When Indian valour liberated Haifa

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on January 11, 2018


With lances and swords, Imperial cavalry overwhelmed Ottoman troops

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will get a glimpse of the role India played in the liberation of Palestine from the clutches of the Ottoman Turks in 1918.

During his three-day visit, Modi will pay homage to Indian soldiers, which include the Mysore Imperial Service Lancers (Mysore Lancers), State of Jodhpur and Hyderabad. In the Great War, the soldiers fought for the Allied Powers under the British, with Mysore Lancers and Jodhpur on the frontlines; Hyderabad was entrusted with the task of handling the prisoners.

“The Battle of Haifa and the subsequent victory are termed as masterstrokes by the Indian soldiers, and not many outside the army are aware of the Mysore connection to Haifa (a city in Isreal),” said Raja Chandra Urs, son-in-law of the last Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, who has catalogued the history of the Ursus in the two world wars.

Even now ‘Haifa Day’ is observed on September 23 at three places — in Israel, Teen Murti Bhavan circle in Delhi and in Bengaluru, home of Mysore Lancers, he added. According to Raja Chandra Urs, Mysore Lancers, the personal army of the Mysore Maharaja, played a crucial role in winning one of the greatest battles of World War I.

Along with the Jodhpur Cavalry and 15th Imperial Cavalry Brigade, soldiers from Mysore Lancers charged on Turkish positions in and around Haifa. The Indian soldiers were armed only with lances and swords while the Turks were armed with artillery and machine guns. This battle is one of the last cavalry charges that resulted in a victory in WW I.

Israel today is a flourishing technology capital, a distinction it shares with Bengaluru, the IT capital of India.

“Haifa is considered the IT capital, like Bengaluru. But it also bears testimony to an earlier time, when Indian soldiers made sacrifices in its liberation,” said Uday Birje, a Bengaluru-based tech entrepreneur who frequents Haifa.

Modi’s push to collaborate with Israel on technology is likely to facilitate a $40-million joint fund, strengthen defence and prospectively sign agreements in agriculture, water resources, tourism and cyber security.

Published on July 04, 2017

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