122nd Rajputana Infantry (God's Own) (also known as 3rd Battalion The Rajputana Rifles) was one of the six regiments of the British Indian Army that were brought together to form six battalions of the 6th Rajputana Rifles Regiment. In 1945, this came to be known as the Rajputana Rifles after regiments of the British Indian Army dropped the numerals in their titles.
Background to raising of Army by the English in IndiaEdit
Historically, the Army in India composed of individuals who voluntarily undertook military service. It is only in recent times that categories and designations were created. The term `Army in India’ – though employed loosely from 1875 onwards – only became an officially recognised title after 1903. It was a term used to denote troops in India serving under the British Crown.
The Royal Farman to Captain BestEdit
On 31 December 1600, Queen Elizabeth granted a charter to the East India Company, which was named Governor and Company of Merchants. It was under the chairmanship of Lord Mayor of London. This was formed for the purpose of trading directly with India. On 11 January 1613, the Mughal Emperor's Firman to establish a factory at Surat was delivered to Captain Best, the Company's representative. This was the first official presence of the British in India, which ultimately led to the formation of the Bombay Presidency, and more. Identifying the initial stages of the armies is difficult. For a longtime they were intimately associated with the Presidencies (as opposed to being associated directly with the British Crown). It was imperative from the beginning to enroll guards for the protection of the several Company's factories. These guards consisted of small bodies of ill–disciplined Europeans and ill-equipped natives. The native mercenaries were normally referred to as peons (Today the term came to mean the corps of Chowkidars rather than the soldiers). The guards' purpose was to safeguard the walls of the factories and the valuable merchandise, and also to enhance, by their presence, the dignity of the Company's local officials. The first fortified English factory was founded in 1626 at Armagaon on the East Coast. In 1628, 12 pieces of cannon and 23 factory guards and soldiers defended it.
However, the British were not the first to build a force involving the natives. The French were the first Europeans to apply European military methods in India. According to the British contemporary accounts, in 1746 the French built four or five native Indian infantry companies and in 1755 they provided military training to ten thousand infantry serving the King of Travancore.
Bombay gifted to English as settlementEdit
The earliest force, which can be seriously regarded as the embryo of the Army in India, originated at Bombay. In 1662, the Island of Bombay became the property of King Charles II. It was ceded to settlement of his Queen, Catherine of Braganza. The garrison in Bombay consisted of a detachment of King's troops. It was subsequently augmented by a few Europeans of various nationalities collected locally. Humphrey Cooke, who commanded the Bombay Garrison, enlisted 40 Portuguese to strengthen it when Dutch threatened Bombay. Later, Frenchmen and "natives" were also recruited. The latter were Topasses. There is also a mention of 150 Deccanis (from Deccan) being recruited in 1667. This is the first mention of Indian troops. But to the impecunious King the maintenance of this property soon proved cumbersome. The cost was excessive; the resulting profits little. Moreover, the relations between Sir Gervase Lucas the Governor of the Island, and the Company representative at Surat became strained. The former, as an officer of the King, claimed precedence over the latter, the Company's President. The violent disputes compounded by the poor financial prospects from this property prompted King Charles to offer the island of Bombay to the Company.
Bombay rented to the East India CompanyEdit
Bombay was rented to The East India Company for ten pounds in gold and establishment of the Garrison. The company accepted the offer. The island was handed over on 27 March 1668 for a yearly rental of 10 pounds in gold and was placed under the jurisdiction of the Company's President. The President resided at Surat while a Deputy Governor was appointed for the garrison of Bombay. The Garrison of Bombay consisted of 2 gunners with their 21 pieces of Cannon, 5 officers, 139 non commissioned officers and men, and 54 Topasses after control had been assumed by the Company. All were Europeans except for 54 Topasses, who were half-castes claiming descent from the Portuguese and were so called from the form of the headgear they affected. As there were no troops at Surat, it is assumed that the small body of troops formed the nucleus of the Bombay Army. This was the origin of the Army in that certain increases were made in the Company's forces, notably in 1683 when the Bombay garrison was supplemented by the enrolment of two companies of Rajputs. Each Company consisted of 100 men, commanded by their own Rajput Officers. In 1675 orders were sent out to Surat, the seat of the Company's Government, that the Civil Servants were to apply themselves to acquiring a knowledge of military discipline so that if there was any sudden attack, or if they were found better qualified for military duties than for mercantile work, they might receive commission and have pay of military officers.
The Court of Directors of the English Company wrote in 1684, "We would have inhabitants modelled into trained bands under British or other officers’." (It was getting expensive getting recruits from England as it cost 30 pounds to the English Company.)
In the course of a hundred years, the Association of Merchant Adventures had succeeded in establishing their trade in India, under the protection of three chief fortified positions: the Island of Bombay, Fort St. George at Madras and Fort William at Calcutta. Around these three fortified positions Presidencies were established, and all English factories in India were placed under these Presidencies from 1708. Each Presidency was under a separate President, who was also Commander in Chief of the military forces. The nucleus of the Presidency Armies had thus been formed.
The Presidency Armies, which grew up as distinct entities, were in the early years a motley crowd. The Army was composed of Europeans recruited from England or collected locally, of half-cast Goanese Topasses and Indian Sepoys. The latter were mainly armed with their own native weapons, wore their own native dress and were commanded by their own native officers. Europeans were rough, ill–disciplined, illiterate, poorly paid and given to 'evil' practices. An observer, writing about 1711, bemoaned "Such diminutive, dwarfish, crooked recruits" who were coming from England. The Army in Bombay had touched its nadir in 1704. The new Governor, Sri Nicholas Waite, was stuck by the "raggedness of the soldiers, more like a banditti in the woods than military men paid for guarding the castle and Island." The pay of Bombay soldiers had been in arrears for four years; there was little discipline and the sepoys were a rabble. He tried improvements, issued red cloth for uniforms; repaired the defences, built a wall around Bombay and improved living quarters.
After various vicissitudes, during which the previous agencies of the Company had in turn attained and lost not only the dignity of the Presidency but also the precedence over its fellows, the three Presidencies had been definitely established. They were independent of each other, answerable only to the court of Directors at home and with full sovereign rights within their own spheres, including the organization and disposal of their military forces.
By 1741, the Bombay Army was progressing towards a higher establishment, besides some seven hundred (700) sepoys who appear to have been attending to the civil servants of the Company in the capacity of peons or chaprassis, there is record of the existence of a regular regiment (i.e. Battalion) in the garrison of the Castle. This Regiment was composed as under: –
- British Officers.
- Captain – 01
- Lieutenants – 09
- Ensigns – 15
- Surgeon – 01
- Warrant Officers and Non Commissioned Officers – 166
- Sergeant Majors – 02
- Sergeants – 82
- Corporals – 82
- Ranks and File – 1276
- Drummers – 26
- European Privates – 319
- Topasses and half – 931
- Followers – 27 (Servants)
In addition, there were two native pay masters, one interpreter and one armourer, who were probably civilians as no rank had been mentioned. This regiment consisted of seven companies.
In 1748, Major Shinger Lawrence; "The Father of the Indian Army," reached India and took up his appointment of Commander-in-Chief of all the Company's Forces in India. He took various steps to organize the Company's troops. European troops were organized into companies and promotion was fixed by seniority. A Judge Advocate was appointed for Court Martial, proper military training was imparted and free rations were sanctioned. He raised the first few companies of Indian soldiers, called ‘Native Sepoys’ trained and equipped in English style. Though drilled and trained in English style, the Native Sepoy however, lived, ate and cooked apart. These sepoys had their own officers called Subedars, though under overall control of English. The first batch of British Royal Troops, which arrived in India in August 1748, had Irish and Scottish troops who were "rebels, deserters and highwayman pardoned on condition of enlistment", with the army and service in India.
The year 1754 is remarkable for the arrival of the first Royal Troops in India since the time that the island of Bombay was garrisoned by Royal Troops before its cessation to the company. Amongst the reinforcement was 39th Foot (now the 1st Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment). Its arrival introduced a new element in the Army, which for more than 100 years after this date, was divided into King's troops, the Company's European Troops and the Company's Indian Troops.
Shortly before the Battle of Plassey Robert Clive reorganized the Indian Troops under his command, by forming them into regular Battalions with a small nucleus of British Officers. The establishment of first Battalion thus organized was nicknamed the Lal Pultan (translation: The Red Brigade")was as follows: –
- British Officers – 3
- Captain – 01
- Subalterns – 02
- British Non Commissioned Officers
- Sergeant Major – 01
- Sergeants – several
- Indian Officers
- Commandant – 01
- Adjutant – 01
- Subedars – 10
- Jemadars – 30
- Indian Rank and File
- Havildars – 50
- Naiks – 40
- Drummers – 20
- Buglers – 10
- Sepoys – 700
Bombay got its ‘Lal Pultan’ and its first Sepoy Companies in 1760. The battalion consisted of the unruly assortment of Arabs, Abyssinians, Hindus, and Muslims. They formed the auxiliary force in Bombay. The battalion was to stand behind the European Battalions. The ‘Lal Pultan’ was organized into independent Indian Companies.
In 1759, Major William Fraser, who was commanding the Bombay Force, recommended an establishment of 1500 sepoys, regulated, disciplined and paid in the same manner as they are upon the Coast (Madras) and in Bengal. The intention was to raise 12 Companies to provide for a force of 1000 men. Their recommendations were accepted on 30 October 1759. Red broad cloth was issued for their uniform, which had to conform to an approved pattern. The independent companies so formed were eventually converted into Native (Indian) Battalions in 1767.
In 1766 the Company introduced a complete set of orders regarding discipline for the use of Commanders, which constituted the first body of regulations ever published for the Marine Service. (Bombay Government Consultations, 10 March 1766).
As the power of the English grew in India, they came to rely more and more on Indian Officers and Sepoys of the Presidency Armies. It was difficult to afford to increase the forces from home, where all available troops were required to take part in main theatre of war and also it was extremely costly.
The years 1767 to 1798 saw the growth of British Power in India and even outside. Indian Sepoys went out of the Country. For the first time they went out of India to the Philippine Island (Manila) to join British Forces against Spain in 1762. They went to Somalia in (1779), Amboyna (1796), Ceylon (1795), Persia 1800 and Egypt (1801). It was at this time that in Bombay Army the European Regiment was divided into three weak battalions of 537 men each and an order was issued to form two Battalions of Sepoys of 1000 men each, with three European officers, and ten Sergeants for each battalion.
Corporal punishment without trial was prohibited in 1770. Officers of the Sepoy battalions were required to acquire knowledge of Hindustani. All promotions of Indian Officers was by seniority. An Indian doctor was attached to each Sepoy battalion.
In March 1771, a Controlling Military Committee was formed. The growing frustration and discontent of the Company's officers (especially the more junior) with their service conditions emerged. There were no regulations to secure the grant of pensions and retirement benefits for old Company officers. A worn out wounded or infirm officer had two options neither of them very promising: to remain in India and be banished from his native land or to return to his friends at home as an object of charity after 20 or 30 years of absence. They were not even granted the privilege of returning to Europe for a limited period during their term of service. If they proceeded home, they had to give up the service and their pay for the period of absence from India. On return they were kept at half pay and could re-enter the service when a vacancy occurred.
