Christopher Trevelyan © 2003-2014 |

The Indian Army on campaign 1900-1939

Indian Army British Officers

Capt. F.G. Andersson, 86th Carnatic Infantry

Major G.T. Auston, 73rd Carnatic Infantry

Major G.E.L. Bates, 38th Central India Horse

Lt.Col. R.D. Beadle, 46th Punjabis

Capt. C.L. Berg, 81st Pioneers

Capt. J.S.B. Forde, 122nd Rajputana Rifles

Lt. E.L. Gavaghan, 29th Deccan Horse

Lt.Col. F.C. Laing, 12th Pioneers

Captain Francis Gordon Andersson

86th Carnatic Infantry

CJ Trevelyan Collection

         Francis Gordon Andersson was born on 1st March 1899 in Formby, Lancashire, England. He was the secd son of William Henry Andersson, an Insurance Manager, and Georgina Andersson. Francis was educated at Oundle School from 1913 until 1917, and served in the Oundle School's Officer's Training Corps as a Lance-Corporal. Following this, he went on to attend the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Upon graduation, on 24th April 1918, he received his commission and was placed onto the Unattached List for the Indian Army. On 29th October 1918, he was admitted to the Indian Army, and attached to the 86th Carnatic Infantry. On 24th April 1919, 2nd Lt.Andersson was promoted Lieutenant. He also qualified during this time in colloquial Hindustani.

         The 86th Carnatic Infantry had remained in India during the entirety of the Great War. Only in June 1920 was it called upon for overseas service, when it embarked for Mesopotamia to help deal with the very serious Arab revolt then in full stride.  The Regiment disembarked at Baghdad on 4th June 1920 with 6 British Officers, including Lt.Andersson, 12 Indian Officers, 554 Indian Other Ranks, and 60 Followers. During its stay, the 86th C.I. carried out lines-of-communications duties under very challenging circumstances and without support, in addition to taking part in several moveable columns.  The 86th C.I. would continue on in Iraq until May 1921, when it returned to India. Lt.Andersson served with his regiment during the entire campaign, and did not enjoy any leave during his time in 'Mespot'. He was thus awarded the 1918 General Service Medal with 'IRAQ' clasp, in addition to the British War Medal he earned serving in India during the closing days of the Great War. He was not entitled to a Victory Medal.

          Lt.Andersson officially resigned from the Indian Army on 25th April 1922, and returned to England. A few years later, he joined the Territorial Army, and served as a Lieutenant with the 4th/5th (Earl of Chester's) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, with rank dating from 22nd July 1925. On 16th April 1930, Lt.Andersson transferred to the 4th Territorial Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's). On 7th September 1932, he was promoted Captain. The following year, on 11th November 1932, Capt.Andersson transferred from the active list to the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers.

         In his civilian career, it appears that Andersson followed in his father's footsteps and worked in the insurance business, being employed by Norwich Union. In July 1932 Andersson was engaged to Miss Barbara Windebank, but this was quickly fell through the following month. It would not take him long to move on however, as seven months later, in March 1933, he married a Miss Sylvia Soutar.

         Throughout this period, Andersson remained busy in battalion social events. On 2nd December 1932 he attended the 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment's Friday Night Dance at the Berystede Hotel in Berkshire. On 5th March 1934, he attended the annual service dinner of the 4th Battalion at Trocadero Restaurant. Andersson also took part in civic events. In November 1934 he attended the opening of an extension of the Radcliffe Library at Oxford in company with such notable individuals as the Princess Royal herself. Andersson was also quite active in golf and yachting.

         During the Second World War, Andersson was re-employed as a Class 1 Territorial Army Reserve Officer with the Royal Berkshire Regiment from 24th August 1939, and served in this capacity for its duration. He thus earned his Defence Medal. By the end of the war, he was 46, and so left the army soon afterwards.

Major George Tabor Auston

73rd Carnatic Infantry

Courtesy of a Private Collection

         George Tabor Auston was born on 17th December, 1884 in Brightlingsea, Essex, England. His parents was Albert Auston,  a gardener, and Mary Auston. By the age of 16, George was earning his keep as a porter, but by his early twenties, he had moved to India, where he settled in Lovedale, Nilgiris, and worked for the Indian Government in the Department of Finance. On October 16th, 1907, Auston married Lilian Forgen, and by September 1914, they had two daughters and a son.

         The first nine years of Auston's military career was spent with several volunteer units in India. The first was the Madras Artillery Volunteers, which he joined on 1st April, 1907. Auston served with the battery until 25th May 1911, when he transferred to the Madras Volunteer Guards; the oldest volunteer unit in India, which had been raised in 1857. While serving with the Madras Volunteer Guards, he was promoted Sergeant on 1st May 1914, named extra efficient four times, and named efficient once. On 22nd April, 1916, Auston briefly transferred to the Nigrili Volunteer Rifles, before being commissioned on 16th June, 1916 into the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. For six weeks, from the 28th June to the 9th August 1916, he trained with the 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment in and around Quetta. Upon completion, Auston was attached to the 73rd Carnatic Infantry, and served with 'D' Company. Soon thereafter, in December 1916, he completed a course of Musketry at Satara.

          At some point early in the New Year, Auston sailed for Mesopotamia, where on 9th February, 1917 he joined the 105th Mahratta Light Infantry, to serve as regimental quartermaster. Roughly one month before his arrival, on 7th January 1917, the 105th Mahrattas had suffered over two hundred casualties, including four British Officers dead, in an assault on the Abul Hassan Bend of the Tigris. Consequently, when 2nd Lt.Auston arrived, the 105th Mahratta L.I. was holding the line, and did not take part in the final breakthrough of the Turkish Sanna-i-Yat position between February 17th to 22nd 1917. After the breakthrough, the 105th Mahratta L.I. was called upon to take part in the advance up the Tigris, and bivouacked at Shumran on February 28th 1917. On 4th March 1917, the 105th moved to the north end of the Shumran Bend, and took over the piquet line from the 93rd Burma Infantry. On 6th March, the 105th marched to Imam Mahdi, then Azizieh on 8th March, Bostan on 15th March, Dialah on 16th March, and then north of Baghdad by 17th March. On the following day, 2nd Lt.Auston along with one other British Officer and thirty-one Indian Other Ranks were evacuated sick to a Field Ambulance, only a week before the Regiment took part in the bloody battle of the Jebel Hamrin Ridge. This was to cost the 105th its Colonel*, over one hundred and fifty casualties, and another one hundred and thirty two missing.  

