Probyns Horse & medals and that

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by TheIronDuke, Jan 3, 2013.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    One of mine had a dead relation who served as an officer in Probyns Horse (5th King Edward's Own) in WW2 in Burma.

    Two questions...

    1) There is a shedload of stuff... medals, silk battle maps, weapons (decommissioned) and other tat which I would like to see go to a good home. Where should I send it?

    2) How the **** did a Highland Scotsman end up in Probyns Horse at the start of WW2? Would it be a family connection? How did recruitment work at the start of WW2? Most of mine rocked up and got assigned to the Northumberland Fusiliers or the DLR. So how did my dead ancestor end up in Probyns?

    I am more interested in answer 2). If push comes to shove I will punt his medals and stuff to the Imperial War Museum.

    Thanks for any help.
  2. Was he an officer or an OR? If he was an officer its simple; the Bengal Lancers were a rather exclusive unit and much given to cutting about on the NW Frontier and it could have been an attractive regiment for a keen young officer.

    If he was an OR its interesting. Probyn's Horse was an irregular cavalry regiment, whose troopers originally provided their own mounts.. However Probyn's Horse was mechanized in 1940 and they might have needed a draft of British ORs with mechanical skills to make up for a general shortage of indians with those skills.

    If you want to see the kit displayed you might be better served offering it to the National Army Museum or some equivalent in Scotland. The IWM is more of a social history museum about war than a collection of militaria. Alternatively you copuld donate them to the Regiment - the 5th Horse Regiment of the Pakistani Army.
  3. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Almost certainly this wouldn't have happened. A British soldier could not be transferred into the Indian Army as an OR. Whilst there were some British Army technical attachments in some cantonments (similar to modern day LADs) they were very few and far between and often, and overwhelmingly short term. Such as these were, they were for instruction in specific skill sets such as airborne training.

    The mechanisation of the Indian Army was a long and painful one and the case of Probyn's Horse is a case in point. The regiment was 'mechanised' in 1940, but didn't get any tanks until 1942 and wasn't fully armoured (with Shermans) untill 1944 when it was deployed to Burma. During that time the Indian Army (RIN and RIAF even more so) had been increasingly enlisting literate and educated recruits for these very roles even instituting 'boys battalions' (same-same Junior Leaders) to beef up, educate and train lads from the age of 16.

    In answer to the original post, Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECO) did find themselves posted to the Indian Army with little regard to family or geographical connections. The needs of the service dictated and the Indian Army drew its quota of ECOs. Note that Probyn's Horse had always been considered a 'smart regiment' and even in the darkest days of WW2, the gent in question would probably have had to shine a bit to be picked for a commission into them.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. TiD,
    Any chance you can throw some pics of the stuff up
  5. The National Army Museum was extremely helpful when I was researching my grandfather who commanded the PAVO.
    This resulted in my presenting the 11 Cavalry(FF) with some PAVO regimental silver plate to them in Nowshera.
    It also opened some rather useful Pak doors in the 1980s.
    The NAM would be a very good starting point if you want to find a UK based home for these artefacts, as I believe the Empire Museum has since closed. Were you interested in flogging them then you could try Marlows military auctioneers.
    To reinforce RP578's point is a scan from Philip Mason's A Matter of Honour regarding the standards required for officers when Indianising the Indian Army pre-war and how Probyn's Horse, among others, set the benchmark.
    Mason scan copy.jpg
  6. Was your relative a tea or rubber planter as there were a lot of Scots involved in that areas pre war
  7. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Whatever you do dont think that donating stuff to a museum will guarantee it being displayed. They hold so much that they often quite legally sell of surplus donations!
  8. 116th RAC were in the same brigade (255th Indian Tank Brigade) and were formed from the 9th Gordon Highlanders in July 1942. Is it possible that he started out in the Gordons, then 116th RAC and then Probyn's Horse?

    The 5th (Probyn's) Horse (along with the 9th (Royal Deccan) Horse) were instrumental in defeating the Japanese at Meiktila in 1945 - a brilliant regiment.
  9. i can help u with queries regarding my regt ...
    i am currently serving in it
    • Like Like x 3
  10. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks. Most of the stuff from my original post has gone to people who will keep it safe. Have kept a couple of bits and left them in my will to the same people.

    Still working on how the Scots git ended up in Probyn's. The best so far is he went to school with a kid who ended up being a dentist in Punjab and played polo. Work in progress.
  11. Anyone interested in the pre-war lives of irregular Indian cavalry officers and latterly their part in the Burma campaign would be educated ( and amply entertained ) by Hilary Hook's memoir "Home From The Hill".

    He served in the Deccan Horse, sister regiment to Probyn's, in peace and war. He left the regiment as they were mechanising to fight in East Timor alongside the Australians, only to return for the drive on Rangoon. After the war he served in Sudan and Somaliand, his social life and addiction to fox hunting while with the QOH having racked up such heavy mess bills that only several years on campaign could prevent his wrathful bank manager from succeeding where the Japanese had failed. Needless to say over his career in true cavalry fashion he played an enormous amount of polo, and shot just about every species of bird and beast that Asia and Africa had to offer.

    The book doesn't have any huge literary merit as he was a conventional character encouraged to recount his career in the form of what is essentially an oral history following his fame as a subject of Molly Dineen's film of the same title. But it is an entertaining personal account of an interesting career as an Indian Army and then colonial force officer as the empire reached it's zenith and was subsequent swiftly dismantled. I enjoyed it.

    Not of much use to the OP, admittedly, but as a complement to "Tank Tracks To Rangoon" it would be a good read for any ARRSEr interested in the Indian cavalry regiments and their employment in Burma.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    Not at all. Thanks for the link. Most of the old boys stuff is safe with people who will keep it safe. But I am still interested about how a Northumbrian kid ended up with a colonial outfit like Probyns.