This article is about the 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs and will help you to research the Regiment and those who served with it during the First World War. I have also written a series of guides to help you to research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during World War One:
I also offer a First World War Soldier Research Service.
The 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs in WW1
Lineage: Raised at Ferozepore by Major Mackeson and Captains Watt and Tebbs as The Regiment of Ferozepore in 1846. It became the 14th Bengal Native Infantry in 1861 and the 14th (Ferozepore) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1864. Then the 14th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry (Ferozepore Sikhs) in 1885. In 1901 its designation changed again to the 14th (Ferozepore) Sikh Infantry and in 1903 to the 14th Ferozepore Sikhs. In 1906 it became the 14th Prince of Wales’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs, then in 1910 the 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs and in 1922 became the 1 Battalion 11 Sikh Regiment.
Class Composition of Battalion in 1914: 8 Companies of Sikhs. 1919: 4 Companies of Sikhs.
Location in August 1914: The 14th Sikhs was stationed at Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) having arrived from Loralai (Balochistan, Pakistan) on 28th February 1913.
Service Numbers for the 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs are straightforward with each new recruit receiving the next service number. Unlike in other Indian regiments, the service numbers for the 14th Sikhs were not reset to 1 on reaching a set figure but continued to rise throughout WW1 eventually reaching over 7000. If a soldier had a service number below 4700, it is highly likely that they were present with the regiment during the Gallipoli Campaign.
- Service Number, Enlistment Date
- 2761, 7 April 1899
- 3171, 5 January 1907
- 4557, 1 June 1914
The 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs was an Indian infantry regiment which was serving at Peshawar as part of the 1st (Peshawar) Infantry Brigade, 1st (Peshawar) Division when war was declared in August 1914. In the Regiment’s last confidential report before the war for 1913-14, the 14th Sikhs was inspected by Major-General Charles James Blomfield, Commanding 1st (Peshawar) Division who wrote:
A fine regiment in which officers and men take great pride, with the result that the turnout is always very smart and soldier like. The officers are all very keen and nearly all very proficient at all manly sports. In the field they work quickly and intelligently. A regiment in good condition and thoroughly fit for service.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units for 1913-1914: IOR/L/MIL/7/17023
The 1st (Peshawar) Infantry Division stayed in India for the duration of the First World War but the 14th Sikhs was mobilised for service in Egypt on 12 October 1914. The Regiment embarked on board the Hired Transport City of Manchester on 1 November 1914 at Karachi and on the way to Egypt took part in an operation to ”destroy the Turkish works, armament and fresh water / wells at Sheikh Syid” on 11 November 1914. There had been a build-up of Turkish forces at Sheik Sa’id opposite Perim Island in present-day Yemen including a fort at Turba. The operation was a complete success and the convoy continued on its way to Egypt and arrived at Suez on 21 November 1914.
The 14th Sikhs served in Egypt as part of the 29th (Indian) Brigade, No.3 Canal Section between November 1914 and March 1915. During this time the Regiment was based around Kantara (El-Qantarah el-Sharqiyya), 31 miles (50 kilometres) south of Port Said on the Suez Canal. The 14th Sikhs helped to repel the Turkish Raid on the Suez Canal between 26 January and 4 February 1915. On the 10 April 1915, the Regiment ”received orders to hold itself in readiness to embark for a sphere of operations other than the Suez Canal Defences”. The Regiment was moved to Port Said on 20 April 1915 and embarked on board the Hired Transport Dunluce Castle on 26 April.