         On the 11th May 1917, 2nd Lt.Auston returned to India on a medical certificate. On 16th June 1917, he was promoted Lieutenant. In early July 1917 Lt. Auston returned to the 73rd Carnatic Infantry, where he was promoted Temporary Captain on 3rd August 1917. Over the next six months, Auston served variously as Quartermaster and Adjutant at the Regimental Depot. He passed the colloquial Urdu exam on 11th March 1918. On 7th May 1918, Auston relinquished his temporary rank of Captain. Three days later, Auston joined the No.9 Divisional Supply Company at Bangalore.

         On 26th August, 1918, Lt.Auston again set sail for Mesopotamia. He arrived at Basra on 4th September, 1918, and nine days later was posted to the 'Cawnpore Bullock Corps'. He would serve in Mesopotamia for the next two years and nine months.

         On 10th May, 1919, Auston became temporary Supply Officer 5th Class. On 16th June, 1920, Auston was promoted Captain. On 15th June, 1921,  Auston finally left Mesopotamia and returned to India. He was awarded the 1918 General Service Medal with 'IRAQ' clasp for his service. Upon his return, Auston was granted a well deserved privilege leave of three months. He was subsequently released from the Indian Army on 29th September 1921 during demobilization.

         After a couple of years absence, Captain Auston returned to serve in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. On 7th June, 1923, he joined the IASC-Supply and was appointed to the 9th DSC. On 24th February, 1933, he was promoted Major. As he was by then forty-nine years old, it is probable that he retired shortly thereafter after, thus concluding a military career of over twenty four years service.  

         * Colonel E.R.I.Chitty was mortally wounded during the battle for Jebel Hamrin, and his body was never recovered. Jemadar Hamza Khan of the 105th refused to leave his body, and was taken Prisoner by the Turks. He survived captivity, and after being released after the war, he continued to serve, being promoted Subedar. Major F.E.Thornton was also killed. - A Famous Indian Regiment: The Kali Panchwan 2/5th (Formerly the 105th) Mahratta Light Infantry by Col.Sir.R.Hennell.  

Major Guy Ernest Lockington Bates

38th Central India Horse

Courtesy of a private collection

         Guy Ernest Lockington Bates was born on November 3rd, 1899 in Playden, East Sussex. His early years were spent raised by his Grandfather, the Rev. John Lockington Bates MA*, and his Grandmother, Mary Bates. Guy later moved to India, where as a young man of 19, he graduated from the Gentleman Cadet College at Quetta India on 31st August 1918, thereby receiving a wartime commission and subsequent placement on the Indian Army Unattached List.

          On the 16th of September, 1918, 2nd Lt. Bates was admitted to the Indian Army and attached to the 38th King George's Own Central India Horse. On the 31st of August, 1919, 2nd Lt.Bates was promoted Lieutenant. He probably served with his Regiment in Palestine & Syria, as the 38th C.I.H. had remained in the Middle East for some time following the conclusion of hostilities. By April 1921 however, Lt.Bates had left his Regiment, to be attached to the 112th Infantry. He then later transferred to the (unrelated) 112th Indian Labour Corps by July 1922. On 2nd March 1923, Lt.Bates retired from the Indian Army, and probably returned to England. For his brief wartime service, he was awarded the British War Medal.

         During the Second World War, Lt.Bates came out of military retirement to serve in the Royal Artillery as a reemployed retired officer, with seniority dating from December 31st, 1939. As of the 2nd of May, 1942, he was made Temporary Captain. On the 11th of March, 1943, he was promoted to the rank of WS/Captain. On the 24th of July, 1946, Capt.Bates was relegated to unemployment and granted the honourary rank of Major. He no doubt earned several Second World War medals, but his British War Medal remains his sole named medal after service in both wars.

        * The Reverend John Lockington Bates died in his Parish of Iden, Sussex in 1923, where he had served for nearly sixty years. He received his MA in 1861 from Trinity College, Oxford.

Lt.Colonel Robert Denis Beadle

46th Punjabis

CJ Trevelyan Collection

         Robert Denis Beadle was born on 24th June 1882 in Bombay, India. He later moved to England where he attended Rossall School in Lancashire from 1896 until 1900. While there, he was a scholar, school monitor, captain of the school, and member of the school cricket XI and rugby XV teams for three years. He then went on to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. After graduating and receiving his commission, 2nd Lt.Beadle was placed on the unattached list on 18th January 1902.

         On 27th March 1903, Beadle joined the Indian Army. He was subsequently attached, on 28th August 1903, to the 46th Punjabis, with whom he served as a company officer. On 18th April 1904, he was promoted Lieutenant. On 13th December 1909, Beadle was appointed Adjutant of his Regiment. On 18th January 1911 he was promoted Captain and from 13th April 1915, he served as a Company Commander.

         Following the outbreak of the Great War, the 46th Punjabis were stationed at Nowshera on the North-West Frontier of India, where it would remain until 1917. During this period, the Regiment saw active service against the Mohmands along the Landakai Ridge in August 1915, and then later against the Swatis in October 1915. Captain Beadle was with the 46th Punjabis during both actions.

    In 1916, Captain Beadle became acting 2nd in command of the 46th Punjabis, and on 18th January 1917, he was promoted Major. Although the 46th Punjabis remained on the North-West Frontier until 1918, Major Beadle left his Regiment in mid 1917 to proceed on active service to Mesopotamia. On 7th June 1917, he was attached to the 59th (Scinde) Rifles (F.F.) which was by then north of Baghdad. While he was with the 59th Rifles, Major Beadle served as 2nd in Command, and was present with the Regiment at the Battle of Tekrit.

         In March 1918, the 59th Rifles left Mesopotamia for Palestine. Major Beadle would not serve with the 59th Rifles in Palestine however, as he was attached to the 2/151st Indian Infantry on 20th July 1918, and served with the Regiment as 2nd in command until after the end of hostilities.

