Christopher Trevelyan © King-Emperor.com 2003-2014 | Trevelyan@king-emperor.com

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The Indian Army on campaign 1900-1939

Indian Army Officers

Sub-Maj. Muhd. Ismail OBI, IOM,  39th Mtn.Battery

Subedar Kifayat Ullah IDSM,  32nd Mtn.Battery

Subadar Banta Singh, 7th Mtn.Battery

Subadar Alam Khan OBI, IOM, Guides Infantry

Jemadar Shah Wali Khan, 3rd Sappers & Miners

Jemadar Ilam Din, 67th Punjabis

Subadar Gird Ali, 106th Pioneers



Subadar Chatra Ram IDSM, 2/113th Infantry

Subadar Zaid-Ullah Khan, 2/155th infantry

Khan Bahadur Sher Jang, Survey of India

Subadar Binda Singh, 128th Pioneers - new

Hon. Capt. Sub.-Major Muhd Ismail

Sardar Bahadur, OBI, IOM.

39th (Maymyo) Mountain Battery

Courtesy of Mr. Badar Kabeer


         Muhammad Ismail joined the Indian Army on 9th November 1886. He would quickly see field service in thick and dangerous jungle with the Indian Mountain Artillery during the Lushai Campaign and then Burma, earning the 1854 India General Service Medal with two clasps.


         By 1897, Muhammad Ismail had been promoted to Havildar-Major and was serving with the 6th (Bombay) Mountain Battery. On the 10th of June of that year, the 6th Mountain Battery was assigned to serve as part of an escort to Mr.Gee, Political Officer, during a meeting with the Madda Khel at Maizar deep in the Tochi Valley of the North-West Frontier. Despite being invited and during entertainment, a barrage of fire was opened upon the British Officers of the escort and their Sikh bodyguards without warning. The guns of the 6th Mountain Battery opened fire and did great damage to the enemy, but were nonetheless in a very dire spot. From the History of the Indian Mountain Artillery by Brig.Gen.Graham:


         The guns continued to fire under the orders of Nos.1 until their ammunition was expended. The carriage mule of No.3 gun was wounded, so Havildar Nihal Singh and a naik and gunner carried the load to the relief line, 170 yards away. No.4 gun somersaulted twice, but was picked up and went on firing; two lanyards also broke at this gun, but the detachment under Naik Sharaf Ali carried on. When limbering up, the gun mule was wounded and bolter; then the gun was carried to the relief by Havildar-Major Mahomet Ismail [Mohammad Ismail] and two gunners. Salutri Kewal dressed Captain Browne’s wounds under fire, and the drivers behaved admirably, even loading up the greatcoats on the relief mule lines.


         The gunners of the 6th Battery remained in action until the relief force was finally in a position on safety later in the day. For his gallantry and devotion to duty at Maizar, Havildar-Major Muhammad Ismail was awarded the Indian Order of Merit 3rd Class as well as the 1895 India General Service Medal with one clasp.


         On 22nd October 1900, Muhammad Ismail was promoted to Jemadar. As a junior Indian Officer, he took part in operations in the Aden interior during the 1903-04 campaign. On 1st September 1907, he was promoted to Subedar, and posted to the 32nd Mountain Battery that same year.


         On 1st December 1910, Muhammad Ismail was promoted to Subedar-Major. In 1911, he attended the great Delhi Durbar and was awarded the Delhi Durbar medal. Following the outbreak of the Great War, he was awarded the Order of British India 1st Class with title of Sardar Bahadur on 4th December 1916 for his long and honourable service. Muhammad Ismail’s soldiering days were not yet done however. In April 1918, the 32nd Mountain Battery was mobilized at Maymyo and divided into two batteries: the 32nd (Poonch) and the 39th (Maymyo). Muhammad Ismail was assigned to be the Subedar-Major in the 39th Battery. Both were ordered at once to proceed on active field service to Palestine.


Full Medal Entitlement

Order of British India 1st Class

Indian Order of Merit, 2nd Class

1854 India General Service Medal with clasps 'Burma 1885-87 & Burma 1887-89'

1895 India General Service Medal with clasp 'Punjab Frontier 1897-98'

1911 Delhi Durbar Medal

1914-15 Star

British War Medal 1914-1918

Victory Medal 1914-1919

1935 Coronation & 1936 Jubilee Medals

Royal Victorian Medal



Subadar Kifayat Ullah, IDSM

32nd (Poonch) Mountain Battery

Courtesy of Mr.Badar Kabeer


     The son of Hon.Captain Subedar-Major Muhammad Ismail, Kifayat Ullah joined the Indian Army on 1st October 1907. Like his father, he served in the 32nd Mountain Battery, and was also present at the 1911 Delhi Durbar. Well after the outbreak of the Great War, and still serving in India, Kifayat Ullah was promoted to Jemadar on 1st August 1917.


    After much waiting, the 32rd Mountain Battery finally received orders to proceed overseas to Palestine in April 1918. It was at once re-organized as two four gun batteries, with one Battery remaining the 32nd (Poonch) while the other  became the 39th (Maymyo) Battery. Jemadar Kifayat Ullah remained with the 32nd Battery, while his father would serve as Subedar-Major of the 39th Battery.


    The 32nd and 39th were brigaded with the 29th Mountain Batteries into the 10th Indian Mountain Artillery Brigade under the command of Lt.Col.A.M.Colville. The three Batteries would not serve together long however, for in preparation for General Allenby's September Offensive, the 39th Battery was removed from the Brigade to be attached to the 53rd Division.  The HQ and the two remaining Batteries were then attached to Chaytor's Force; a mobile mixed cavalry force on the far right of the British position.


     On 19th September 1918, Allenby's offensive began. All along the line Turkish resistance quickly crumbled. During the ensuing advance, 'Chaytor's Force' received orders to cut off the Turkish retreat from Amman. As part of this action, on 25th September, the 32nd Battery went into action, and had "some shooting on trenches from a covered position, and the F.O.O. knocked out some machine guns, but the affair was soon over"¹.  For this action, Jemadar Kifayat Ullah was awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal. The remainder of the campaign for the 32nd would be a series of long, hard, and hot marches under the most trying of conditions. It would remain in the Holy Land until December 1920, when it returned to Jutogh, India.


     Kifayat Ullah would continue to service in the Indian Army for a brief period longer including service on the North-West Frontier of India. He would retire as a Subedar in the mid-1920s.


