1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse

1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=1st Duke of York's Own Lancers (Skinner's Horse)

dates= 1803 - 1946
country= India
allegiance= Great Britain
branch= British Indian Army
type= Cavalry
size= Regiment
Past Commanders=
colonel_of_the_regiment=George VI of the United Kingdom
1937 - 1950
notable_commanders=Jmes Skinner
nickname= Yellow Boys
battles=First Afghan War
Battle of Ghazni
Battle of Jellalabad
Battle of Kabul (1842)
First Sikh War
Battle of Moodkee
Battle of Ferozeshah
Battle of Aliwal
Battle of Sobraon
Second Sikh War
Battle of Ramnagar
Battle of Chillianwallah
Battle of Gujrat
Second Afghan War
Kandahar 1878 - 80
Boxer Rebellion
Battle of Peking
World War I
France and Flanders
Defence of Gumboz
World War II
East African Campaign
Battle of Keren
Amba Alagi
Western Desert Campaign
Senio Flood Bank
Italian Campaign

The 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers (Skinner's Horse) was originally raised in 1803 as Skinner’s Horse by James Skinner (Sikander Sahib) as an irregular cavalry regiment in the service of the Honourable East India Company, the regiment became (and remains) the senior cavalry regiment of the Indian Army.

There were two regiments of Indian Cavalry raised by Colonel James Skinner in 1803. They became the 1st Bengal Lancers and the 3rd Skinner's Horse. On the reduction of the Indian Army in 1922, they were amalgamated and became Skinner's Horse (1st Duke of York's Own Cavalry). The old 1st Lancers wore yellow uniforms (unique in the world) and the old 3rd wore blue. Each regiment had the full-dress (mounted) long 'Kurta' worn with a turban and cummerbund, also a full-dress (dis-mounted) or levee, dress. These were not in general use after 1914 (but could still be worn by officers on special assignments (e.g. as an Aide-de-camp). The mess jacket and waistcoat of the old 1st Bengal Lancers was adopted by the 1922 regiment of Skinner's Horse and was the cold weather mess dress until 1939. All six of these uniforms are in the collection of the National Army Museum at Sandhurst.

Early History

After formation in 1803 the regiment was involved in a number of the campaigns on the Asian sub-continent, notably the First Afghan War , the Second Afghan War, the First Sikh War and the Second Sikh War. It was first sent overseas during the Boxer Rebellion and participated in the Battle of Peking.

World War I

The regiment was at Meerut when the World War I broke out. The regiment was a part of the 7th (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade ,2nd Indian Cavalry Division. The brigade received orders to mobilise on October 24, 1914. The regiment was in France till August 1916. It saw extensive action in many parts of France. It was awarded the battle honours France and Flanders for its fine performance. They were sent to Mesopotamia as a part of the 7th Meerut Cavalry Brigade Headquarters. The regiment was then ordered back to India where it concentrated in Rawalpindi in August, 1916 for operations in Afghanistan. [cite web|title=global security|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/skinners-horse.htm] A detachment of the regiment was tasked to guard the post at Gumboz.

Between the Wars

After World War I, the British Indian Army was scaled down, on May 18, 1921, two regiments were amalgamated at Sialkot there new title was now the 1st Duke of York’s Own Skinner’s Horse. [cite web|title=global security|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/skinners-horse.htm] The 1st Duke of York’s Own Lancers which had been comprised only of Muslims and the 3rd Skinner’s Horse consisted of one squadron each of Sikhs, Jats, Rajputs and Rangars (Muslim Rajputs). After the amalgamation, the regiment would only consist of only three Squadrons: Rajputs, Rangars and Jats. The Sikh Squadron, which formed part of the 3rd Skinner’s Horse for 72 years, was disbanded. [cite web|title=global security|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/skinners-horse.htm]

Each of the Squadrons was equipped with one Hotchkiss gun and with the .303 Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle. The machine gun troops of the Headquarters Squadron were equipped with the .303 Vickers machine gun. The regiment acquired the status of a regular force of the British Indian Army and was equipped with the latest weapons which helped in later campaigns across the globe. [cite web|title=global security|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/skinners-horse.htm]

World War II

At the beginning of World War II the regiment was still mounted, but was quickly converted to act as a mechanised reconnaissance regiment and was attached to the 5th Indian Division, as well to Gazelle Force; the 4th Indian Division; the British 10th Armoured Division; the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade and the 10th Indian Division. The regiment fought in North Africa and Italy, and was awarded battle honours for Agordat, Keren, Amba-Alagi, Abyssinia, Senio Flood Bank and Italy. [cite web|title=global security|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/skinners-horse.htm]

Post World War II

The regiment was switched to tanks in 1946, receiving the Stuart tank, and a year later Churchill's. In 1947 with Indian Independence the regiment had its first Indian commander, Lt Col RM Bilimoria, and was stationed at Ahmadnagar. The regiment took part in the Hyderabad Police Action in 1948, following which action it stopped the use of Stuart tanks. The Churchill tank remain in use until 1957, after which the regiment was equipped with Sherman Mk IV's. Eight years later in 1965 the regiment converted to the T-54 and then to the T-55. In 1979 the regiment converted to the T-72 tank.

Name Changes

Like all regiments of the Indian Army, the 1st Duke of York’s Own Lancers (Skinner’s Horse) underwent many name changes in there history.

*1823 1st (Skinner’s) Local Horse
*1840 1st Irregular Cavalry (Skinner’s Horse)
*1861 1st Regt. of Bengal Cavalry
*1896 1st Regt. of Bengal Lancers
*1899 1st (The Duke of York’s Own) Regiment of Bengal Lancers
*1901 1st (Duke of York’s Own) Bengal Lancers (Skinner’s Horse)
*1903 1st Duke of York’s Own Lancers (Skinner’s Horse).
*1921 1st Duke of York's Own Skinner's Horse

Further reading

*Sikandar Sahib by Denis Holman
*Skinner's Horse by Christopher Rothero
*Sworn to Die by Lt-Col M A R Skinner
*A Short History of the 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers (Skinner's Horse),(1803 - 1908) by Major H Roberts


* Chris Kempton. "The Register of Titles of the Units of the HEIC and Indian Armies 1666 to 1947."

* J. Baillie Fraser (editor): "Military Memoir of Lieut. Col. James Skinner."

*cite web|url=http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/indiancavalry/skinners.htm |title=Land Forces of the British Empire: 1st Bengal Lancers (Skinner's Horse) |accessdate=2007-08-31 |accessdaymonth=|accessmonthday=|accessyear= |author=|last=Luscombe |first=Stephen |authorlink= |coauthors=Griffin, Charles |date=|year=|month=|format=|work=|publisher=|pages=|language=|doi=|archiveurl=|archivedate=|quote=

External links

Follow this link to view the uniforms of the late 19th Century
* http://www.members.tripod.com/~Glosters/IAcavalry1.htm

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