Military Wiki
7th Light Cavalry
Active 1784–
Country British India (1784–1947)
India (1947–)
Allegiance British Crown
Branch British Indian Army
Indian Army
Type Cavalry
Size Regiment
Equipment Horse
Engagements Third Mysore War
Fourth Mysore War
Pindari War
World War I
World War II
Battle honours Mysore
Kyaukmaung Bridgehead
Rangoon Road
Burma 1942-45

The 7th Light Cavalry previously the 28th Light Cavalry, was a regular army cavalry regiment in the British Indian Army which first came into British service with the East India Company and went on to serve on the North West Frontier and in World War I and World War II.


The history of this regiment can be traced to 1784 when they had been hired from the Nawab of Arcot by the East India Company, when these regiments mutinied for lack of pay John Company was forced to quell the mutiny. The regiments involved were disbanded and from the remnants, volunteers formed the 2nd Madras Cavalry which would eventually become the 7th Light Cavalry.[1]

They soon changed their title to the 3rd Madras Native Cavalry and it was under that title that they were first in action during the Third Mysore War in 1790 against Tipu Sultan.[1]

They were next in action during the Fourth Mysore War in 1799 and fought with distinction at the Battle of Seringapatam and at the Battle of Mahidpur in the Pindari War of 1817, after which they became known as the 3rd Madras Light Cavalry. For these actions they were awarded the battle honors Mysore, Seringapatam and Mahidipore.[1]

Apart from some minor operations against the southern Mahrattas from 1844 to 1855 and sending some troops to join the Decan force during the Mutiny of 1857, the regiment would not see any action for the next hundred years.[1]

In 1891 they were converted to lancers becoming the 3rd Regiment of Madras Lancers and in the reorganisation of the Indian Army in 1903, their title was changed to the 28th Light Cavalry.[1]

Madras Cavalry

World War I

At the start of World War I, the Regiment was stationed in Quetta being part of the 4th (Quetta) Division.[2]

In July 1915 two squadrons were sent to Persia where they were mounted on camels they were tasked with stopping German agents from traveling across Persia to Afghanistan.The remainder of the regiment joined in November 1915.[3]

The Regiments success in Persia was demonstrated when they captured a German officer, Lieutenant Winkleman, who was attempting to reach the Amir of Afghanistan to convince him to rebel or start a Jihad, against the British in India.[1]


Following the Russian Revolution the Regiment was sent to Trans Caspasia in May 1918 to assist the anti-revolutionary Mensheviks forces to fight the Bolsheviks. In April 1919 the regiment moved back to Meshed in Persia where it stayed fro seven months employed escorting convoys. In November 1919 the regiment started back for India and reached Lucknow in February 1920.[3]

The regiment received the battle honors Merv and Persia 1915 for their services in the Great War.[1]

Between the Wars

In 1921 the regiment left Lucknow for Dera Ismail Khan on the North West Frontier. From 1924 to 1929 it was stationed at Bolarum, followed by Sialkot then Jullunder until October 1933 when it moved to Loralai in Baluchistan. It stayed here until October 1935 when it moved back to Bolarum where it was at the start of World War 2.

In 1922 another reorganization saw the regiment renamed as the 7th Light Cavalry and the class composition was altered.

The same year the ‘Indianization’ of the Indian Army officer corps began in selected regiments. Initially in the cavalry the two unit's selected where the 7th Light Cavalry and the 16th Light Cavalry. The policy was such where by British officers would no longer be appointed to the regiment but Indians, initially trained at Royal Military College, Sandhurst and from 1932 onwards at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun would be appointed instead. The first such officer was appointed in December 1923. By September 1939 of the 22 officers on the books of the regiment, 16 were Indian.[4]

World War II

At the start of the Second World War the Regiment was stationed in Bolarum part of the 4th (Secunderabad) Cavalry Brigade they were brigaded with the:

14th/20th Hussars
Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry
3rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
4th Cavalry Brigade Signal Troop.[5]

The last mounted parade took place in 1940 but by early 1941 the only mechanical transport the regiment possessed were an Austin Car for the commandant and a few motorbikes for dispatch riders.[6] Vehicles trickled in and finally a full complement of 52 Stuart tanks was received by April 1943.[7]

The regiment was attached to the 254th Indian Tank Brigade,[8] in November 1941.

