This article is about the 11th Rajputs and will help you to research the Regiment and those who served with it during the First World War. I have also written an article on the war-raised 2nd Battalion 11th Rajputs and a series of guides to help you to research an Indian soldier who served in the First World War.
The 11th Rajputs in the First World War
Lineage: Raised at Cawnpore (Kanpur) as the 2nd Extra Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1825. It became the 70th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1828 and the 12th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1861. The designation changed once more in 1861 to the 11th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. Then it became the 11th Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1885 and the 11th (Rajput) Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1897. Its designation changed again to the 11th Rajput Infantry in 1901, the 11th Rajputs in 1903 and the 5th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment in 1922.
Class Composition of Battalion in 1914: 8 Companies of Rajputs. 1919: 4 Companies of Rajputs.
Location in August 1914: The 11th Rajputs was stationed at Dacca (Dhaka, Bangladesh) having arrived from Dinapore (Danapur, Bihar) on 19th April 1914.
The 11th Rajputs was stationed at Dacca when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment moved to Calcutta (Kolkata) in March 1915 and then on to Bombay (Mumbai) where an outbreak of cholera led to the Regiment being quarantined. On the 1 April 1915, the 11th Rajputs boarded the Hired Transport Thongwa which sailed the next day and arrived at Basra, Mesopotamia (Iraq) on 9 April 1915. The Regiment initially served with the 30th Indian Infantry Brigade, 12th Indian Division and the war diaries will give you the Regiment’s location.
In August 1915, the 11th Rajputs joined Bushire Force, Persia (Iran) and there is a war diary covering the period between August 1915 and June 1916. The Regiment was still stationed at Bushire when the war diary ends on 30 June 1916. Later in 1916 the 11th Rajputs returned to India and served on the North West Frontier. Despite the Regiment returning to India, drafts of the 11th Rajputs served in Mesopotamia with the 8th Rajputs and 9th Bhopal Infantry. In 1922, the 11th Rajputs became the 5th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment
War Diaries of the 11th Rajputs
There are two war diaries for the Regiment and both have been digitized by the National Archives. To download the war diaries for a small fee click on the blue links below. I have transcribed some entries at the bottom of the page.
- Date: 06 March – 30 July 1915
- 30th Indian Infantry Brigade, 12th Indian Division, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5146/8
- Notes: An average war diary, though there are some more detailed entries for June 1915, when detailing an ”action against Ayasha Tribes near Imanzada”. Most days have brief entries.
- Date: 01 August 1915 – 30 June 1916
- Bushire Force, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5010/2
- Notes: A very good war diary which gives vivid accounts of the part played by the 11th Rajputs in the occupation of Bushire. There is also a map illustrating the “the fighting near Zangena on the 9th September 1915”. After 1916, the war diary entries become less detailed with many consisting of “nothing to report”. British and Indian officers and other ranks mentioned throughout. This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
Further Sources for the 11th Rajputs
A good source of information for the Regiment and the British officers who served with it are its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These reports also contain the annual confidential reports of the British officers who served with the Regiment. However, when the 11th Rajputs was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on. For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 11th Rajputs, the Indian Army List should be consulted.
There is a regimental history: Historical Records of the 5th Bn., 7th Rajput Regiment (late XI Rajputs).
If you’d like to learn more about the Mesopotamia Campaign I can recommend When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914-1921 by Charles Townshend.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 11th Rajputs
6 March – 30 July 1915, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5146
12 April 1915 – Basra – Heavy firing heard in the direction of Shaiba.
24 May 1915 – Illah Camp – The Regiment paraded with the Cavalry Brigade at 2.30 am and marched to a point about 5 1/2 miles north of Illah Camp on the right bank of the Karkan River. The Cavalry Brigade then made a wide detour north and northeast whilst the Regiment took up a position to cut off any of the enemy who might endeavour to scape south. The Cavalry Brigade returned to the position taken up by the Regiment at 1.30 pm having seen nothing of the enemy. The force then returned to Illah Camp arriving about 3.15 pm.
01 August 1915 – 30 June 1916, Mesopotamia WO 95/5010
The British Town Residency, Persian Governor’s House, Chief Pollice Officer’s House, Turkish Consulate and Persian Post Office to F.J.K. Companies under Captain Stoddart. The Persian Customs House, Persian Telegraph Office and Imperial Bank to G and H Companies under Lieutenant Colonel Ralph. No II Double Company under 2nd Lieutenant Woosnam halted about 3/4 mile from outskirts of the town, taking up a position just North of Sangi village to prevent any armed Persians leaving or entering the town.
Armed resistance was in no case met with and with the exception of the Gendarmerie Quarters all the above-mentioned places were occupied by 6 am. The officer in command Persian Gendarmerie asked to be permitted to obtain the Persian Governor’s leave before surrendering; this was accorded to him as orders had been received to avoid any unnecessary force. By 11 am he also had surrendered.
As soon as the occupation was complete the Regimental Head Quarters was established at the British Town Presidency. No. II Double Company marched back to Reshire… Throughout the night patrols of various strengths were sent from each post, absolute quiet prevailed the town.
12th August 1915 – Bushire – The Machine Gun marches to Reshire. At about 1 am the Guard (1 N.C.O. and 3 men) over Mr Spencer’s bungalow was rushed. No 1683 Sepoy Reservist Ram Pal Singh, E Company killed, and No. 1996 Sepoy Shiubahadur Singh E Company captured.