In August 1798, the Directors issued the new regulations for the service. Relative rank with the officers of the King, retiring pension for all officers, prohibition of private trade and following duties were laid down:
- The protection of trade.
- Suppression of piracy and duties as vessels of war.
- Conveying transport and carrying troops if necessary.
- The prosecution of maritime surveys in the East.
A Civilian Superintendent was appointed at the head of the service. Master Attendant, the Commodore and the two senior Captains assisted him.
The Bombay Presidency experienced a good deal of fighting. As the British were backing Raghunath Rao, they were drawn into the vortex of Maratha Politics, the military campaigns were terminated in Treaty of Salbai signed on 17 May 1782 and ratified by Nana Fadnavis on 26 February 1783. Shri Krishnaji Mugger, a Maratha Commandant, was highly praised for his " fortitude and zeal."
There were a few mutinies and disturbances too. Acrimony between King's Officers and the Companies Officer's kept growing. The latter felt slighted and belittled because they were placed lower than King's Officers, even though they were senior in service and rank. Officers, in the King's service in India were mainly those who had bought their commissions. Boys of nine years old held commissions, although they did not join their regiments till they were 14 to 15 years of age.
There were other grievances; there was no pension, there was no compensation for the sick or wounded. European Officers returning home had to resign their commissions. The life of European Officers in India, especially in the cantonments in the interior was very lonely. They lived in isolation with no daily newspaper or regular mail, and little feminine company. Living in isolation, miles away from their homes, they married Indian women or kept them as mistresses. Dressing like Nawabs with swords and scimitars, they took to ‘hookah’, Palki and the bottle. Arrack, a local drink, was popular and there was a common joke that only those ‘who were arrack proof within and sun proof without’ survived in India. Bullocks were used for transport. The Banjarahs, a nomadic tribe armed with swords and shields, were employed to provide transport. Camels and elephants were used to carry stores and equipment. There were a large number of followers, about ten to every soldier. There were regular bazaars following the troops. A subaltern had ten servants, a Captain twenty and a field officer thirty or more.
Lord Cornwallis, then in England, was asked on 1 September 1794 to suggest a reorganization of the armies, "with a view to give safety and permanence to our ‘Indian Empire’, and to prevent the continuance or revival of those discontents and jealousies which have so often manifested themselves between the Kings and Company's troops, as well as between the Company's troops belonging to the different Presidencies."
Lord Cornwallis submitted an elaborate plan in November 1794. Most of the recommendations were accepted, and the first reorganization of the Presidential Army started in May 1796 and was not completed till 1804. The reorganization brought about a number of benefits to the European Officers Class. Cavalry and Infantry officers were placed on separate lists for promotion. Infantry officers up to the rank of Major were put on a regimental list for promotion. Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels were clubbed together on lists for each Presidency, and an establishment of General Officers was instituted. Furlough regulations were introduced and pension rules framed. A Major General was appointed to command the Cavalry Brigade.
At about the same time a Military College was established at Baraset, 15 miles from Calcutta, to train young cadets 14 to 17 years of age. These cadets were sent out from England in groups and batches for the officer cadre of the cavalry and infantry units of the Companies' Armies. As they landed at Calcutta, the Town Major took their charge. The Town Major put them in palkis and sent them to Baraset. Cadet Flouts life at the college was a riotous pandemonium including drinking, dueling, smoking, gambling and amours with scarlet women. Many criminal cases were filed involving gentlemen cadets with the Calcutta Supreme Court. In 1808, the Directors placed the Cadets under martial law. But the rot was too deep to cure and authorities were forced to close the college and terminate the experiment of training young English officers in India.
The changes introduced in the Sepoy Battalions through the reorganization were of a far–reaching character. The strength of Indian troops was reduced. But more important was the pronounced increase in the number of British officers in each infantry Battalion from 12 to 22. This meant shrinkage in the dignity and authority of Indian Army Officers who had now many more British officers to contend with. Subedars and Jamedars, who already occupied subservient positions, found themselves pushed further downwards.
Monthly muster rolls and "pay abstract" were directed to be prepared. Men were enlisted for three years under a declaration, after that, they could obtain discharge on two months notice. An oath of fidelity was administered to each recruit in the presence of the ‘Regimental Colours’.
The regimental system was introduced, by combining two battalions into a single regiment. Each regiment was placed under the Colonel Commandant and each battalion under a Lieutenant Colonel. In the presence of the Colonel Commandants of Regiments, the Battalion Commanders discovered that their powers had been clipped, and this had some deleterious effect on the discipline and morale of the battalions. Further more, the battalions that were grouped together into Regiments were strangers to each other; the Regiment was not homogeneous.
The battalions of Indian Infantry of the Bombay Presidency Army were regrouped into four Regiments of two Battalions each. Soon thereafter the 5th and 6th Regiments were also raised and a Marine Battalion was extra. In 1804, an order was published debarring officers from becoming Adjutants of Indian Regiments unless they understood Hindustani, " sufficiently well to be able to explain orders to the men in that language."
Lord Wellesley, Governor General sent an expeditionary force to Egypt in February 1801 to cooperate with British Army. The Expeditionary Force under Major General Barid included large number of sepoys from Bombay Army. Mr. Wilson, the historian of the campaign, wrote, "The Army attracted much surprise and admiration. Never were finer men seen than those which composed this force and no soldiers could possibly be in higher order."
The Presidency Armies had grown in stature. Over the years, they had developed individuality, form and character. They were the striking arms of the company and provided disciplined and well-trained forces, which could "march and manoeuvre in solid formations" and are capable of concentrating fire and using well served guns.
Uniform and equipment of the British line was copied without much consideration for climatic suitability. Officers were dressed in scarlet jackets with white collars and cuffs, silver cords and silver chain epaulettes; regimental facings, white pants, half boots and round black hats with regimental feathers. Sepoys wore red coats, white cross belts, knee breeches and a pagri; knee breaches gave place to white shorts below which were bare feet in sandals.
In 1819, the rank of Subedar Major was introduced.
Rifle dress and customsEdit
During the eighteenth century the advent of the rifle, with its greater accuracy and longer range, suggested the necessity of a change in the tactics and training of the Infantry. Continental armies had not been slow to recognize this and had trained a special light corps. The British Army hesitated to recommend adequate action in this respect, and Governments were content, when the field was to be taken, to hire Hanoverian or Hessian mercenaries to carry out the duties of Skirmishers.
It was the custom, when sending a force on field service, to collect the "Flank Companies" (i.e. Grenadier or Light Companies) from several Battalions to form "Flank Battalions", which provided fine bodies of troops, but without special training in Light Infantry Duties. Furthermore, the procedure, though favoured by the Generals, was very unpopular with the Battalion Commanders whose units were thereby reduced, not only in strength, but also in efficiency.
It needed the experience of the American War of Independence to drive home the necessity for specially trained light troops. The Americans were quick to realize that irregular and open formations were the best tactics for fighting over a wild and sparsely populated country, much of which was wooded. A large proportion of their men were marksmen armed with rifles which enabled them to pick off officers and sergeants. To counter the American tactics, light companies, many of them armed with rifles, were specially trained in all battalions on service there.
It was gradually realized that firepower was of major importance; and one of the first orders issued after the return of the troops from the American War was to speed up the "Manual Exercise". To provide for the increased expenditure of ammunition entailed by this, orders were issued for men armed with the rifle to wear a belt over the left shoulder to provide a second pouch for cartridges. Thus originated the "pouch belt" now worn by officers in review order.
Training in irregular tactics met with fierce opposition, particularly from the senior officers and from those who had not served in the American War; and it was not until 1797 that the 5th Battalion 60th Royal American Regiment (not the 60th Rifles) was organized as the first rifle corps in the British Army. One of the staunchest advocates of the new training was General Sir John Moore, who had served in America as a Colonel. In 1803 at Shorncliff Camp he trained the Battalions which won such fame in the Peninsular War as the "Light Division".
The Riflemen, like the Light Infantryman, was trained to skirmish; and also to carry out those rapid movements which, in the Cavalry, would have been the role of the Hussars. For this reason Officers of the Rifle Corps were, in the early days, dressed in a uniform modelled on that of the Hussars. It still retained the "Cap Lines", the globular buttons, the Straight Spurs in Mess Dress and the Charger's "Throat Plume". For the same reason Rifle Regiments march in faster than the Infantry of the Line.
So as to render the men inconspicuous when taking advantage of cover, the red coat was discarded in favour of a green one, green being the recognized uniform of foresters throughout Europe in those days.
As orders could not be given verbally to men in extended order, the forester's bugle horn was adopted to control movements. A puggri badge lay on the pouch of the pouch–belt. The reason for the introduction on the pouch-belt of the Maltese Cross; it is probably of Hanoverian origin.
To enable the sergeants to control their divisions, they wore a whistle and chain, which at one time was the only mark to distinguish them from the Rank and File. This is commemorated by the silver whistle and chain worn in Review Order by the Havaldars.
The Green Coat remained the Field Service Dress till about the middle of the nineteenth century. It was in green that Riflemen fought at the Siege of Multan in 1949. Later when green was superseded by Khaki for field service, and the shako by the puggri, green gaiters, or puttees, and green puggris were worn as a distinguishing mark, but now are worn only in review Order. The distinctive green colour has now been replaced by the adoption of green hosetops in Drill and Field Service Order.
In the early days, the Rifleman, besides his rifle, carried a sword which, like a bayonet, could be fixed to the rifle. In the days of close-order fighting, the flanks, being the danger-points, were guarded by picked troops and were regarded as the posts of honour. So in the Battalions, the Grenadier and Light Companies, composed of picked men, fell in on the flanks of the Battalion and were known as the "Flank Companies". It is for this reason that Rifle Regiments on Review Parades are accorded the honour of falling in on the extreme left of the line.
When fighting in extended order the Regimental Colour became exposed and were therefore discarded, the Rifleman being taught that his rifle took the place of Colours to be guarded with his life. This is why recruits, when taking the oath on attestation, lay their hand on and salute piled rifles.
Throughout his training the Rifleman was taught to live up to the Rifle motto "Celer et Audax" and always to be on the alert. For this reason the order "Attention" was deemed superfluous.
The Birth of The Regiment The story of raising of 3rd Battalion the Rajputana Rifles goes back to the year 1817. The Britishers by their treaty with the Gaikwads of Baroda, undertook to protect him and he in turn agreed to maintain at his own expense a subsidiary force of four Battalions, approximately 4000 men commanded by British Officers. At the time of Second Maratha War the general outlook was gloomy, Pindaries were ravaging Central India and turning the country into a desert. The Peshwa had connived at the murder of the Gaikwad's envoy. This murder resulted in the Second Maratha War.
The 2nd Battalion the 11th Regiment Bombay Native Infantry, was raised at Bombay. The arrangement consequent on the formation of the Corps were in General Orders of 22 January 1818, and the augmentation was dated to 1 January to commemorate the memorable defence, on that day, of the village Koregaon by the 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment, Bombay Native Infantry (Present 1st Battalion the GRENADIERS) against the Peshwas Army.
