Sikhs in the British Indian Army

Last updated
Men of the Loodiaah (Ludhiana) Sikh Regiment during Second Opium War in China, c. 1860 03-Men of the Loodiaah (Ludhiana) Sikh Regiment in China, Circa 1860..jpg
Men of the Loodiaah (Ludhiana) Sikh Regiment during Second Opium War in China, c. 1860

Sikhs served in the British Indian Army throughout the British Raj. Sikh units fought at the Battle of Saragarhi; in the First World War, as the "Black Lions", as well as during the Second World War in Malaya, Burma and Italy.

Contents

Pre-1914

General

After the fall of the Sikh Empire and death of its king Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the British conquered this large territory with much difficulty as it was the last kingdom in India to be taken over by the British, and began recruiting Sikhs into their army in large numbers. [1] [2]

Battle of Saragarhi

The Battle of Saragarhi is considered one of the great battles in Sikh military history. [3] On 12 September 1897 a contingent of twenty-one soldiers from the 36th Sikhs regiment (now the 4th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment of Indian Army), led by Havildar Ishar Singh held off an Afghan attack of 10,000 men for several hours. All 21 Sikh soldiers chose to fight to the death instead of surrendering. In recognition of their sacrifice, the British Parliament paid them respect, and each one of them was awarded the Indian Order of Merit (equivalent to the Victoria Cross).

China Opium Wars

Sikh soldiers also fought in First Opium War and Second Opium War in China.

World War One

Known afterwards as the Lions of the Great War, during the war they were often called the Black Lions. [1] Sikhs were allowed to use traditional Sikh weapons such as chakrams and talwar swords, and it was not uncommon to see the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib , being carried before a marching Sikh battalion or even on the front lines among the battling Sikh troops. [1]

World War Two

Battle of Malaya

The strength of the army in Malaya was 104,625 troops. Sikhs represented more than 60 percent of the total Indian force that fought against the Japanese invasion of Malaysia and Singapore.

Burma Campaign

Sikhs served with distinction in repelling the attempted invasion of India by the Japanese, and subsequently in dislodging them from Burma (now Myanmar).

Italian Campaign

Sikhs served with distinction during the Allied invasion of Italy.

See also

Related Research Articles

2nd King Edward VIIs Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) former rifle regiment of the British Indian and British Army

The 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles was a rifle regiment of the British Indian Army before being transferred to the British Army on India's independence in 1947. The 4th Battalion joined the Indian Army as the 5th Battalion, 8th Gorkha Rifles, where it exists to this day. As part of the British Army, the regiment served in Malaya, Hong Kong and Brunei until 1994 when it was amalgamated with the other three British Army Gurkha regiments to form the Royal Gurkha Rifles. It is the only Gurkha regiment which did not have a khukuri on its cap badge.

1st Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment) Gorkha infantry regiment

1st Gorkha Rifles , often referred to as the 1st Gorkha Rifles, or 1 GR in abbreviation, is the seniormost Gorkha infantry regiment of the Indian Army. It was originally formed as part of the East India Company's Bengal Army in 1815, later adopting the title of the 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles , however, in 1947, following the partition of India, it was transferred to the Indian Army and in 1950 when India became a Republic, it was redesignated as 1st Gorkha Rifles . The regiment has a long history and has participated in many conflicts, including many of the colonial conflicts prior to Indian independence, as well as the First and Second World Wars. Since 1947 the regiment has also participated in a number of campaigns against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 as well as undertaking peacekeeping duties as part of the United Nations.

5th Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) infantry regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Indian and Nepalese origin

5th Gorkha Rifles, also abbreviated as 5 GR(FF) is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Indian and Nepalese origin. It was formed in 1858 as part of the British Indian Army and served in the First World War and Second World War. The regiment was one of the Gurkha regiments that was transferred to the Indian Army following independence in 1947. The regiment was formerly known as the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles. Since 1947, the regiment has served in a number of conflicts, including the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It has also participated in peacekeeping operations in Sri Lanka.

Dogra Regiment Infantry regiment of the Indian Army

The Dogra Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army. The regiment traces its roots directly from the 17th Dogra Regiment of the British Indian Army. When transferred to the Indian Army like its sister regiments, the numeral prefix was removed. Units of the Dogra Regiment have fought in all conflicts that independent India has been engaged in, making it one of the most prestigious and most decorated regiments of the Indian Army.

Sikh Regiment Infantry regiment of the Indian Army

The Sikh Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army that recruits from the Sikh community. It is the most decorated regiment of the Indian Army and in 1979, the 1st battalion was the Commonwealth's most decorated battalion with 245 pre-independence and 82 post-independence gallantry awards, when it was transformed into the 4th battalion, Mechanised Infantry Regiment. The first battalion of the regiment was officially raised just before the annexation of the Sikh Empire on August 1 1846, by the British East India Company. Currently, the Sikh Regimental Centre is located in Ramgarh Cantonment, Jharkhand. The Centre was earlier located in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh.

Kumaon Regiment infantry regiment of the Indian Army

The Kumaon Regiment is the most decorated infantry regiment of the Indian Army. The regiment traces its origins to the 18th century and has fought in every major campaign of the British Indian Army and the Indian Army, including the two world wars.

Punjab Regiment (India) regiment in the Indian Army

The Punjab Regiment is one of the oldest regiments still in service in the Indian Army, and is the most senior regional infantry regiment. It was formed from the 2nd Punjab Regiment of the British Indian Army in 1947 and has taken part in various battles and wars since, winning numerous honours for the same.

