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103rd commemoration of Bravery & Valour of Mysore Lancers and Haifa Day celebrations on September 23

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Bengaluru: Every year on September 23, the Bravery & Valour of Mysore Lancers in World War I (WWI) is celebrated. The day is also honored as Haifa Day –  the port city of Haifa in modern Israel was liberated and the Baha’i community head was rescued on that day from the Ottomans and the Germans.
The day is celebrated at 8 am at the Mysore Lancers Memorial located at J C Nagar, near TV Tower. 
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, scion of erstwhile  royal family of Mysuru Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, Kannada and Culture Minister V Sunil Kumar, Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh, Limor Bletter, Deputy Consul General of Israel to South India, MLA Byrati Suresh, MP D V Sadananda Gowda and Ravikumar Iyer, author of ‘Indian Heroism in Israel’ are among the guests of honour.
On this day in the year 1918 during World War I, Mysore Lancers which was a part of the 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade defeated the Ottoman Empire and the Germans in the port city of Haifa. 
On that day three communities – Marathas, Rajputs and Ursus gather to pay respects to their forefathers along with representatives of Karnataka Government and the Indian Army (The Parachute Regiment).
Now, connecting this WWI event with people of Bengaluru and Mysore is a century-old battle won by the Mysore Lancers in Israel’s third-largest city Haifa.
On September 23, 1918, two months before the end of World War I, the 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade, comprising three regiments from the princely States of Mysore, Jodhpur and Hyderabad, was ordered to capture Haifa. While the Jodhpur Lancers were tasked to capture the area between the river Kishon and the slopes of Mount Carmel, Mysore Lancers moved around to attack the town from the East and the North. While Hyderabad was tasked with logistics.
The war has tremendous significance as it saw the raw courage of Mysore Lancers with just swords and spears took on the Ottoman Empire and the Germans and defeated them decisively. The valour of Mysore Lancers and the victory in the Battle of Haifa in the WWI paved the way for formation of modern Israel.

The Mysore Lancers
Mysore Lancers are the personal army of the Maharaja of Mysore. For World War I, the Mysore regiment consisted of about 29 officers, 444 non-commissioned men with 526 horses and over 40 mules.
Mysore Lancers put up a heroic fight during the Battle of Haifa, given that Haifa could only be accessed by a gate that was arm-guarded with machine guns, while the Lancers only used the lance, a spear-like javelin. The Mysore Lancers, together with Jodhpur, captured 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners, including two German officers, 35 Ottoman officers, 17 artillery guns and 11 machine guns. Their own casualties mounted to eight dead and 34 wounded. 60 horses were killed and 83 injured. They managed to overthrow the 400-year-long Ottoman rule in Israel.
Once back home, their contribution was recognised and rewarded by Maharaja of Mysore Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.

The Mysore Lancers were disbanded on November 15, 1953 and merged with 61st Cavalry of the India Army.

Today, the Mysore Lancers are remembered through just three memorials – 1) at Haifa City in Israel, 2) Teen Murti Chowk and 3) Mysore Lancers Memorial,  Bengaluru at JC Nagar.

The Battle of Haifa paved the way for creation of modern Israel

On September 23, 1918 the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade was ordered to capture Haifa. The area between Kishon River and the slopes of Mount Carmel was well defended by Ottoman gun emplacements and artillery. The brigade’s Jodhpur Lancers were tasked to capture this position, while the Mysore Lancers moved around to attack the town from the east and north.
A squadron of the Mysore Lancers and a squadron of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, supported by B Battery, Artillery Company, attacked the Austrian battery of light field guns on the slopes of Mount Carmel. The squadron of Mysore Lancers had moved into position by climbing up a steep track to capture and silence the guns, while the Jodhpur Lancers launched the main mounted attack on the rear-guard of German machine gunners, which blocked the road 3.2km on from the redoubt captured the day before by the Light Car Patrol.
The Jodhpur Lancers charged the Ottoman position, crossing the Acre railway line, but came under machine gun and artillery fire. The charge was further obstructed by quicksand on the river banks, so they manoeuvred to the left onto the lower slopes of Mount Carmel.
The regiment secured the position capturing thirty prisoners, two machine guns, two camel guns and opening up an access route into Haifa. The Jodhpur Lancers continued their charge into the town, surprising the defenders.
Mysore Lancers who had been giving fire support to the attacking regiment, mounted and followed them into the town.
Together the two regiments captured 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners, including two German officers, 35 Ottoman officers, 17 artillery guns including four 4.2 guns, eight 77mm guns and four camel guns as well as a 6-inch naval gun, and 11 machine guns. Their own casualties amounted to eight dead and 34 wounded. 60 horses were killed and another 83 injured.

Mysore in WWI

The Battle of Haifa was fought on September 23, 1918 towards the end of the Battle of Sharon which together with the Battle of Nablus formed the set piece Battle of Megiddo fought between September 19 and 25 during the last months of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of WWI.
During the Battle of Haifa, the Indian Imperial Service Troops comprising of Mysore Lancers, Jodhpur Lancers and Nizam’s Horses and part of the Desert Mounted Corps attacked rear-guard forces of the Ottoman Empire that resulted in the capture of the towns of Haifa and Acre.
This attack took place at the north western edge of the Esdraelon Plain (also known as the Jezreel Valley and the plain of Armageddon) 40–50 miles (64–80 km) behind the front line in the Judean Hills after the Desert Mounted Corps had occupied the plain, during the cavalry phase of the Battle of Sharon. The Battle of Megiddo had begun with an attack by British Empire infantry along an almost continuous line from the Mediterranean Sea across the Plain of Sharon into the foothills of the Judean Hills. They attacked the Ottoman front line and captured the headquarters of the Ottoman Eighth Army at Tulkarm, the trenches at Tabsor and pivoted at Arara.
The Eighth Army was outflanked on the coast and British Empire cavalry moved north through the gap created. The Desert Mounted Corps almost encircled the infantry in the Judean Hills capturing their main lines of supply, communications and retreat. By 25 September, one Ottoman army had been destroyed, and what remained of two others, were in retreat northwards to Damascus.
The 5th Cavalry Division was assigned the task of capturing Haifa and Acre after several earlier attempts were stopped by strong rear-guard positions. A squadron from the Mysore Lancers, and a squadron from the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade formed the initial attack on an Austrian artillery battery before moving forward with the Jodhpur Lancers and a light car patrol, to attack the main German rear-guard position and capture the town.
This day of September 23 every year is celebrated as Haifa Day.

– Team Mysoorunews

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