The Old Marine Battalion was made the 1st Battalion 11th Regiment Bombay Native Infantry, when the second was ordered to be formed. At the same time the strength of the existing infantry Battalions was to be reduced from 1000 to 800, in uniformity with the practices followed in the Madras Army, and the surplus men were to be used to form drafts for the new battalions. The General Orders of 22 January must be quoted in full.
The General Order for augmentation stated :
"The 11th Regiment will be formed from all the Native Corps of the line that may muster above the present establishment of 800 privates as each prescribed by General Order 29th ultimo, Cavalry, Marine Battalion will furnish 1 Filler for the new Regiment.
As it is intended to complete the Regiment with commissioned and Non-Commissioned officers from the above detail, His Excellency the Commander-in-chief relies on Commanding Officers of the Corps selecting only such men as are deserving of promotion, perfectly acquainted with the regulated system of discipline, intelligent, active, smart and exceptionable soldiers.
Drafts from the 1st Regiment, 7th Regiment and details from Marine Battalion to be assembled at Bombay to from the 2nd Battalion of the 11th Regiment. Correct Register Rolls of the drafts for the 11th Regiment to be transmitted with the men to the Corps to which they stand appointed. The Drafts for the 11th Regiment to join with their arms and accruement complete.
His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief trusts that augmentation which has so very materially benefited the Army will excite the cheerful support and attention of Commanding Officer, in obtaining men the best adapted for this new branch of service.
It was ordered that the uniform of the new Regiment should be "dark green facings, gold epaulets and yellow buttons".
In accordance with the practice of the time, each Battalion consisted of ten companies. Two of these, the Grenadier Company and the Light Companies, paraded on the right and left of the line respectively. In action, the Light Company preceded the advance as skirmishers, while the Grenadier Company led the Battalion into an attack. These companies were composed of the smartest officers and men, specially selected for the purpose from the remaining companies of the Battalion.
Colonel J. Cunningham, from Poona Horse, got about licking into shape the heterogeneous collection of drafts from other battalions which were destined to form his new command. The Regiment was chiefly recruited from Konkan. It received Draft from 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment, 1st Battalion 17th Regiment and the Marine Battalion about 60 men from each Corps, including commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The Commander in Chief desired that ‘only intelligent, smart and exceptional soldiers should be sent’, appears to have been politely ignored. No doubt the Commanding Officers of other battalions hailed the opportunity as an excellent one for getting rid of some of the black sheep. Scarcely a day passed when someone was not punished for slackness. Lashing was a common punishment.
The Corps was reviewed for the first time by the Commander in Chief on 5 November 1818 and was complimented in the General Orders on the Progress it had made in discipline. On 8 December 1818, the
Conquest of Sind (1 December 1938 to 3 March)Edit
The Talpere Mirs were a confederacy of Baluchi Chiefs, each ruling his portion of the country independently. These Mirs were brave and chivalrous. Themselves alien in Vader's, who had only in 1783 seized the reins of the government by force. The Mirs showed little mercy to the vast population over whom they ruled. The countryside had vast shikargarhs, or pastures where big game hunting was common and the Hindus had been subjected to every kind of indignity to convert them.
The government of Mirs was feudal in character and land was given in jagir to the Chiefs, each of whom in return was bound to furnish a quota of troops. Most of the soldiers so mustered were either armed with the talwar or the long matchlock or jizail. They were excellent marksmen and horsemen and the finest swordsmen in the world and were brave to a fault but lacking in discipline and cohesion.
In 1831, Lieutenant Alexander Burnes (Later Sir) obtained permission to ascend to India, on the pretext of presenting to Maharaja Ranjit Singh a present of horse from the king of England. The Brunes made a treaty with the Mirs of Kharipur, allowing the company to use the Indies for trade, but not for military purpose.
Lord Auckland, four years later, demanded permission for the passage of troops through Sindh and for the transportation of military stores up the river. These demands, constituting as they did a threat to their independence, at once aroused the suspicion of the Mirs. The Governor General, apprehensive of the advance of Russia in Central Asia, executed the famous "Tripartite Treaty " with Maharaja Ranjit Singh the ruler of Punjab and Shan Shauja, the Amir of Afghanistan, with the object of the reestablishment of Shah Shauja on the throne of Kabul. For this purpose the Army of Indies was mobilized and it was arranged for the Bombay Contingent to join the Bengal counterparts at Quetta. At the same time the 1832 agreement with Mirs of Sindhu was suspended and Shikarpur, Bukkar and other strategic point were occupied.
In October 1838, with war having broken out with Afghanistan, the Army of Indies was despatched to march through Sindh upon Kandahar and Kabul. Negotiations were meanwhile entered into with the Amirs of the Sindh, to allow the free passage of British their territory. The Amirs, however, envinced great unwillingness to enter into any agreement and began to collect their troops for the defence of Hyderabad. Instructions were received from the Army Headquarters, for the Regiment to move to Bombay. The Regiment marched on 12 December 1838 from Belgaum under Major Cracklow to Poona and eventually to Bombay.
On 24 December at Toosasowlay, near Satara, a letter was received at the Regiment from the Quarter Master General of the Army intimating that the 22nd Regiment N.I. had been selected for field service and would form part of the Sindh Reserve Force and requested all practicable despatch might be used in reaching Bombay.
The Regiment arrived at Poona on 31 December 1838. On 2 January 1839, the Regiment resumed marching to the Presidency (Bombay) where it arrived on 7 January, have embarked in boats at Panevell. On 15 January 1839 the Regiment embarked on the Honourable East India Company's Streamers. "Semiramis" and Brigadier "Tapter" with the Battala "Pera Dowhutt" containing the Camp Equipment, Mess Stores, tents, servants etc. The Regiment arrived at Hajauri, at the month of the River Indies. The Regiment was transhipped into small boats on their journey to Bominakot opposite Kikkur on the Eastern Bank of the River Indies. The Regiment reached Bominakot on 20 January 1839.
On the same day the British Envoys, Captain Outram and Lieutenant Eastwick, had arrived at Hyderabad to obtain as answer to the demands of the British. Two days later the envoys were admitted to an audience with the Amirs. But the reception was very ambiguous, and the attitude of Baluchi troops so hostile, the envoys made their escape at night in a steamer sent down the Indies.
Trooping on those days was not a comfortable affair. On this occasion the Battalion had to move on native boats. The vessels were small and were densely packed. Cholera was common.
On 29 January 1839, under orders of from the Headquarters of Corps de Armes, the Headquarters and rightwing of the 22nd left for Tatta. While the rightwing was on the march a letter was received from the Assistant to the Resident of Sindh, intimating the probability of an immediate attack on the Mint and the Government Stores at Tatta by Sher Mahomed, the "Lion of Rirpul", and requesting that all possible despatch night be made.
The wing only halted for a few hours at a village called Murrurdami, and by 6 pm was again in motion arriving at Tatta at 6.15 am on 30 January. Raising accomplished a march 25 miles 5 and half furlongs (41.1 km) during the night after the wing had marched for 12 miles 3 furlongs (20 km) during the previous morning. Camp was pitched up to the East of the City, in the immediate vicinity of the Mint and English Factory. Sher Mohamed, the ‘Lion of Manipr’ on learning of the arrival of the troops withdrew his force.
The Indian War of Independence (1857–58)Edit
The first Indian war of Independence, referred to as ‘The Mutiny’ by the British, as told by Sri John Lawrence, was caused by the Cartridge affair. But this is a very shallow reading of the situation. Lord-Dalhousie's forward policy had gone too fast for conservative India; by the ruthless application of the doctrine of lapse (that is, the refusal to all adoption in the case of the failure of natural heirs to an India ruler) he had rendered the Indian process intensely sullen and suspicious. As a climax to this came the annexation of Oudh.
When the war started, Bombay had Lord Eliphinstone as its Governor, whose energy, courage and resources were largely instrumental in saving the British Empire in the crisis. The hand of Dalhousie had fallen heavily upon the Marathas, and in addition to this, the ‘Inam Commission’ (An Inam was a rent free tenure of Land) which had lately made an exhaustive survey of the title deeds of all land owners in Deccan and confiscated 20,000 estates, had caused widespread consternation. The Southern Marath Country was seething with discontent. At the end of 27 July, the native Infantry revolted at Kolhapur. Belgaum and Dharwar were only saved by owing to the pluck of a police officer named Forjett.
The 22nd was at the beginning of 1857 located at Malegaon. The light company of the Regiment was at the time on a field service in Persia having joined the expeditionary force, under General Sri James Outranis, where it formed the front line of the Light Battalion under the command of Le Grand Jacobe.
Lieutenant Alexander had proceeded to Persia with the Pune Horse along with mounted troops. The Battalion was ordered to march to Satara on 6 March 1857.
The Battalion left Melegaon on the 6th and arrived at Satara on 30 March 1857. One of the detachments of the Battalion which was located at Dhulia joined the Regiment at Kopergaon on 11 March 1857. The Regiment was reviewed on 13 and 14 April 1857 by Major General Schuler, commanding the Pune Division.
The Light Company under the command of Lieutenant Hodgson at this time rejoined the Regiment from field service at Persia on 11 June 1857.
Meanwhile, the situation in India had become serious. Some weeks earlier the smoldering disaffection of the Bengal Sepoys had blazed into open revolt at Barrackpore and Bahrampur. All through March and April the tokens of coming 'evil' had grown more life. Night after night fresh fires, whose origin remained a mystery, broke out in the wide Ambala Cantonment, and men who handled the new Enfield Cartridges were exposed to the jeers and insults of their less loyal comrades. Early in April Lord Elphinstone had seen outram in urgent request for every European soldier with all possible haste to Bombay and Calcutta (Trotter).
Outram had already brought the revolting spirit of the Bengali Army to the notice of the Government, and in a report written on 27 April the called attention to the faulty system of its organisation, so different from that of Bombay, where such insubordination is scarcely possible; for with us the immediate tie between the European officers and the men i.e., the Native officer, is a loyal and deficient body, selected for their superior ability, and gratefully attached to their Officers in consequence. Their superior ability naturally exercises a wholesome influences over the men; among whom no muninuous spirit could be engendered without their knowledge, and the execution of their influence to contract it; whereas the seniority system of Bengal Army supplies neither able nor influentrative officers Old imbeciles merely, possessing no control over the men, and owing no gratitude to officers, or to the Government, for a position which is merely the result of the seniority in the services.
The issue proved correctness of his forecast; for when the whole Bengal Army withdrew its allegiance, and the fate of the British Raj seemed to be trembling in the balance, the Bombay Regiments, with scarce a single exception the 27th Native Infantry, remained true; and no Regiment had better opportunity of proving its loyalty then had the 22nd Native Infantry.
Satara, where the Regiment was then stationed, is the old capital of the Marath Kingdom, and the Raja Pratap Singh, had but lately been deposed. Agents from the courts at Delhi had come to Satara, holding out to him prospects of renewed independence if he would throw in his lot with the court of Delhi. The ex Raja, influenced by his ranis, had lent a willing ear to their schemes, and a plan was formed for a General rising at Satara, that was to revive the Empire of Shivaji; but the cooperation of the Native garrison was essential for the success of the plan. One of them accordingly entered the Regimental lines on 12 June 1857. Mana Singh had the intention of asking the 22nd to join the revolt, however he was entirely unsuccessful in his mission of creating disaffection among the men. Mana Singh was immediately arrested by Subedar Mathura Prasad and Sepoy Ganga Bari and handed over to the civil power, by whom he was tried, found guilty, and hanged on 20 June 1857.