    ¹  The History of the Indian Mountain Artillery by Brig.Gen.Graham


Full Medal Entitlement


Indian Distinguished Service Medal

1911 Delhi Durbar Medal

1914-15 Star

British War Medal 1914-1918

Victory Medal 1914-1919

1908 India General Service Medal with Waziristan 1921-24 Clasp.



Subadar Alam Khan, OBI, IOM 1st Class

Queen’s Own Corps of Guides Infantry

Courtesy of the Dr.Tim Moreman Collection


         Alam Khan, a Ghilzai Pathan, enlisted in the Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides Infantry, part of the elite Punjab Frontier Force, as a Sepoy on 19th April 1886 and served with this unit during in the Hazara Campaign in 1891 and in 1895 during the Relief of Chitral. In July 1897 the then Havildar Alam Khan took part in the famous 32-mile long march with the Guides Infantry from Mardan to Malakand after which it went straight into action defending against heavy tribal attacks.


         The Queen’s Own Corps of Guides Infantry formed part of the Malakand Field Force, commanded by Major-General Sir Bindon Blood, sent into Bajaur to carry out punitive operation against the Mohmand and Mamund tribes, in retaliation for their participation in the unprovoked attacks on the Malakand. Following a surprise attack on a perimeter encampment occupied by the 2nd Brigade, punitive operations were mounted on 16th September by three small columns against scattered settlements near the village of Inayat Khel in the Mamund Valley . As planned the central column began its withdrawal at 2.30pm , but an isolated company of the 36th Sikhs came under heavy Mamund attack as it struggled to rejoin the main body. The Guides were immediately ordered in support of this hard-pressed detachment, which it successfully relieved after a forced march and then fought a series of desperate rearguard actions all the way back to camp. For bravery that day 3317 Havildar Alam Khan was awarded the Indian Order of Merit 3rd Class [GO 232 of 1898] for handling his men with ‘great dexterity, coolness, and bravery.’ On 26th July 1898 Alam Khan was promoted to the rank of Jemadar.


          The Guides Infantry saw no further major action on the North-West Frontier for several years. On 1st April 1905 Alam Khan was promoted Subadar. In 1908 The Guides Infantry took part in during the short-lived and highly successful punitive operations against hostile Mohmand tribesmen. For his services during what the press dubbed the ‘Willcock’s Weekend Wars’ given their short duration and victorious conclusion, Subadar Alam Khan was awarded the IGS 1908 Bar North-West Frontier 1908. In July 1913 he was promoted Subadar-Major of the Guides Infantry.


          The 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Corps of Guides remained on the North-West Frontier of India following the outbreak of the First World War and took part in several operations on the Mohmand and Buner borders. On 8th October 1915 the Guides Infantry participated in an attack by 1st ( Peshawar ) Division on a large lashkar (war party) of hostile Mohmand tribesmen gathered near Hafiz Kor. During this hard-fought engagement Subadar-Major Alam Khan led the Yusufzai Company during the successful attack on Tower Hill. During the heavily-contested withdrawal from this position he helped evacuate dead and wounded from his company under heavy fire. He also noticed four rifles had been left behind by wounded men and crawled back to recover them. For his ‘exceptionally fine leadership in action, both on the Mohmad and Buner Borders, and for conspicuous bravery in actions near Hafiz Kor on the 8th October 1915, when by his coolness, courage and good example he succeeded in getting away a large number of dead and wounded men of his company’ he was promoted to the First Class of the Order of Merit [GO 102 of 1916]. Subadar-Major Alam Khan Bahadur was also Mentioned in Despatches for his services. [ London Gazette 4th July 1916 ]. On 19th January 1916 Subadar-Major Alam Khan was admitted to the Order of British India 1st Class with the title ‘Sardar Bahadur’. In February 1917 the Guides Infantry were despatched to Mespotamia where Alam Khan served with his battalion until his retirement in October 1917. For his services during the First World War he was also awarded the Croix de Guerre.


Full Medal Entitlement

Order of British India 1st Class

Indian Order of Merit, 1st Class

1854 India General Service Medal with clasp 'Hazara 1891'

1895 India General Service Medal with clasps 'Relief of Chitral 1895', 'Malakand 1897' and 'Punjab Frontier 1897-98'

1908 India General Service Medal with clasp North West Frontier 1908' [pictured above]

1914-15 Star

British War Medal 1914-1918

Victory Medal with MID emblem

French 'Croix de Guerre'



Subadar Banta Singh

7th (Bengal) Mountain Battery

Courtesy of the Dr.Tim Moreman collection


Banta Singh enlisted in the Indian Army on 12th March, 1917. He served throughout the interwar years, and saw action with the 7th (Bengal) Mountain Battery during the 1936-37 Waziristan Campaign for which was awarded his India General Service Medal. During that Campaign, the 7th (Bengal) Mountain Battery took part in two important operations; the march of the Razcol Column through the Khaisora Valley on 25th November, 1936, and the famous night march over the Iblanke Mountain on the 11th-12th May, 1937. Four months after the latter operation, on 10th September, 1937, Banta Singh received his Viceroy's commission. On 1st July, 1939, Jemadar Banta Singh was promoted to the rank of Subedar.

At the outbreak of the 1941-1942 Malaya Campaign, Subedar Banta Singh was serving with the Sikh Section of the 7th (Bengal) Mountain Battery at Padang Besar. Forced to retreat south by the advancing Japanese, he would take full part in the ensuing campaign and was Mentioned in Dispatches for his work; one of only four MiD's received by the Royal Indian Artillery during the Malaya Campaign, and the only one received by a Viceroy Commissioned Officer. Subedar Banta Singh was almost certainly taken prisoner with the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February, 1942.

M.I.D. - London Gazette, 19th December 1946: 'The KING has been graciously pleased to approve that the following be Mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Malaya in 1942.' - Royal Indian Artillery - Sub.Banta Singh (7531 IO.). The three other Royal Indian Artillery MiD's were Maj. E. L. Sawyer MBE, Capt. J. Spalding and 39041 BQMS Nur Khan.

The Khaisora Valley - November 25th 1936

The spark that lit Waziristan alight in 1936 was the 'Islam Bibi Case'. It began when a Hindu girl was abducted by a young Muslim school teacher in the NWFP. She was later recovered, but the two had wed, and she had converted to Islam. The question facing the Indian Government was, which community should she be returned to, Muslim or Hindu? After some deliberation, it was eventually decided that as the girl was only 15, she should live with a third neutral party until she could decide for herself when she came of age. This inflamed many Muslims, who believed that the girl may be forced to give up her recent conversion to Islam. One man in particular, Mizra Ali Khan, better known as the Fakir of Ipi, took it upon himself to lead the charge against an infidel Government that unjustly interfered in Islamic affairs. The Fakir claimed to be the Champion of Islam and in possession of divine powers, and soon set forth stirring up anti-Government ferment amongst the various tribes of Waziristan. To help settle the Frontier, the Government asked that the Tori Khels who were harbouring the Fakir expel him, but when it appeared that this would not happen, it was decided to send two columns, 'Razcol' and 'Tocol', through Tori Khel territory as a demonstration of Government strength.