         On 1st April 1919, Major Beadle was attached to the 71st Punjabis (Christians) and served as 2nd in command. In 1922, he was posted to the 30th Punjabis, which was soon re-named 1st Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment during the reorganization of the Indian Army. In 1924, he became 2nd in command, and on 1st May 1926, he was promoted Lt.Colonel and appointed Commandant of the Battalion. In June, 1930, he left the 1/16th Punjab Regiment, and five months later, on 1st November 1930, retired from the Indian Army, although he remained in the Reserve until 24th June 1937. Sometime thereafter he returned to England.

        While in retirement, Lt.Col.Beadle continued to be active in the military community. In 1935, he attending a dinner of the 16th Punjab Regiment, and also made contributions to the King George V memorial fund. Over the following years, he also attended several military funerals, including those of Col.F.Moore in July 1938, and Admiral Sir F.Tudor in April 1946.

         Lt.Col.Beadle died in Chamberly on February 22nd 1951 at the age of 69. His funeral was held one week later.

Lieut. E. L. Gavaghan

29th Lancers (Deccan Horse)

Courtesy of a Private Collection

Edward Lawrence Gavaghan was born in India on 18th December 1885. He later moved to England to attend school at Mount St.Mary's College, thereafter becoming a chartered accountant in 1907. In April of the following year, Gavaghan returned to India, where he joined the Finance Department of the Government of India as assistant examiner of Public Works Accounts.

         Following the outbreak of the Great War, Gavaghan joined the Indian Army, and received a commission in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (IARO) on 31st December 1915. Nearly one year later, 2nd Lt Gavaghan embarked for France, where on 7th December 1916, he was attached to the 29th Lancers (Deccan Horse). He was soon promoted Lieutenant on 31st December 1916. Over the next fifteen months, the 29th Lancers, like the rest of the Indian Cavalry in France, did not take part in any large scale cavalry actions, but rather provided working parties to improve trenches, sent out patrols, and temporarily relieved the infantry in the trenches.

         As an example operation in which Lt.Gavaghan took part; on 14th March 1917, in the region around Bonneville, the 29th Lancers received order to move up to the Loupart Wood and proceed in the direction of Ervillers with the intent of encountering German troops, who were thought to be withdrawing. Lt.Gavaghan was in command of 'A' Echelon, which was directed to move via Pys to the north of Loupart Wood, and then follow the Regiment on to Bihucourt. Advancing through the wire and mud, the regiment soon arrived south of Bihucourt, where it was subjected to intermittent shelling, and Machine-Gun fire, albeit without loss, which put a halt to any further advance that day.

         From the 12th October 1918 until the 22nd February 1918, Lt.Gavaghan was detached for service with the Brigade 'Pioneer Battalion', which was made up of working parties from the 8th Lucknow Cavalry Brigade, to which the 29th Lancers was attached.

         In March 1918, the 29th Lancers received orders, along with the rest of the Indian Cavalry Regiments in France, to proceed to the Middle Eastern theatre of operations. Over the course of March, the 29th Lancers embarked on several ships for Egypt. Most sailed from Marsailles, although a separate party proceeded via Taranto, Italy. By early April, most of the Regiment had arrived in Egypt, and by 8th April, it was fully re-formed at Tel-el-Kebir. The Regiment soon moved on to Palestine, arriving via train at Belah on 22nd April. At this point, a number of the officers and men went down sick, including Lt.Gavaghan, who was evacuated on 24th April. After recovering, Lt.Gavaghan was appointed as a Special Service Officer from 6th August, and continued to serve in Palestine until at least the end of the year.

 With the Great War over, Lt. Gavaghan was released from the Indian Army on 22nd July 1920, and returned to his career in the Finance Department. In January 1921, he became Assistant Accountant General in Bombay. The next month, he became Deputy Accountant General in Bengal. In December 1921, he became Deputy Accountant General in the United Provinces.

        In April 1923, Gavaghan became Deputy Accountant-General in the Central Provinces. Some three years later, in October 1926, he became Deputy Director of Audit in the United Provinces. In March 1927, he became Officiating Deputy Accountant-General in the Punjab. Later, in November 1927, Gavaghan became Officiating Deputy Accountant-General of posts and telegraphs in Calcutta.

         In November 1929, he became Deputy Accountant-General in Bengal for the second time. In December 1930, Gavaghan became Officiating Deputy Auditor-General, and then two months later, in February 1931, Officiating Comptroller in Assam. He held this post until January 1934, when he became Chief Auditor of the East Bengal Railway and Exchequer of Accounts of the Assam Railway.

        Two months later, he became Officiating Accountant-General of the Central Provinces, a post he held until his retirement in August 1936 at the age of fifty. It was during this last period of employment that he was awarded the 1935 Jubilee Medal, no doubt in recognition for his many years of public service.

Captain Clement Leonard Berg

1/81st Pioneers

Courtesy of a private collection

         Clement Leonard Berg was born on 1st January 1898. He was the second son of Richard Berg, a Russian national and a manufacturer of bamboo furniture in Middlesex, England. Clement's mother, Mary Berg, was from British India. Befitting this international background, Berg was at first educated at Ebor House in Switzerland, where he attended from 1908-11. He then continued on at the Margate Grammar School back in England. Following graduation, Berg was to pursue a career in civil engineering. Before he could begin this however, the demands of the Great War would temporarily intervene.

         Sailing to India, on 3rd August 1918, Berg joined the Indian Army, and received a commission in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. On 1st March 1919, he was attached to the 1/81st Pioneers, and served with the battalion during the Third Afghan War of May-August 1919, thereby earning his India General Service Medal. He was released soon thereafter, on 20th November 1919, to pick up where he left off, by attending the City & Guilds Engineering College in London, apprenticed to a Mr.P.Hawkins.

         Graduating in 1921, Berg returned to India, when in October of that year he received an appointment in the Public Works Department, employed as an assistant executive engineer in Madras. In 1922 he worked in agriculture and works, while during 1922-23 he was on loan to the University of Madras as an examiner in the same fields. Berg continued on with the Public Works Department, being promoted to officiating executive engineer in 1927. He also worked for Grindlays & Co for various periods from 1926 on.

