Captain James Leith was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a fellow officer.
On 1st April 1858, Tantia Topi was routed by General Rose’s force in a fierce battle on the River Betwa. In order to cover his withdrawal over the river, Topi set the jungle on fire and crossed the river under the cover of the smoke. The 14th Light Dragoons were engaged on both flanks of the pursuit; Captain Arthur Need chased enemy in among some rocks and was set upon by a mob of angry Mahrattas who were hacking at him with their tulwars. His jacket, saddlery and reins were cut. He was completely isolated and in great danger of his life.
Captain James Leith, also of the 14th, charged single-handedly to his rescue, beating off the enemy attacking Captain Need. Leith’s citation for the Victoria Cross reads “For conspicuous bravery at Betwa…in having charged alone and rescued Captain Need of the same regiment when surrounded by a large number of rebel infantry.”
The 14th were involved in continuous fighting throughout that summer, in temperatures up to 54°C, and through the autumn monsoons; they played a major part in the final major battle of the Indian Mutiny, at Ranode.