105 Years Ago—When Mysore & Jodhpur Lancers Defied All Odds To Free This Israeli Port-City In WWI

Arush Tandon

Oct 09, 2023, 09:43 PM | Updated 10:09 PM IST

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⚔️ Liberation of Haifa

Battle of Haifa (1918)
Battle of Haifa (1918)

Indian public opinion is firmly behind Israel as the sole Jewish state of the world battles an unprecedented terrorist attack. 

But even as you follow the news coming out of Israel, do you know about the time when Indian soldiers liberated the Israeli city of Haifa? 

23 September 1918

It’s World War I. The territories which would eventually form Israel are under the control of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire has allied itself with Germany and Austria-Hungary. 

As the Great War raged on, the Mysore and Jodhpur Lancers, regiments from princely states in India, stood at the forefront of a crucial campaign in the Levant. Their expedition began in the heat of September 1918 with a clear mission: to seize the strategic port of Haifa from Ottoman forces.

Haifa was a strategically vital port city in the Levant. Its capture would grant the Allied forces a crucial supply route and base in the region. Not only that, defeating the Ottomans at Haifa would be as good as ending their control over the rest of the areas of modern-day Israel. 

But the battle was almost lost. The British had given up. 

That was until the Mysore and Jodhpur lancers armed only with spears and lances, charged through the Jewish port city on horseback. 

It was 400 of them vs around 1,500 of the combined forces of the Germans, Turks and Austrians. 

What followed was amongst the last recorded cavalry charges in history. 

At the end of the battle, 1,350 German and Ottomans were in the hold of the Indian regiments, along with 17 artillery guns and 11 machine guns.

400 Indian soldiers on horses, armed with medieval weapons had defeated a force that was firing at it from the top of a hill. 

As a result of this victory, control of the areas that make modern-day Israel passed from the Ottoman Empire to Britain, which itself marked a milestone in the eventual founding of the state of Israel. 

A former Infantry Officer of the Gorkha Rifles had written this primer on the Battle of Haifa for Swarajya back in 2020—Liberation of Haifa: How Mysore and Jodhpur Lancers fought all odds to free the Israeli city 

Today, as Indians voice their full support for Israel in its war with terror, they would do well to remember the valour displayed on Israeli territory by the Mysore and Jodhpur Lancers a 105 years ago.

Until next time, 

Arush Tandon

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Chenab bridge
Chenab bridge

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Arush Tandon is interested in icons of history, history of independent India and, Indian culture.

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