The Razmak Column (Razcol), was comprised of the 1st Northamptons, 1/9th Gurkha Rifles, 5/12 Frontier Force Regiment (QVO Guides), 6/13th Frontier Force Rifles (Scinde), eight platoons of Tochi Scouts, and the 22nd Mountain Brigade, RA, which included the 3rd Light Mountain Battery, and 4th (Hazara) and 7th (Bengal) Indian Mountain Batteries. The smaller Tochi Column (Tocol), was comprised of one squadron 5th KEO Probyn's Horse, 3/7th Rajputs, 1/17th Dogras, six platoons of Tochi Scouts, including two mounted, and no artillery. Razcol was to march roughly ten miles east from Damdil through the Khaisora Valley until it met Tocol at Bishe Kashkai. For its part, Tocol was to advance fifteen miles south west from Mir Ali through Hassu Khel, Imar de Kila and the Jaler Algad, until its rendezvous with Razcol.

In the early hours of 25th November, Razcol set out, and met with unexpected opposition during the march. Nevertheless, after a long day of slow advance and regular piquets, the rear guard of Razcol made it into Bishe Kashkai by 2115 with a loss of nine dead and twenty-five wounded. Amongst the killed were Major John Seccombe and two sepoys of the 6/13th, who after losing contact with Razcol in the darkness of night, were slain by tribesmen.

To the North-East, also in the early morning of the 25th November, Tocol set out on its march. About seven miles along the way, Brigadier Maynard, who was in command of the column, received warnings from Kassadars (tribal levies) and or Tori Khel Maliks (tribal authorities) that the Column would encounter tribal opposition ahead. Sure enough, only a short distance ahead, Tocol encountered considerable resistance from well concealed Tori Khels. As the Tochi Scouts and 1/17th Dogras were engaged in piqueting, it fell upon the 3/7 Rajputs and the squadron of Probyn's Horse to clear the way. The 3/7th and Probyn's however, had just arrived on the Frontier, and Brigadier Maynard considered both to be 'soft' and not yet ready for the rigours of Frontier fighting. Indeed, even before the assault began, three British Officers of the 3/7th Rajputs were either killed or wounded, and it took time to bring up the two remaining British officers who were with the battalion's transport and reorganize for the assault. This was eventually accomplished, with the support of a charge by Probyn's Horse, although casualties were heavy. Following the initial engagement, there was not enough time or manpower to recover all of the bodies of the fallen, and as a result, one of the basic rules of Frontier fighting had been broken; some of the dead had been left behind. Later on, the bodies were found to be well mutilated by tribesmen.

As Tocol continued on, even through dusk and night, it soon became apparent that they would not reach their assigned destination, so Brigadier Maynard decided to make camp, two miles short of the rendezvous point at Bishe Kashkai. Still separated, communication between the two columns had to be performed through tribal Khassadar runner. After Razcol had reached the rendezvous location, they sent the Khassadar 'George' to update Tocol on the situation. In order to carry out his objective, 'George' had to talk his way through Tori Khel 'lines', and for his effort he received Rs100 and a promotion to Havildar. The next morning, Razcol sent out the 7th (Bengal) Mountain Battery and some infantry to assist Tocol, but the latter made it back to Bishe Kashkai on its own.

Because of a shortage of rations, and the swelling of tribal opposition up to 2,000 strong, it was decided to pull both columns out of the Khaisora Valley for Mir Ali on the 27th. Eighteen were wounded. In total for both columns over the three days, between 19 and 29 were killed, and between 102 and 106 were wounded, depending on the source. The heaviest casualties were suffered by the 3/7th Rajputs, with 7 dead and 22 wounded, and the 6/13th FFR (Scinde), with 6 dead and 14 wounded. It was estimated that 41 tribesmen were killed, and 32 seriously wounded. Waziristan would not really settle down again during the inter-war years.

The Night March over the Iblanke Mountain - 11th-12th May 1937

By M.F.Kemmis Betty (excerpt from Tales of the Mountain Gunners)

Waziristan had erupted, as in every few years throughout its stormy history. It was a big eruption too, as if the tribes had guessed that a World War was coming and there would not be many more chances of a smack at the Raj. The Fakir of Ipi was rampant and the young militants were coming from all directions to support him in a jehad; even the Afghans were joining in. His latest success was a well planned ambush near Damdil, in which the Gurkhas suffered heavy casualties.

We must have been given a jist of the plan, though I remember it was very secret and most unusual. The 'method' looked far from easy, if only the closeness of he contours on our maps, and we knew here could have been no reconnaissance. Now, still shuffling slowly forward, we began to climb. The way became very rough as well as steep; there was no signs of a path. The mules with the heavier loads were labouring, but there could be no off loading for a rest. We could not be sure of a long enough halt, and the order was KEEP CLOSED UP.

The Gurkhas assailants were reported to have withdrawn into the hills to the south, where the Fakir of Ipi was currently touring the Shaktu Valley, this being Bhitanni country. Too far off, therefore, for RAZCOL (the Brigade at Razmak), which anyway had problems of its own; so here was TOCOL (the Brigade from Bannu) with instructions to climb the two thousand feet to the Sham Plain, catch the Fakir and end the war. Rumour had it, afterwards, that the Brigadier was shocked to find what this feat involved, and said he never would have embarked on it had he known.

Now the moon was up, and we could see roughly where we were, evidently on the narrow spur named Iblanke on the map; not that we could do any map reading by moonlight, and another strict order had been NO LIGHTS. The spur went up and up, and was dominated by higher spurs on both sides, on which we could imagine a hundred pairs of eyes watching our progress. There may have been none, but we did hope we would be in a somewhat better position by the time dawn broke.

There were two mountain batteries: 7 (Bengal) commanded by the memorable 'Stret' (Captain N.R.Streatfield, M.C.) who was killed at Dunkirk, and 19 (Maymyo) under Jimmy Hills. I was serving in the latter and we had recently moved from Fort Sandeman to Rawalpindi and had been rather looking forward to a nice quiet life in cantonments. 7 (Bengal) it seemed, had won the toss for best place in the order of march and would obviously be first into action if we met opposition. But just now it was hard to see how even one gun could be used without holding up everything behind it.

Came the paling grey of first light and we were all, men and beasts, rather wilting from our night-long exertions and lack of sleep, but keyed up by the excitement of the moment. Would we reach that col on the skyline in time, or be spotted now and fired upon? If the latter, from which direction? At last, the gradient eased and there was room to spread out. Rapidly the light improved and showed that we were in a kind of bowl over-looked by a tree-covered ridge in front, with a fairly gentle slope leading to the col. The advance guard was already there. The valley on our right appeared to be bottomless, with precipitous flanks.

Suddenly one or two shots, then quite a fusillade from the direction of the col, but muted as if from the far side of it. A pause, then more firing; none I think, in my direction. The Sikhs had rushed some enemy positions on the col, and presently the body of one of their Subedars, killed in the assault, came back on a stretcher. The Guards of the Indian Army, this battalion (2/11 Sikhs; the old 15th Ludhiana Sikhs) disliked all Pathans at the best of times; now their blood was up and they went in with battle cries.