Prompt action thereafter was taken by the 22nd to secure the capture of the ring leaders of the conspiracy and the plot, which was to have been the signal for General uprising in the Deccan.
In the Bombay Army, the social organization of the sepoys was different from other Presidencies. Based in the western areas of India that had been dominated in the very recent past by the hostile Maratha Military, the Bombay Army was initially unable to recruit soldiers locally because of the continued hostility of the Maratha population. Recruitments into the Bombay Army came from the large military populations of the Punjab, Oudh, and Rajputana. Because of this and possibly because of the example of the relatively egalitarian Maratha military, in the eighteenth century the Bombay Army included ‘all classes and castes down to the most humble’ including Jews and Mahars.
Third Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles, post-independenceEdit
The Battalion after a campaign in Burma in World War II had established its reputation as a first class battle worthy unit. Having undertaken the task of restoring peace and order in war-torn Burma, wherein Naik Bhagwan Ram was awarded the British Empire Medal, the Battalion continued to stay in Burma till 1947. The Battalion in 1947 thus flushed with success was in high spirit, having fought many a battle and was attaining many a victory. As such, the Battalion could proudly claim some of the glorious pages in the annals of the Rajputana Rifles Regiment. In December 1946, Lieutenant Colonel Sanwal Khan took over command of the Battalion and left in March 1847 for Pakistan.
The Battalion on return to India in May 1947 was located at Muzaffarpur (Bihar). It was deployed on internal security duties as the situation in the country was unsettled due to partition.
As a result of the partition of the country, the Punjabi Mussalman Company went to Pakistan in September 1947 and a Rajput Company from 1st Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment joined the Battalion. This company was, however, sent to the 2nd Battalion, the Rajputana Rifles and was replaced by a company of Hindustani Mussalmans from the 14th Battalion, the Rajput Regiment in February 1948. The first Indian Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Sanwal Khan, also left for Pakistan. On 17 December 1947 Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Inwood left the battalion and was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel Gain Chand.
Mahatma Gandhi fell to an assassin's bullet on 30 January 1948 at New Delhi. The ashes of Mahatama were immersed and spread at various parts of the country. The ashes were also immersed in the Ganges at Patna. 3rd Battalion, The Rajputana rifles was tasked to perform the duties of Guard of Honour. The Battalion at that time was deeply involved in internal security duties. However, the battalion immediately took on the task and a company under Captain Shyam Singh (Later Lieutenant Colonel and also Commanding Officer of the battalion) was moved from Muzaffarabad to Patna. The Guard of Honour was presented at Patna Ghats during the immersion ceremony of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi in the Ganges.
On 10 April 1948 the Battalion joined the 162nd Infantry Brigade under Brigadier P.N. Kirpal (Ex. 5th Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles) at Ramgarh. The stay at Ramgarh was short. During the period the battalion was busy consolidating. The battalion during the preceding year had lost its own company to Pakistan. It also saw the coming in of two new companies. On 25 July 1948 the Battalion moved to Ferozepur. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, visited Ferozepur on 17 September 1949. Lieutenant Colonel Gain Chand, Commanding Officer, received the Prime Minister and an investiture ceremony was held. The Prime Minister decorated personnel of the Battalion for their acts of gallantry during World War II:
Subedar Kesri Singh – Military Cross Havildar Chunni Lal – Military Medal Naik Bhgwan Ram – British Empire Medal Avider Kishan Singh – Military Medal
In 1951 the Battalion moved to Damana and in 1954 it was deployed in the Lebong and Darjeeling areas. In July 1956 the Battalion was moved to Mokokchung to quell an insurgency by the Nagas. On reaching Jorhat on orders from General Officer Commanding, Assam, A and B companies were sent to protect the Line of Communication from Dimapur to Kohima. The Battalion, less A and B companies, reached Kohima on 30 June coming temporarily under the command of Headquarters, 181st Infantry Brigade. During "Operation Raji" the Battalion captured large quantities of arms from the Nagas. The major achievement in the operation was the successful execution of the task without a single casualty.
On 13 March 1958, the Battalion moved to Santa Cruz, Bombay, after heavy fighting in Nagaland. The Battalion deployed for unloading ships, escort duties and protection of various military installations when the labour of Bombay Dock went on strike.
Jammu and KashmirEdit
On 3 April 1960 the Battalion left Bombay to again join the 162nd Infantry Brigade (at Andrian Rakh) in Jammu and Kashmir. The invasion by China in 1962 saw the Battalion placed as a reserve. The troops on the Western Front also were alerted to be more vigilant as there was apprehension that Pakistan may take advantage of the aggression on the Eastern Front and in Ladakh. But no such eventuality arose for any action, as the army on the Western Front remained calm.
In July 1963 the battalion moved to Poonch where it took over forward defence of localities/pickets on the Line of Control. The Battalion carried out vigorous patrolling to prevent infiltration, smuggling and cattle lifting. In 1963 the Battalion, took active part in provisioning and restoring of drinking water and electricity in the town of Poonch. Both water and hydro electricity was provided by channel from Betar N. The headwork of the channel was located in the area occupied by Pakistan. In October 1963 Pakistan ignoring the Indus Water Agreement between India and Pakistan blew the headworks, thus cutting off water supply to Poonch Town. When all peaceful methods of making Pakistan release water failed, the battalion was assigned the task of preparing a new water head on the Indian side of Line of Control to restore electricity and water supply. A task force consisting of 3rd Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles, one company of 1st Battalion, The 1st Gurkha Rifles with a Battery of Field Artillery commanded by Lieutenant Colonel B.D. Bhanot, Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles, one company of 1st Battalion, The 1st Gorkha Rifles with a Battery of Field Artillery commanded by Lieutenant Colonel BD Bhanot, Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion the Rajputana Rifles was formed. The Battalion started the task at 0600 hours and brought the much-needed water by 1600 hours. In some parts, electricity was also restored on the same evening but complete water supply and electricity were restored only by 21 November 1963. On 22 November 1963 an ill-fated helicopter crashed in the River Poonch near Gulpur in which Lieutenant General Daulat Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, General Officer Commanding Corps, Major General P Nanavati, General Officer Command 25 Infantry Division, Air Vice Marshal H.W. Pinto, Air Officer Commanding, Western Command, Brigadier S.R. Oberoi, MC, Commander 93 Infantry Brigade and Flight Lieutenant Sondhi of the Indian Air Force were killed. Officers and men from the Battalion were the first to arrive at the site and took active part in rescuing and dispatching the bodies to Ambala and Delhi. In 1965 Pakistan commenced infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir immediately after the operations in Rann of Kutch under the code name of "Operation Gibraltar". On 18 May 1965, a forward defended locality of A Company was attacked with 81 mm rockets, one of latest rockets from USA, in which one Rifleman of the Battalion was wounded.
In July 1965 Subedar Yakub Khan of the Pakistani Army, who had been trained at Fort Benning, USA in Commando operations, along with two other commandos infiltrated across the Betar Nala. By-passing the police check post on the road, they reached the Battalion Officers Mess, which was then located at the old Residency. Subedar Yakub Khan lobbed a grenade through a window of the officers' mess. However, the officers had just finished their dinner barely a couple of minutes before the attack was launched. Lieutenant Jaimal Singh Sangwan challenged the intruders and during the gunfire two members of the Pakistan commando team were killed and Subedar Yakub Khan was seriously wounded. He was later killed when he tried to grapple with Lieutenant Jaimal Singh Sangwan. The bodies of the intruders were later handed over to the Pakistani Army.
The advance party of the Battalion under Major K.P. Singh, Second-in-Command, left for Jaipur in July 1965, but the remainder of the Battalion was committed on Line of Control duties. The command changed hands and Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Singh took over from Lieutenant Colonel N.J.A. Hodgson.
Indo-Pak War 1965Edit
The under mentioned officers were borne on the strength of the Battalion at the commencement of the hostilities:
Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Singh – Commanding Officer Major K.P. Singh – Second-in-Command Major G.D. D’Souza – Company Commander Major B.B. Sehgal – Company Commander Major R.K. Sen – Company Commander Major J.C. Kholi – Company Commander Major J.S. Sangwan – Company Commander Major R.B. Khurana – Company Commander Captain Sansar Chand – Quarter Master Captain J.S. Bedi – Adjutant Captain J.N. Chopra – MMG Platoon Commander Second Lieutenant M.L. Mittal – Signal Platoon Commander Second Lieutenant O.P. Balhara – Company Officer Second Lieutenant K.B. Sharma – Mortar Platoon Commander Second Lieutenant S.A. Khan – MT Officer Second Lieutenant Y.V.K. Reddy – Intelligence Officer Second Lieutenant R.B. Singh – Company Officer Second Lieutenant Ravinder Singh – Company Officer Second Lieutenant Y.N. Khann – Company Officer
After hostilities broke out with Pakistan, the Battalion was ordered to capture Thund. On 24 August 1965 an ad hoc company under Captain Bhupendra Singh with Subedar Jai Singh and his Second-in-Command were collected near the police check post by 1900 hours and were allotted some artillery support. A company of 9th Battalion, The Grenadiers Regiment was also made available to support the attack. This company however, reached the assembly area at 2200 hours on 24 August 1965. In a silent attack the adhoc company under Second Lieutenant OP Balhara moved from the assembly area at 0200 hours. As soon as the company crossed the Nala near the police checkpost it started raining heavily. The Nala got flooded and the movement over the slopes to the objective became extremely difficult. Due to heavy rain the enemy had also vacated their positions and taken shelter in an adjoining village. Second Lieutenant O.P. Balhara reached the objective by 0600 hours on 25 August 1965 and captured it without firing a single round. He then organized the defences and laid anti-personnel mines and barbed wire on the likely enemy approaches. When the fog lifted about mid-day on 25 August and the enemy started back from the village to re-occupy its positions own troops opened fire. The enemy started heavy shelling and attacked the feature three times in twenty-four hours. However, the adhoc company held on to its position and the company came under intensive artillery and machine gun fire from the "Raja", "Nangi Tekri" and "Pritam" Picquets. The enemy attacked the company at 1600 hours from the East in three waves: First wave, consisting of assault troops with weapons, Second wave of helpers carrying ammunition and would take up the weapon of the casualties of the first wave, and the Third wave assaulting force. On being attacked from the East, Second Lieutenant O.P. Balhara readjusted his position and redeployed his troops and machine guns. The moment fire was opened on the advancing enemy troops, the enemy's artillery opened fire and enemy troops started creeping towards own defences, under its cover. Second Lieutenant O.P. Balhara called for artillery fire and the first shell landed on the "Battle Cry Group" in depth and the group just disappeared. The enemy's first wave however, continued the advance but was beaten back due to accurate fire from its own troops.
