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1st Indian Cavalry Division
Active September 1914 – March 1918
Country British India
Allegiance British Crown
Branch British Indian Army
Type Cavalry
Size Division
Part of Indian Cavalry Corps

Western Front in World War I

Battle of Cambrai
Henry Peregrine Leader

The 1st Indian Cavalry Division was a division of the British Indian Army formed at the outbreak of World War I. It served on the Western Front, being renamed as 4th Cavalry Division on 26 November 1916.[1] In March 1918, the 4th Cavalry Division was broken up. The British units remained in France and the Indian elements were sent to Egypt to help constitute 1st Mounted Division.[2]


The division sailed for France from Bombay on October 16, 1914, under the command of Major General H D Fanshawe. The division was re-designated the 4th Cavalry Division in November 1916. During the war the Division served in the trenches as infantry. Due to the difference in troop levels between infantry and cavalry regiments, each cavalry brigade formed one dismounted cavalry regiment.

The high number of officer casualties suffered early on had an effect on its later performance. British officers that understood the language, customs, and psychology of their men could not be quickly replaced, and the alien environment of the Western Front had some effect on the soldiers.[3] The division served in France and Flanders, held in reserve for the expected breakthrough. It provided dismounted parties for trench duties, but its only battle was the Battle of Cambrai, during the German counterattacks of 30 November- 3 December. In March 1918 it was broken up and the Indian regiments combined in Egypt with the Yeomanry Mounted Division to form the 1st Mounted Division (later 4th Cavalry Division).[4]

Order of battle November 1914

2nd (Sialkot) Cavalry Brigade

17th Lancers (Duke of Cambridge's Own)
6th King Edward's Own Cavalry
19th Lancers (Fane's Horse)

3rd (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade to 15 September 1915, then to 2nd Indian Cavalry Division

8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars
9th Hodson's Horse
30th Lancers (Gordon's Horse)

8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade

1st (King's) Dragoon Guards
29th Lancers (Deccan Horse)
36th Jacob's Horse

5th (Mhow) Cavalry Brigade from 2nd Indian Cavalry Division on 15 September 1915

6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons
2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
38th King George's Own Central India Horse

I Indian Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery

A Battery, RHA with 3rd (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade then 5th (Mhow) Cavalry Brigade
Q Battery, RHA with 2nd (Sialkot) Cavalry Brigade
U Battery, RHA with 8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade
I Indian RHA Brigade Ammunition Column

See also



  • Haythornthwaite, Philip J. (1996). The World War One Source Book. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-351-7. 
  • Perry, F.W. (1993). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 5B. Indian Army Divisions. Newport, Gwent: Ray Westlake Military Books. ISBN 1-871167-23-X. 
  • Preston, R.M.P. (1921). The Desert Mounted Corps: An Account of the Cavalry Operations in Palestine and Syria 1917–1918. London: Constable & Co.. OCLC 3900439. 
  • Sumner, Ian (2001). The Indian Army 1914–1947. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-196-6. 
  • Wavell, Field Marshal Earl (1968) [1933]. "The Palestine Campaigns". In Sheppard, Eric William. A Short History of the British Army (4th ed.). London: Constable & Co.. OCLC 35621223. 

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