16th Punjab Regiment

The 16th Punjab Regiment was a regiment of the British Indian Army from 1922 to 1947. It was transferred to Pakistan Army on Partition of India in 1947, and amalgamated with the 1st, 14th and 15th Punjab Regiments in 1956 to form the Punjab Regiment.

Battle of Saragarhi 1897 last stand battle in the British Raj

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought before the Tirah Campaign on 12 September 1897 between the British Indian Empire and the Afghan tribesmen. It occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

Sikh Light Infantry infantry unit of Indian Army

The Sikh Light Infantry is a light infantry regiment of the Indian Army. The regiment is the successor unit to the 23rd, 32nd and 34th Royal Sikh Pioneers of the British Indian Army. The regiment recruits from the Sikh community of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana states of India. The versatility of the Sikh Light Infantry has seen the regiment conduct operations from conventional warfare on the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, to counter-terrorism. Units of the regiment have also been deployed as part of the United Nations Emergency Force. The regimental motto is "Deg Tegh Fateh", meaning "prosperity in peace and victory in war". The motto has great significance with the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, with whom the Mazhabi community is very closely associated. The regiment's cap badge is a chakram or quoit, with a mounted kirpan. The insignia was designed to honour the Mazhabi community's Akali Nihang ancestry.

The Garhwal Rifles regiment of the Indian army

The Garhwal Rifles is one of the most decorated infantry regiments of the Indian Army. It was originally raised in 1887 as the 39th (Garhwal) Regiment of the Bengal Army. It then became part of the British Indian Army, and after the Independence of India, it was incorporated into the Indian Army.

12th Frontier Force Regiment

The 12th Frontier Force Regiment was formed in 1922 as part of the British Indian Army. It consisted of five regular battalions; numbered 1 to 5 and the 10th (Training) Battalion. During the Second World War a further ten battalions were raised. In 1945, the prenominal "12th" was dropped when the British Indian Army dispensed with prenominal numbering of its regiments. After the independence in 1947, it was formed into the Frontier Force Regiment, part of the army of Pakistan.

Gorkha regiments (India)

Since the independence of India in 1947, as per the terms of the Britain–India–Nepal Tripartite Agreement, six Gorkha regiments, formerly part of the British Indian Army, became part of the Indian Army and have served ever since. The troops are mainly from ethnic Nepali Gurkhas of Nepal and ethnic Nepalese origin people known as Nepali Gorkha They have a history of courage in battle, evident from the gallantry awards won by Gorkha soldiers and battle honours awarded to Gorkha both before and after joining the Indian Army. A seventh Gorkha Rifles regiment was re-raised in the Indian Army after Independence to accommodate Gorkha soldiers of 7th Gurkha Rifles and the 10th Gurkha Rifles who chose not to transfer to the British Army.

9th Gorkha Rifles

The 9th Gorkha Rifles is a Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army. The regiment was initially formed by the British in 1817, and was one of the Gurkha regiments transferred to the Indian Army after independence as part of the tripartite agreement in 1947. This Gorkha regiment mainly recruits soldiers who come from the Chhetri (Kshatriya) and Thakuri clans of Nepal. Domiciled Indian Gorkhas are also taken, and they form about 20 percent of the regiment's total strength. The 9 Gorkha Rifles is one of the seven Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army. The other regiments are 1 GR, 3 GR, 4 GR, 5 GR (FF), 8 GR and 11 GR.

Bihar Regiment

The Bihar Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army. The regiment can trace its origins back to the British Indian Army. The Bihar Regiment was formed in 1941 by regularising the 11th (Territorial) Battalion, 19th Hyderabad Regiment, and raising new battalions. The Bihar Regimental Centre (BRC) is located at Danapur Cantonment, the oldest cantonment of India.

Baloch Regiment

The Baloch Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Pakistan Army. The modern regiment was formed in May 1956 by the merger of 8th Punjab and Bahawalpur Regiments with the Baluch Regiment. Since then, further raisings have brought the strength of the Regiment to 57 active battalions. The Baloch Regiment is descended from the infantry of the old British Indian Army and is named after the Pakistani province of Balochistan. Before 1991, it was called the Baluch Regiment but the spelling was changed to 'Baloch' to better reflect the correct pronunciation.

15th Punjab Regiment

The 15th Punjab Regiment was a regiment of the British Indian Army from 1922 to 1947. It was transferred to Pakistan Army on independence in 1947, and amalgamated with the 1st, 14th and 16th Punjab Regiments in 1956 to form the Punjab Regiment.

8th Punjab Regiment

The 8th Punjab Regiment was a regiment of the British Indian Army from 1922 to 1947. It was transferred to Pakistan Army on Partition of India in 1947 and merged with the Baluch Regiment in 1956.

19th Lancers

The 19th Lancers is an armoured regiment of the Pakistan Army. Before 1956, it was known as 19th King George V's Own Lancers, which was a regular cavalry regiment of the British Indian Army. It was formed in 1922, by the amalgamation of 18th King George's Own Lancers and 19th Lancers . On Partition of India in 1947, the regiment was allotted to Pakistan.

89th Punjabis

The 89th Punjabis was an infantry regiment of the British Indian Army raised in 1798 as a battalion of Madras Native Infantry. It was designated as the 89th Punjabis in 1903 and became 1st Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment in 1922. In 1947, it was allocated to Pakistan Army, where it continues to exist as 1st Battalion, The Baloch Regiment.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Abel, Ernest. "Sikhs of the war".
  2. Vicky Singh. "Sikh Soldiers In World Wars". Archived from the original on December 4, 2002. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  3. "The Sunday Tribune - Books" . Retrieved 2008-04-04.