Memory Sketch – Bengal Lancers' Charge at the Dead Sea Valley
Image: a unit of mounted Bengal Lancers charge into the middle ground from the right against a mountainous backdrop. The foreground is made up of white dunes scattered with clumps of greenery, and the backdrop is a bright blue sky rendered in horizontal marks. The 'memory' sketch was not made from life; instead the artist gives the viewer an impressionistic rendition of the charge drawing on traditional compositions of military painting - the horses kick up plumes of sand as they thunder across the scene.
watercolour drawing on paper. Adhered to back board.
It is not possible to deduce a definite match for the unit depicted as numerous Indian Cavalry regiments were called Bengal Lancers pre-FWW and none officially had that title during the war. A number of regiments were known as Bengal Lancers until the Indian Army reforms of 1903:
2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
9th Hodson's Horse
18th King George's Own Lancers
19th Lancers (Fane's Horse)
The 2nd served with 10th Cavalry Brigade in 4th Cavalry Division
9th & 18th served with 13th Cavalry Brigade in 5th Cavalry Division
19th served in 12th Cavalry Brigade in 4th Cavalry Division
There is also a query regarding the provenance 1915 dating of this drawing, as the Egyptian Expeditionary Force were not at the Dead Sea / Jordan Valley until 1918. The Bengal Lancers were not there, but the Mysore, Jodhpore and Hyderabad Lancers served with the EEF throughout the war in the 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade. From mid-1918, the 2nd, 18th, 19th, and 29th Lancers served in the EEF, as did the 38th Central India Horse, 36th Jacob's Horse, 6th Cavalry, 9th Hodson's Horse, 20th Deccan Horse and 34th Poona Horse.
The event depicted could be the charge of the 15th (IS) Cavalry Brigade at El Hinu on 14 July 1918, which was within a mile of the northern shore of the Dead Sea. However, this contrasts with the exact caption of the 'Dead Sea Valley', and the Indian cavalry operated all along the Jordan Valley from around April to September 1918.