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Lieutenant General
Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden

(12 November 1821 – 12 August 1896)

Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Burnett "Joe" Lumsden KCSI CB was a British military officer active in India.


The Guides Cavalry (Frontier Force) is an armoured regiment of the Pakistan Army which was raised in 1846 as The Corps of Guides. During more than a hundred and fifty years of military service, the regiment has earned the reputation of one of the most renowned military units in the world.

By John Maclaren Barclay (1811-86). - Guides Cavalry., PD-US,

Lumsden was given the task of raising the Corps of Guides which he did in 1846 whilst still a young subaltern of only eight years service. He had considerable experience of service in the North-West, having fought in Afghanistan with Pollock's avenging army and in the Sutlej campaign, receiving a wound at Sobraon.
He had complete freedom to arm and dress his corps according to his own wishes. He regarded the tight-fitting scarlet uniforms of the British army to be totally unsuitable for the Indian climate and set about dressing his officers and men in loose fitting clothes that blended with the landscape. He bought all the white cotton he could find locally and had it taken to the river where it was soaked and impregnated with mud. Lumsden is credited with being not only the founder of the famous Corps of Guides but with the invention of khaki. He commanded the regiment for 5 years with Major W S R Hodson as his 2nd in command. He took part in 16 campaigns in that time including the siege of Multan. For a while he was on political duty in Kandahar, thus missing the start of the
Indian Mutiny. In 1860 he was put in command of the Guides for the second time. At about this time he was wounded when an assassin made an attempt on his life.
The photo, here shows him in his uniform as a Lieutenant-General. He had been retired from actve service for twenty years by this time. It is ironic that one of the last photos of him should be of him wearing exactly the type of uniform he had been instrumental in making obselete.


A Sketch of the Life of Lieut.-Gen. Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden, K. C. S. I., C. B., with Selections from His Correspondence and Occasional Papers

Lumsden of the Guides is a biography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden (1821-96), co-authored by his younger brother, General Sir Peter Stark Lumsden (1829-1918) and George R. Elsmie (1838-1909), a judge and writer in British India. Harry Lumsden was a soldier in the army of the British East India Company who was part of the Anglo-Indian force that occupied Kabul during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42). He subsequently held posts on the North-West Frontier of India and in 1857-58 undertook a mission to Kandahar to ascertain whether the Afghan ruler Dost Mohammad Khan was adhering to the terms of a treaty that required the Afghans, in exchange for British subsidies, to maintain their defenses against Persia in the region of Herat. The "guides" of the title refers to the corps of guides, locally recruited soldiers that the British used to defend the frontiers of India from attacks and uprisings by warlike tribes hostile to British rule. Lumsden recruited and commanded this force at different times in his career, beginning in 1846.


The book covers Lumsden's background and education and his military career and diplomatic missions. Three appendices consist of unpublished writings by Harry Lumsden, including sections from a notebook entitled "Frontier Thoughts and Frontier Requirements" concerning all aspects of the recruitment and command of the guides; an essay entitled "A Few Notes on Afghan Field-Sports" dealing with hawking, hunting, and related subjects; and a few pages of recollections of the march from Peshawar to Jalalabad in 1842. The book is illustrated with drawings and photographs and contains a fold-out map of the Afghan frontier with an inset of the route from Kandahar to Herat. Peter Stark Lumsden was also a distinguished soldier in the Indian army. He accompanied his brother on the Kandahar mission of 1857-58 and in the 1880s headed the Anglo-Indian side of the Joint Boundary Commission formed with Russia to define the northern border of Afghanistan.

Lumsden of The Guides



The Guides Cavalry Frontier Force

By Beloochee - Photograph of a badge in my personal collection, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Guides Cavalry (Frontier Force)


Active   1846 - Present

Country   British India  Pakistan

Branch   British Indian Army   Pakistan Army

Type   Armoured Regiment

Size   Regiment

Nickname(s)   The Guides

Motto(s)   Rough & Ready

Uniform   Drab; faced red

March   "Cavalry Brigade"

Engagements   North West Frontier of India
Second Sikh War 1848-49
Indian Mutiny 1857-58
Second Afghan War 1878-80
First World War 1914-18
Second World War 1939-45
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971


Notable Ccommanders


Lt Gen Sir Harry Lumsden, KCSI, CB
Gen Sir Sam Browne, VC, GCB, KCSI
Gen Sir Henry Daly, GCB, CIE
Gen Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Maj Gen Syed Wajahat Husain
Brig Amir Gulistan Janjua
General Muhammad Yusaf Khan
Lt. Gen. Fazle Haq
Brig. Kazim Mustehsan SI(M)
Lt. Gen Gul Hassan Khan

