Centenary celebrations to commemorate Haifa-Mysuru link

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar addresses a media conference, in Mysuru, on Tuesday. M S Harish Shenoy and C A Vishwanath are seen.

Member of the erstwhile royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar said, the centenary commemoration of the battle of Haifa will be held at Rajendra Kalamandira on Ramanuja Road in the Mysuru at 6 pm on September 23.

Addressing reporters here on Tuesday, Wadiyar said, the soldiers from Mysuru played a major role in World War I as part of the Allies against the Central Powers. “The victory of the contingent, comprising Jodhpur Lancers, Hyderabad Lancers and Mysuru Lancers, won over the Ottoman Turks at Haifa, now in Israel. In view of commemorating the valour of the soldiers from Mysuru, who won wars on foreign lands 100 years ago, Haifa Centenary Celebration Committee has organised the function. The victory ended the Ottoman Empire’s 400-year rule over the region, freeing Haifa on September 23, 1918,” he said.

Family members of five soldiers who fought the wars, have been identified and they will be felicitated on the occasion. Lancers are soldiers of a cavalry regiment, armed with lances. Lance is a long weapon, similar to a spear, with a wooden shaft and a pointed steel head, formerly used by horsemen.

According to historians, the Indian soldiers, including Mysuru Lancers, were armed only with lances and swords, while the Turks were armed with artillery and guns. This was one of the last cavalry charges that resulted in a victory in a modern war. By the end of WW I, horses had become redundant in wars. During World War I, England declared Egypt as its protectorate and deputed forces, including Mysuru Lancers, to safeguard the Suez Canal. In October 1914, the Mysuru regiment comprising 29 officers, 444 non-commissioned officers and men, with 526 horses, 49 mules and 132 followers, left Bengaluru for West Asia. The troops reached Suez in November. From October 1914 to January 1916, they were in Egypt and went to conquer Haifa in 1918. While some men from Mysuru Lancers were martyred, many came back victorious in 1920. The Mysuru Lancers were merged with the Indian Army, under 61st Cavalry, in 1950. There are about 800 graves of Indian soldiers across Israel, including in Haifa.

“The Mysuru Lancers were personal bodyguards of the then maharaja Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and most of them belonged to Urs families. Thus, the families of the warriors were identified through Arasu associations. One of the officers was Col Desaraja Urs, brother-in-law of Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. There was also the grandfather of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar in the contingent as an officer,” Wadiyar said.

“The joint forces of Mysuru and Jodhpur Lancers also freed the leader of Baha’i faith, Abdu l’ Baha, son of the founder of the faith, from unjust imprisonment. There are already Haifa war memorials at Haifa, New Delhi and Bengaluru. We urge the government to build a memorial and also a museum in Mysuru,” added Wadiyar.

M S Harish Shenoy of the committee said volunteers would visit schools and narrate the story of the Haifa war to students. Later, in view of popularising the valour of the Mysuru Lancers, quiz, debate and essay competitions would be held for the students, he added.

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Centenary celebrations to commemorate Haifa-Mysuru link

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