In the event, perhaps with a good deal of luck, the timing was nearly perfect. We had achieved surprise, and to such effect that the enemy was convinced, even when our lead troops appeared, that they were only a gasht (patrol) of Scouts. So he held his ground and stood up for a fight, and duly took his punishment.

7 (Bengal) Mountain Battery, now in action in the neck of the col with gun intervals of about five yards, was firing point blank into the thickly wooded slopes on the far side. Battle conference on the col, or strictly speaking ten yards to the side of it; I retain a vivid picture of Lieutenant-Colonel (later General) Billy Key of the (2/11th) Sikhs bringing us back a little and saying, with his broad grin, that he personally proposed to live and fight another day.

Another battalion went through, in pursuit of the fleeing enemy, and 7 (Bengal) Mountain Battery limbered up and went with it. At last 19 (Maymyo) Mountain Battery was able to join in the fun, and dropped its trails in the position vacated by 7 (Bengal). GF TARGAT SHRAPNEL CHARGE FIVE...and the weary Gun Position Officer, namely myself, very nearly forgot to order the wretched fuze length.

We had 'won the day', and that afternoon Coronation Camp was established in the Sham Plain. It was 12th May 1937 and a signal went off submitting our humble duty to His Majesty King George VI (who had just been coronated).



Subadar Binda Singh

128th Pioneers

CJ Trevelyan Collection


         Binda Singh joined the Indian Army on 20th March 1903, where he served with the 128th Pioneers for most of his career. In 1911, the 128th along with 4 other Indian Pioneer battalions were employed in preparing the grandstands, arena, and camps for the great Delhi Durbar, and took part in the festivities as well. Binda Singh, now a Lance-Naik, was present with his battalion and was awarded the 1911 Durbar medal.


         Following the outbreak of the Great War, the 128th Pioneers embarked for Egypt, arriving in November 1914. Along with several other Indian battalions, the 128th took an active part in repelling the Turkish assault on the Suez Canal in January and February 1915, winning two IOMs in the process. With the canal secure, the 128th Pioneers remained standing guard until December 1915, when it embarked for Mesopotamia. While Havildar Binda Singh had arrived in Egypt with his battalion and took part in defence of Suez, he was not to remain in the theatre for long. On March 31st 1915 he left Egypt, most probably due to illness, and would not re-join the 128th Pioneers in the field until late 1916. As such, he was not with the 128th Pioneers during the bloody and fruitless attempts to relieve Kut in late 1915 and early 1916.


       Following the fall of Kut on April 29th 1916, the Mesopotamian Front remained largely inactive while both sides rested and re-equipped during the heat of summer. On 2nd September 1916 Havildar Binda Singh arrived in Mesopotamia, probably with a draft of reinforcements, and soon re-joined the 128th Pioneers opposite the Turkish Sannaiyat position.


       In early January 1917, Lt.Gen. Maude, the new commander of Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, launched his long awaited offensive to re-capture Kut and advance upon Baghdad. While not part of the assault, the 128th Pioneers were engaged in building communication trenches at night, losing 4 other ranks killed and one British officer and 25 other ranks wounded in the process.


         In late February, the 128th Pioneers was tasked with a major role in the crossing of the Tigris at the Shumran Bend. If successful, it would place a large Anglo-Indian force on the left bank of the Tigris well behind the Turkish position at Sannaiyat. Three different ferry points were to be used, with the 2nd Norfolks at Ferry No.1, The 2/9th Gurkhas at Ferry No.2, and the 1/2nd Gurkhas at Ferry No.3. One company of the 128th Pioneers was also assigned to each ferry point, with the Sikh Company at Ferry No.3. In addition, 75 men of the 128th were assigned as rowers.


          On 23rd February the crossing began, and while Ferry No.2 and No.3 ran into serious opposition, all three points managed to land men on the left bank and hold their position until a bridge could be built. The 128th lost 4 men killed and one British officer and 15 other ranks wounded during the crossing. One DSO, 4 MCs, 1 IOM, and 3 IDSMs were however won by the battalion, which gives some indication of the importance and difficulty of the operation. Subadar Sher Afzal, who was in change of the 128th's rowers, won both the IDSM and MC! While not mentioned, Havildar Binda Singh was awarded the Indian Meritorious Service Medal for his service in Mesopotamia, so it is very possible that it was for his role in the Sikh Company with Ferry No.3.


   For the remainder of the Mesopotamian campaign until the end of the Great War, the 128th Pioneers was employed mostly on pioneer duties with the 14th Division. The armistice did not send the 128th back to India however. Instead, the battalion remained in Iraq before proceeding further north into Kurdistan.


       During the summer of 1919, the Sikh and Pathan companies of the 128th were left at Sowara post near Kirkuk, while several columns marched in search of hostile Kurds. Surrounded by steep hills, Sowara was not expected to be the site of a serious action. Besides the 2 companies of the 128th in the camp and a lone gun of the 34th Mountain Battery, seven piquets held by the 8th Rajputs secured the high ground around the post.


          In the early morning on 14 August, a large and determined Kurdish force attacked Sowara, and managed to capture piquet no.3 at the entire hill upon which it sat. In the ensuing fight, 2 platoons of the Sikh company 128th Pioneers and some men of the 8th Rajputs were tasked with re-taking piquet no.3, which the Pioneers did despite heavy fire. By mid-afteroon the Kurdish attack dissipated and the post was held. The 128th Pioneers lost 8 other ranks killed and one British officer and 25 other ranks wounded. One MC and two IDSMs were won by the Battalion, while Havildar Binda Singh was mentioned in despatches, presumably for this action. Soon afterwards, the 128th Pioneers proceeded south toards Basra where, despite a brief and unexpected interlude along the Euphrates, the battalion embarked for home on 17th January 1920,


         Upon its return to India, the 128th spent one year in Meerut before proceeding to Mandalay. While stationed there, the Prince of Wales visited the battalion in 1922, observing it on parade and conversing with its Indian officers during a game of polo. It was also at this time that the 128th Pioneers was re-named the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Bombay Pioneers in keeping with the reorganization of the Indian Army. On 16th June 1924, Havildar Binda Singh was finally promoted Jemadar after 21 years service. The battalion returned from Burma in late 1924 for service in Waziristan. While it did not see any action, the battalion was kept busy with road building, marches, infantry duties, and minor pioneer work. On 1st August 1926, Jemadar Binda Singh was promoted Subadar. The battalion remined in Waziristan until October 1927.