The enemy again attacked "Thund" on 26 August 1965 at 1000 hours from the north. The enemy adopted the same methods as in previous occasion but this time they tried to surround the company. While the enemy attack was in progress Captain J.N. Kohli moved to the company position with the signal detachment and established communication between the company and Battalion Headquarters. The company of 9th Battalion, The Grenadiers Regiment, which had dug in on the lower slopes, moved up to the adhoc company position while the rest of the company personnel of 9th Battalion, The Grenadiers Regiment were utilized to carry ammunition. The enemy made three more attempts to dislodge the company, but failed to do so.
The last attempt to recapture "Thund" by the enemy was made on 27 August 1965, from the north and east. The company came under intense shelling and the enemy was about to penetrate the defences when Subedar Jai Singh spotted the enemy commander directing the operations from behind cover. He rolled a grenade down the slope where the enemy commander was taking shelter. The grenade burst, killing the enemy commander. This caused panic and the enemy troops started running in all directions. On their way down, they dragged the body of their commander with them but left behind a large number of dead and wounded along the slopes. In these attacks the enemy suffered 148 dead and wounded including their commanding officer. Our company suffered three killed and seven wounded. Lieutenant O.P. Balhara, Subedar Jai Singh and two other ranks were recommended for gallantry awards.
On 28 August 1965, at 1600 hours Major Megh Singh, 3rd Battalion, The Brigade of Guards (1st Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles) reported to the Battalion to organize special groups, later known to be as the ‘Meghdoot Force’, to check infiltration from across the border. A group was organized from the Battalion under Second Lieutenant Mohinder Singh with Subedar Hamid Khan and 30 other ranks to carry out aggressive patrolling and ambushes to check infiltration. They carried out several tasks across the Line of Control. The patrols achieved great success in reducing rails from across the border. Second Lieutenant Mohinder Singh and Second Lieutenant Dubey had personally accompanied several patrols and deployed the men to meet various critical situations. During the ops, Major Megh Singh was awarded the Vir Chakra. This force became the neclues from which 9 PARA Commando was raised the unit also provided the first Subedar Major the 9 PARA Commando, and large number of other ranks.
The Battalion was part of the 93rd Infantry Brigade, which had been given the task to capture "RAJA" and "RANI". The Battalion was in reserve while its two companies were to hold firm base and provide a secure forming up place (FUP) for the two Battalions Regiment and 2nd Battalion, The Sikh Regiment at 0200 hours but both the Battalion failed to capture their objectives and were then withdrawn. After some deliberations it was decided to again launch an attack on 5 September 1965. Once again the Battalions were assigned the same task, which was given earlier.
There was no change in brigade plan except 2nd Battalion, The Sikh Regiment was given the "RAJA" picquet and 3rd Battalion the Dogra Regiment "RANI" features as their objectives. RCL guns were taken forward to soften up the defences of "RAJA" and "RANI" picquets as 3.5 inch Rocket Launchers did not seem to have any impact on the defences. Captain Kalam Singh of the Battalion manpacked the 106mm RCL and carried them forward on mules, along a narrow track in the hilly terrain. One of the RCL guns sights got damaged. He deployed these RCL guns ahead of the Brigade Forming Up Place, silencing several enemy machine gun posts. The Brigade objectives "RAJA" and "RANI" were captured after a very stiff fight but the two assaulting Battalions suffered heavy casualties. The battalion had to capture one of the most dominating features in the area. Second Lieutenant Mohinder Singh led the platoon stealthily and reached the objective. After a stiff resistance the enemy withdrew leaving two dead and one wounded. The next morning at 0700 hours, the company commander, Major Megh Singh, attacked Aridhok with a coy less a platoon of ‘D’ Company without any fire support in broad daylight. Choosing the most difficult approach, Second Lieutenant Mohinder Singh and his platoon completely surprised the enemy. For this gallant action Lance Naik Abdul Rehman was awarded the Sena Medal. The Regimental Medical officers of the tree Battalions were moved forward to ‘C’ Company position to treat the casualties. Subedar Major Hoshiar Singh, SM, organized the evacuation of the casualties to the Advance Dressing Station established at Poonch and the Light Hospital established at Surankot with the help of the 300 villagers. Mention must be made to Mrs. Maini (mother of Lieutenant Colonel S.D. Maini, Ex. Commanding Officer of the Battalion); she organised and mustered civilians of their help.
B and C Companies under command of the Battalion were then launched, in Phase 2 of the Brigade attack. The companies captured their objectives after a stiff fight. The Battalion again took over positions on the Line of Control on 10 September 1965. While the Battalion was deployed for attack on the "RAJA" and "RANI" picquets, the enemy had occupied the "Hanuman" picquet and was using it to harass our movement along the Poonch-Uri road. Captain Bhupender Singh was directed to clear the surrounded picquet from three sides on the night of 12/13 September, but the enemy withdrew post haste. he picquet was handed over to 7th Battalion, The Sikh Regiment on 14 September and one platoon reoccupied its post west of Betar Nala.
93rd Infantry Brigade planned an attack on the eastern slopes of the "Pritam" picquets dominating the Uri-Poonch road. The plan of attack was to capture the lower slopes of "Pritam" in two phases. 3rd Battalion, The 11 Gorkha Rifles and 7th Battalion, The Sikh Regiment was to capture the lower slopes of Pritam and the Battalion was to exploit the area towards Pritam with B and C companies.
7th Battalion, The Sikh Regiment moved as per schedule and came under heavy fire from Pakistani positions along the slope. 3rd Battalion, The 11 Gorkha Rifles could not cross the Betar Nala, which was overflowing and too deep for the Gorkha to cross. 7th Battalion, The Sikh Regiment had very heavy casualties in this attack as their movements were observed by the enemy on the lower slopes and the Pakistanis defended the locality of the "Pritam" feature during broad daylight. All operations ceased on 17 September and Major D’Souza with two companies returned to the Battalion.
The Battalion was relieved by 7th Battalion, The Madras Regiment from its positions along the Line of Control from Gutraina to the west of Betar Nala and was given the area north of Mandi to include the Loran Valley. A company was deployed for the defence of Doda, including Sher and Shahpur. Battalion signalers intercepted a message from raiders in Mandi Sector that they were completely cut off and were in need of food, medicines, arms and ammunition. The enemy carried out an air drop of about ten tons of stores. This air drop, however, was collected by Captain Kalam Singh on the morning of 20 September and with the help of a company of Central Reserve Police carried the supplies to the battalion. The battalion requested the 93rd Infantry Brigade for retention of parachutes which were later converted into scarves and issued to all ranks. These were worn proudly by the men on all ceremonial occasions as a war booty.
B company under Lieutenant O.P. Balhara operated along Mandi towards Gagariam and C company under Captain Kalam Singh moved to capture feature Point 8677 and the area northeast of it. B company occupied all the posts vacated earlier by 7th Battalion, the Sikh Regiment. It also brought all the weapons left behind by 7th Battalion, The Sikh Regiment including 3 inch mortars and medium machine guns and were handed over to them. Ammunition could not be brought back by the company and was destroyed in location.
C company under Captain Kalam Singh mopped up the area on the Point 8677 feature and the jungle beyond it. It located a number of hiding places of the raiders which were well stocked with ammunition and explosive. The company also brought back the equipment left behind by 7th Battalion, The Madras Regiment and handed it over to them.
The Battalion handed over its responsibilities to 9th Battalion, The Grenadiers Regiment on 25 September and moved to Surankot to clear the Bafliza and Nurichhan areas. Major K.P. Signh, Second-in-Command and 12 other ranks of the Battalion were injured. On 24 September Major K.P. Singh with A and B companies of the Battalion and a company of 7th Battalion, The Madras Regiment was detailed to search and clear the Bafliza and Nurichhan areas. He and troops under his command remained in this area for about a week and searched all the villages and collected a very large quantity of arms and ammunition from the residents.
The Battalion, less two companies, moved to the Gulpur Sector to relieve 3rd Battalion, The Rajput Regiment, which was moving out of the 93rd Infantry Brigade Sector on 1 October 1965. The enemy had occupied positions of platoon strength on either side of Rangahar Nala. Lieutenant J.S. Bedi with B company was given the task of dislodging them from the west of Rangahar Nala. They passed through a minefield and took up a position in the rear of the enemy platoon on the night of 2/3 October. Lieutenant J.S. Bedi contacted the Pakistani platoon commander and asked him to vacate or face the fire as he was by then completely surrounded. The enemy platoon commander considered discretion the better part of valour and vacated the position.
Lieutenant R.S. Sharma with A Company was given the task to dislodge the enemy platoon to the east of Rangahar Nala. They were detected and the enemy opened fire wounding one other rank, but Lieutenant R.B. Sharma managed to surround the enemy platoon and gave them the choice of surrendering or vacating. Again, the enemy vacated the position on 3 October 1965. Major B.B. Seghal joined the Battalion at Gulpur and was given the command of B company. The Battalion was awarded Theatre honour of Jammu and Kashmir for its gallant actions.
After the cease fire and consolidation of gains during the fighting the Battalion moved to Jaipur in March 1966. It was an enjoyable tenure in the home state and the men were extremely happy to be close to their dear ones. The Battalion celebrated its 150th Anniversary on 1 January 1968. The Battalion occupied the Shekhawati Lines near Jothwara. Duriong the period of stay of the battalion at Jaipur Lt Col Shyam Singh was at the helm. After a two-year stay in Jaipur, the Battalion had to move a long haul from the West to the extreme East in Arunachal Pradesh, where they spent a little over a year before moving to Mizoram. From June 1969 to November 1971, the Battalion was part of the 61st Mountain Brigade and was deployed in the Counter Insurgency Operation in Mizoram, with the insurgency peaking during that time. With their relentless effort and despite being widely dispersed they brought normalcy to the area of responsibility. They undertook many successful operations where they flushed out insurgents, a notable one being a raid carried out by two platoons under Captain M.L. Malik on two hostile camps in which they captured self-styled Lieutenant Lalthakuma along with four other insurgents and innumerable weapons, ammunition and explosives. The other notable raids were carried out by C company under Major J.R. Rajput.
In March 1971 the Battalion moved to Nasirabad and started training for its new operational role in the Thar desert. In October 1971 the Battalion was moved to Tanot in a mixed convoy of Army vehicles and impressed/hired civilian vehicles to its operational area. The Battalion reached Ramgarh on 17 October 1971. It concentrated at Raneu on 20 October 1971 and carried out detailed reconnaissances of the area of responsibility.
Indo-Pak War 1971Edit
On 26 October 1971 the Battalion moved to Kishangarh for its operational role and commenced intensive patrolling of the area. On 21 November 1971 Subedar Risal Singh, when on patrol in the area of Dharmi Khui, apprehended a Pakistani civilian named Ajab who had crossed over in search of his sheep. Information about the defences of Islamgarh gathered from Ajab revealed that there was minimum of two companies with MMGs and a troop of tanks in location.
