Battle of Haifa: Remembering India's forgotten soldiers

Indian troops under the British Army liberated Haifa from Ottoman-Turkish forces in WWI

Sinai and Palestine campaign

Towards the end of World War I, Germany and the Ottoman Empire had captured Haifa and the surrounding region, a major strategic supply base. It was called the Sinai and Palestine campaign.

In a series of battles fought by the Allied Forces against the Ottoman Empire and Germany, the 15th (Imperial service) Cavalry Brigade of the British Army attacked the port in the quest to liberate it on September 23, 1918.

The Indian Army celebrates the day every year as "Haifa Day". (Others)

The 15th (Imperial service) Cavalry Brigade

The brigade comprised of lancers from the princely states of Jodhpur and Mysore, and was headed by British General Edmund Allenby. The Indian soldiers were equipped only with lances and swords, while the Turks used advanced artillery and machine guns. Yet, the 15th Cavalry Brigade captured Israel and came back victorious. (Others)

A remarkable cavalry

“No more remarkable cavalry action of its scale was fought in the whole course of the (Sinai and Palestine) campaign,” said the Official History of the War (Military Operations Egypt and Palestine: Volume II), describing the resilience of the Indian troops.

“Machine gun bullets over and over again failed to stop the galloping horses even though many of them succumbed afterwards to their injuries.” (AFP)

First World War

Over 700 German and Ottoman prisoners of war were captured, which included two German and 35 Ottoman officers.

In the First World War, there were 1.1 million commonwealth casualties all over the world. (Others)

Narendra Modi visits the Haifa war Cemetery

On his visit to Israel, the Indian Prime Minister paid homage to the graves of 44 Indian soldiers who died in the battle of Haifa in 1918.

Here is Prime Minister Modi, honouring the Indian forces who established an important connection with Israel during WWI. (AFP)