         In 1928, the four battalions of the Bombay Pioneers received orders to be formed into a corps of only two battalions; re-named the 1st (Marine) Battalion, and the 2nd (Kelat-i-Ghilzie) Battalion. This was done in the interests of economy much to the displeasure of the officers and men, and the three other Pioneer regiments went through the same process. Subadar Binda Singh survived the re-organization however, and was posted to the 1st Marine Battalion.


          In 1932 further orders were received to permanently disband the all of the Pioneer Corps.  Officers and men had no choice but to face transfer, retirement, or mustering-out. On 23rd November 1932, the 1st (Marine) Battalion held their last parade in Nowshera under Lt.Col.A.K.Macpherson. Subadar Binda Singh was still serving with the 1st (Marine) Battalion when the end came, and was the third most senior Indian Officer in the battalion. With 29 years of service already under his belt, Binda Singh retired from the Indian Army, with the sad knowledge that the Bombay Pioneers retired with him.



Subadar  Zaid Ullah Khan

2/155th Pioneers

Courtesy of a private collection


         Zaid-Ullah Khan joined the Indian Army on 5th April 1902,  subsequently serving with the 121st Pioneers. During the decade or so leading up to the Great War, the Regiment did not see any active field service overseas. In 1908 however, with the hope of stemming the arms trade between Persia and Afghanistan, the 121st did send a detachment of around 200 men to the outpost of Robat. Nothing more than a desolate spot in northern Baluchistan, Robat was over a month's dusty and difficult march from the nearest railhead. In 1913, the 121st sent another detachment of 5 British Officers, 5 Indian Officers, and 350 other ranks to Kacha near Robat for similar duty. Zaid-Ullah Khan may or may not have taken part in these operations.


         Upon the outbreak of the Great War, the 121st Pioneers did not proceed abroad as so many other Pioneer regiments did. Instead, the Regiment, Zaid-Ullah Khan included, served in Waziristan in 1915. Only in September 1916, while station at Tank, did the 121st Pioneers finally receive its mobilization orders to proceed overseas. As such, on 23rd September, the Regiment embarked at Karachi onboard the S.S.Purnea bound for Mesopotamia, where it was to relieve the 107th Pioneers.


          The 121st Pioneers arrived in Basra on 30th September, and immediately proceeded up the Tigris to the Sannaiyat front to carry out much needed pioneer work. Over the following year, the 121st Pioneers took part in the advance up the Tigris, including the final breakthrough at Sannaiyat, the occupation of Baghdad, and the occupation of Samarra. Although the 121st had engaged the Turks on several occasions, the primary contribution of the Regiment was further arduous but necessary pioneering duties such as trench digging, anti-flood bund building, and bridge construction.


         By late 1917, it was decided that the 7th Division, to which the 121st Pioneers was attached, should proceed to Palestine for the final breakthrough against the Turks. The 121st Pioneers therefore proceeded by foot, rail, and steamer back down to Basra, where they embarked for Suez on 29th December 1917. Arriving on the 15th January, the 121st Pioneers quickly proceeded north to Palestine, where for the next six months, they worked on road making, building entrenchments, and laying wire entanglements at the front. In addition to suffering some casualties during this period, the Regiment earned one Military Cross, one Indian Order of Merit 2nd Class, and one Indian Distinguished Service Medal.


         In early June 1918, the 121st Pioneers sent its Pathan (mostly Yusafzais) Company under Major Grieg and Lt..Borlase to Ludd. On 12th June 1918, it joined with one company each from the 1/23rd, 2/23rd, and 2/32nd Sikh Pioneers to form the 2nd Battalion, 155th Pioneers*. Zaid-Ullah Khan, by then a senior NCO in the 121st Pioneers' Pathan Company, joined the 2/155th as well, and was promoted Jemadar on the same day.


         For General Allenby's September 1918 offensive, the 2/155th was attached to 'Watson's Force'; a temporary formation made up of the Worcester Yeomanry, 1/155th Pioneers and 2/155th Pioneers under the command of Col.G.B.Young 1/155th Pioneers. Sandwiched between the 10th Division on the left and the 53rd Division on the right, 'Watson's Force' was placed opposite to the strong Turkish defences along the Nablus road. The objective of Watson's Force was to hold the line, while the 10th and 53rd Divisions encircle the Turks from either side. On 19th September, Allenby launched his offensive, which rapidly broke through the Turkish line. The route was so complete, that within a few days, the role of the infantry was largely over, with the rapidly moving cavalry leaving those on foot far behind.


         Thereafter, the role of the 2/155th Pioneers over the next year was primarily one of railway construction in Palestine, Syria, and then Kurdistan. In early 1920, after much good work, the 2/155th Pioneers was disbanded, which allowed Jemadar Zaid-Ullah Khan to finally proceeded home to India on 28th April 1920. For his service in the Great War, Jemadar Zaid Ullah Khan was awarded a 1914-15 Star, British War Medal (pictured above), Victory Medal, and for his post war service, the 1918 General Service Medal with Kurdistan clasp (pictured above).


          During the course of the war, the 121st Pioneers earned one Order of British India, one IOM 2nd Class  (to an officer attached from the 107th Pioneers), 9 IDSMs, 49 IMSMs, and one Silver Serbian medal. Meanwhile, the 2/155th Pioneers earned one IDSM, and six IMSMs.


         Upon his return to India, Jemadar Zaid-Ullah Khan rejoined his old Regiment. There would not be long to rest however, for at the end of 1920, the 121st Pioneers was ordered, as five years before, to Waziristan. Over the next year, the Regiment carried out road building and piquet construction duties, only returning in March 1922. For service in these operations, Jemadar Zaid-Ullah Khan earned the 1908 India General Service medal with Waziristan 1921-24 clasp.


          In the sweeping post war re-organization of the Indian Army, regiments were linked together into groups of four or five, becoming battalions in one large multi-battalion new regiment. One pre-1922 regiment in each group also become a training battalion, with no prospect of ever again serving in the field. This was the fate of the 121st Pioneers, which became the 10th (Training) Battalion of the new 2nd Bombay Pioneers. During this process, all Pathans were also mustered out of the old 121st Pioneers, including Jemadar Zaid-Ullah Khan, thus ending nearly twenty years service as a pioneer.


          Instead of accepting de-mobilization as so many others did, Jemadar Zaid-Ullah Khan joined the 4/10 Baluch Regiment (formerly the 129th DCO Baluchis) and then the 1/10 Baluch Regiment (formerly the 124th DCO Baluchis) by 1924. On 14th May 1925, Jemadar Zaid-Ullah Khan was promoted Subadar. Remaining with the 1/10 Baluch Regiment for several years, he was with the 5/10 Baluch Regiment (formerly the 130th Baluchis) by January 1929, although by 1931 he was back with the 1/10 Baluch Regiment. Subadar Zaid-Ullah Khan no doubt retired soon thereafter having served nearly 30 years, including nearly seven straight years of active field service on the N.W.Frontier, and in Mesopotamia, Palestine, Syria, and Kurdistan.