The following officers were present in the Battalion at the out break of war on 3 December 1971:
Lieutenant Colonel M.M.K. Bagaya – Commanding Officer Major Ram Chandra – Second-in-Command Major Kalam Singh – A Company Commander Major J.S. Bedi – B Company Commander Major J.R. Rajput, SM – C Company Commander Major J.S. Sangwan – D Company Commander Major Bhupinder Singh – SP Company Commander Captain R.S. Mahlawat – Quartermaster Captain P.P.S. Sidhu – B Company Captain K.K. Bahl – Adjutant Second Lieutenant P.K. Sur – Intelligence Officer Second Lieutenant G.S. Soodan – Signal Officer Second Lieutenant Ajit Kamal – A Company Second Lieutenant Bhupinder Pal – D Company Captain H.S. Prutihi – RMO Major A.K. Singh – Relieved Major H.E.H. Tevera on 26 November 1971 as the new Battery Commander, with Captain Baldev Singh and Captain Avtade as Artillery OP
The Battalion was deployed to defend Kishangarh and to deny the Shakirewala/Islamgarh approach leading to Tanot. On the evening of 4 December 1971, the Battalion was ordered to advance to Islamgarh by 0600 hours on 5 December 1971 and to advance along the Division as the van guard Company. At 1730 hours, A company commenced the advance as van guard company followed by Battalion Headquarters ‘O’ group and B company. The test of the order to march remained the same. At 2300 hours, the Battalion lost contact with the Commanding Officer's party consisting of the Commanding Officer, Second Lieutenant P.K. Sur and Major J.S. Sangwan, Commanding D Company who had accompanied the party. Major Ram Chandra, after a short break, resumed the advance and by 0200 hours on 5 December 1971 reached the general area of Kanderatoba where A company under Major Kalam Singh took position and the rest of the Battalion closed in. A reconnaissance patrol under Second Lieutenant Ajit Kamal with three other ranks returned at 0300 hours and the Battalion resumed the advance.
The advance resumed with the Second-in-Command moving with A company followed by the Battalion ‘O’ group and B company which had closed in immediately behind A company. At 0345 hours, light machine gun and rifle fire stalled the advance. Assessing the situation, the Commanding Officer ordered A company to immediately launch an attack while B company was ordered to assault the ridge on the right. A firebase was established with medium machine guns to support the assault. Due to a moon-lit night it was observed that it was medium machine gun fire from the Fort and enemy dispositions in the area. B Company, however, met a stiff opposition. Havildar Dayanand Ram took the initiative to silence the light machine gun post on the right ridge and to clear a way for the companies to their objectives. He was an example of a gallant soldier but it cost him his life. He was awarded the Vir Chakra for his daring act. The relentless attack by the Battalion forced the enemy to flee leaving behind large quantities of ammunition, equipment and rations. By 0500 hours the companies were on their objectives and reorganized to beat back any counterattack. By 0600 hours, the Battalion captured Islamgarh Fort.
The Battalion then advanced along Islamgarh – Bhaikhanwala Khu to secure Bhaikhanwala Khu, but at 1300 hours Captain Hardayal Singh, VrC, General Staff Officer 3rd (Intelligence), 45th Infantry Brigade arrived at Islamgarh and gave the news about the enemy attack on Longewala and consequent change in the Divisional plan. The Battalion was to move back to Kishangarh, via Shakirewala. At 2230 hours on 5 December 1971 the Battalion, under its Second – in – Command, commenced the move back along Islamgarh-Shakirewals-Kishangarh desert track. The Battalion reached Kishangarh by 1000 hours on 6 December 1971.
A platoon was sent to occupy a border outpost at BP 590 by first light on 8 December 1971 and relieve the platoon of 8th Battalion, The Dogra Regiment, already located there.
On a specific information about a detachment of Pakistani troops at Bhaikhanwala Khu who were likely to interfere with the advance of the Battalion fro Islamgarh to Bhagla, a platoon of C company under Second Lieutenant P.K. Sur, with a section of 81mm mortars and a section of the Border Security Force (Camel mounted) were sent out on 9 December 1971 to deal with it. During the night the column managed to infiltrate 14 kilometers deep inside Pakistani territory without being detected and by 1700 hours it established a firm base approximately 1000 meters from the Pakistani post. After last light, Second Lieutenant P.K. Sur started probing into enemy defences by taking out small patrols and establishing observation/listening posts. Movements of the enemy were observed by the patrols. It was then appreciated that the enemy strength was more than a platoon. Accordingly, Second Lieutenant P.K. Sur informed the Commanding Officer about the situation over the radio and asked for more troops. The remainder of C Company, already positioned at Shakhirewals under Major J.R. Rajput, was moved to Bhaikhanwala Khu and ultimately joined the platoon column at the firm base at 0430 hours on 10 December 1971.
After reconnaissance, it was planned to launch an attack with two platoons supported by a section of 81 mm mortars. Once the surprise was lost, the enemy opened fire with two light machine guns and mortars from a well dug in defensive position. The company commander, Major J.R. Rajput, got wounded and Second Lieutenant P.K. Sur took charge and asked for 81-mortar fire to soften the enemy defences. This was followed by an attack, led by Second Lieutenant P.K. Sur, on the enemy posts. After a truce, the personnel of 28th Baluch gave up the fight and started running back in whatever vehicles were available with them. By then Major J.R. Rajput, after getting his wound dressed, rejoined the battle. For exemplary leadership in spite of being injured, intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, Major J.R. Rajput was awarded the Sena Medal, Subedar Sohan Lal and Rifleman Nihal Singh were Mentioned-in-Despatches and Havildar Jai Narain Singh was awarded the Chief of Army Staff's Commendation Card.
C Company chased the fleeing enemy and intercepted some of them with their vehicles. In this action, three personnel of the 28th Baluch were killed and they were seen carrying away six wounded while fleeing. Besides this, the company captured 24 prisoners of war, two Bren Machine guns, one 2 inch Mortar, one USA Auto Rifle, 22 x Rifle Chinese, 5 Radio Sets, 3 Jeeps and two tractors.
C Company for this gallant action was awarded one Sena Medal, two Mentioned-in-Dispatches and one Chief of Army Staff Commendation Card.
On 12 December 1971 when the situation at Longewala had been stabilized, the Commander, 45th Infantry Brigade decided to strike the enemy deep into their rear by sending three patrols, one from 3rd Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles from Kishangarh, one from 8th Battalion, The Dogra Regiment from Tanot and one from 23rd Battalion, The Punjab Regiment, located at Longwala. A patrol of one officer, one junior commissioned officer and 28 other ranks were tasked to penetrate 10 kilometers deep into enemy territory and lay and ambush on the enemy supply line. The patrol crossed into Pakistan after last light on 12 December and covered the distance of approximately 10 kilometers by 0400 hours on 13 December. There was no suitable place, which could be occupied to complete its mission. The patrol leader then decided to go west and after a couple of kilometers dug down to lie low during the day overlooking the desert track. A patrol was then sent to determine the track and also provide early warning. As the patrol was approaching the track, it came under intense artillery fire. It was not possible to establish an effective block on the road, as the enemy now knew the presence of the patrol. The next salvo was even closer than the previous one. The patrol then moved south and took cover in the folds of the sand dunes. The enemy, however, continued shelling till mid-day but caused no damage. At 1600 hours, on instruction from the company commander, the patrol started moving back but was again fired upon.
The patrol reached the Border post after midnight and was picked up by its own transport and brought back to Kishangarh.
On 14 December 1971, a message was received from Headquarters, 45th Infantry Brigade that they had intercepted a message that its own patrols were operating deep into enemy territory. The interceptions also revealed that the enemy had deployed extra troops for the security of their convoys and movements of troops was curtailed.
The Battalion maintained its presence and dominance over the area of responsibility till the cease-fire came on 17 December 1971 and then moved back to Nasirabad.
On 1 September 1971, the Battalion moved to Bombay for yet another tenure Bombay being its home, where it was initially raised some time in 1818. It stayed there for one year and on 6 November 1973 moved to Poonch as part of the 93rd Infantry Brigade.
It was back in the same forward area defending localities where it had fought in the 1965 Indo Pak War. Its role and posts were familiar and the Battalion soon settled down to carry out its role to prevent infiltration and dominate the Line of Control. In 1974, a border incident occurred in which the Battalion added yet another chapter to its golden history. The Battalion prevented the Pakistanis from constructing a defended locality at Shahpur PP. Lance Naik Ishwar Singh lost his life while carrying out his duties. The Pakistanis opened up with mortars and artillery but this did not deter the troops from preventing the Pakistanis from constructing the posts.
In October 1976 the Battalion moved to Bikaner for a well earned rest. The stay in the area was utilized for training and sports. The Battalion excelled at both these fields with Battalion winning Athletics at Southern Command Championship.
It was moved to Gangtok (Sikkim) in September 1980 and was deployed on the Indo-China Border. It moved to Dagiana in Jammu and Kashmir in 1983 and moved to Jhalus (Poonch District) in 1986 to hold picquets on the Line of Control. Major Narendar Singh attended the Chemical Officers Advanced Course, at Fort McClellan, Alabama, USA (February to October 1985). During the stay at Jhalus, the Battalion held the defences along the Line of Control and Major Nagendra Singh was posted as instructor to the India Military Training Team at Gaborone, Botswana. The Battalion then moved to Fazilka in 1989. Punjab was immersed under the spell of urban insurgency. The Battalion soon found itself employed in ‘Operation Rakshak’. It was a credit to the Battalion due to their alterness and intensive drive that not a single incident of terrorism took place in its area of responsibility.
The Battalion celebrated its 175th Anniversary in 1993 at Fazilka.
The Battalion moved to High Altitude (Sikkim) for the first time since independence on 11 May 1993. The command changed before the Battalion's move. Colonel Narendar Singh, son of Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Singh (who had commanded the battalion during the Indo-Pak War of 1965), took over the command on 13 February 1993.
Lieutenant Colonel Ajit Kamal, SM and Lieutenant Colonel Nagendar Singh (son of Lieutenant Colonel Shyam Singh) took over command of 20 RAJ RIF and 17 RAJ RIF respectively.
Not until 1798 was it determined that future officers for the company's ordnance should have professional training. An additional ten cadetships were created at the Royal Military Academy to be held by East India Company Cadets. Subsequently the company was allowed to fill forty of the hundred cadetships at Woolwich, but East India Cadets were not allowed to compete for vacancies in the Royal Army, and vice versa.
Cadets were taken in at the average of fifteen and commissioned after satisfactorily completing a two years course. Military officers provided provided the command and staff, and shared with civilian professors the duties of instructing in such subjects as fortifications, mathematics, landscape and military drawing, chemistry, geology, French and Hindustani.
Honours and awardsEdit
The East India Company instituted the system of honours and awards for its soldiers for meritorious service. Medals were awarded to commemorate participation in important battles. In fact, the Companys Government was the first in India to grant campaign medals and so to recognize the part played by the sepoys in securing victory. It was Bentick who proposed in 1834, to introduce ‘Order of Merit’ and "argued as natives now employed in important civil situations with corresponding salaries, justice and policy alike require that some improvement be effected in the condition of their military brethren". The Court sanctioned Bentick's request in 1837 and the Order of Merit was made open to all ranks of the native Army for conspicuous gallantry in the field or in the attack or defence of fortified places, "without reference to claims founded on mere length of service or general good conduct." The order consisted of three classes and a soldier had to obtain the third class and so on. A native soldier having an Order of Merit was allowed to enjoy, over and above his pay or his pension on retirement, an allowance equal either to one-third or two-thirds or to the entire amount of the ordinary pay of the soldier's rank, depending upon the class of the Order. After death of the recipient of the Order, his widow was allowed to enjoy the pension conferred by the Order for a period of three years.