         In March 1929, Berg returned to military life when he joined the Army in India Reserve of Officers, being attached to the QVO Madras Sappers & Miners, and later Engineers-A and Engineers-B. While serving in the AIRO, he was granted the rank of Captain, dated for seniority from 24th August 1928.

         In October 1930, Berg was confirmed as an executive engineer with the Public Works Department. On 4th December 1934, he was also finally admitted to the Institution of Civil Engineers, to whom he had applied for membership a full eight years earlier.

         On 14th October 1937, Berg was re-called to the colours, and deputied to the Military Engineering Service (MES) at Karachi. He remained on active military duty for the next six months, until released in April 1938. The next month, Berg resigned his commission in the AIRO. In 1939, he returned to England, but was back in India for much of the Second World War.

         On 11th July 1941, Berg received an emergency commission in the Indian Army, serving with the Royal Indian Engineers, and in particular the Garrison Engineers (Civil) at Quetta. He made War Substantive Lieutenant and Temporary Captain on 28th October 1941, then War Substantive Captain and Temporary Major on 1st January 1942. On 20th July 1943, he was released from military service, being recalled by the Government of India for civil duties. Berg then continued on in the Public Works Department until at least 1947, retiring sometime thereafter and returned to England, probably for good.

Lt.Col.Frederick Charles Laing

121st Pioneers

Courtesy of a private collection

        Born in India on 5th December 1865 , Frederick Charles Laing was the son of Frederick Ernest Laing, a Major in HM’s Bengal Army, and Lucy Augusta Laing. Destined to follow in his father’s footsteps, Laing soon journeyed to England where he received his education and military training.

          Following his schooling, Laing joined the militia on 14th December 1885, where he was commissioned into the 5th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment ). One year later, on 8th December 1886, he received his regular commission into the Border Regiment of the British Army. Returning to India , Laing joined the Bengal Staff Corps on 21st February 1888 , and thereafter was attached to the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment of Bengal Infantry.

          His first bout of active service took place in 1895. By chance, the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment was stationed at Nowshera when the events surrounding the siege of Chitral Fort unfolded. Although not part of the Relief Force itself, by virtue of the fact that Nowshera was the base camp of operations, the 12th Infantry was tasked with providing escorts for stores and treasure bound for the front, by which “…nearly every man qualified for the medal by crossing the frontier”. Lieutenant Laing was amongst these, and was awarded the 1895 India General Service Medal with ‘Relief of Chitral 1895’ clasp.

     Laing did not have to wait long to see active service again. In the summer of 1897, virtually every tribe along the North-West Frontier of India rose up against the British. Perhaps the most important of these were the Afridi. Citing an increase in salt tax, interference with tribal customs, and encroachment into tribal territory, the Afridis, in conjunction with their Orakzai neighbours, soon gathered their strength. On 23rd August, a 10,000 strong lashkar began their advance, taking the Khyber forts of Ali Musjid, Fort Maude and Landi Kotal from the Khyber Rifles in quick succession.

          At the time, the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment was stationed at Bareilly. As a result of the Frontier risings, it soon received orders to proceed up to Rawalpindi where it was to join a reserve brigade. The 12th (KIH) Regiment left Bareilly on 20th August, but upon arrival, were immediately ordered onward to Kohat without even detraining.

        In September, after a series of minor skirmishes, the Orakzais made their move when they attacked in force Fort Gulistan and the signaling post at Saragarhi along the Samana ridge. Gulistan successfully held out, but all twenty men of the 36th Sikhs under Havildar Ishar Singh at Saragarhi were killed and mutilated after a seven hour siege.

         In response to these outrages, a two division strong ‘Tirah Field Force’ under Lt.General Sir William Lockhart was formed to march deep into the heart of Afridi territory. Instead of joining this force, the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment left on 23rd September for Sadda in the Kurram Valley where it joined the ‘Kurram Movable Column’ under Colonel W. Hill.  The purpose of this column was to cover the left flank of the Tirah Field Force, maintain order in the Kurram Valley , and be ready to operate in concert with the Tirah Force if needed.

          The Kurram Valley remained quite for several weeks until 26th October, when a hostile lashkar 3000-4000 strong built a barrier across the Kurmana defile. To deal with this threat, Col.Hill lead a reconnaissance in force into the Kurmana defile on 7th November. Included in this were 100 rifles of the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment, including Lieutenant Laing. Being roughly seven miles long, the defile was narrow with very steep sides covered with jungle scrub. At around 11 A.M. , some slight opposition was encountered at Hissar. It would not be until 1 P.M. however, when the column began to withdraw, that opposition became substantial. During a delay in waiting for a piquet of the Kapurthala Infantry to retire, the enemy attacked in force. After a sharp engagement, they were beaten off with heavy casualties for the loss of only one killed and three wounded. Unfortunately, the next day, it was discovered that a different piquet of the Kapurthala Infantry was left behind, despite the Regiment reporting ‘all present’. As soon as Col.Hill learned of this, he sent out a force to look for them, but in vain. In was soon discovered that the entire piquet of one NCO and thirty-five other ranks of the Kapurthala Infantry was wiped out during their withdrawal.

       Little would occour afterwards in the Kurram until late November. It was then, that due to the refusal of the remote Khani Khel Chamkannis to make peace, Col.Hill received orders to march into the Kurram Valley and link up with a Brigade from the Tirah Field Force marching in from Bagh to the east. The 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment provided 400 rifles for this column, again including Lt.Laing. On 30th November, the two forces met at Lwara Mela.

          On 1st December, Col.Hill was ordered to proceed into Khani Khel Chamkanni territory. He divided his force in two, with three hundred rifles of the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment proceeding with the ‘Left Column’. Both were to march on Thabai, the primary village of the Chamkanni, though over different routes. Slowed down by difficult and rocky ground, the ‘Left Column’ only arrived at Thabai by 12 noon . With some loss inflected upon the enemy,  the withdrawal began at 4 P.M. Casualties during the day amounted to one British Officer and five Other Ranks killed, and one India Officer and fifteen Other Ranks wounded. Of these, four of the killed and three of the wounded were from the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment.

          The next day, Col.Hill led another column again Thabai, which did not include the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie). Much damage was inflicted on the Chamkannis this time, with only two men killed and one British Officer and three Other Ranks wounded.