* The official title of the 2/155th Pioneers was actually the 2nd Battalion 155th Indian Infantry. However, given that it was formed exclusively from pioneer regiments and employed as pioneers throughout the war, it was often referred to as the 2/155th Pioneers in contemporary literature.



Subadar Gird Ali

106th Hazara Pioneers

Courtesy of a private collection


         Gird Ali joined the Indian Army on 6th April 1893, and served with the 24th Regiment of Bombay Infantry. In April 1895, the Regiment embarked for Mombassa in British East Africa to help quell tribal raiding on trade caravans. While there, the Regiment performed as escorts, took part in flying columns, and manned outposts. The 24th would remain in East Africa until July 1896, when it returned to Quetta. For his service, Gird Ali was awarded the East and West Africa Medal with M'wele 1895-1896 around the rim. He also received, on 1st October 1895, his Viceroy's Commission. In the summer of 1900, Jemadar Gird Ali along with a detachment of his Regiment, went to China with the 26th Regiment of Bombay Infantry to take part in putting down the Boxer rebellion. Following the campaign, on 6th November 1901, Jemadar Gird Ali was promoted Subadar. He was also awarded the China 1900 medal. In 1904, Subadar Gird Ali left his Regiment to join a brand new unit that was being formed in Quetta; the 106th Hazara Pioneers. Formed by drafts from the 124th and 126th Baluchistan Infantry (formerly the 24th and 26th Regiment of Bombay Infantry), which both contained a company of Hazaras, the 106th would become a purely Hazara regiment, with all four double companies being made up of the same class.



Subadar Chatra Ram IDSM

2/113th Infantry

Courtesy of the Samir Arora Collectiion


   Chatra Ram enlisted in the Indian Army on 27th February 1899. He was commissioned Jemadar on 20th November 1912, and promoted Subedar on 1st May 1916. Subedar Chatra Ram most probably served with the 113th Infantry throughout his early career until transferred to the newly raised 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry upon its formation in Bombay on 27th November 1916.


         The 2/113th Infantry was to remain in India until early 1918, when it began preparations to depart for active service in Egypt. Unrest around Shiraz and the questionable loyalty of the South Persia Rifles however, necessitated immediate reinforcements to the Persian theatre. As a result, the 2/113th Infantry, along with the 48th Pioneers, 2 sections of an improvised Indian machine gun company, and No.169 Indian Field Ambulance, were diverted to the port of Bushire in late May 1918.


         Over the course of the next three months, the newly reinforced garrison of Bushire (which now consisted of one squadron of the 15th Lancers, the 35th Mountain Battery less one section, 2 15-pounder field guns, No.3 Indian Machine Gun Company (less 2 sections), a local machine gun section, the 54th Company Sappers and Miners, the 81st Pioneers, the 71st Punjabis and the 2/113th Infantry) made preparations for a fall offensive. The objectives were to be the construction of a light gauge railway to Dalaki, and then an advance on Kazerun with the intent of co-operating with a column from Shiraz to open up the Bushire-Kazerun-Shiraz trade route. Opposing the British were several hostile local Khans and Sheikhs, most notably Zair Khidar of the Tangistan district, Shaikh Hussain of Chah Kutah, Khan Ghazanfar-es-Sultaneh of Borazjan and Nasir Diwan of Kazerun. Military operations against these headmen were only to be undertaken if absolutely necessary, as although several murders and outrages had been committed by them, Persia was still considered to be a neutral country.


         On 25th September, before the offensive began, a proclamation was issued by the British stating that they were about to construct a railway to Dalaki with the permission of the Persian Government, and that they would not interfere with peaceful inhabitants, although 'they would deal severely with any attempt at opposition.' Despite this warning, hostile forces amounting to around 600 armed men immediately began to entrench in front of the village of Chaghadak.


         On the morning of 29th September, a small column under Major J.S.Corlett (15th Lancers) and composed of the squadron of the 15th Lancers, the two field guns, the 2/113th Infantry and a machine gun section, set out to dislodge this force. The cavalry soon encountered the enemy in a trench and several palm groves outside Chaghadak at 6:15 am. The 2/113th then moved up for an assault, but as soon as they began to deploy, the enemy turned and fled, leaving nearly 30,000 rounds of ammunition, several animals and various other supplies. As such, Chaghadak was occupied at 8:30 am with the loss of only three killed and two wounded. The enemy suffered an estimated thirty casualties. The village of Ali Changi was also occupied.


         As a result of the quick victory at Chaghadak, Khan Ghazanfar and Shaikh Hussain and their followers quickly fled to surrounding hills. Zair Khidar sent a note apologizing for taking up arms, and also expressed a desire for negotiations. Despite this, his followers fired heavily on the British camp at Ali Changi on the night of October 6th/7th, wounding two men, and then attacked a company of the 2/113th Infantry who were reconnoitering in broken ground, causing nine casualties. As a result of these actions, operations had to be continued, though the 2/113th Infantry was to remain behind on Lines of Communication duties, with one Company posted at Chaghadak, another at Khushab and the HQ and the remaining two Companies at Ahmadi.


         Soon further reinforcements arrived at Bushire from India, and operations continued on for the next few months. Daleki was occupied on 27th October, Kazerun on 25th January, and the 16th Rajputs from Shiraz occupied Miyan Kutal on 27th January. Communication between the two converging forces was then established the next day, thus re-opening the Bushire-Kazerun- Shiraz trade route.


         At some point during these operations around Bushire, Subedar Chatra Ram of the 2/113th Infantry was awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal, possibly for the encounter at Chaghadak on 27th September, or the attack on a company of the 2/113th Infantry on 7th October. Either way, it was a scarce award for an act of bravery, and the only IDSM awarded to the Regiment during its time in Persia.


         Subedar Chatra Ram and his Regiment returned to India in 1919, only to be sent to the North-West Frontier to take part in the Third Afghan War. The Regiment joined Waziristan Force on 4th August 1919, early enough to receive the 1908 India General Service Medal with Afghanistan N.W.F.1919 clasp, but too late to see any action. The 2/113th would however, serve on No.1 and No.2 Sections of Lines of Communications of the Derajat Column during the intense campaign against the Mahsuds during the winter of 1919/20. Subedar Chatra Ram was definitely with the 2/113th Infantry in August to earn his India General Service Medal with Afghanistan 1919 clasp, although he may or may not have served later against the Mahsuds, as his additional clasps may be missing. Either way, he was still serving in January 1920, but had left the Indian Army by April 1920, thus ending a military career of roughly twenty-one years.


         In addition to his Indian Distinguished Service Medal and 1908 Indian General Service Medal with the Afghanistan N.W.F. 1919 clasp, Subedar Chatra Ram was also entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal. The whereabouts of his IDSM, BWM, and Victory Medal, if they still exist, are unknown.



