Calcutta Light Horse - Pin Dish, 1947
Calcutta Light Horse - Pin Dish, 1947
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Calcutta Light Horse - Pin Dish, 1947

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Diameter: 10cm (4in) 

Silver. Circular form pin dish engraved with the dates 1857-1947, the centre applied with the badge of the Calcutta Light Horse in the form of an eight-pointed rayed star overlaid with the CLH cypher betwixt the state imperial crown, and the unit motto ‘Defence not Defiance’. Maker’s mark of KPD. Impressed ‘Sterling Silver’.

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According to the Indian army List the CLH was raised in 1872 as the Calcutta Volunteer Lancers. The dates on the present dish indicate that the Calcutta Light Horse traced its lineage to the Calcutta Volunteer Guards Cavalry raised in 1857.  Thu unit was placed in reserve after the Boer War but nominally belonged to the Indian Army Cavalry Reserve. The unit gained notoriety in 1978 when details of a covert Second World War mission, Operation Creek (1943) were made public for the first time. Operation Creek was run by Special Operation’s Executive’s India Mission and utilised CLH and Calcutta Scottish personnel against the German merchant ship Ehrenfels in Mormugao harbour in Portuguese Goa. The Ehrenfels was transmitting information on Allied shipping to U-boats in the Indian Ocean but was protected by Portuguese neutrality. The Light Horse embarked on the barge Phoebe at Calcutta and sailed around India to Goa. After the Ehrenfels was sunk, British intelligence dispatched an open message over the air falsely warning that the British would invade Goa. The crews of the other two German merchant ships in the harbour, the Drachenfels and Braunfels, received the message and scuttled their ships in response. Italian ships in the harbour were also destroyed to deny capture. In 1951 all three German merchant ships were salvaged. As with Auxiliary Forces cavalry units at Indian Independence in 1947, the CLH members pooled regimental funds to mark disbandment to create a souvenir of their service. For the plantation owners, managers, tea merchants of the Assam Valley Light Horse it was a miniature silver rhino trophy; and for the Bihar Light Horse it was a miniature wild boar. For the CLH it was this simply designed dish.