Lumsden of the Guides
By Corps of Guides. - Guides Cavalry., PD-US,

In 1876, Queen Victoria rewarded the Guides by granting them the use of the Royal Cypher and they became Queen's Own Corps of Guides with the Prince of Wales as their Colonel. During the First World War, the cavalry and infantry of the Guides fought separately. In 1921, they were formally separated; the cavalry becoming the 10th Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides Cavalry (Frontier Force), while the infantry joined the newly formed 12th Frontier Force Regiment, making up the 5th and 10th (Training) Battalions of the new infantry regiment. The new class composition of Guides Cavalry was Punjabi Muslims, Sikhs and Dogras. The regiment retained its drab uniform with red facings. Their badge consisted of the 'VR' Cypher of Queen Victoria within the Garter, Victorian crown above, surrounded by a ribbon-scroll reading 'Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides'. In 1927, the regiment's designation was changed to The Guides Cavalry (10th Queen Victoria's Own Frontier Force).[6]

On the Partition of India in 1947, Guides Cavalry was allotted to Pakistan. The Dogras were exchanged with Punjabi Muslims of the Hodson's Horse, while the Sikhs were exchanged with the Kaimkhanis of the Poona Horse. The regiment also received a squadron of Ranghars from the Scinde Horse. In 1956, when Pakistan became a republic, all titles pertaining to British royalty were dropped, and the regiment was redesignated as Guides Cavalry (Frontier Force).[6] On 14 February 1981, the Corps of Guides was resurrected with the re-unification of the Guides Infantry and Cavalry in an impressive ceremony at Multan. General Muhammad Iqbal Khan, CJSC, was appointed Colonel of the Corps of Guides.[7][8]

The Guides CavalryFrontier Force Campaigns

Frontier operations

The intrepid Guides quickly made a name for themselves on the North West Frontier of India in numerous operations against the turbulent frontier tribes. Between 1847 and 1878, the corps participated in fifteen major frontier expeditions and operations.[5] Their formidable reputation soon spread far and wide, and was immortalized by Rudyard Kipling in several of his works such as The Ballad of East and West. Around the start of the 20th century, the Guides had acquired such a legendary status that when Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, decided to form a similar organization for girls in 1909, he named them Girl Guides after the Corps of Guides. How Girls Can Help to Build Up the Empire, the Girl Guides' handbook has this to say about the Corps of Guides:

On the Indian frontier the mountain tribes are continually fighting, and our troops there are renowned for their splendid achievement and gallant conduct. The best known of all is the corps called "The Guides" … To be a Guide out there means you are one who can be relied upon for pluck, for being able to endure difficulty and danger, for being able cheerfully to take up any job that may be required, and for readiness to sacrifice yourself for others.[9]

Second Sikh War 1848-49

Following their victory in the First Sikh War of 1845-46, the British posted a Resident at the Sikh Durbar at Lahore to control the affairs of the Sikh state. However, the Sikhs resented British interference in their affairs and began planning a revolt. Early in 1848, Lumsden and his Guides were summoned to Lahore to gather evidence of the planned Sikh insurrection - a mission that they successfully carried out. However, British counter-measures were unable to prevent the revolt, which broke out at Multan in April 1848 and soon spread to the rest of the country. The Guides served at the Siege of Multan and then participated in the Battle of Gujrat on 21 February 1849, where the Sikh Army was decisively defeated. The Second Sikh War resulted in the dissolution of the Sikh state and annexation of the Punjab by the British.[1]

The Great Indian Mutiny of 1857

In March 1857, when the mutiny broke out, Lumsden was on a mission at Kandahar and Captain Henry Daly led the Guides to join the Delhi Field Force then besieging the ancient capital city. They left Hoti Mardan on 13 May and arrived at Delhi on 9 June after marching 580 miles in twenty-six days and fourteen hours in the searing Indian summer![1][5]

The moral effect of the arrival of the Guides in Delhi was perhaps in some measure greater even than the actual fighting strength thus brought into line. The fame of the march from the far distant frontier, the fine physique and martial bearing of soldiers drawn from warlike tribes new to the eyes of their British comrades, ... all tended to give the approach of the travel-stained Guides a high significance. An eye-witness recorded: They came in as firm and light as if they had marched but a single mile.[1]

