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153rd Punjabis / 153rd Rifles
Active 18 May 1918 – 24 June 1922
Country  British India
Allegiance British Crown
Branch  British Indian Army
Type Infantry
Size Three battalions
Part of 53rd (Welsh) Division

First World War

Sinai and Palestine Campaign
Battle of Nablus

The 153rd Punjabis – also designated 153rd Rifles, see nomenclature (below) – was an infantry regiment of the British Indian Army. It was formed in Mesopotamia and Palestine in May 1918, saw service in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in the First World War, and was disbanded in June 1922.

Background[edit | edit source]

Heavy losses suffered by the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front following the German Spring Offensive in March 1918 resulted in a major reorganization of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force:

In fact, the 75th Division already had four Indian battalions assigned,[lower-alpha 2] so of the 36 battalions needed to reform the divisions, 22 were improvised[14] by taking whole companies from existing units already on active service in Mesopotamia and Palestine to form the 150th Infantry (3 battalions), 151st Sikh Infantry (3), 152nd Punjabis (3), 153rd Punjabis (3), 154th Infantry (3), 155th Pioneers (2), 156th Infantry (1) and the 11th Gurkha Rifles (4).[15] The donor units were then brought back up to strength by drafts. In the event, just 13 of the battalions were assigned to the divisions[16] and the remaining nine were transferred from Mesopotamia to India in June 1918.[17]

History[edit | edit source]

The 153rd Punjabis was formed of three battalions in May 1918. The 1st Battalion was formed in Mesopotamia with companies posted from battalions serving in the 14th, 15th, and 18th Indian Divisions.[18] It was transferred to Egypt during June and July 1918. In contrast, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were formed in Palestine with companies posted from battalions already serving in the theatre,[19] particularly from the 3rd (Lahore)[20] and 7th (Meerut) Divisions.[21]

All three battalions were assigned to the 53rd (Welsh) Division[22] in June and August and remained with the division for the rest of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign,[19] taking part in the Battle of Nablus (18–21 September 1918). At the end of the battle, the division was employed on salvage work and working on the Nablus road.[23]

On 27 October, the division started moving to Alexandria even before the Armistice of Mudros came into effect on 31 October, thereby ending the war against the Ottoman Empire. It completed its concentration at Alexandria on 15 November. The division received demobilization instructions on 20 December 1918. The Indian infantry battalions returned to India as transports became available and 159th Brigade was reduced to cadre by 7 March 1919.[23] The battalions were disbanded in India in 1921 and 1922.[24]

Nomenclature[edit | edit source]

Oddly, the designation of the regiment varied between the battalions. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were 153rd Punjabis whereas the 3rd Battalion was 153rd Rifles, hence 1st Battalion, 153rd Punjabis, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Punjabis and 3rd Battalion, 153rd Rifles.[24][25] Other sources designate all three battalions as 153rd Infantry.[22][26]

1st Battalion[edit | edit source]

The 1st Battalion was formed at Diyala on 18 May 1918[19] by the transfer of complete companies from:[25]

The battalion moved to Amara on 23 May and left for Egypt on 20 June. It disembarked at Suez on 5 July and reached Lydda on 17 July. The battalion joined the 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division on 2 August 1918 near Jerusalem.[19] 1st Battalion, 153rd Punjabis was disbanded on 15 June 1921.[24]

2nd Battalion[edit | edit source]

The 2nd Battalion was formed at Sarafand (now Tzrifin) on 27 May 1918[19] by the transfer of complete companies from:[25]

The battalion joined the 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division on 5 June 1918 near Ram Allah.[19] 2nd Battalion, 153rd Punjabis was disbanded on 15 June 1921.[24]

3rd Battalion[edit | edit source]

The 3rd Battalion was also formed at Sarafand on 24 May 1918[19] by the transfer of complete companies from:[25]

The battalion joined the 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division on 10 June 1918 at Et Taiyibe.[19] 3rd Battalion, 153rd Rifles was disbanded on 24 June 1922.[24]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The remaining infantry division in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in March 1918 – the 54th (East Anglian) Division – remained unaffected by these changes.[11]
  2. In March 1917, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force started forming the 75th Division, originally to be made up of Territorial Force battalions arriving from India. In May 1917, to speed up the formation of the division, it was decided to incorporate Indian battalions.[12] To this end, the independent 29th Indian Brigade was broken up in June 1917 and its battalions posted to 75th Division.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Becke 1936, p. 115
  2. Becke 1937, p. 121
  3. Perry 1993, p. 54
  4. Perry 1993, p. 90
  5. Perry 1993, pp. 21–24
  6. Perry 1993, pp. 25–28
  7. Becke 1938, pp. 15–16
  8. Becke 1936, pp. 120–121
  9. Becke 1937, pp. 29–30
  10. Becke 1937, pp. 126–128
  11. Becke 1936, pp. 128–129
  12. Becke 1937, p. 129
  13. Perry 1993, p. 167
  14. Perry 1993, p. 174
  15. Perry 1993, pp. 177–178
  16. Hanafin, James. "Order of Battle of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, September 1918" (PDF). orbat.com. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150109153754/http://orbat.com/site/history/open4/uk_eygptianexpeditionaryforce1918.pdf. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  17. Perry 1993, pp. 44,64,81,103,155
  18. Perry 1993, pp. 128,134,148
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 Becke 1936, p. 121
  20. Perry 1993, p. 51
  21. Perry 1993, p. 87
  22. 22.0 22.1 Becke 1936, p. 120
  23. 23.0 23.1 Becke 1936, p. 123
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 Gaylor 1996, p. 346
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Perry 1993, p. 177
  26. Baker, Chris. "The 53rd (Welsh) Division in 1914–1918". The Long, Long Trail. http://www.1914-1918.net/53div.htm. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Becke, Major A.F. (1936). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2A. The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-12-4. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1937). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 2B. The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th) with The Home-Service Divisions (71st–73rd) and 74th and 75th Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-00-0. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1938). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 3A. New Army Divisions (9–26). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-08-6. 
  • Gaylor, John (1996). Sons of John Company: The Indian and Pakistan Armies 1903–1991 (2nd ed.). Tunbridge Wells: Parapress. ISBN 1-898594-41-4. 
  • Perry, F.W. (1993). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 5B. Indian Army Divisions. Newport: Ray Westlake Military Books. ISBN 1-871167-23-X. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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