Military Wiki
21st Lancers (Empress of India's)
Active 1858–1921/1922
Country  British India (1858–1862)
 United Kingdom (1862–1922)
Type Cavalry
Colors Dark blue uniform with french grey facings, white plume
Engagements Sudan
Mahdist War
Battle of Omdurman
World War I
North-West Frontier

The 21st Lancers (Empress of India's) were a cavalry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1858 and amalgamated with the 17th Lancers in 1922 to form the 17th/21st Lancers. Perhaps its most famous engagement was the Battle of Omdurman, where Winston Churchill (then an officer of the 4th Hussars), rode with the unit.


The regiment was originally raised in Bengal by the British East India Company in 1858 as the 3rd Bengal European Light Cavalry, for service in the Indian Mutiny. As with all other "European" units of the Company, they were placed under the command of the British Crown in 1858, and formally moved into the British Army in 1862, when they were designated as hussars and titled the 21st Regiment of Hussars. A detachment saw service in the 1884–5 expedition to the Sudan, with the Light Camel Regiment. In 1897 they were redesignated as lancers, becoming the 21st Lancers, and in 1898 served in the Mahdist War in the Sudan. It was here they fought at the Battle of Omdurman, where members of the Regiment won three Victoria Crosses.[1] This was the regiment's only battle honor and it was said the motto was "thall shall not kill." That same year, the regiment was given the title 21st (Empress of India's) Lancers, taking the name from Queen Victoria who was the Empress of India.[2] The regiment did not see service on the Western Front during the First World War, being one of the few regiments of the British Army to spend the duration of the war in India, fighting on the North-West Frontier in 1915–16. A single squadron served in France in 1916–17, attached to XIV Corps.[3] The Regiment was retitled 21st Lancers (Empress of India's) in 1921 and shortly thereafter disbanded as part of the post-War reduction in forces, though a cadre was briefly resurrected in 1922 in order to amalgamate with the 17th Lancers, to form the 17th/21st Lancers.[2]


  1. These three were Private Thomas Byrne, Lieutenant Raymond De Montmorency, and Captain Paul Aloysius Kenna.
  2. 2.0 2.1 21st Lancers[dead link] ,
  3. The Lancers, The British Army in the Great War

See also

Further reading

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