The Guides went into action the same day and by evening, all of their officers had been killed or wounded. They continued to fight gallantly throughout the summer and took part in the final assault and capture of Delhi. By the time they returned home, they had suffered 350 casualties out of the 600 men who had set out in May.[1] For their gallant conduct at Delhi, they were awarded the distinction of red piping on their tunic collars; an honour shared with the 60th Foot and the Sirmoor Battalion, who fought alongside them at Delhi.[2][7]

Second Afghan War 1878-80

During the Second Afghan War of 1878-80, the Guides joined the Peshawar Field Force under General Sir Sam Browne and took part in the capture of Ali Masjid, the advance to Jalalabad and the cavalry action at Fatehabad, where Lieutenant Walter Hamilton won the Victoria Cross for gallantry. Following the Treaty of Gandamak in May 1879, the Afghan King agreed to the presence of a British Mission in Kabul. The mission, led by Sir Louis Cavagnari, arrived in Kabul on 24 July 1879, escorted by a detachment of 76 Guides under Lieutenant Hamilton, VC. However, on 3 September, a disgruntled regiment of the Afghan Army attacked the British Residency. Although the Afghans offered quarter to the Indian ranks, the Guides chose to fight to the death. The Residency finally fell after twelve hours of fierce resistance by the Guides, who perished to the last man along with 600 of their foes. The sacrifice of these gallant men is commemorated in the impressive Guides Memorial at Mardan with the following words:

The annals of no army and no regiment can show a brighter record of devoted bravery than has been achieved by this small band of Guides.[1]

The epic stand of the Guides at Kabul Residency was immortalized by MM Kaye[10] in her bestselling novel The Far Pavilions and in the 1984 motion picture of the same name.

The massacre at Kabul led to the resumption of hostilities and in December 1879, the Guides were dispatched to join the Kabul Field Force under General Sir Frederick Roberts at Sherpur Cantonment near Kabul. They participated in the attacks on Takht-i-Shah and Asmai Heights, where Captain Arthur Hammond won the Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry.[1][5]

After the Second Afghan War, the Guides were involved in a number of actions along the North West Frontier including the Relief of Chitral in 1895, as part of Malakand and Buner Field Forces during the Frontier Uprising of 1897-98, and in the Mohmand Expedition of 1908. In 1906, the Corps of Guides was reorganized into separates units of cavalry and infantry within the corps.[5]

First World War

On the outbreak of World War I, the Guides initially remained in India for service on the Frontier; the Guides Cavalry participating in the Mohmand Blockade in 1915. In November 1917, they joined the 11th Indian Cavalry Brigade in Mesopotamia and fought in the Battles of Sharqat and Khan Baghdadi. After the armistice, they remained in Persia as part of Norperforce to counter any threat to British interests from the Russian Bolsheviks and Persian socialists. They returned to India in 1921. Meanwhile, the Guides Infantry served in Mesopotamia and Palestine. The end of the war also spelt the end of the Corps of Guides as a unit. In the post-war reorganization of the Indian Army in 1921, the corps was broken up and the cavalry and infantry became separate units.[6]

Second World War

On 26 September 1940, the Guides Cavalry was mechanized as a Light Reconnaissance Regiment equipped with wheeled armoured carriers and 15 cwt trucks. In May 1941, it was dispatched to Iraq. The regiment took part in the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, when one of its squadrons, supported by an infantry battalion, stormed and captured the city of Khorramshahr on 25 August. In June 1942, the regiment arrived in North Africa and covered the British Eighth Army's open desert flank as it withdrew towards Egypt after the debacle at Gazala. The Guides Cavalry returned to Iraq in September 1942. In November 1943, it proceeded to Kohat in India, where it was converted into an Armoured Car Regiment for operations on the North West Frontier. The regiment received its first tanks in November 1945, when it was equipped with Stuart tanks. In 1946, the Stuarts were replaced with Churchill tanks.[11]