          With the Khani Khel Chamkanni now punished, the Kurram Moveable Column marched back to Sadda on 3rd December. The 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment remained in the Kurram Valley until January 1898 when they returned to Kohat. During this period, Lt.Laing was promoted to Captain on 8th December 1897 . By 3rd June, with the Frontier crisis over, the Regiment returned to Bareilly . For his service in these operations, Captain Laing was awarded the Punjab Frontier 1897-98 and Tirah 1897-98 clasps to his 1895 India General Service medal.

          In 1903, the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment of Bengal Infantry was converted to the 12th Bengal Pioneers (Kelat-i-Ghilzie Regiment) during the reorganization of the Indian Army. The class composition also changed, with the composition becoming 2 Double-Companies of Lobana Sikhs and 2 of Hindu Jats. This was a far cry from its previous organization, which since 1893 had been a class regiment of Hindustani Muslims. Previous to that, it was made up of Jat Sikhs, Pathans, Brahmans, Ahirs, Rajputs, and Punjabi and Hindustani Muslims. As a Pioneer Regiment, the role of the 12th was to serve both as infantry, and as light field engineers tasked with building roads, bridges, earthworks, barracks, and assisting the Sappers & Miners in their duties.

Continuing to serve in the 12th (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Regiment, Capt.Laing was promoted Major on 8th December 1904 . By this time, he had qualified in a school of musketry (extra or distinguished), a school of machine gun (extra or distinguished), earned an equestrian certificate, and qualified in lower standard Persian.

          On 30th April 1910 , Major Laing was promoted to substantive Lieutenant-Colonel and was given command of the 121st Pioneers. In 1911,  he oversaw the reorganization of his new regiment. The previous organization had been that of 4 companies of Deccani Mahrattas, 2 of Rajputana Muslims (Meos), and 2 of Deccani Muslims. There was also a few Parwaris which stayed with the Regiment until on into the Great War. The new organization was to be two companies each of Deccani Mahrattas, Pathans (Yusufzais, Gaduns, and Bunerwals), Rajputana Muslims (Meos), and Jats. Those that did not fit with the new organization were either transferred or mustered out. This reorganization did not go as smoothly as hoped, for there soon developed a serious rivalry between the Meos and the new Pathans.

          At the end of 1911, Lt.Col.Laing was awarded the 1911 Delhi Durbar Medal, being one of only two British Officers of the 121st Pioneers to receive it.

          In 1913, the 121st Pioneers provided a detachment of five British Officers, five Indian Officers, and three-hundred and fifty mean to Kacha, which was nearly a month’s desolate march out of the nearest railhead at Quetta, Baluchistan. Once there, they built a series of barracks from sun-dried mud bricks that they made themselves. The occupation of Kacha was carried out effort to put an end to the illegal arms-trade, with different Pioneer regiments being stationed there since 1906. In 1908 the 121st Pioneers had also put in some time.

          During the 1913 occupation, the rivalry between the Meos and Pathans erupted. Following a semi-final inter-company hockey tournament, a fight broke out between the two with hockey sticks and stones. One Meo and one Pathan were killed, and seventeen wounded. This event however finally cleared the air between the two, and once informed of the incident, the headquarters of the 4th ( Quetta ) Division simply replied “Let us know when the final is being played.”

          When the Great War erupted in August 1914, the 121st Pioneers were stationed at Jhansi. Instead of proceeding overseas, the 121st Pioneers were instead sent to the North West Frontier of India. They would remain there until late 1916, when they received orders to embark for Mesopotamia . Lt.Col.Laing however would not join his Regiment. In September 1915,  his time as commandant was up, and was replaced by Lt.Col.F.A.Andrews. Proceeding on leave form India , Laing would finally retire from the Indian Army on 30th June 1920 after a military career spanning nearly thirty-five years.

Captain J.S.B.Forde

122nd Rajputana Infantry

CJ Trevelyan Collection

         John Stuart Beresford Forde was born on 16th December, 1898. Nineteen years later, on 30th January 1917, he was commissioned into the Indian Army after graduating from the Cadet College at Quetta. Forde was then appointed on 7th February 1917 to the 1/119th Infantry (Mooltan Regiment) as a Company Officer. On the same day or possibly the next, he was attached to the 120th Rajputana Rifles, and is listed in its regimental history.

         On 24th May, 1917, Forde left the 120th Rajputana Rifles and was attached to the 122nd Rajputana Infantry, which was by then already in Mesopotamia. As such, Forde did not join his Regiment in the field for another four months, arriving on 24th September 1917. He then served with the 122nd Rajputana Infantry in 'Mespot' for over a year, carrying out routine, fairly uneventful, but very necessary lines-of-communication duties along the Tigris River.  On 30th January 1918, he was promoted Lieutenant.

- Account of the 122nd Rajputana Infantry in Mesopotamia 1917-1918 -

         Forde left Mesopotamia on 15th December 1918 when he transferred back to India for duty with the Regimental Depot. Six months later, on 12th June, 1919, Forde was attached to the 2/153rd Punjabis, and served as a company commander with the battalion during the Third Afghan War of 1919. The 2/153rd did not however, see any significant action.

- Account of the 2/153rd Punjabis during the Third Afghan War 1919 -

         On the 20th April 1920, Forde was appointed to the Indian Signal Service, and served with 'C' Divisional Signals. On 30th January 1921, he was promoted Captain. Forde retired from the Indian Army with gratuity on 1st April 1923,  having taken the terms offered during the 1922 re-organization.

         A few years later, Forde began a new career as a physician. In April 1927, he passed the entrance examination of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of England in the field of anatomy and physiology. He then attended Manchester Medical School, and on 30th January 1931, Forde completed the programme and was granted a license to practice physiology. Soon thereafter, he received a probationary appointment in the Indian Medical Service (IMS), and returned to military life in India. On 21st January 1933, Forde married Nancy Narcisse Carter (MB ch.B)., and roughly one year later, on 28th February 1934, he relinquished his probationary appointment in the IMS, and probably returned to England.