Unfortunately, there is a gap in the Regiment’s war diary between May and September 1915 which covered its initial service in Gallipoli. However, enough evidence is available from other sources to fill in this missing period. The Regiment left Egypt as part of the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade for service at Gallipoli in present-day Turkey. The Regiment suffered a constant stream of casualties throughout May and would be decimated at the Third Battle of Krithia on 4 June 1915. The 29th Indian Infantry Brigade was tasked with attacking a front of 600 yards in and to the west of Gully Ravine.I walked up Gully Ravine in 2014 which is now overgrown with trees and shrubs. In the photograph above you can see how steep the ravine is and when the 14th Sikhs attacked there would have been little in the way of cover. The 14th Sikhs attacked with a strength of 15 British officers, 14 Indian officers and 514 men (50 remained in the trench) and advanced in two waves along the bed of the gully into a withering machine gun and rifle fire. The Regiment could make little progress and suffered horrendous casualties. 12 British officers, 11 Indian officers, and 371 men were either killed or wounded in one of the worst casualty rates suffered by an Indian regiment during the whole of the First World War. In one day the Regiment was reduced to a shadow of its former self and its morale suffered considerably. The 14th Sikhs continued to serve at Gallipoli until December 1915 when it returned to Egypt arriving at Alexandria on 22 December 1915. If you would like to learn more about the Indian Army’s role in the Gallipoli Campaign I can recommend Die in Battle, Do Not Despair: The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915 by Peter Stanley.
Once back in Egypt the Regiment served as part of the Suez Canal defences and served at El-Tor on the Sinai Peninsula between March and April 1916. On the 10 May 1916, the 14th Sikhs left Egypt on board H.T. Ekma to join Bushire Force in present-day Iran. The Regiment arrived at Bushire on 21 May and went straight into outpost duty. The 14th Sikhs continued to rotate in and out of the outpost line for the rest of the year and into 1917. On 6 February 1917, the Regiment received orders to prepare itself for the Tigris front (Mesopotamia). The Regiment left Bushire on board H.T. Bamora at Dastak on 8 February 1917.
The 14th Sikhs served as 1st Indian Corps Troops between March and July 1917 and moved to Kut-al-Amara on 24 June 1917 and Baghdad on 17 July and subsequently Fallujah on 31 July 1917. The 14th Sikhs joined the 50th Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Division in which they served between August and September 1917 in Fallujah. In October 1917, the 14th Sikhs joined the 51st Infantry Brigade in the 17th Indian Division. The Regiment left Fallujah in October 1917 and moved to Kadhimain and then on to Samarra in December 1917. During these months the Regiment absorbs large drafts sent from India and training is frequently noted in the war diary.
On the 19 January 1918, the 14th Sikhs marched to Istabulat leaving a company behind to guard the lines of communication. The Regiment remained at Istabulat until it moved back to Samarra on 8 March 1918. The Regiment moves constantly towards the end of the month but ends up back to Samarra on 31 March 1918 where they would remain until the 4 April 1918.
The Regiment then moved to Tikrit, Samarra and back to Istabulat where they would stay until they moved back to Tikrit between 13 and 15 July. The 14th Sikhs remained at Tikrit until 20 October 1918, when it took part in the last Anglo-Indian offensive in the Mesopotamia Campaign which led to the Battle of Sharqat between 23 and 30 October 1918. I’d recommend looking at the war diary as its very detailed for this period. The offensive was designed to remove the last Turkish forces from the Tigris Front and capture the oil fields around Mosul. It was a race against time to reach Mosul as it was expected that the Turkish Government would sue for peace at any time.
The 14th Sikhs would suffer heavy casualties during the attack on Mushak on 26 October 1918. During the battle, the Regiment suffered over 300 casualties. The Armistice with Turkey came into effect on the 1 November 1918 when the Regiment was at Shargat. The 14th Sikhs continued to serve in Mesopotamia for the rest of 1918 mainly at Tikrit. On the 24 January 1919, the Regiment arrived at Baghdad before moving on to Basra on 28 January 1919. The Regiment served at Basra until at least early May 1919 before returning to India.
During the Third Anglo-Afghan War, the 14th Sikhs served with Waziristan Force at Tank having arrived from Karachi on 3 June 1919. In the January 1920 Indian Army List, the 14th Sikhs was stationed at Multan (Punjab, Pakistan) and at Ali Musjid in the July 1921 edition and at Jullundur (Jalandhar, Punjab, Pakistan) in the January 1922 edition. In 1922 the 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs became the 1 Battalion 11 Sikh Regiment.
War Diaries for the 14th Sikhs
There are seven war diaries for the 14th Sikhs but only fourth, sixth and seventh have been digitized by the National Archives. To download these war diaries for a small fee click on the blue links below. The Gallipoli war diary is available to view on Ancestry, while the rest can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have copies of all the war diaries and have transcribed some of the entries below.