Indo-Pakistan War 1965

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Guides Cavalry was part of the 6 Armoured Division, equipped with M48 Patton tanks. The regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Amir Gulistan Janjua, greatly distinguished itself in the Battle of Chawinda, considered to be the greatest tank battle since World War II. On 7 September 1965, the Indians opened their main offensive with one armoured and three infantry divisions in the Sialkot Sector and penetrated up to Phillaura. However, in an audacious action, 25 Cavalry threw back the Indian armoured division, which took two days to regain its balance. In the meantime, 6 Armoured Division was inducted to counter the enemy on the Chawinda Front. The Guides Cavalry was deployed at Badiana, west of Chawinda to protect the division's left flank. On 11 September, the Indians renewed their offensive but were unable to capture the pivotal position of Chawinda. They also made a flanking move towards Bhagowal and Khakanwali in the west, where they were effectively checked by the Guides Cavalry. On 14 September, the Indians resumed their attack but again, could not breach the defences of Chawinda. At the same time, they tried to outflank the town from the west. It was here that the decisive tank battles of the war were fought in which Guides Cavalry covered itself in glory. The regiment was part of an ad hoc Task Force guarding the area between Chawinda and Sialkot. The Guides Cavalry was engaged in fierce fighting near Badiana, where it beat back repeated Indian attacks and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy armour.[12][13] The regiment was awarded five Sitara-i-Jurat for its excellent performance in the war.[14]

Harry Lumsden was the perfect choice to train and lead this corps d'elite:  He was a man of strong character, athletic, brave, resolute, cool and resourceful in emergency; a man of rare ability and natural aptitude for war, and possessed, moreover, of that magnetic influence which communicates the highest confidence and devotion to those who follow. Lumsden upheld the principle that the greatest and best school for war is war itself. He believed in the elasticity which begets individual self-confidence, and preferred a body of men taught to act and fight with personal intelligence.[1]

Lumsden left a lasting imprint on the Guides, who soon showed their mettle in numerous frontier operations. Believing that fighting troops were for service and not for show, Lumsden introduced loose and comfortable dust-coloured uniforms for the first time, which would soon become famous as "khaki"[3] and within decades would be adopted by most of the armies of the world. In 1851, the Guides established themselves at Mardan, which would remain their cherished home until 1938.[1]


In 1851, The Corps of Guides became part of the Punjab Irregular Force, which later became famous as the Punjab Frontier Force or Piffers. The Piffers consisted of five regiments of cavalry, eleven regiments of infantry and five batteries of artillery besides the Corps of Guides. Their mission was to maintain order on the Punjab Frontier;[4] a task they performed with great aplomb during the next fifty years.[5]

The Corps of Guides was raised at Peshawar on 14 December 1846 by Lieutenant Harry Burnett Lumsden on the orders of Sir Henry Lawrence, the British Resident at Lahore, capital of the enfeebled Sikh Empire. Initially composed of a troop of cavalry and two companies of infantry mounted on camels, the Guides were organized as a highly mobile force. The corps was ordered to recruit trustworthy men, who could, at a moment's notice, act as guides to troops in the field; men capable, too, of collecting trustworthy intelligence beyond, as well as within, our borders; and, in addition to all this, men, ready to give and take hard blows, whether on the frontier or in a wider field.[1]


These were qualities that would become the hallmark of the Guides. Although the corps recruited men from all over the country and even beyond the Frontier of India, Pathans, Punjabi Muslims, Sikhs and Dogras later formed the bulk of their manpower.[2]

The Corps of Guides was a regiment of the British Indian Army made up of British officers and Indian enlisted soldiers to serve on the North West Frontier. As originally raised in 1846, The Guides consisted of infantry and cavalry. It evolved through the 20th century to become the Guides Cavalry and Guides Infantry. Once independence was granted to India and after the partition, The Guides were given over to Pakistan and became part of the Pakistan Army with all ranks including officers being recruited solely from Pakistan.

The regiment exists as 2nd Battalion (The Guides) of the Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army.



Corps of Guides Infantry, 1897.

The brainchild of Sir Henry Lawrence, the Corps had Lt. Harry Lumsden as its commandant and W.S.R. Hodson (the Hodson of Hodson's Horse) as second-in-command. On 6 February 1847 Lumsden wrote to his father " I have just been nominated to raise the corps of Guides. It will be the finest appointment in the country".[1] A few months later, on 16 September 1847 Hodson wrote to his brother "..of my good fortune... I am to be the Second-in-Command with the Corps of Guides".[2]

The Corps had modest beginnings. When it was raised at Kalu Khan, on the Yusufzai Plain, in the Peshawar Valley region by Lt. Lumsden in December 1846, it comprised just one troop of cavalry and two companies of infantry.[3] The first action was at Mughdara, in the Panitar Hills. Within two years, the small force of Guides had established a name for itself, under Lumsden, its founder, and Hodson. When the Second Sikh War broke out in 1848, the unit was given authorisation for a three-fold increase in size, to six companies of infantry and three troops of cavalry. The Guides maintained the 'cavalry and infantry combined in the same regiment' organisation for many years, and even when split into two separate components, the name lingered in both elements.

