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Hi there!

I'm doing some research for a book and was hoping to get a fairly basic description of what the 35th Scinde Horse regiment would have looked like...specifically in 1920 when they saw action in Mesopotamia. I've read EB Maunsell's book but as someone with absolutely no military background some of it assumes a degree of knowledge that I don't have!

I was simply wondering if this unit was comprised of Indian troops under the command of British officers and whether Indian recruits could themselves go on to become officers. The list of officers I have all seem British.

Would the regular troops have had *any* non-Indians recruits and would those from India have had any training or simply signed on and then shipped out to Iraq? I assume as it was a cavalry unit there must have been a degree of training or knowledge of horses needed.

Also, did each unit (regiment?) have a Political Officer attached to it or were they responsibly for regions as opposed to regiments)

And one final question: There are frequent references to officers having polo ponies in Mesopotamia in EB Maunsell's book. Is this a type of horse the cavalry had or did they bring actual polo ponies over for sport?

Many thanks for your help and apologies if these are naive questions!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sly

The 35th Scinde Horse was a regular cavalry unit of the Indian Army in 1920.  That meant that it had Indian ORs, NCOs and warrant officers - called Viceroy's Commissioned Officers - and British 'King's Commissioned Officers'.  The VCOs were long service men, usually risen from the ranks and would serve as second in command to British officers in command of, for example, a troop or squadron.   T

Indian Cavalry Ranks: Ranks: Sowar [Trooper]; Naik [Corporal] ; Daffadar [Sergeant].  The Kot-Daffadar [Sgt Major] was Indian and the other VCOs were [Jemadar, roughly a lieutenant]; Risaldar [roughly a Captain] and a Risaldar Major, which had no British equivalent.  He was the senior Indian in the unit and respponsible, with the Colonel, for the specifically 'Indian' aspects: food, religion, etc.  Plus British officers: Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel.  The Indian 'VCOs' were treated as officers for pay, salutes, etc, and ofetn took command of troops or squadrons if no British Officer was present but could never give orders to a British Officer, even one 'below' them in rank.  In the 1930s several regiments were 'Indianized': Indians were given King's Commissions.  However, any Brit could transfer out of those regiments and no Indian officer ever outranked a British one. It's complicated!

So, the regiment was made up of three  squadrons, each divided into four  troops.  Squadrons and troops would be commanded by British Captains and Lieutenants respectively, with an Indian Risaldar as 2ic of each squadron and an Indian Jemadar as 2ic of each troop.  Each troop was either all Sikhs or all Dogras.

 

Political Officers were civil servants, working for the Political Department in India and whatever government was in charge in Mespot.  They had no military command power at all but advised regimental commanders when appropriate.

British Officers would not have used their chargers, or other government owned horse for polo, but 'ponies' purchased locally.  I suspect if they were in Iraq and playing it would have been on Arab horse purchased in-country.

I hiope that helps.  Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

Peter

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