There was yet another award open to the native commissioned officers: the ‘Order of British India’. In 1835, Bentick argued that "to increase the respectability and to improve the prospects of the native commissioned officers, honours, distinctions and superior emoluments should be placed within their reach. Order or other corresponding measure appears to be absolutely indispensable to India because all the usual incentives to great deeds are almost wholly wanting, the connection in altogether mercenary and the strongest bonds of such a connection, all the higher honours, emoluments and commands are necessarily withheld." The Directors accepted the Bentick's suggestion and the Order of British India was instituted for the native commissioned officers from 1837 onwards. This order consisted of two classes; the first class was confined to Subedars only while the second class was open to both Subedars and Jamedars. The conferring of this honorary award rested with the Governor-General of India, who was guided in his selection by the representation of the Local Governments. The title of ‘Sirdar Bahadur’ and ‘Bahadur’ with an allowance of Rupees two and one respectively per day over and above the regimental allowance and retiring pensions, were conferred on the holders of the first and second class of the order respectively.
The practice of granting awards and honorary titles was, however, not unknown in the armies of princely India. Renowned warriors of the Maratha Army were given horses and elephants as reward. Muslims conferred titles.
Under the regulations of 1796, a native officer could only expect to achieve the ultimate rank of Subedar. With nothing more to look to they had no further inducement and are dissatisfied, there ought to be some higher object keeping in their view to which deligence and fidelity they may still attain. It therefore recommended that one subedar in each of the native infantry battalion ahould be granted the rank of Subedar-Major and he be entitled to an extra allowance of Rs 25/- per month. The Home authorities sanctioned the proposal and ordered that ‘the rank of Subedar Majorship should be awarded on the most distinguished and deserving Subedar and an allowance of twenty five rupees per month in addition to pay and allowances for Subedar would be attached to this post.’
A condition was, however, imposed that the post of Subedar Major should be recommended by the Commanding Officers regiments to the Commander-in-Chief and that the rank should, ‘not continue after his transfer to invalid establishment’. The Governor General on 21 July 1818 pleaded that, ‘the pay of the Subedar Major should accompany him in his retirement, and if this stipend … was not to be continued to them, the whole scope and object of the institution would be defeated.’ The Court did not approve this proposal on financial grounds and the privileges remained unchanged till 1852.
The rules of conduct framed for the governance of the native soldiers became a source of irritation. Known as ‘Articles of War’, these were printed in English and in Hindustani and were read out to all the serving sepoys by the interpreter of the regiment- some articles being read every month while the rest quarterly. Based on the rules of the Royal Army, the suitability of these articles, regulate the activities of the native troops, was open to question for the basic reason that the Royal Army in England and the Company's sepoys in India were widely different entities.
For a minor offence, a native soldier was generally punished with extra drill or guard duty. The Commanding Officer of a company could punish his men by ordering 10 days of the former and 4 days of the latter. But if an offence demanded more severe punishment, a report was required to be sent to the Commanding Officer of the regiment for a trial by court martial. This procedure of trial by military courts was formally established and promulgated by the reforms of 1796. By these regulations three types of courts martial were established and were to be known as the regimental, the district and the general courts martial. These were ‘Native Courts’ as distinct from courts, which sat in judgment over the ‘European Soldiers’. Those native officers who had qualified in the examinations in the Articles of war governing the native soldiers and had obtained Certificates to that effect from the Adjutant General of the native army were selected to sit with European Officers as judges in these courts.
A General Court Martial was the only tribunal before which a native commissioned officer could be tried, the other two being authorized to try sepoys and non-commissioned officers only. Moreover, only a General Court martial had the power of awarding the penalties of dismissal or death. Every soldier brought for trial before any native court martial was at liberty to ask to be tried only by European judges but in that case no further appeal was to be allowed. The composition of these courts was as follows:
(a) General Courts Martial were formed of five to nine native commissioned officers, appointed only with the sanction of the Commander-in-Chief. Sentence of death could only be passed by a two-third majority. One European officer was to superintend the proceedings of such courts.
(b) Garrison Courts Martial were also similarly composed, with the exception that their officers members were drawn from different native regiments in the garrison.
(c) Regimental Courts Martial were appointed by the Commanding Officer of a regiment and tried all crimes that were not capital.
The Regimental War MemorialEdit
Rajasthan and Saurashtra have a large number of monuments and Chhatri (Canopy) was erected to honour all those killed in war. These monuments show a warrior on a horseback at a place where a warrior fell during a battle. The better off or the leader had a chhatri or a canopy was erected to honour the leader or the comrades in battle. The War memorial of the Rajputana Rifles in the form of a marble ‘Chhatri’ was originally constructed in 1925 at Nasirabad, the old location of the Regimental Centre, after the formation of Sixth Rajputana Rifle Group in 1921/22. This was to commemorate 2058 all ranks of the regiment who had laid their lives during World War I. The memorial, which is twenty (20) feet high, is made of makrana marble dome, supported by six pillars representing the six Battalions (including the Training battalion) to the Rajputana Rifle Group existing at that time. Each pillar was engraved with the crest appropriate to its Battalion. A complete roll of honours was buried beneath the central plaque where 23 battle honours earned by the Regiment in World War I were engraved.
The Memorial was unveiled at Nasirabad on 28 January 1927 by Lieutenant General Sir John Shea, K.C.B., K.C.N.G., D.S.O., the then Adjutant General in India. An impressive parade, un-precedented in the history of Nasirabad, was held on the occasion where 750 troops participated.
Dress of the Rajputana RiflesEdit
The dress of the regiment had emerged from the concept of the Rifle Battalions. The Rifle Battalions originally wore rifle green and red or dark green facings according to whether they adopted the dress and customs of King's Royal Rifle Corps (K.R.R.) or the Rifles Brigade. The Bombay Rifle Regiments wore rifle green with the red facings as worn by the King's Royal Rifle Corps and the 2nd and 5th Gurkha Rifles adopted the same. However, the other Gurkha Rifles wore dark green facings. In the olden days, the colours of an infantry battalion was necessary for rallying the soldiers but the rifle Battalions did not fight shoulder to shoulder and had greater marching speed of 140 paces a minute and hence did not need such rallying point. The Rifleman like the ‘Light Infantryman’ was trained to skirmish and also to carryout these rapid lightning movements, which, otherwise in cavalry only Hussar's did. For this reason the neophyte Rifle Battalion's dress was based on that of Hussar's which was red. However, the red dress was given up in favour of dark green dress. The wearing of black buttons and badges on the dark green dress was a great honour bestowed on the Rifle Regiment.
Since the advent of Christianity, the Cross has been one of the principal consigns of the military order and was embroidered knight's mantlets, banners and, in certain cases, Coats of Arms. One with cleft arms resulted in an eight pointed cross of the Knight of the Order of St John when the Turks attacked Jerusalem. These knights fought against them but could not persist against them and so had to flee to Malta. In the course of time they came to be known as the Knights of Malta. The eight pointed cross was thus called the Maltese Cross. The Knights of Malta adopted the Maltese Cross and put it on their Coat of Arms.
In 1829, during the days of King George IV, the Royal Hussars had a change of dress. The Royal Hussars adopted the Maltese Cross in their Uniform. The Royal Hussars were also honoured by the presentation of the Prussian Eagle to be embroided upon their uniform. This Eagle was placed in the centre of the Maltese Cross. The Prussian Eagle was replaced in 1832 by the Royal Insignia of a lion with a crown. As already mentioned earlier, the King's Royal Rifles Corps adopted a uniform based on the Hussars. So the Maltese Cross was inherited by the Rifle Regiments which adopted the Cross as a part of the Regimental Dress.
In 1841, the 4th Bombay Native Infantry (Wellesley's ) had the distinction of being the first battalion to be converted into a Rifle Regiment. In the centre of the Maltese Cross, IV was inscribed. In 1889 it was replaced by B.R.R. (Bombay Rifle Regiment). In 1905 the lettering was replaced by bugle, cord, knot and crown. However, after independence the word Rajputana Rifles was engraved on the bugle and the crown was replaced by the crossed Rajput Kattars (daggers).
In 1889 some selected battalions from the Presidency Armies were designated as the Rifle Regiments. From this period, the Cap Badge of the Rajputana Rifles evolved.
The first badge was black in colour with a bugle and a crown and had RR (for Rifle Regiment) written on it. In 1903 a major reorganization took place in the Indian Army. The cap badge design was retained by the regiment, however, the words RR, standing for Rifle Regiment, were replaced by the respective battalion numbers. In the 1921/22 period, the 6th Group of the Rajputana Rifles was formed. It was decided that the same cap badge should be adopted for the new group and only the numbers of the battalions were to be replaced by the abbreviations RR standing for the Rajputana Rifles which was the result of the combination of the Rajputana Infantry and the Rifle Regiment.
The present day Regimental Crest has a Maltese Cross in between the wreathe and the crossed Katar forming the border of the Regimental Crest. The Maltese Cross is also presented in all the pouch belts and the belt worn with ceremonial and working dress. It has been a matter of pride that the olive green dress of the Regiment was adopted in the 1980s as the dress of the Indian Army.
In the Regiment, black "Horn" buttons were permitted to be worn by Havildars and above. These buttons were replacements for the shining brass buttons worn by the line infantry. As the rifleman fought in a line and as a skirmish, the brass buttons were replaced to enhance the concealment and camouflage. Also the loss of the buttons and the subsequent loss of ammunition crippled the fighting capabilities of the Rifleman.
The need to have a button that could be changed in case of loss led to usage of black buttons. The consideration of an undone button as an offence arose from this, as an undone button could lead to loss of ammunition and also give away the soldier's location to the enemy. However, this historical point of view underwent changes due to the association of the Regiment with the Hussars. Besides the flat horn buttons worn on the working dress, the regiment adopted the "Globular Ball" buttons on the Service and the Mess dresses where five such buttons are in the front, the epaulettes and the pockets being secured by the normal flat horn buttons. The second button from the top in the front was a flat horn button.
There are some other buttons of the Regiment also. The miniature horn buttons are worn on either side of the Kat Service Dress to hold chin strap in Place, two are worn in front of the "Cap line’ below the cherry and one each on the gorget patches worn by the officers of the rank of colonel and above. All the Regimental buttons have a crossed Katara and the bugle present on them. The custom of usage is that the buttons are always black and should only be stitched by the usage of black thread.
A lanyard is a short cord attached to something to enable it to be handled or secured. In the case of the Regimental Lanyard it is the whistle which has to be secured. Therefore, the wearing of a lanyard without a whistle is considered as improper. The Regimental Lanyard is 24 inches long including the hook. It is made of black cotton-cum-woolen material and has three black knots. The first knot is fitted one inch below the loop holding the hook, the other being the runners showing from under the armpit and the other in between the two.
The lanyard is worn on the left shoulder to form a loop which should encircle the sleeves where it joins the shoulder, being drawn tight in a slip knot under the armpits. The whistle end is tucked into the left breast pocket at the extreme end allowing it to form a circular loop. This loop does not hang lower than the seam of the breast pocket and the hook is not to be visible when worn.
