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6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers (Watson's Horse): Wikis


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6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers (Watson's Horse)
Active 1851 – 1947
Country British India
Allegiance British Crown
Branch British Indian Army
Type Cavalry
Size Regiment
Part of Indian Cavalry Corps
Colonel of
the Regiment
Duke of Connaught
General Sir John Watson VC, GCB (1829–1919)

The 6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers (Watson's Horse) was a regular cavalry regiment in the British Indian Army that was formed in 1921 by the amalgamation of the 13th Duke of Connaught's Lancers (Watson's Horse) and the 16th Cavalry. As part of its combined history the Regiment has seen active service on the North West Frontier, in China during the Boxer Rebellion and in both World Wars. In 1947, upon India's independence and subsequent partitioning, the Regiment was transferred to the Pakistan Army where it remains in service today.




13th Duke of Connaught's Lancers

The 13th Duke of Connaught's Lancer was originally raised as the 4th Sikh Irregular Cavalry in 1858 by Lieutenant John Watson. His command only lasted for eleven years but his name was in common use as the regiments title until confirmed officially in 1904.[1] Changes to the British Indian Army in 1861 saw the 4th Sikh Irregular Cavalry become the 13th Bengal Cavalry and, in 1864, the 13th Bengal Lancers. Their first battle-honour was awarded for service in the Second Afghan War they were next in action in Egypt against Arabi Pasha and fought in the Battle of Tel el-Kebir.[1] They so impressed the Duke of Connaught that he asked his mother Queen Victoria if he might become the Colonel of the 13th.[1]

In 1897 the regiment gained another battle honour, Punjab Frontier for service during the tribal uprisings on the North West Frontier.[1]

In 1903 the 13th became the 13th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers and in 1906, 'Watson's Horse' was added as a subsidiary title.

During World War I the regiment remained on the North West Frontier until July 1916 when they were moved to Mesopotamia for the relief of Kut-al-Amara.[1]

16th Cavalry

The 16th originated as the Rohikand Horse in 1857. There was no shortage of volunteers and, on formation, the regiment received a European sergeant from the 4th Hussars who managed to contrive for himself a permanent posting and eventually rose to the rank of Risaldar, which was normally a rank reserved for Indian officers.[1] In 1864 the regiment was a part of the Bhutan Field Force afterwards they were disbanded in 1882 when three regiments were broken up to provide an additional, fourth squadron for the other regiments.[1] After fears of a Russian invasion approval was gained for an increase in strength and the 16th Cavalry was reformed in 1885 at Ambala.[1]

In 1900, as the 16th Bengal Lancers, they went to China to relieve the international legations in Peking which were being besieged by the Boxers. On relieving the American Legation, the 16th were presented with the United States flag which had flown over the building and, for many years, the flag hung in the Officers' Mess. This was subsequently dramatised in the film 55 Days at Peking.

During World War I the 16th Cavalry joined the Indian Expeditionary Force in 1915 and served in the Mesopotamian campaign.[1]

Between the Wars

After World War I both regiments returned to India for service in the Third Afghan War and for the Waziristan Campaign in 1919.[1] Before the formal amalgamation in 1921 as the 13/16th Cavalry this name only lasted a year before they became the 6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers.[1] The new badge was to be crossed lances with a figure '6' on the intersection and a generous scroll across the lance-butts, reading 'The Duke of Connaught's Own'.[1]

During this time they were part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade with the Guides Cavalry on the North West Frontier and received a commendation for their part in the action on the Khajuri Plain when the Afridi made to advance upon Peshawar in support of the Civil Disobedience movement then fashionable in India.[1]

World War II

At the start of World War II the regiment was still a horsed unit and had only just begun the process of mechanisation in order to become part of the 10th Indian Division, which they were to join as the divisional reconnaissance regiment.[1] The crisis in Iraq in April 1942 sped the process up and changed the Army's plans, however, and the regiment was subsequently equipped with South African Morris armoured reconnaissance cars before being dispatched to Iraq where they joined the 8th Indian Division as part of the British Tenth Army.[1]

In September 1942, they were transferred to the 6th Indian Division in Persia to meet any possible German threat through the Caucasus, but when this did not eventuate the regiment returned to the 8th Indian Division for operations in Italy the following year.[1] At this point the regiment was re-equipped with tracked Universal Carriers and landed in Italy in October 1943. Whilst in Italy the regiment was involved in a number of actions, most notably the Second Battle of Cassino, and they remained there until the campaign came to an end on 2 May 1945.[1]

In June 1945 they returned to India.[1]


In August 1947, the Partition of India saw the 6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers allotted to Pakistan. As a part of this process, units of the former British Indian Army were re-organised to reduce ethnic tensions in these units after they had been transferred. As a result the 6th's Jat Squadron went to the 7th Light Cavalry in exchange for the 7th's Punjabi Mussalman squadron. Additionally the 6th's Sikh Squadron went to the 8th King George V's Own Light Cavalry in exchange for the 8th's Punjabi Mussalman squadron.[1]

The Regiment lives on today as 6 Lancers, a regular Armoured Regiment of the Pakistan Army.

Changes in Title

Dates Name Name
Pre-1903 13th Duke of Connaught's Own Bengal Lancers 16th Bengal Lancers
1903 13th Duke of Connaught's Own Bengal Lancers 16th Lancers
1906 13th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers (Watson's Horse) 16th Cavalry
1921 13th/16th Cavalry (amalgamated)
1922 6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers

(Source: Defence Journal).

Battle honours

(Source: Defence Journal).


Further Reading

  • Brock, F. (Major). (1948).The 6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers in Italy. (Pub: privately).


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