2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)

The 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) is one of the oldest and most highly decorated armoured regiments of the Indian Army. It was originally raised in 1809. It served in the Nepal and First World War. During the reconstruction of the British Indian Army in 1922 it was amalgamated with the 4th Cavalry

2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
Active1809 - present
Allegiance British India
BranchBritish Indian Army
Indian Army
TypeArmoured Regiment
Part ofIndian Armoured Corps
Nickname(s)Gardner's Horse
Motto(s)Honi Soit Qui Maly Pense
EngagementsNepal War
First World War
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
Second World War
Battle of Gazala
Colonel of
the Regiment
Maj Gen Dhiraj Seth

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):

First World War

The regiment was sent to France in the First World War as part of the 5th (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 Harry 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 the First World War, 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 Pezières, 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.[3]

Indian Order of Merit

The Indian Order of Merit (IOM) was a military and civilian decoration of British India. The Indian Order of Merit was the only gallantry medal available to Native soldiers between 1837 and 1907 when the Indian Distinguished Service Medal was introduced, and when the Victoria Cross was opened to native soldiers in 1911. Both divisions of the order were removed when India became independent in 1947 following the partition of India. The brave men of 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) showed explicit courage during their time on the Western Front.

Recipients of IOM are :

  • Risaldar (Hony. Lt.) Bakshi Guranditta Mal Ranyal (Egypt)
  • Risaldar Suraj Singh (France)
  • Raisaldar-Major(Hony.Lt.)Malik Gulsher Muzaffar Khan Bahadur.(France)
  • Sowar A.L. Dafadar Udey Singh (France)
  • Lance-Dafadar Udey Singh (France)
  • Sowar Liakat Hussain (France)
  • Acting Lance-Dafadar Udey Singh (France)
  • Sowar Shahzad Khan (Egypt)
  • Dafadar Chuni Lal (Egypt).

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.[4]


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.[5]

Second World War

The regiment served in the Western Desert Campaign during the Second World War 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. It fought during the first Axis offensive, their counter-attack following Operation Compass.

In 1942, during the Battle of Gazala, the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade was based near Bir Hacheim and formed the southernmost point of the Gazala Line. On 27 May 1942, Italy's Ariete Armoured Division overran the brigade.[6] After this action, the shattered remains of the brigade were reformed at Buq Buq. The brigade was formed into two strong columns, Shercol & Billicol, with the 2nd Royal Lancers supplying some men and equipment to both. The remainder of the regiment were assigned to protect the rear Brigade headquarters and the "B" echelons.[7] Neither column lasted long. In the early hours of 24 June 1942, Shercol was smashed after running into an Italian forces in the dark. This provide to be the end of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade's role in the Desert War. On 30 June, the Brigade handed over 50 per cent of its vehicles to the Eighth Army. The brigade was dispersed in July, the 2nd Lancers moved to Haifa in Palestine. The brigade was reformed in August. It travelled overland to Sahneh in Persia via Baghdad, coming under the command of 31st Indian Armoured Division. It remained there 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.[8] In October, the regiment marched to Quetta. The same month, Lieutenant-Colonel Maharaj Rajendra Shinji became the first Indian to take over the command of the regiment, and was also the first Indian to command an armored regiment. 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.

Post Independence

In August 1947, the Regiment was based on Malaya and fought against the communist guerrillas. In December, the regiment returned to India. As part of the Indian Partition, the regiment split. Several troops of 'A' Squadron, who were Muslim, opted to join the Pakistani Army. They set sail for Karachi during November 1947. In 1948, the remaining Muslim soldiers were posted to the 18th King Edward's Own Cavalry, and in turn the 2nd Lancers received a Rajput squadron. The regiment was then formed of two Rajput and one Jat squadron.

In January 1953, General Maharaj Rajendra Shinji assumed the appointment of the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian army. He was the first officer from the 2nd Lancers, as well as from the Armored Corps, to become the Army Chief. In November 1961, the regiment (as well as the Scinde Horse) was awarded a guidon for a distinguished record during peacetime and wartime, the first regiment in the armoured corps to have such an award.

1965 War

In September 1965, the 2nd Lancers took part in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 as part of the 1st Armoured Division. The regiment was equipped with M4 Sherman tanks (Mk V and VI variants), and fought in the Battle of Phillora and the Battle of Chawinda. For their performance in these battles, the regiment was awarded the honor of "PUNJAB".


On 10 August 1966, following the war, the regiment was the first in the military to receive the Vijayanta main battle tanks (produced under license from the Vickers MBT), the first indigenously built Indian tanks. The regiment is currently equipped with Soviet Union-era T-72 tanks. The regiment is one of the most decorated regiments on the subcontinent.

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. "cwgc.org". Archived from the original on 14 September 2012.
  2. Haythornthwaite P.J. (1992). The World War One Sourcebook, Arms and Armour Press.
  3. "SIXTH SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette Of TUESDAY, the 8th of JANUARY, 1918". The London Gazette (30471): 725. 11 January 1918.
  4. The Long, Long Trail; Military Recipients of the Albert Medal (1914-1919). Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  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 157.
  8. 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.

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