The lanyard is supposed to be worn on all forms of uniform except summer and winter mess dresses and when jersey pullover is worn. In the mess dress, a lanyard was felt as being redundant as a whistle with a pouch belt was already being worn. As regimental buttons, the lanyards is permitted in our regiment to be worn only down to Havildars, as the platoon Havildar was considered the lowest rank to exercise effective command which needed a whistle.
The officers of the Regimental Rifles Regimental Centre have been accorded the distinction of wearing a red knot with two zigzag golden stripes on it closest to the whistle of their black lanyard. This distinction was conferred upon the Regiment by General (Later Field Marshal) K.M. Cariappa, OBE, Commander-in-Chief who was attending the memorable dinner given to Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Chief of Imperial General Staff in the Officers Mess on 19 October 1947 just before his departure to London. Just before the conclusion of the party General Cariappa said:
"As this is a unique occasion in the history of the Indian Army when the Chief of Imperial General Staff who belonged to the Indian Army, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, myself, the Army Commanders, four Principal Staff Officers and many other high ranking officers have dined together in your Regimental Mess, I authorize you as a token of distinction to wear red and gold on the knot closest to the whistle of your lanyards to remind you of the honour of this occasion".
The regimental caneEdit
The original Regimental Cane is 30 inches long and made of black ebony, or cane covered with black leather, with a silver knot bearing the Regimental Crest. The cane has got a three (3) inch long ferrule. Other ranks Canes have a white metal instead of silver.
The cane carried by officers and Junior Commissioned Officers has undergone changes. The cane is thin and cylindrical in shape. It is two feet long and is ½ inch in diameter. At one end a two inches long and having the Regimental Crest while at the rear end, it is covered by the plate one inch long. The silver knob is two inches.
Badges of rankEdit
Chevrons worn by the Non Commissioned Officers are black with scarlet backing. The badges worn on the wrist of Company and Battalion Havildar Majors and Battalion Quarter Master Havildar are in black with scarlet facings. The wrist bands are in black letter. The Rajputana Rifles NCO only wears the Chevrons on the sleeves of the right arm.
Originally, the Rajputana Rifles had black facings for black badges of ranks. However, after the First Sikh War ended in 1847 the Wellesley's Own moved to Karachi and it was at Karachi that the Regiment had the opportunity to train along with the 60th Rifles. The Scarlet facings worn by the Rifles fancied Major Honner, the Commanding Officer of Wellesley's, so he asked for the sanction for allowing Wellesley's to wear scarlet facings. He said, "The black facings of the 4th Native Infantry of Rifle Corps, affording little or no contrast to Rifle Green Jacket give the man the most unfavourable and heavy look." As the clothing department had no objection, the sanction was granted in 1848.
On field service, when slips on sleeves of badges of ranks are worn by officers and Junior Commissioned Officers, these are embroidered in black. The red backing is not used.
In peace stations, black metal badges of ranks are worn on scarlet backings and are worn by both the officers and the Junior Commissioned Officers. The shoulder titles in black metal with scarlet backing are also worn. These shoulder titles "RAJ RIF" are being replaced with Hindi version.
On Mess Dresses, the miniature badges of rank have been replaced by the normal badges.
These are emblems worn on the collar to indicate the wearer's regiment or corps, and originated from the time when shoulder titles as commonly understood at present were not worn. Thus on the mess and service dresses collar badges are worn consisting of the Regimental Badges of a small size in silver, with the mouth piece of the bugle turned inwards.
Cross belt or the pouch beltEdit
Wellesley's took to the Cross Belt on conversion to Rifles in 1841 and Out ram's and Napier's followed on their conversion in 1890. For then up to 1927, the belt underwent three different designs. The first had a whistle attached to the lion's face and the Battle Honours were worn on leather on the Pouch Belt. The second was introduced in 1905. It had the whistle chain attached to the bugle and the Battle Honours of 104th, 123rd and 125th Rifles were placed on the breast ornaments. The third was adopted in 1927 which included all the Battle Honours of the Regiment on the breast ornament.
The present day design was adopted in 1950. The Pouch Belt's finish of fine smoothness was changed to coarse leather. This was due to lack of seal skins in India. And also to revive the original material worn by the Napier's who had followed the original belt presented to their Commanding Officer at the Battle of Meeanee by the Scinde Horse. The four principal Battle Honours in Kirkee, Meeanee, Alewal and Bushire were engraved upon it and only the Bugle without crossed swords was present.
The belt is worn only by officers wearing Mess or Service Dress on ceremonial occasions, or when Service Dress is worn in lieu of Mess Dress. A modified and simplified pattern of Cross Belt is authorized to be worn by the Battalion Havildar Major, the Band Master and Stick Orderlies.
The Sam Browne beltEdit
The Regimental pattern of this belt differs to the extent from that worn by others. The belt is in black leather with white metal fittings. The width of the belt is two inches, with a two pronged white metal buckle 22⁄3 inches by 1¾ inches wide with a rectangular white metals buckle of the same size.
The belt is worn by officers and Junior Commissioned Officers as laid down in orders from time to time. The custom of wearing only the lower portion has been abolished. This custom had, at one time, only been permitted in the Wellesley's, Outram's, and RAJ RIF Machine Gun Battalions. When entering the Officers Mess, the shoulder strap of the belt is removed. The Sam Browne belt has been phased out of service and is no more in use.
Working dress beltEdit
The working dress belt was introduced in September 1969. It is of black leather with RAJ RIF Crest on a white metal plate of 7 cm by 6 cm in front having hooks underneath for attachment. The belt has four loops and two hooks for adjustments of increase and decrease in length. Two loops are secured on either side of the front plate while the other two secure the hooks on the side.
Sr. No. Rank Name Chronological period
1. Lt. Col. J. Cunningham 1 January 1818 – 14 October 1824
2. Lt. Col. Brackley Kennel 26 October 1824 – 19 December 1827
3. Captain J. Clarke December 1828 – 1832
4. Major J.D. Crozier 1832 – February 1834
5. Captain J. Clarke February 1834 – May 1836
6. Captain J. Donabin 1836
7. Captain J.W. Hart
8. Captain J. Hale 1837
9. Major H. Cracklow 1837 – 23 March 1846
10. Major J. Hale 1846 1848
11. Major R.L. Shawe 1 November 1848 – 6 November 1852
12. Captain C.E. Beale 1852
13. Captain J.D. Leckie 9 May 1853 – 1854
14. Lt. Col. A. Shepheard 16 April 1854 – 5 May 1856
15. Lt. Col. H.E. Jacob 6 May 1856 – 12 January 1858
16. Capt E.C. Beale 12 January 1858 – February 1859
17. Major H. Boye 18 February 1859 – 15 June 1860
18. Major E.C. Beale 4 October 1860 – 21 October 1871
19. Colonel H.E. Jacob 18 November 1871 – 2 August 1876
20. Lt. Col. T. Nuttall 2 August 1876 – 20 April 1877
21. Colonel J. Fairbrother 20 April 1877 – 7 February 1882
22. Colonel J.H. Drummond 7 February 1882 – 19 September 1888
23. Colonel De L.R.F. Woolridge 20 September 1888 – 2 November 1889
24. Lt. Col. W.A. Weatherall 2 November 1889 – 8 November 1896
25. Lt. Col. J.F.C. Thatoner 8 November 1896 – 7 February 1900
26. Lt. Col. R. Baillie 30 May 1900 – 30 May 1907
27. Lt. Col. W.G. Heatherall 31 May 1907 – 30 May 1912
28. Lt. Col. K.J.C. Dunolly 31 May 1912 – 1 April 1917
29. Lt. Col. P.C.R. Barclay 2 April 1917 – 31 March 1921
30. Lt. Col. J. D’Oyly 1 April 1921 – 31 March 1925
31. Lt. Col. G.G.C. Maclean, CIE 1 April 1925 – 17 June 1928
32. Lt. Col. G. de SH Middle Massl 18 June 1928 – 12 July 1928
33. Lt. Col. C.C. Hickie 13 July 1928 – 31 March 1932
34. Lt. Col. G. Ireland 1 April 1932 – 31 March 1936
35. Lt. Col. R.H. Satble, DSO 1 April 1936 – 6 July 1939
36. Lt. Col. T.W. Rees, CIE, DSO, MC 7 July 1939 – 31 July 1940
37. Lt. Col. M.P. O’Leary, MC, OBE 1 August 1940 – 31 May 1942
38. Lt. Col. F.R.L. Goadby, OBE, Dl 1 June 1942 – 26 December 1943
39. Lt. Col. G.H.B. Beyts, DSO, MBE, MC 27 December 1943 – 15 April 1945
40. Major A.R. Tallentire 16 April 1945 – 30 May 1945
41. Lt. Col. J.H. Preder Gast, DSO, MC 1 June 1945 – December 1946
42. Lt. Col. Sawal Khan December 1946 – 15 March 1947
43. Lt. Col. R.P. Inwood 16 April 1947 – 16 December 1947
44. Lt. Col. Gian Chand 18 December 1947 – 30 June 1951
45. Lt. Col. P.S. Thapa, MC 1 July 1951 – 25 January 1954
46. Lt. Col. N.N. Mukerjee 13 February 1954 – 11 July 1956
47. Lt. Col. J.N.P. Gaur 12 July 1956 – 26 October 1957
48. Lt. Col. S.D. Maini 27 October 1957 – 8 March 1961
49. Lt. Col. B.D. Bhanot 9 March 1961 – 11 January 1964
50. Lt. Col. N.J.A. Hodgson 12 January 1964 – 24 August 1965
51 Lt. Col. Shyam Singh 25 August 1965 – 25 April 1968
52. Lt. Col. T.R. Malhotra 26 April 1968 – 25 December 1969
53. Lt. Col. M.M.K. Baqaya 31 March 1970 – 28 May 1975
54. Lt. Col. H.N. Paliwal 29 May 1975 – 22 September 1978
55. Lt. Col. B.S. Poonia, VrC 23 September 1978 – 18 April 1981
56. Lt. Col. K.P. Singh 19 April 1981 – 29 November 1983
57. Colonel Mohinder Singh 30 November 1983 – 23 August 1986
58. Colonel R.S. Basrai 24 August 1986 – 19 April 1990
59. Colonel G.S. Soodan 20 August 1990 – 12 February 1993
60. Colonel Narendar Singh 13 February 1993 – 22 February 1995
61. Colonel M.C. Dhara
62. Colonel Rajeev Khullar
63. Colonel J.S. Sekhon
64. Colonel P.K. Jayswal
65. Colonel Vikas Choudhary
66. Colonel Pradeep Bisht
67. Colonel Chiter Sain
- ↑ Barthorp, Michael; Burn, Jeffrey (1979). Indian infantry regiments 1860-1914. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-307-0
- ↑ Rinaldi, Richard A (2008). Order of Battle British Army 1914. Ravi Rikhye. ISBN 0-9776072-8-3.;Sharma, Gautam (1990). Valour and sacrifice: famous regiments of the Indian Army. Allied Publishers. ISBN 81-7023-140-X.Sumner, Ian (2001). The Indian Army 1914-1947. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-196-6.
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