1st Lancers (Skinner’s Horse)

Courtesy of a Private Collection

Cyril Victor Bolton Pearson was born on 3rd January 1897 in Bury St.Edmunds, Suffolk, England. The son of Percy William Norton Pearson and Helen Matilda Pearson, he was educated at East Anglian School in Bury St.Edmunds, and then became an apprentice with a firm of outfitters and clothiers. On 26th February 1914, at the age of 17, Cyril volunteered to join the 5th Battalion Suffolk Regiment of the Territorial Force. At the time of application, he was described as being 5 feet 7 3/4 inches tall, Anglican and unmarried. Upon acceptance, he was given regimental number 1934. On 2nd September, 1914, one month after the outbreak of the Great War, Private Pearson volunteered to serve outside of the United Kingdom, thus making him eligible for his Territorial Force War Medal. On 12th November 1914 he was appointed Lance Corporal. Three months later, on 2nd February 1915, he applied unsuccessfully for a commission in the Suffolk Regiment. He was appointed acting Corporal on 26th June 1915.

         Cpl. Pearson remained in England until August 1916. On the 30th of that month, he was posted to the 1/4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, given 9298 as his new regimental number, and embarked for France the following day. Arriving at Boulogne, Cpl. Pearson remained at Etaples for roughly three weeks before joining the 1/4th Northumberland Fusiliers at the front on 20th September, 1916.

         Cpl. Pearson's new regiment had been in France since May 1915, and was part of the 149th Brigade, 50th Division. From 15th September 1916, or five days prior to Cpl. Pearson's arrival at the front, the 1/4th Northumberland Fusiliers had been engaged in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, which was part of the Somme offensive, and notable for the first introduction of tanks into combat. The Battle ended on 22nd September, two days after Cpl. Pearson's arrival. He was however, with the regiment during the Battles of Morval and Le Transloy, which took place from 25th-28th September and 1st-18th October 1916, respectively.

         In January 1917, Cpl. Pearson again applied for a commission. This time he was successful, being recommended for a temporary commission by both Lt.Colonel B.D.Gibson, commanding officer of the 1/4th Northumberland Fusiliers, and Brigadier-General Ovens, commanding officer of the 149th Infantry Brigade. Thus, after 148 days in France, Cpl. Pearson returned home to England for officer training on 25th January 1917.

         On 9th March 1917, Cpl. Pearson joined the No.21 Officer Cadet Battalion at Crookham, Hants. On 27th June 1917, after successfully completing his training, Cpl. Pearson was commissioned temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th (Service) Battalion Suffolk Regiment. He remained in England for the rest of 1917.

         In early 1918, 2nd Lt.Pearson applied to join the Indian Army. He was accepted on probation on 27th May, 1918, and set sail from Southampton bound for India on the same day. On 30th June 1918, 2nd Lt.Pearson completed the month long journey, and disembarked at Bombay. Four days later, on 4th July, he was attached to the 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers (Skinner's Horse). He joined his new regiment at Risalpur on 15th December 1918. On 27 March 1919, he was promoted Lieutenant.

        Lt. Pearson's time in India was not to be quiet. On 6th May 1919, the Third Afghan War broke out, and the 1st Lancers (Skinner's Horse) mobilized at once as part of the 1st Indian Cavalry Brigade*. On 13th May, 1919 the Brigade advanced through the Khyber Pass and occupied Dakka in Afghanistan, where it would remain until the end of August. Lt.Pearson remained with the 1st Lancers until 27th July 1919, when he took 21 days leave on a medical certificate.

         Soon afterwards, he requested to revert to British Service, and was posted to the 1st Garrison Battalion, Scottish Rifles (The Cameronians) on 29th October 1919. Lt. Pearson's time with the Scottish Rifles was to be short however, as on 8th November, he proceeded to Deolali for demobilization. He left the Service on 23rd December 1919, and was permitted to retain the rank of Lieutenant.

         Not content to return to civilian life, Lt.Pearson applied to join the Egyptian Army in January 1920, but was informed that only regular officers would be considered. With this, Lt. Cyril V. B. Pearson's military career came to its end.

         * 1st Indian Cavalry Brigade was composed of the 1st King's Dragoon Guards, 1st Duke of York's Own Lancers (Skinner's Horse), 33rd Queen Victoria's Own Light Cavalry and 'M' Battery Royal Horse Artillery. The 30th Lancers (Gordon's Horse) was attached to the Brigade.

Brigadier Harold Starmer Woods


Courtesy of a Private Collection

        Born in 1895, Harold Starmer Woods joined the British Army as an enlisted man on 21st February 1912, and served with the 1st Sussex Battery of the 1st Home Counties Brigade, Royal Field Artillery Territorial Force [Brighton]. In 1913, he was promoted Bombardier.

         Soon after the outbreak of the Great War, Woods was detached from his unit, and sent to France in September 1914 with a draft of remounts bound for the Braisne railhead. He would not remain in this theatre for long however, as on 29th October 1914, he departed for India with the 220th {CCXX) Brigade RFA (1st Sussex), which was to be attached to the 5th (Mhow) Division of the Indian Army.

         In December 1915, the 1st Sussex RFA left India for Mesopotamia, where it was attached to the 7th [Meerut] Division. Woods served as a forward observer, and during the next several months. took part in the ill-fated attempts to relieve the besieged garrison of Kut-al-Amara.

         On 4th July 1917, Woods received a commission into the S&TC Corps of the Indian Army, and was attached to the 14th Supply Company. Still serving in Mesopotamia, 2nd Lt.Woods was then attached as a supply officer to 'Dunsterforce' in 1918. Dunsterforce was created with the purpose of first halting any German or Turkish movements in North Persia, and then working with local allied Armenians and Russians to secure the oil fields at Baku on the Caspian Sea. Far removed from any support, Dunsterforce's mission was ultimately a failure, although it was extremely bold in conception. Woods however, benefited from the operation, learning Russian in the process. He also served in North West Persia as part of 'Norperforce'. On 5th July 1918, he was promoted Lieutenant.

         In 1919 and early 1920, Lt.Woods served as a special Foreign Office courier in the region. From June to November 1920, during the Iraqi Rebellion, he served as a Staff Captain at GHQ Baghdad. He then continued to serve in Iraq (as Mesopotamia was now known) in several posts, including DADS at GHQ Baghdad, and at RAF HQ in Baghdad. While with the RAF, Woods took part in several flights as a volunteer aerial observer, crashing on one occasion only being rescued by the later Sir John Bagot Glubb. Other postings included operations in Kurdistan with the S&TC in 1923, and then service as Assistant Commandant of No.6 Infantry Brigade Transport Company in 1924.

