Christopher Trevelyan © 2003-2014 |

The Indian Army on campaign 1900-1939

122 Rajputana Rifles 1916-1918

by Christopher Trevelyan

         The 122nd Rajputana Infantry remained in India until late 1916, when finally it received orders to proceed overseas to Mesopotamia. On 1st November 1916, the 122nd Infantry entrained at Kohat on the North-West Frontier for Kiamari. Arriving on 3rd November, the Regiment immediately embarked for Basra on the H.T.'Muttra'. The strength of the 122nd Infantry at the time was 10 British Officers, 16 Indian Officers, 1 Sub-Assistant Surgeon, 800 Indian Other Ranks, 39 Public Followers, 10 Private Followers and 1 Charger.

         Arriving at Basra on 8th November, the 122nd Infantry received orders at once to proceed up the Tigris River to Amara for garrison duty. There the Regiment remained until 1st March 1917, when 'D' Company was ordered to return to Basra for temporary duty. On 15th April 1917, 'A' Company also left, but proceeded up river to garrison Sheikh Saad.

         Meanwhile back in India, a young 2nd Lt.J.S.B.Forde was attached to the 122nd Rajputana Infantry on 24th May 1917. It would take four months however before he would join his Regiment in the field, which he did at Amara on 24th September 1917 from No.3 Indian Base Depot. Over the next two months, the HQ, 'B' and 'C' Companies of the 122nd Infantry continued on in Amara, conducting company parades, garrison fatigues, field firing and various other duties. The rate of sickness amongst the Indian Other Ranks (IOR's) was relatively high throughout, with an average of two to three reporting per day to the field hospital. The temperature during this period began to decrease as summer ended, from the high 90's in September to the low 70's in December, with some rain and cold winds beginning.

         On 7th December 1917, The HQ and 'B' Coy. of the 122nd Infantry embarked on steamer P.S.91 for Kut-al-Amara, leaving behind in Amara a detachment made up of 'C' Coy. and a few other individuals from the Regiment. The establishment of this 'Amara Detachment' was as follows:

Capt. A.L.Skinner

Lt. D.C.Anderson

2nd Lt. J.S.B. Forde

Subedar Bhera Rawat

Subedar Bhima Rawat

Jemadar Hargivan

1st Class S.A.S. Madho Parshad

204 IOR's

10 Public Followers

4 Private Followers

1 Horse

          On 10th December, the 85th Burmans took over all garrisons guards in Amara from 'C' Coy. 122nd Infantry save the Jail Guard. The weather was also now much cooler, with highs only in the mid 50's, and strong winds and rain that began to turn the sand into thick mud. A week later, a small party made up of Lt. D.C.Anderson, 2nd Lt.J.S.B.Forde, Jemadar Hargiyan, five Sepoys and two Followers embarked for Kut-al-Amara.

         On 22nd December, the 85th Burmans took over the Jail Guard, leaving 'C' Coy. 122nd Infantry with no garrison duties. Two days later, Capt.A,L. Skinner embarked for Kut-al-Amara with 'C' Coy. and all remaining personnel of the 122nd Infantry. They arrived on 27th December, but were not to stay long. With Lt. J.F. Shaw replacing Capt.A.L. Skinner, the Company continued up river to Hanaidi on the steamer P.S.17. As soon as they arrived, on 1st January 1918, the Company was quickly broken up for garrison duties, with two Platoons proceeding by rail to garrison Baqubah Road, another to Samarra, and the last to Feluja.

         On January 30th 1918, while in Kut-al-Amara with the HQ and 'B' Coy., 2nd Lt.J.S.B. Forde was promoted Lieutenant. Little else changed in Kut however until 20th February, when orders were received to advance north to join 'C' Coy.

         Embarking for Hanaidi on 21st February, they arrived five days later on steamer P.S.22. The next day, on 27th February, the HQ and 'B' Coy. entrained for Baqubah Road and arrived around 5:00pm.

         With the arrival of the HQ and 'B' Coy. at Baqubah Road, 'C' Coy. was ordered to proceed further north to garrison Abu Saida and Ruz. Throughout this period, nothing at all was seen of the enemy, save a single high-flying aircraft in late February. On 12th March, several Syces arrived from No.5 Indian General Base Depot, including one for Lt.J.S.B. Forde (This Syce's Regimental number was No.185).

         Little occurred over the next few months. On 3rd April, 30 Indian Other Rank's arrived as reinforcements. The next day, Captain A.L.Skinner, Lt.O'Leary, 2 Indian Officers and 43 Indian Other Ranks proceeded to India on leave. The weather began to warm up at this time, though there was still quite a bit of rain and some thunderstorms.

         By June, the temperature had risen to about 100, and the wet weather was a thing of the past. The HQ and 'B' Coy. remained busy with various duties, parades and musketry training and occasionally undertook regimental sports. On 21st June, Lt.J.S.B. Forde with 76 Indian Other Ranks from 'B' Coy. left to garrison Kut-al-Amara. They were followed on 1st July, by another 22 Indian Other Ranks, and then two days later by Capt. Stable, who took command in Kut.

          On 10th July, the HQ of the 122nd Infantry also received orders to proceed to Kut-al-Amara, and left on 13th July. Remaining behind were three platoons to form another detachment at the 'Advance Base Right Bank' around Baqubah Road.

        Meanwhile back in Kut-al-Amara, on 13th July Lt.J.S.B. Forde left for India on leave. Although seeing little or any action, he had been serving in a hostile, unhealthy and inhospitable land for over nine months, and was well due a rest. Lt.J.S.B. Forde rejoined at Kut on 29th September 1918, and with the exception of the arrival of 'C' Coy one day earlier, missed nothing but the usual parades and duties. Needless to say, being at the height of summer with temperatures well over 100°, it was really too hot to do much else.

         On 1st October 1918, orders were received for the HQ and one Company of the 122nd Infantry to proceed to Dialah to relieve the 126th Baluchistan Infantry. The second Company of the 122nd Infantry was to follow after it was itself relieved by the 126th Baluchistan Infantry, which was to take over in Kut-al-Amara. During this period, sickness amongst the Indian Other Ranks of the 122nd Infantry remained fairly high, but in addition to the regular illnesses, 42 cases of Influenza were reported.

         The HQ and 'B' Coy. of the 122nd Infantry arrived in Dialah on 3rd October, and took over garrison duties and the defence of Lancashire Bridge from the 126th Baluchistan Infantry. Once this was done, the HQ and one company of the 126th Baluchistan Infantry proceeded to Kut-al-Amara. On 7th October, 'C' Coy. arrived from Kut. The next day, one section of 'C' Coy. was ordered back to the Advance Base at Baqubah Road, while another party proceeded to Baghdad to draw 16 Lewis Gun mules.

         On 11th October, Four Lewis Guns were received. The next day, 'C' Coy. entrained for garrison duty at Ruz, and left in the early afternoon. Later in the month, on 27th October, orders were received for the HQ and 'B' Coy. to return to the Advance Base Section upon being relieved by the 126th Baluchistan Infantry.

         On 31st October, the HQ and 'B' Coy. entrained for the Advance Base with a strength of 5 British Officers, 7 Indian Officers, 234 Indian Other Ranks and 16 Followers. The Regiment's Horses and Mules proceeded separately by road. After arriving on 1st November, two platoons of 'B' Coy. proceeded to Ruz. The two remaining platoons of 'B' Coy. still at the Advance Base, provided guards for the local Turkish Prisoner of War Camp. Little occurred over the next month, and little was expected to occur as Turkey had signed an armistice on 30th October 1918.