Military Wiki
2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
Active 1809 - 1946
Country India
Allegiance Great Britain
Branch British Indian Army
Type Cavalry
Size Regiment
Part of Indian Cavalry Corps
Nickname(s) Gardner's Horse
Engagements Nepal War
World War I
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Bazentin
Battle of Flers–Courcelette
Hindenburg Line
Battle of Cambrai
Occupation of the Jordan Valley
Battle of Megiddo
Capture of Afulah and Beisan
World War II
Battle of Gazala
Colonel-in-Chief King Edward VII (1904)

The 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) was a cavalry regiment of the British Indian Army raised in 1809. It served in the Nepal and First World Wars. During the reconstruction of the British Indian Army in 1922 it was amalgamated with the 4th Cavalry.

Early history

The regiment was raised in 1809 by William Linnæus Gardner who had previously served with the 74th Highlanders; it first saw service in the Nepal War of 1815.It is the most decorated regiment of the Indian Army. Like all regiments of the Indian Army, the 2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse) underwent many name changes in various reorganisations. (They are listed below):

World War I

The regiment was sent to France in World War I as part of the Mhow Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Indian Cavalry Division. It was brigaded with the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and the 38th King George's Own Central India Horse [1] Once in France its personnel were called upon to serve in the trenches as infantry. The high number of officer casualties suffered early on had an effect on performance. British officers who 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.[2] During their time on the Western Front the regiment was involved in the Battle of the Somme, Battle of Bazentin, Battle of Flers–Courcelette, the Advance to the Hindenburg Line and the Battle of Cambrai.

In February 1918 they left France for Egypt, joining the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 10th Cavalry Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division in the Desert Mounted Corps. From May 1918 the Regiment took part in General Edmund Allenby's Palestine section of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. After taking part in the Occupation of the Jordan Valley, on 20 September 1918 when infantry and cavalry divisions in three corps, enveloped two Ottoman armies in the Judean Hills during the Battle of Megiddo, the 2nd Lancers, commanded by Captain, temporary Major and Acting Lt. Colonel, Douglas Davison launched an improvised cavalry charge which broke the Ottoman line defending the Jezreel Valley. Capt. D.S. Davison was awarded the DSO for his part in this battle. On the same day, the 4th Cavalry Division captured the towns of Afulah and Beisan, along with around 100 German personnel, aircraft, trucks and railway stock. The regiment was also involved in Lieutenant General Henry Chauvel's pursuit to Damascus along the Pilgrims Road via Deraa. The Regiment returned to India in December 1920.

Victoria Cross

The Regiments' only Victoria Cross was awarded during World War I to Gobind Singh (7 December 1887 - 9 December 1942) a Lance-Daffadar (corporal) in the 27th Light Cavalry attached to the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse). On 12 December 1917, east of Peizieres, Singh volunteered three times to carry messages between the regiment and brigade headquarters, a distance of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) over open ground which was under heavy fire. He succeeded in delivering the messages, although on each occasion his horse was shot from under him and he was compelled to finish the journey on foot.

Albert Medal

The Albert Medal is awarded for "daring and heroic actions performed by mariners and others in danger of perishing, by reason of wrecks and other perils of the sea". It was awarded on 15 March 1919 to Trooper Mangal Sain, 2nd Indian Lancers (Gardner's Horse) at Beirut, Lebanon. Whilst guarding a party of Turkish POWs who were being allowed to swim, he saved a prisoner and a British soldier from drowning.[3]


In late 1920 the 4th Cavalry were sent to Palestine on occupation duties, not returning to India until January 1922. At Bombay in April 1922 they amalgamated with the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) to form the 2nd/4th Cavalry. However this title was short-lived and the new unit was retitled 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) by July 1922.[4]

World War II

The regiment served in the Western Desert Campaign during World War II as part of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, 7th Armoured Division. It was brigaded with the 18th King Edward's Own Cavalry and the 11th Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry (Frontier Force). It also supplied men for the Indian Long Range Squadron.

In 1942 the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, during the Battle of Gazala, formed the southernmost point of the Gazala Line near Bir Hacheim. On 27 May 1942, Italy’s Ariete Armoured Division overran the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade.[5]

After this action the shattered remains the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade were reformed at Buq Buq but after a short while were formed into two strong columns, Shercol & Billicol, with the 2nd Royal Lancers supplying some men and equipment to the columns, the remainder of the men assigned to protect the rear Brigade H.Q. and the "B" echlons.[6] Neither lasted long. In the early hours of 24 June 1942 Shercol was smashed after running into an Italian harbour in the dark.

However the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade part of the desert war was over. On 30 June the Brigade was ordered to hand over 50% its vehicles to the 8th Army. The brigade was dispersed in July, the regiment moving to Haifa in Palestine, however it was reformed in August. It travelled overland to Sahneh in Persia via Baghdad, coming under the command of 31st Indian Armoured Division where it remained until late November, when they moved to Shaibah, seven miles 7 miles (11 km) from Basra. From here the Regiment returned to India in January 1943.

After a three-month stay at Ferozepore, the Regiment moved to Risalpur, where it was converted to an Armoured Car Regiment, in the Training Brigade.[7]

In October the regiment marched to Quetta. In May 1944 the regiment moved again to Allahabad, then Lucknow after a short stay then back to the frontier in October to Kohat, relieving the 16th Light Cavalry. They were still at Kohat when the war ended.

Regiment's name changes

  • 1809 Gardner’s Horse
  • 1823 2nd (Gardner’s) Local horse
  • 1840 2nd Irregular Cavalry
  • 1861 2nd Regt. of Bengal Cavalry
  • 1890 2nd Regt. Of Bengal Lancers
  • 1901 2nd Bengal Lancers
  • 1903 2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse)
  • 1922 (April) 2nd/4th Cavalry
  • 1922 (July) 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
  • 1935 2nd Royal Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
  • 1947 To Indian Army upon Partition
  • 1950 2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse) upon India becoming a Republic


  1. "". 
  2. Haythornthwaite P.J. (1992). The World War One Sourcebook, Arms and Armour Press.
  3. "1914-1918". 
  4. Vaughan, (C.B., D.S.O., M.C.) Brigadier E.W.D. (1951). A history of the 2nd Royal Lancers (Gardner's Horse) (1922–1947) page 3.
  5. Mitcham, W. S., Mitcham Jr., W. S. (2007). Rommel’s Desert War: The Life and Death of the Afrika Korps. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-3413-7
  6. Vaughan, (C.B., D.S.O., M.C.) Brigadier E.W.D. (1951). A history of the 2nd Royal Lancers (Gardner's Horse) (1922–1947) page 157.
  7. Vaughan, (C.B., D.S.O., M.C.) Brigadier E.W.D. (1951). A history of the 2nd Royal Lancers (Gardner's Horse) (1922–1947) page 173.

Further reading

  • Kempton, C (1996). A Register of Titles of the Units of the H.E.I.C. & Indian Armies 1666-1947. Bristol: British Empire & Commonwealth Museum. ISBN 978-0-9530174-0-9
  • Gaylor, J (1992). Sons of John Company: The Indian and Pakistan Armies 1903- 1991. Stroud: Spellmount Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-0-946771-98-1
  • D.E.Whitworth (2005) (Paperback edition)History of the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) from 1809-1922. Naval & Military Press Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84574-316-1
  • Vaughan, (C.B., D.S.O., M.C.) Brigadier E.W.D. (1951). A history of the 2nd Royal Lancers (Gardner's Horse) (1922–1947). Sifton Praed & Co. Ltd.

External links

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