The major units of the Brigade, under the command of Brigadier Reginald Scoones, consisted, when it moved to Imphal in November and December 1943, of the:

7th Light Cavalry
3rd Carabiniers
3rd Btn 4th Bombay Grenadiers

The Brigade fought with the 5th Indian Division and the 7th Indian Infantry Divisions in Burma and was involved in the Battle of Imphal, Battle of Kyaukmaung Bridgehead, Battle of Meiktila, and the Rangoon Road.

In June 1945 the 7th Light Cavalry sailed from Rangoon to Madras and by July was at Ahmednagar.

In August 1945 it was selected to form part of the British Indian Division (BRINDIV) which was to form part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) as part of the Allied Occupation Forces in Japan. The move to Japan occurred in March/April 1946. They returned to India in August 1947.[3]

Post war

In 1947 the regiment passed to the independent nation of India. From late 1947 it played a key role in the Jammu & Kashmir operations, most notably the surmounting of Zojila and the break through on 1 November 1948.[9]

Regimental Titles

1784 – 2nd Regiment of Madras Native Cavalry
1786 – 1st Regiment of Madras Native Cavalry
1788 – 3rd Regiment of Madras Native Cavalry
1819 – 3rd Regiment of Madras Light Cavalry
1891 – 3rd Regiment of Madras Lancers
1903 – 28th Light Cavalry
1922 – 7th Light Cavalry
1947 - 7th Light Cavalry (to India on Independence)

Victoria Cross

L/Daffadar Gobind Singh, 28th Light Cavalry February 1, 1917 Place of Action: east of Peizieres, France attached to the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)

Citation:Lance Dafadar Gobind Singh of Indian Cavalry was awarded the Victoria Cross "for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 1st February 1917, east of Pozieres, France, in thrice volunteering to carry messages between the regiment and Brigade Headquarters, a distance of 1½ miles over open ground which was under the observation and heavy fire of the enemy. He succeeded each time in delivering the message, although on each occasion his horse was shot and he was compelled to finish his journey on foot." [10]

Uniforms and insignia

During the early years of its existence the regiment wore red coats with green facings and gold lace. In 1814 the uniform was changed to dark blue with orange facings. In 1817 a general order instructed that the dress of all regular native cavalry in the service of the HEIC should be changed to French grey (a light blue/grey colour). This was to remain the full dress coat colour of the 7th Light Cavalry until 1914. The distinctive orange facings were changed to buff in 1846.[11]

In 1923 the pattern of badge introduced comprised crossed lances with the number "7", surmounted by a crown. In 1930 the design changed to crossed lances with a crown on the intersection, over a scroll with the regimental title.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "bharat-rakshak". 
  2. "". 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 We Lead. 7th Light Cavalry 1784-1990
  4. Indian Army List October 1939
  5. "adelphia". 
  6. p63 We Lead. 7th Light Cavalry 1784-1990
  7. p65 We Lead. 7th Light Cavalry 1784-1990
  8. page 3, Loyalty & Honour’ The Indian Army September 1939 – August 1947 - Volume 2 Brigades
  9. p105 - 123 We Lead. 7th Light Cavalry 1784-1990
  10. London Gazette, 11 January 1918
  11. Boris Mollo, pages 20-21 "The Indian Army", ISBN 0 7137 1074 8
  12. John Gaylor, page 74 "Sons of John Company, ISBN 0-946771-98-7

Further reading

Proudfoot, Lt Col C. L., We Lead. 7th Light Cavalry 1784-1990. Lancer International 1991
Bowling A.H. Indian Cavalry Regiments 1880–1914 Almark Publishing 1971
Carmen W.Y Indian Cavalry Uniforms Leonard Hill 1961
Mollo B. The Indian Army Blandford Press 1981

External links

Follow this link to view the uniforms of the late 19th Century

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