The Corps of Guides became the garrison unit of a key post on the frontier, the new fort of (Hoti ~) Mardan. The building of the fort in 1854 was organised and supervised by Hodson[4] who had been promoted commandant of the regiment in 1852.[5] In 1857 the unit was called urgently to help relieve the Siege of Delhi. In just over three weeks the Guides marched nearly six hundred miles during the hottest month of the year, crossing five great rivers and fighting four small actions. The march coincided with the month of Ramadan meaning that the muslim soldiers in the force could neither eat nor drink during the hours of daylight. On arrival at Delhi, the force of 600 Guides were almost immediately called upon to join the defence of the city. Men who had just completed a march of some 580 miles were thrown into a battle of such intensity that no fewer than 350 of the 600 became casualties within an hour of their arrival in Delhi.

The Corps of Guides was part of the Frontier Force brigade and developed a reputation of being an elite unit. They were the first unit in the Indian or British Armies to dress in "khaki" uniform,[6]: 537–539  first introduced in 1848.[7] Typically, the Guides were often used in small detachments, usually supported by other Frontier Force troops.


    • Younghusband, Col GJ. (1908). The Story of the Guides. London: MacMillan.

    • Hayauddin, Maj Gen M. (1950). One Hundred Glorious Years: A History of the Punjab Frontier Force, 1849-1949. Lahore: Civil and Military Gazette Press.

    • From the Urdu word "khak" meaning "dust". The clothing was dyed using mulberry juice to produce the drab colour - a pinkish shade of khaki.

    • Until 1903, North West Frontier Province was part of the Punjab.

    • North, REFG. (1934). The Punjab Frontier Force: A Brief Record of Their Services 1846-1924. DI Khan: Commercial Steam Press.

    • Gaylor, John (1991). Sons of John Company: The Indian and Pakistan Armies 1903–91. Stroud: Spellmount.

    • Khan, Maj Muhammad Nawaz. (1996). The Glorious Piffers 1843-1995. Abbottabad: The Frontier Force Regimental Centre.

    • Khan, Maj Gen Fazal Muqeem. (1996). History of the 2nd Battalion (Guides) Frontier Force Regiment 1947-1994. Rawalpindi: The Army Press.

    • Forbes, Cynthia. 1910 ... and then?.

    • MM Kaye's husband, Major General Goff Hamilton was an officer of the Guides Cavalry.

    • Sandhu, Maj Gen GS. (1991). The Indian Armour: History of the Indian Armoured Corps (1941-71). New Delhi: Vision Books.

    • Husain, Maj Gen Abrar. (2005). Men of Steel: 6 Armoured Division in the 1965 War. War Despatches of Major General Abrar Husain. Rawalpindi: Army Education Publishing House.

    • Ahmed, Lt Gen Mahmud. (2006). History of Indo-Pak War – 1965. Rawalpindi: Services Book Club.

    • The Sabre & Lance: Journal of the Pakistan Armoured Corps. (1997). Nowshera: The School of Armour & Mechanised Warfare.

    • Rodger, Alexander. (2003). Battle Honours of the British Empire and Commonwealth Land Forces 1662-1991. Ramsbury: The Crowood Press.

Introduction: Khaki and the First World War

A scholarly journal from the 1930s offers a detailed account of Sir Harry Lumsden’s first attempts to create khaki; 1 Introduction: Khaki and the First World War J. Tynan, British Army Uniform and the First World War: Men in Khaki © Jane Tynan 2013 2 British Army Uniform and the First World War as a lieutenant at Peshawar, he raised the Corps of Guides in 1846, and when he was ordered to ensure that his troops were ‘loosely, comfortably and suitably clad,’ he bought up white cotton cloth at the bazaar at Lahore, and as the story goes, ‘this white cotton cloth was taken down to the river bank; there, first being soaked in water, mud was rubbed into it, which had the effect of making the cloth very much the colour of the plains around. 

 The stuff was then dried and ironed, and cut into loose blouses and pants as a uniform for the Guides.’ 1 This crude camouflage caught on and in 1848 Hodson, then second in command and adjutant of the Guides, wrote home to his brother about selecting ‘drab’ uniforms and requested that he send enough of the material to clothe 900 men. In 1850 Sir Charles Napier observed that the Guides were ‘the only properly dressed light troops in India.’ 2

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