129th Baluchis (Duke of Connaught’s Own)

Lineage: Raised as the 2nd Baluch Battalion at Karachi by Captain Wright in 1846 it became the 2nd Baluch Extra Battalion of Bombay Native Infantry in 1858, the 2nd Baluch Regiment in 1859 and the same year its designation changed once more to the 2nd Bombay Baluch Regiment. Then the 29th Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry, or 2nd Baluch Regiment in 1861, the 29th (the Duke of Connaught’s Own) Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry, or 2nd Baluch Regiment in 1883, the 29th (the Duke of Connaught’s Own) Regiment of Bombay Infantry or 2nd Baluch Regiment in 1885, the 29th (the Duke of Connaught’s Own) Regiment of Bombay infantry (the 2nd Baluch Battalion) in 1888, the 29th (the Duke of Connaught’s Own) Baluch Infantry in 1903 and then during the same year was designated the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis.

Composition in 1914: 2 Companies of Punjabi Musalmans, 3 Companies of Mahsuds, and 3 Companies of other Pathans. 1919: 1 Company of Punjabi Musalmans, 1 1/2 Companies of Mahsuds, and 1 1/2 Companies of other Pathans.

Location in July 1914: The 129th Baluchis was stationed at Ferozepur (Firozpur, Punjab, India), having arrived from Karachi (Sindh, Pakistan) on 4th February 1912.

The 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis was stationed at Ferozepur, now Firozpur when war was declared in August 1914. The Regiment was inspected by Brigadier-General R. G. Egerton, Commanding Ferozepore Brigade, on 23 January 1914 who reported:

Turn-out: Smart.

Drill: Very satisfactory.

Manoeuvre: Very satisfactory.

Interior economy: Very satisfactory. Due economy is practised as regards recruits outfit.

General efficiency: The instruction and training of the battalion are very carefully carried out, with most satisfactory results in all respects. Discipline is well maintained and the health of the men is very good. The battalion is fit for service.

Confidential review reports on Indian Army units for 1913-1914IOR/L/MIL/7/17023

Cigarette Card of Sepoy Khudadad Khan 129th Baluchis

A Wills’ cigarette card depicting Sepoy Khudadad Khan, 129th Baluchis, the first Indian soldier to win the Victoria Cross. Sepoy Khan’s citation was published in the London Gazette on 7 December 1914:

On 31st October, 1914, at Hollebeke, Belgium, the British Officer in charge of the detachment having been wounded, and the other gun put out of action by a shell, Sepoy Khudadad, though himself wounded, remained working his gun until all the other five men of the gun detachment had been killed.

War Diaries

  • Date: 01 August 1914 – 31 March 1915
  • 3 Indian Division, 7 Ferozepore Infantry brigade
  • Reference: WO95/3924/3
  • Notes:
  • Date: 01 April – 30 November 1915
  • 3 Indian Division, 7 Ferozepore Infantry brigade
  • Reference: WO95/3925
  • Notes: In multiple parts due to their size.
  • Date: 01 December 1915 – 30 September 1916
  • 2 East African Infantry Brigade
  • Reference: WO95/5341/2
  • Notes: This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: 01 October – 30 November 1916
  • 3 East African Infantry Brigade
  • Reference: WO95/5341/14
  • Notes: This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: 01 January – 31 March 1917
  • 2 East African Infantry Brigade
  • Reference: WO95/5341
  • Notes: This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: April – September 1917
  • No.2 Column, Hanforce
  • Reference: WO95/5322/8
  • Notes: This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: October – December 1917
  • No.1 Column, Hanforce
  • Reference: WO95/5321/12
  • Notes: This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: 1 July 1921 – 31 October 1921
  • Waziristan Force: 21 Indian Infantry Brigade
  • Reference: WO95/5401
  • Notes:

Further Sources

The Fourth Battalion Duke of Connaught’s Own Tenth Baluch Regiment in the Great War by W. S. Thatcher. A very good regimental history reprinted by the Naval and Military Press in 2007. The book follows the 129th Baluchis chronologically from mobilization in August 1914 to service in France and East Africa. Very readable, and full of interesting information, not only about the regiment but what it was like to serve in France and East Africa.

Appendices include lists of British and Indian Officers who served with the Regiment during the war; gallantry citations; decorations awarded; Note on the composition of the regiment by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis, in which he reminisces on some of the Indian soldiers he served with. The passage below is indicative of the style of the book, as the author describes rats in Africa:

But if water was scarce, rats were plentiful. In the stillness which gradually fell they swarmed out in hundreds, running about in the moonlight among the sleeping men, searching for food, creeping into clothes for warmth and biting the sound sleepers, evidently thinking they were dead and therefore legitimate food, as did their brothers in Flanders.

ww1-research-service

 

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the British Army