       In 1926, Woods returned to India where he transferred to the IASC (Peshawar District Supply Company), and posted to the Malakand-Dargai fort on the NW Frontier, followed by service at a Gurkha depot and a posting to the Khyber Brigade. He was also promoted substantive Captain.

 In 1927, he attended the Staff College at Quetta, and then served as a Staff Captain Peshawar District for three years. In 1931, he served in operations on the Khajuri Plain under General Cassels [medal and clasp] where he was also Mentioned in Dispatches.

         In April 1932, Woods was appointed Commandant of the 34th Animal Transport Company, and on 6th May he was promoted Brevet Major. He later served as a Staff Officer and DAQMG to Mohmand Force HQ NWF Force. In 1933, he took part in the Mohmand Campaign [clasp].

         In 1934, Woods was appointed deputy assistant director of Transport for the Meerut District. On 3rd July, he was appointed to the Order of the British Empire (Military Division) for "valuable services rendered in the field in connection with military operations against the Upper Mohmands July-October 1933". He was also Mentioned in Dispatches again.

         In 1936, Woods was appointed DADT Peshawar District, followed by a post of officiating Commandant No.5 MAI. On 13th February, he was promoted Major.

         In 1939, Woods served at GHQ India at Delhi as DAQMG. In January 1941, Woods served briefly as Deputy Assistant QMG 17th Division before being promoted Lt.Colonel and appointed Commander RIASC 17th Division. With the onslaught of the Japanese in late 1941, Lt.Col.Woods served as CRIASC in Burma, and took part in the withdrawl to Imphal in early 1942. For his work during this period, he was Mentioned in Dispatches for a third time.

        After a period of sick leave, Woods was appointed Chief Instructor of Desert Warfare at the RIASC Officers & Cadets training school at Kakul on the N.W. Frontier.

         In 1943 he was appointed senior officer & chief instructor at the RIASC school at Kakul. He was twice appointed Brevet Colonel, but chose to retain the rank of Lt.Colonel. In 1945, he was appointed Commandant of the RIASC school at Kakul.

        In addition to his time at Kakul, from 1944 to 1946, Woods served as Deputy Director-Military of GSO1 school training at GHQ India at Delhi. On 13th June he was appointed Acting Brigadier, and then Temporary Brigadier & DDMT in December 1945. In September 1946, he relinquished his temporary rank, and returned to the RIASC school at Kakul.

         Following Indian Independence in 1947, Woods was seconded to the Pakistani Army, and remained at Kakul for one year as an advisor in Corps training. Following this last posting, he retired from military life with the honourary rank of Brigadier, thus ending a career of thirty-five years that witnessed his rise from lowly gunner all the way to honourary Brigadier.

Lt.Col. H.K. Percy-Smith

40th Pathans

CJ Trevelyan Collection

     Hubert Kendall Percy-Smith was born on 9th September 1897. Educated at Shrewsbury and then Sandhurst, Percy-Smith received his commission on 1st May 1917. He then served briefly with the East Surrey Regiment in England before embarking in early November for his ultimate destination; India. Assigned to the 40th Pathans, he arrived at their depot at Fatehgarh on 30th November 1917.

           His new regiment was still on campaign in East Africa however, and had been so since December 1915. Only in early February 1918 were they finally to embark for India, arriving at their depot on 24th February. With nearly 3 years of service overseas, the 'Forty Thieves' were well due some rest at home, and the regiment would not see any further action during the Great War. Over the next 8 months, Percy-Smith remained with the 40th Pathans, earning his musketry certificate at Changla Gali, passing a Lewis gun course, and receiving his promotion to Lieutenant. In October 1918, he received orders to leave his regiment for temporary attachment to the war raised 3/30th Punjabis stationed at Ferozepore. Like the 40th Pathans, the 3/30th Punjabis were also destined to remain in India, thus ensuring that Percy-Smith would earn the British War Medal alone for his Great War service. He would however still gain valuable experience as both a company commander and officiating quarter-master during this time. Unfortunately, his posting to the 3/30th Punjabis meant that he also missed out on the Third Afghan War of May 1919, while the 40th Pathans took part in the campaign. As partial compensation, it appears that he was able to proceed on active service to occupied Turkey as part of the Army of the Black Sea, though not with his regiment. On 21st May 1921, he was promoted to Captain.

           With the disbandment of the 3/30th Punjabis, Percy-Smith returned to the 40th Pathans late in 1921, and re-joined a regiment in the midst of post-war re-organization. Earlier in the year, the 40th Pathans received notice that it was to become the training battalion of the new 16th Punjab Regiment, which meant transferring or mustering out the regiment's Pathans. By the time Percy-Smith returned, this order had been suspended, and the 40th Pathans instead received orders to join the new 14th Punjab Regiment as an active battalion and retain 1 company of Pathans, which had to be hastily re-formed.

           Despite the challenges faced by the 40th Pathans, it appears that Percy-Smith was quick to impress his Commander Officer. In his first post-war annual report with the 40th Pathans, Lt.Col.H.S.Tysdall DSO described him as doing good work and having 'plenty of brains'. Later, Tysdall added that Percy-Smith was 'hard working and studious' and approved his name for the Staff College List. On January 3rd, 1922, while still re-organizing, the regiment received orders to proceed to Iraq in one month's time. This time, Captain Percy-Smith was to proceed overseas with his regiment, now re-titled the 5th Battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment.