Jemadar Shah Wali Khan

20th Field Coy, 3rd Sappers & Miners

CJ Trevelyan Collection


         Shah Wali Khan joined the Indian Army on 25th August 1896. In less than a year's time, while still a green recruit, he was sent to the North West Frontier of India with the 3rd Company, Bombay S&M, to help deal the uprising that had begun there. In August 1897, the 3rd Coy. was attached to the 'Malakand Field Force' under the command of Major-General Sir Bindon Blood, where it took part in operations against the Mamunds in Bajour and in Mohmand territory. Following this, it was attached to the 1st Division of the 'Tirah Field Force' under Lieutenant-General Sir William Lockhart. With his Company, Shah Wali Khan took part in the capture of the Sampagha and Arhanga passes, followed by a reconnaissance in force around Dwa Toi, the action of 24th November 1897, operations against the Khani Khel Chamkanis and operations in the Bazaar Valley, from the 25th to 30th of December 1897. Throughout these operations, the Sappers were responsible for considerable and dangerous demolition work, in addition to facing the Frontier tribes and the elements. Following the conclusion of hostilities, Shah Wali Khan was awarded the 1895 India General Service Medal with 3 clasps for his service.


         For the next twelve years, Shah Wali Khan worked his way up the ranks, although he did not take part in any significant military operations. On 1st May 1913, he received the Viceroy's commission, being promoted Jemadar. Just over a year later, and serving with the 20th Field Coy. (Bombay) Sappers & Miners, Jemadar Shah Wali Khan would embark for an entirely new and unexpected theatre of war; France.


         Within the opening weeks of the Great War, Indian Expeditionary Force 'A' was hastily organized in preparation for overseas service. As part of this force , the 20th and 21st Companies (Bombay) S&M were to be the divisional Sappers & Miners of the 3rd Lahore Division, which was one of the two Indian Infantry Divisions chosen for IEF'A'. On the 17th August 1914 the 20th Field Coy. embarked on the S.S.Taiybeh, which was at the time in such poor condition, that she had previously been condemned as "unfit" to take pilgrims to Mecca. Jemadar Shah Wali Khan was one of only 3 Indian Officers with the Company. Despite floodings and a mechanical break-down, the Taiybeh made it to Alexandria, where after a brief stop-over, she continued on to Marseilles. Arriving on 26th September 1914, the 20th Company S&M was to be the first fully assembled formation of IEF'A' to land in France. As the 20th Company railed to the front, they along with all of the other Indian troops received the most encouraging of welcomes at every stop from the French people. By late October, the Sappers arrived at the frontline near Neuve Chapelle, where the military situation was desperate. On 28th October, the 20th and 21st Companies were thrown into the fray as regular infantry, in an attack upon the German lines along side the 47th Sikhs & 9th Bhopals. In the Indian Sappers & Miners, Lt.Col.Sandes relays an account given by Brigadier-General J.E.Edmonds:


        The attack of four companies - two of the 47th Sikhs with the 20th and 21st Companies of the Bombay Sappers & Miners on either side of them - was carried out with the greatest of gallantry. Their right was to have been protected by the Bhopal Regiment, but as this unit advanced it came under very heavy fire and halted and continued the action by fire from a trench that it had reached. The Sikhs and Sappers went on. Covering the 700 yards of open ground between them and Neuve Chapelle by rushes alternating with fire, as if on a training ground, the four companies reached the ruins of the village and drove out the Germans - reported by prisoners to be three battalions - by close hand to hand fighting. They even penetrated to the eastern and northern borders. here they were met by heavy shell and machine-gun fire, and counter-attack after counter-attack was launched against them. Major S.R. Davidson, commanding the 47th Sikhs, finding that he was unsupported except by the Sappers and Miners, eventually ordered a retreat. This had to be carried out under enemy fire, and so heavy were the losses that of his men he rallied only 68 out of 289, whilst of the Sappers & Miners all the officers were killed or wounded and over a third of the other ranks of each company.


   Lt F.P.Nosworthy R.E., who was with the 20th Company, gives another account in The Indian Sappers & Miners of the 28th October attack on Neuve Chapelle:


          When dawn broke on October 28th, the 20th Company had finished a trench along their sector, and meanwhile the gap between them and the 21st Company had been filled by two companies of the 47th Sikhs. Paris (Captain A.L.Paris, C.O. of the 20th Coy.) told them later that the artillery would put down a short concentration of fire, after which they were to attack as infantry in conjunction with the Bhopals on their right and the 47th Sikhs and 21st Company on their left, but without supports or reserves as they were already so widely extended.


          I was in command of No.2 Section...and we began to move forward about 11 a.m. The ground between us and the village was dead flat plough, devoid of cover, but the advance continued with parade-ground precision in spite of some casualties. Paris was so worried by the exposure of our right flank through the lateness of the Bhopals in starting that he went back to get them on, and that was the last we saw of him. It seems that he collected a few Bhopals and them towards the village but was soon wounded and afterwards picked up by the enemy (footnote: Capt.A.L.Paris was in a German hospital in France until May 1915, and afterwards a prisoner-of-war in Germany until 1918, when he was sent to Switzerland), His loss was felt severely, for he had commanded the 20th Company for more than seven years.


          My section came under heavy fire from the right, and we swung right and charged a German trench with the bayonet. Meanwhile the Bhopals were heavily engaged on our right rear. After entering Neuve Chapelle there was bitter street fighting. Havildar Muhammad Khan rushed up to me, trying to speak, but he could not do so as he had been shot through the throat and was bleeding profusely. I persuaded him to go back, but his wound proved mortal and so I lost a particular friend. Then Hayes-Sadler (a Lieut. in the 20th Coy.) appeared with his section and together we worked steadily forward, clearing the main street, house by house. At the cross-roads in the centre of the village, a machine gun opening fire on us a point-blank range, and Hayes-Sadler charged forward against it. He was killed immediately, but we soon got that machine gun and avenged his death. Though now in complete possession of the cross-roads, we could get no further. Less than twenty men remained with Rait Kerr (another Lieut. in the 20th Coy.) and myself in the centre of the village. Others had joined forces with the 47th Sikhs on our left. We barricaded the main street with furniture and I sent Rait Kerr to get reinforcements. Sappers posted in windows covered the road block, and three attempts to dislodge us failed with heavy loss. Rait Kerr never returned, nor did reinforcements arrive. It appears that Rait Kerr made his way to the south-western edge of the village where he saw some Bhopals under Major G.A.Jamieson trying to check a German outflanking attack. With a few sappers he went to join them but was wounded in the arm and collapsed.


