This article will look at the 39th King George’s Own Central India 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 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse
Lineage: Raised by Colonel W. F. Beatson at Hyderabad in 1858 as the 1st Regiment of Beatson’s Horse, then became the 2nd Regiment of Mayne’s Horse in 1860 and the same year the 2nd Regiment, Central India Horse. In 1861 the Regiment received 200 men of Meade’s Horse. Then in 1903 became the 39th Central India Horse, the 39th Prince of Wales’s’ Own Central India Horse in 1906 and the 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse in 1910. In 1921 the Regiment was amalgamated with the 38th King George’s Own Central Horse to form the 38th/39th Cavalry which became the 21st King George’s Own Central India Horse in 1923
Composition in 1914: 2 Squadrons of Sikhs, 1 of Punjabi Muslims and 1 of Muslim Rajputs.
Location in July 1914: The 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse was stationed at Agar (Madhya Pradesh, India) having arrived from Persia (Iran) on 8 May 1913.
The 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse was an Indian cavalry regiment which served in India for the duration of the First World War. When war was declared in August 1914, the Regiment was stationed at Agar serving as part of the Jhansi Brigade, 5th (Mhow) Division. As the 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse remained in India there are no war diaries to consult. However, there are detailed confidential reports which are held at the British Library covering the Regiment’s annual inspections. Below you can read a partial transcript of an inspection by Major-General R. Lloyd Playne, Commanding, 5th (Mhow) Division on 27 March 1915:
Turn out: Smart and well dressed.
Personnel: The Commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Daunt takes keen interest in his regiment and works hard for its welfare. He is supported by keen and energetic young officers. The Indian officers are intelligent and above the average while the rank and file are of good class, fine riders and well trained. Good feeling exists amongst all ranks.
Horses and stable management: The regiment is generally well mounted, but owing to the War there are about 150 remounts which under a good regimental system of training are rapidly coming to hand. The stable management is very thorough and remounts of a good stamp.
Individuality and independence of action is encouraged. Minor defects have been brought to notice. I consider the regiment is fit for service.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, British officers, etc. for 1914-1915: IOR/L/MIL/7/17024
The best source of information for the Regiment’s activities during the First World War is its regimental history King George’s Own: Central India Horse, The Story of a Local Corps by Major-General W. A. Watson. However, the regimental history’s coverage of the First World War is limited to 8 pages. In 1915 the regiment was moved to Goonah (Guna, Madhya Pradesh, India) and during the year was split when two squadrons were sent to Poona (Puna, Maharashtra, India) where they would remain for the next two years. The Regiment would send two squadrons to Ahmedabad in April 1919 to aid the Civil Power which subsequently moved to Bombay (Mumbai, Maharashtra, India) and Devlali (Deolali, Maharashtra, India). The Regiment’s headquarters and two remaining squadrons moved to Jhelum (Punjab, Pakistan) in May 1919, and the entire Regiment would concentrate at Goonah in 1920. In 1921 the Regiment was amalgamated with the 38th King George’s Own Central Horse to form the 38th/39th King George’s Own Light.
War Diary of the 39th Horse
Unfortunately, there are no war diaries for the 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse.
Further Sources for the 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse
The best source of information concerning the 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse and the British officers who served with it are its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. However, when the Regiment was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on. For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 39th King George’s Own Central India Horse the Indian Army List can be consulted.
Regimental History: King George’s Own Central India Horse by W. A. Watson. A very good regimentally history which also includes the 38th King George’s Own Central India Horse. This book has been reprinted and is available to buy online.