This article will look at the 34th Prince Albert Victor’s Own Poona Horse and will give you an overview of the Regiment’s service during the First World War and help you to research a soldier who served with the Regiment. I have written other guides to help you research those who served in the Indian Army:
The 34th Poona Horse in the First World War
Lineage: Raised as the Auxiliary Horse in 1817 and became the Poona Auxiliary Horse in 1818. Then the Poona Irregular Horse in 1847, the Poona Horse in 1860 and the 4th Regiment, Poona Silladar Cavalry in 1861. Then the 1st Regiment, Poona Horse in 1861, then the Poona Horse in 1862, the 4th Bombay Cavalry (Poona Horse) in 1885, the 4th (Prince Albert Victor’s Own) Bombay Cavalry (Poona Horse) in 1890 and the 34th Prince Albert Victor’s Own Poona Horse in 1903. The Regiment was amalgamated with the 33rd Queen Victoria’s Own Cavalry in 1921 to become the 33rd/34th Cavalry and became the 17th Queen Victoria’s Own Poona Horse in 1922.
Composition in 1914: 2 Squadrons of Rathore Rajputs, 1 of Kaimkhanis and 1 of Punjabi Muslims.
Location in July 1914: The 34th Queen Victoria’s Own Light Cavalry was stationed at Secunderabad (Telangana, India) having arrived from Aurangabad (Maharashtra, India) on 4 December 1912.
The 34th Prince Albert Victor’s Own Poona Horse, often abbreviated to 34th Poona Horse, was stationed at Secunderabad when war was declared in August 1914. The Regiment had been inspected on the 14 March 1914 by Major-General A. Phayre, Commanding 9th (Secunderabad) Division who reported:
This regiment has fine traditions, and in the present hands may be relied on to act up to those traditions. Well mounted, well trained and with good personnel, the regiment is quite fit for active service.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units for 1913-1914: IOR/L/MIL/7/17023
The photograph below shows Subadar Major Sher Bahadur Khan IDSM and was taken in 1931 following his promotion from Subadar. At the time, Khan was serving with the 2nd Battalion The Manchester Regiment. Khan had enlisted in the 34th Poona Horse on 1 April 1907, and been promoted to Naik on 1 April 1912. On 4 November 1913, he was promoted to Dafadar and he served with the Regiment on the Western Front and in the Middle East during the First World War. He was awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal for gallantry on the Western Front and was also mentioned in despatches. He was promoted to Jemadar on 25 August 1917 and to Subadar in May 1921.
War Diaries of the 34th Poona Horse
There are five war diaries for the Regiment and the first two have been digitized by the National Archives. To download these war diaries for a small fee click on the first two blue links below. The other three war diaries are only available to view at the National Archives.
- Date: 09 August 1914 – 25 December 1916
- 2nd Indian Cavalry Division, Secunderabad Brigade
- Reference: WO 95/1187/4
- Notes: A very good war diary for 1914 which has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website. The entries are particularly detailed for 1914 and there is a rough sketch map of the positions at Neuve Chapelle. There are a large number of appendices including Ships orders for the sailing to France dated 16 September 1914, the organization of the convoy, report on a detachment of the Regiment between 23 and 27 November 1914. After 1914, like other cavalry regiments, the length of entries becomes a lot shorter and there are far fewer events of note. Good entries for the Somme in 1916.
- Date: 01 January 1917 – 31 March 1918
- 5th Cavalry Division, Secunderabad Brigade
- Reference: WO 95/1165/5
- Notes: A good war diary for a cavalry regiment during this period with detailed entries when the regiment is in the front line. This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website. Unlike the previous war diary, there are no appendices.
- Date:01 March – 30 June 1918
- General Headquarters Troops, 7th Mounted Brigade
- Reference: WO 95/4405
- Notes: A short war diary with mostly brief entries. There is a list of men promoted in the regiment in the entry for 19 June 1918.
- Date: July 1918 – September 1919
- 5th Cavalry Division, 14th Cavalry Brigade
- Reference: WO 95/4519
- Date: 01 October 1919 – 31 March 1920
- 5th Cavalry Division, 13th Cavalry Brigade
- Reference: WO 95/4518
- Notes: A good war diary for the post-war period when compared to others, though very little actually happens. The war diary entries mainly concern promotions or soldiers admitted or rejoining from hospital, fortunately, service numbers are recorded as well as their names.
Further Sources for the 34th Poona Horse
If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served in the 34th Poona Horse, then the Indian Army List can be consulted. A good source of information for the Regiment are its confidential reports which also contain the annual reports of British officers: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. However, when the Regiment was abroad only the Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on.
Regimental Histories of the 34th Poona Horse
There are two regimental histories for the 34th Poona Horse and both are available to view online. If you click on the blue links below you’ll be taken to Archive.org where you can download and view the books for free.
- The Historical Records of the 34th (Prince of Albert Victor’s Own) Poona Horse by Major G. M. Molloy. There are 100 pages devoted to the history of the regiment along with appendices covering British officers who served with the Regiment. This book later became part of Volume I of The Poona Horse.
- The Poona Horse (17th Queen Victoria’s Own Cavalry) Volume II: 1914-1931 By Colonel H. C. Wylly. This book contains a history of both the 33rd Light Cavalry and the 34th Poona Horse. The book devotes around eighty pages to the Regiment’s service during the First World War and contains an appendix of the British officer’s war services.