundation of affable relations between India and Israel. Moreover, it has turned out to be a gesture of promising friendship.
Let Us Pay Tribute
This day marked the birth of a new country after WW I. Israel even imparts the knowledge of HAIFA Battle and the valour of Indians in its school curriculum. As a matter of fact, Indian troops fought with lances against machine guns!
History itself gives testimony of this great victory. As Indians, it is our rightful duty to remember those brave men.