September 2018 saw the launch of ‘The Story Of The Jodhpur Lancers: 1885-1952’, a historical account of the famous cavalry unit  – that liberated the town of Haifa in Israel, on 23 September 1918 – at a ceremony in the Bahai House of Worship, New Delhi. Here’s a bit about the book and the history around it.


Image: Release of the book, The Story of the Jodhpur Lancers, at the Bahai House of Worship on 16 September 2018. On stage (L to R) Ms Maya Kadosh, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Israel, HH Maharaja Gaj Singh of Marwar-Jodhpur; HH Yaduveer K.C. Wadiyar of Mysore, Ms Nazneen Rowhani Bahai representative, and Brigadier M.S. Jodha, unveiling the book at the Bahai Information Centre.


 The Jodhpur Lancers were the cavalry unit of the erstwhile Princely State of Jodhpur, from 1885 to 1952. In the early 20th century, the Jodhpur Lancers served under the British Army in China, South Africa, the Middle East and France, among other places, earning honours for their courage and dedication. Their finest hour was on 23 September 1918, when the Jodhpur Lancers, in a daring cavalry charge, armed only with swords and lances, liberated the town of Haifa, Israel, which was guarded by the machine guns and artillery of the Turkish troops of the Ottoman Empire.


In this gallant action, the Indian troops also secured the safety of the residents of the town and the spiritual leader Abdul Baha, the heir of Bahá’u’lláh, the leader of the Bahai faith. They delivered Abdul Baha from the threat of crucifixion made by Cemal Paşa, the Ottoman military chief.  The Bahai community in India, therefore, commemorates the Battle of Haifa as a day of deliverance of their spiritual leader. The gallant action of the Indian troops is remembered by the Israeli government too and the Mayor of Haifa has had a chapter on the Indian role in liberating the port city, included in the history text books of students in Haifa.


At a moving ceremony at the Bahai House of Worship, popularly known as the Lotus Temple, in New Delhi, the book, The Story of the Jodhpur Lancers, by Brigadier M.S. Jodha, was unveiled by Ms Maya Kadosh, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Israel; HH Maharaja Gaj Singh of Marwar-Jodhpur; HH Yaduveer K.C. Wadiyar of Mysore and Ms Nazneed Rowhani, Representative of the Bahai Community of India. The dignitaries spoke on the occasion and a multi-faith prayer service concluded the moving ceremony.


Image:  Brigadier M.S. Jodha, Maharaja Gaj Singh II and Indian troops at Haifa, for the centenary commemoration ceremony of the Battle of Haifa


The book The Story of the Jodhpur Lancers authored by Brigadier M.S. Jodha provides a comprehensive historical account of the Jodhpur Lancers—their origin, their deeds and dash and their role in the armies of British India and their Princely State. Featuring rare photographs, maps, documents and sketches, this book is a richly illustrated kaleidoscope packed with historical data assembled from a wide variety of sources, much of it previously unavailable. The author has taken the skeins of Jodhpur history and woven them expertly to create a fascinating story. Forewords by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff and Maharaja Gaj Singh, Maharaja of Jodhpur, make the book even more memorable.


The Story of the Jodhpur Lancers also reminds us, lest we forget, of the sacrifice of so many Indians who fought in the Great War and who died in foreign lands, as brave sons of India. Ardently written and engrossing to read, it takes readers back to an era of royalty and pageantry, passion and valour.


The author’s interest in the Indian story of the Great War grew out of his research into the wartime experience of his grandfather, Colonel Aman Singh Jodha, who led the famous cavalry charge by the Jodhpur Lancers at Haifa, on 23 September 1918. His research work of more than a decade paved the way for immortalising the valour of Indian soldiers in the eyes of India and the world. He was part of the Indian Army delegation during the first-ever commemoration of the Battle of Haifa in Israel, in September 2010, as well as during the centenary commemoration of the Battle of Haifa in September 2018.


The Battle of Haifa is remembered with reverence and the Indian Army commemorates 23rd September, annually, as Haifa Day. The Teen Murti statue in New Delhi commemorates the courage and sacrifice of the Jodhpur Lancers, the Mysore Lancers and the Hyderabad Lancers, who served as the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade in the British Army. Teen Murti Chowk was renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk, in January 2018, when  President Netanyahu of Israel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes at the Teen Murti statue in New Delhi, during the former’s visit to New Delhi.


The story of the Jodhpur Lancers, unites two nations in defence of the shared ideals of freedom and reminds us of some of the bravest Indians and their courageous deeds. The book chronicling their contributions is available here.

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