Battle of Haifa [1918]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 18, 2022, 6:51

The Battle of Haifa was a prominent war fought on 23rd September 1918, in which sections of the British Army, primarily Indian troops, attacked and destroyed the armies of the Ottoman Empire and their German allies.

The combat was one of many that took place during World War I's Sinai and Palestine Campaign.

Vital Facts about the Battle of Haifa

During World War I, the Western front was effectively at a standstill, with troops frequently lingering in their regions. The Eastern front, near the Middle East, on the other hand, involved a static military actively marching to conquer as much territory as rapidly as possible.

With some help from the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire sought to defend and extend its borders. A German-led Ottoman invading army was advancing towards Egypt to capture control of the Suez Canal. Securing the Suez Canal would cut off crucial supplies from British India, limiting allied efforts in other battle zones.

The Sinai and Palestine Campaign got underway in full stride in 1915 when a German-led Ottoman force stormed the Sinai Peninsula, the territory of the British Protectorate of Egypt, to raid the Suez Canal. Following this, several battles took place in which the British were able to keep the majority of their lands.

At the Battle of Rafa in January 1917, the newly formed Desert Column secured the conquest of Sinai. With the conquests of Afulah and Nazareth, the Yildirim Army Group's general headquarters were cut off from its three armies following the effective advance and virtual blockade of the Ottoman Seventh and Eighth Armies in the Judean Hills.

Because the roads that led to the harbour were nothing more than tracks, the capture of Haifa was critical for any further advancements by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and its seizure was imperative for dropping supplies. This led to the Battle of Haifa.

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Major Events During the Batte of Haifa

The 5th Cavalry Division was constructed for the Battle of Haifa. It comprised three brigades, two of which were from one British yeomanry regiment and two British Indian Army cavalry regiments, one of which was generally lancers. The division's third brigade was the 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade, which consisted of three cavalry regiments from the Indian princely states of Jodhpur, Mysore, and Hyderabad.

The 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade was sent to conquer Haifa on 23rd September 1918. The Jodhpur Lancers of the brigade were entrusted with capturing this position, while the Mysore Lancers manoeuvred to attack the town from the east and north.

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On the lower slopes of Mount Carmel, the Jodhpur lancers were able to manoeuvre to the left. The regiment took control of the post, taking 30 captives and a slew of other items.

The Mysore Lancers, who were assisting them, also followed them into town. Haifa fell at the end of the conflict, and the two regiments took 1350 German and Ottoman prisoners.

The Battle of Haifa is still remembered every year on 23rd September as Haifa Day. Today, the Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers are represented in the Indian Army by the 61st Cavalry Regiment. Major Dalpat Singh Shekhawat, commander of the Jodhpur Lancers and a martyr in the Battle of Haifa, was honoured posthumously with the Military Cross.

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FAQs on the Battle of Haifa

Q1. When was the Battle of Haifa fought?

The Battle of Haifa was a prominent war fought on 23rd September 1918, in which sections of the British Army, primarily Indian troops, attacked and destroyed the armies of the Ottoman Empire and their German allies.

Q2. Who is referred to as the "Hero of Haifa", with reference to the Battle of Haifa?

Major Dalpat Singh Shekhawat is recognised as the "Hero of Haifa" for his crucial role in the city's liberation during the Battle of Haifa.

Q3. How many Indian soldiers died in the Battle of Haifa?

A total of 44 Indian soldiers died in the Battle of Haifa in 1918.

Q4. When is Haifa Day celebrated to remember the Battle of Haifa?

Every year on 23rd September, the Indian Army observes Haifa Day to pay tribute to the three gallant Indian Cavalry Regiments that engaged in the Battle of Haifa: the Mysore, Hyderabad, and Jodhpur Lancers.