Arriving in Karachi on February 6th, the 5/14th was delayed due to unrest in the city caused by the recent arrest of Gandhi. Percy-Smith and his battalion were ordered to guard the city's railway station, though no further troubles developed. Finally, on 22nd February, the 5/14th proceeded to Iraq, arriving in Basra 6 days later. At once, the battalion proceeded up the Tigris to Amara, where it relieved two companies of the Buffs. While Iraq had been a major theatre during the Great War and then the stage of a serious revolt in 1920, it had largely settled down to a peacetime routine by the time the 5/14th arrived. Amara, being an advanced base during the war, even enjoyed such amenities as an electric power plant, water purification machinery, and a refrigeration steamer. The greatest threat during this period came from rifle thieves; a problem largely solved by the clever use of wire, sentries, and perimeter machine-guns. Towards the end of September, 'C' and 'D' Companies under Major Segar, Captain Caunter, and Captain Percy-Smith, proceeded back down the Tigris to Basra. The 2 companies then proceeded west to Shaiba where they relived two companies of the 33rd Punjabis. In 1922, Shaiba was primarily used as an airfield and home of No.84 RAF Squadron. Little of note happened over the following few months, though the officers were allowed on a few RAF flights. In January 1923, 'C' Company under Captains Caunter and Percy-Smith returned to Basra to again relieve the 33rd Punjabis. They would remain in Basra on guard duty until early September 1923, when the entire regiment re-united and returned to India.

Bombay was reached on September 15th 1923, which was then followed by 2 days in quarantine. Due to it's stay in un-healthy Basra, Percy-Smith's 'C' Company of Punjabi Muslims in particular suffered heavily from malaria and even one non-fatal case of bubonic plague. Shortly afterwards, some 600 officers and men including Percy-Smith proceeded on well deserved furlough after 19 months in Iraq. Like some other young officers with a desire to see the world, Captain Percy-Smith returned to England via Canada. He returned to India and his regiment in early 1924. For the remainder of the decade the, 5/14th Punjab would be stationed variously at Ahmedabad, Bannu, and Delhi, with no active soldiering on the Frontier or elsewhere.

           Unfortunately for Captain Percy-Smith, he was not as popular with the new acting Commandant of the 5/14th, Major A.C.H.Trevor. After only 4 months of service together, Trevor noted that "...Capt. Percy-Smith is I think a willing officer, (but) in my opinion he is never likely to have the personality or influence with others necessary to make an efficient staff officer." As a result of Trevor's report, Percy-Smith's name was struck off the staff college list permanently. On 12th April 1926, Captain Percy-Smith was sent to the 10th/14th Punjab Regiment at Ahmedabad, which was the training battalion of the regiment. The Commandant, Lt.Col.J.C.Macrae also noted some of Percy-Smith's shortcomings, stating in early 1927 that "his powers of command and initiative and judgment all require developing. He also seems inclined to self-complacency and appears to take his duties and responsibilities somewhat lightly." To Percy-Smith's credit, Macrae added that "I think that he has plenty of ability; he manners are good and he is intelligent. I have pointed out his shortcomings to him and have already noted an improvement." Col.R.J.F.Hayter, Commandant of the Ferozepore Brigade Area added " I concur and feel confident he will improve. He did quite well as an umpire at a recent brigade tacticial exercise." The following year, while still with the 10/14th Punjab Regiment, Lt.Col.Macrae noted of Percy-Smith that "His powers of command, initiative, and judgement has shown a distinct improvement since I reported on him last year. He has plenty of ability, his manners both to those above him and to his subordinates are good, and his habits are temperate."

           Nevertheless, the damage to Captain Percy-Smith's professional reputation had been done. Later in the year, Maj.General H.F.Cooke, Commandant Lahore District suggested rather discouragingly that "Capt Percy-Smith must take to heart the remarks of his Commanding Officer and to fit himself still more more for advancement in a career which he has adopted – otherwise he cannot expect to make a successful Company Commander." By January 1930, Capt Percy-Smith had rejoined the 5/14th Punjab Regiment from the 10th/14th training battalion. On February 26th 1930, in a large and formal ceremony, the 5/14th Punjab Regiment received new Colours from the Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir.W.R.Birdwood. Several prominent guests were present, and over 100 retired Indian Officers and Other Ranks of the 40th Pathans were the guests of the battalion for a week.

           Later in the year, the 5/14th stood ready in Delhi for several weeks to support the civil authority during a period of serious political unrest. One company saw active service in support of the police, and quickly dispersed a crowd without incident. 1931 was occupied with training, regimental sports, and the provision of various detachments including a Guard of Honour at the opening of the India Gate Memorial in New Delhi, and Guard for the residence of the Governor of the United Provinces. In 1932, with little prospect for career advancement, Capt.Percy-Smith took a leave of absence from the Indian Army pending retirement, and officially retired on 10th May 1933.

           Upon his return to England, Percy-Smith became actively engaged in research and geneaology; a far cry from regimental hockey in Delhi. He soon joined the Society of Geneologists, and became the society's librarian in 1937. With the clouds of another European war looming, Percy-Smith and the Society's Secretary Mrs.Blomfield became concerned about the survival of parish records in the event of any aerial bombardment. As a result, they painstakingly produced the National Index of Parish Register Copies which was completed in the spring of 1939.

            Following the outbreak of war, Percy-Smith returned to India to re-joined the 14th Punjab Regiment. Given his seven year absence from regimental soldiering, he was soon transferred to the Military Accounts Department for duty with Northern Command in Rawalpindi. Arriving on 23rd Septmeber 1940, he would serve as Assistant Controller of Military Accounts, Northern Command, for the remainder of the war. Unlike his pre-war service, promotion came rapidly. By 1941 he was serving as a Brevet Major, which was followed by promotion to acting Lt.Colonel on 3rd September 1944. On 3rd December 1944, he was promoted War Substantive Major and temporary Lt.Colonel.

            With the war rapidly winding down, Percy-Smith was released from service on 18th July 1945, and was permitted to retire with the rank and gratuity of a Lt.Colonel. His commanding officer noted that, his service was "entirely satisfactory during the period of his employment." Following the war, Percy-Smith continued to be active in the Society of Geneaoloigsts, serving as the society's librarian again from 1945 to 1950, and as chairman on the executive committee from 1948-50. He was also elected a Fellow in the Society in 1948 for his pre-war efforts in compiling the Index of Parish Register Copies.

         For the next two decades, Percy-Smith compiled several collections of geneological records relating to the HEIC and British India. He also helped many former servants of the British Indian government to retain British nationality following Indianès independance in 1947. Lt.Col.Percy-Smith passed on 3rd June, 1975, only a couple of weeks after the last of his indexing work had been done.

Lt. C.V.B. Pearson,1st Lancers (Skinner’s Horse)

Lt. Col.H.K. Percy-Smith, 40th Pathans

Brig. H.S. Woods, RIASC