History of 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse
The regiment was founded by Colonel James Skinner in the year 1803 as Skinner's Horse. James Skinner, locally known as Sikander Sahib, raised the military unit as a guerilla cavalry regiment that would provide service to the British East India Company. Eventually the army unit became one of the most senior cavalry regiments of the Armoured Corps of the modern Indian Army. Colonel James Skinner initially developed 2 regiments of cavalry in the year 1803, which later became the 3rd Skinner's Horse and the 1st Bengal Lancers. During the diminution of the British Indian Army, the units were merged together to form Skinner's Horse, also known as 1st Duke of York's Own Cavalry.
The 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse participated in several political and military campaigns on the Asian sub-continent, namely the First Anglo Sikh War, the Second Sikh War, the First Afghan War and the Second Afghan War. The British Indian Cavalry Regiment was the first army unit stationed abroad during the Boxer Rebellion and was also actively involved in the Battle of Peking.
Uniform of 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse
The former 1st Bengal Lancers had yellow uniforms and the 3rd Skinner's Horse had blue attire. Both regiments included the full-dress mounted long Kurta that was worn out with cummerbund and a turban. The uniform also included a full-dress or levee dress. These uniforms were not used after the year 1914; however the officers of the regiments could wear the uniforms on special appointments. The waistcoat and mess jacket of the erstwhile 1st Bengal Lancers was utilised by the Skinner's Horse regiment of 1922.
Operations of 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse
During the commencement of World War I, the 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse regiment served at Meerut. It was incorporated as a part of the 7th Cavalry Brigade (Meerut), 2nd Indian Cavalry Division. The regiment later actively served in France until August 1916. Skinner's Horse was honoured with battle honours France and Flanders for their valuable services. The regiment was also a part of the 7th Meerut Cavalry Brigade Headquarters and provided service in Mesopotamia. Subsequently the cavalry unit was stationed back in British India and focused on Rawalpindi.
The British Indian Army was trimmed down after the culmination of the First World War. The 2 regiments of the 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers and the 3rd Skinner's Horse were unified on 18 May 1921 at Sialkot. The new regiment was titled 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse. The 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers consisted only Muslims and the 3rd Skinner's Horse included one cavalry unit each of Rajputs, Jats, Sikhs and Rangars or Muslim Rajputs. After the merger, the army unit included only Rajputs, Rangars and Jats. The Sikh unit of the 3rd Skinner's Horse was dissolved.
During the Second World War, the 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse regiment was attached to the 5th Indian Division and acted as a mechanised reconnaissance regiment. Later the Cavalry Unit was attached to the 4th Indian Infantry Division; the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade; the British 10th Armoured Division and the 10th Indian Infantry Division. Skinner's Horse served in Italy, North Africa and East Africa. The regiment was honored with battle honours for Italy, Abyssinia, Agordat, Keren, Senio Flood Bank and Amba Alagi.
Development of 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse
In the year 1946, 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse regiment was modified and shifted to army tanks. After the nation achieved independence from the rule of the British Empire in India in the year 1947, the country was divided into the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan through the Partition of India. The British Indian Army was divided amongst the 2 newly independent nations. The 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse regiment was assigned to India and was incorporated as a part of Indian Army Armoured Corps.
Lieutenant Colonel R M Bilimoria acted as the first Indian Commander. The military unit was posted at Ahmadnagar; and later in 1948, it actively participated in the Hyderabad Police Action.
Designations of 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse
The regiment of 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse (1st Duke of York's Own Lancers) of the British Indian Army held various designations through out its existence. These are mentioned below-
* 1st (Skinner's) Local Horse - 1823
* 1st Irregular Cavalry (Skinner's Horse) - 1840
* 1st Regt. of Bengal Cavalry- 1861
* 1st Regt. of Bengal Lancers - 1896
* 1st (The Duke of York's Own) Regiment of Bengal Lancers - 1899
* 1st (Duke of York's Own) Bengal Lancers (Skinner's Horse) - 1901
* 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers (Skinner's Horse) - 1903
* 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse - 1921
* 1st Horse (Skinner's Horse) - 1947
(Last Updated on : 13-09-2012)
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