          We were now completely isolated and were too weak to send out patrols as only Subadar Ganpat Mahadeo and 13 Sappers remained. About 4 p.m., however, I decided to attempt to find out what had happened and reconnoitered alone down the main street. At he outskirts of the village I met Major Jamieson who was surprised to hear that we were in the middle of the place and advised a withdrawal. This was accomplished successfully, taking with us as many wounded as we could. On the way we came across Rait-Kerr sitting in a shell-hole with a shattered arm. This ended our fight at Neuve Chapelle. On the day after the battle there was not a single British officer available for duty with either of the two Bombay sapper companies.


          Jemadar Shah Wali Khan survived the 28th of October. Remaining  at the front, the 20th Coy, 3rd S&M continued to be shelled by the Germans from time to time, largely without effect. On the night of 4th-5th November however, the Germans "...dropped a bouquet of howitzer shells right in the working party, killing 3 men and wounding Jemadar Shah Wali Khan and two others" (History of the 20th Field Company by Hamilton). This is supported by the 16th November 1914 edition of The Times, in which Jemadar Shah Wali Khan is listed as being wounded in France. Not reappearing in any further Indian Army Lists after the January 1915 edition, it is clear that his wounds took him out of the war, and possibly left him invalided throughout the rest of his life. The whereabouts of his 1895 India General Service Medal with three clasps, and his British War Medal are unknown.



Khan Bahadur Sher Jang

Survey of India

Article & Photo from "The Piffer" May 1962 Vol.V No.4


          By the retirement of Khan Bahadur Sher Jang on 15th June 1925, the Survey Department lost a most distinguished officer of the Upper Subordinate Service, who had been employed almost continuously during his service of over 30 years in the Department either on or beyond the Frontiers on India.


         Sher Jang enlisted in Coke's Rifles in 1887. After taking part in the 1st and 2nd Miranzai Expeditions of 1890-91 and accompanying the Kurram Column in 1892-93, he joined the Survey of India as a Soldier-Surveyor in 1895. From 1895 to 1899 he served on the N.W.Frontier, taking part on the Waziristan Expedition of 1894-95, in the Tochi, Tirah and Mohmand Expeditions of 1897-98, and in Dir and Chitral in 1899, when he was granted the title of Khan Sahib. From 1899 to 1901 he served with Capt. Crookshank on Persia, visiting Bandar Abbas, Kerman, Shiraz, and Bushire, and surveying an area of about 53,000 square miles. in 1901-02 he was attached to the Abyssinian Boundary Commission and was awarded the title of Khan Bahadur at the early age of 32. In 1903-04 he accompanied the Tibet Mission, being mentioned in dispatches, and in 1905-06 served under the Foreign Department in the Persian Gulf, visiting Bushire, Muhammareh, Basrah and the Masqat frontier. He returned to South Persia in 1907-08 where he surveyed an area of 25,000 square miles and travelled as far north as the frontier by Herat. He was employed on the Baluchistan-Afghan frontier in 1909 and with the Afghan Mission in 1910, when he was awarded the McGregor Memorial Medal. He served with the Abor Expedition in 1911-12, when he was again mentioned in dispatches, and with the Turco-Persia Boundary Commission in 1913-14, for which he was awarded decorations by the Persian and Turkish Governments.


         When the Great War broke out in 1914, Khan Bahadur Sher Jang was engaged on survey work with this Commission in the neighbourhood of Urumieh. He brought the survey personal back through Persia by way of Mianeh, Tehran, Qum, Isfahan and Sheraz to Bushire. After a short period of service in India, Sher Jang returned to Persia, and in 1916-17 was with the party surveying the road alignment between Bandar Abbas and Kerman. In 1917-18 he served in Waziristan and on the Mahsud frontier, and towards the end of the latter year proceeded again to Mesopotamia. Owing to his intimate knowledge of conditions in Persian Kurdistan, he was now employed under the Political authorities on an important diplomatic mission.


         At this time, the tribes of Central Kurdistan were in an appalling condition of destitution as the result of the war, and their chieftains were seeking the protection of the British. In the north, Sayyid Taha, who was in a position to control the tribes under British administration, had been invited to meet the Political Officer, but being influenced by Turkish propaganda, had so far remained aloof. Khan Bahadur Sher Jang received orders to go to Urumieh and to negotiate with Sayyid Taha. He left Rowanduz with four Indian Khalasis on 9th March 1919, forced a way over the snow bound Guru-i-Shaikh Pass on the Persian frontier, traversed the desolate Lahijan country, and reached Urumieh after much hardship on 20th March. Sayyid Taha was six stages away at Chahari, and owing to the attitude of the Persian Governor, Sher Jang was unable to leave Urumieh. He wrote a letter to the Sayyid persuading the latter to visit him in Urumieh, and they met five days later. All through the night of the 25th March the tow men discussed the situation, and as last dawn was breaking Sher Jang won he case and prevailed upon Sayyid Taha to accompany him back to Baghdad. The success of this mission had a large share in maintaining tranquility on the Rowanduz district during the subsequent rising of Shaikh Mahmud in Southern Kurdistan.


         During this rebellion, Sher Jang served as a political officer in the Sulaimani area. In 1920-21 he was appointed representative of Iraq in the resettlement of the Iraq-Persian frontier, which had been disturbed by war conditions. His work in this connection was highly appreciated by the Right Hon.Sir Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for the Colonies, in his dispatch dated 21st September 1921. He returned to Persia in 1923 with a detachment of the Survey of India which was employed in survey work for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.


          The Khan Bahadur was promoted to the Upper Subordinate Service on 1st August 1909. He is in possession of 12 war medals and decorations with 8 clasps; he has been awarded honoraria for his service on several occasions, and has received an assignment of land revenue from the Government of India. In 1902 the Royal Geographical Society awarded him a Sword of Honour (the Black Memorial) in recognition of his valuable services to geography, and in 1916 he was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind medal (2nd Class). During the visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to India in 1922, Sher Jang had the honour of being personally presented to His Royal Highness, who evinced a keen interest in his services.


         Khan Bahadur Sher Jang's unfailing tact and courtesy endeared him to all with who he came into contact, and it was largely these qualities in conjunction with his energy and resource in hazardous situations which rendered his work so successful and his services so valuable, politically and professionally, in the turbulent countries where so much of his life was passed.


         There was also another fine side of Sher Jang's character which was only realised by those who knew him well, namely for his compassion for the weak. When he was on sick leave at the end of 1918, the virulent epidemic of influenza was ravaging the homes in his country. Sher Jang devoted his three months' hard-earned rest to nursing the sick and burying the dead; and he is recorded in a letter than he "regarded this duty greater than his active service". On another occasion, in Urumieh in 1919, when he was by no means in a pleasant situation himself, he exercised all his personal influence in urging the protection of the hapless Christian women and children, whose lives were at times threatened by the fanatical Kurds.


         It is not easy to summarize such varied services in a brief note of appreciation. Sher Jang succeeded in winning the admiration and affection of all officers with whom he served, both in the Survey of India and outside it, and he carried with him the best wishes of all ranks of the Department on his retirement.