- Date: 01 October 1914 – 25 April 1915
- Suez Canal Defences
- Reference: WO95/4432
- Notes: Only six pages in length with an Operation Order for the destruction of the “fresh water / wells at Sheikh Syid”.
- Date: 01 September – 31 December 1915
- 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, Gallipoli
- Reference: WO95/4272
- Notes: A detailed war diary describing the 14th Sikh’s activities on Gallipoli. See extracts below.
- Date: 01 January – 30 April 1916
- Suez Canal Defences
- Reference: WO95/4432
- Notes: A short war diary where for a large number of days it is noted that there is nothing to report.
- Date: 01 May 1916 – 28 February 1917
- Bushire Force
- Reference: WO95/5010/3
- Notes: A poor war diary with very little detail or entries which has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
- Date: 01 March 1917 – 31 July 1917
- 1st Indian Corps, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO95/5060/6
- Notes: An average war diary. There is a small sketch map showing the location of camp picquets.
- Date: 01 August – 30 September 1917
- 50th Indian Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Division, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO95/5209/13
- Notes: A poor war diary, with the majority of days having no entry. This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
- Date: 01 October 1917 – 30 April 1919
- 51st Indian Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Division
- Reference: WO95/5211/7
- Notes: An average war diary as very little happens during the period it covers. The entries are more detailed for October 1918. There are lists of British officers serving with the 14th Sikhs at the end of some months and the names of Indian officers appear throughout. This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
Further Sources for the 14th Sikhs
A very good source of information for the Regiment are its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These reports also contain the confidential reports of the British officers who served with the Regiment. However, when the Regiment was abroad only its Depot and the British officers who served with it were reported on. For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 14th Sikhs the Indian Army List should be consulted.
There is a regimental history: The 14th King George’s Own Sikhs the 1st Battalion (K.G.O.) (Ferozepore Sikhs), the 11th Sikh Regiment, 1846-1933 by F. E. G. Talbot.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 14th Sikhs (Crown Copyright: National Archives):
01 September – 31 December 1915, Gallipoli, WO95/4272
10 April 1915 – The Regiment received orders to hold itself in readiness to embark for a sphere of operations other than the Suez Canal Defences. Strength as laid down in “Indian War Establishments” 1913. Reinforcements to remain under the orders of General Officer Commanding Canal Defences.
20 April 1915 – Port Said [Egypt]- Regiment concentrated at Port Said prior to embarkation.
09-10-1915 – Kabak Kuyu [Gallipoli] – Our position shelled about 15:30: Two sepoys killed. nightwork= new communication trench dug to support trench from firing line- not completed. 60 odd rifles and bayonet were collected at night amongst scrub near our trenches.
14 October 1915 – Susak Kuyu Trenches – British aeroplane (from East) cane over flying very low, time about 17.30. Very heavily fired on by Turks with rifles: aeroplane appeared to be damaged and effected a landing towards Suvla Bay. Turkish artillery opened fire with shrapnel almost immediately. Damage not known.
14 November 1915 – Susu Kuyu – Another quiet day. At dusk a party of the enemy, about 60 in number filed out of their trenches, evidently to continue digging their new line. Three times during the night shrapnel salvos were fired over them and our machine guns and rifles also kept up an intermittent fire, with the result that scarcely any work was done on their new line. One wounded.
01 March 1917 – 31 July 1917, Mesopotamia, WO95/5060
4th March 1917 – Arab Village – 07.30 – One platoon, under Jemadar Mihan Singh, with 7 signallers and 7 days rations embarked on P.17. to proceed to Horse Shoe Lake, to escort and protect the 11th Jail Corps while clearing the battlefield in that vicinity, but rejoined their own company at Picquet Hill two days later on 6 March.
7th March 1917 – Arab Village – 2nd Lieutenant Maer with 1 Indian officer and 50 rifles sent up to Sannaiyat to protect 4th Labour Corps, who saw some Arabs at night and ran away, leaving dumps of rifles, ammunition, etc. free to be looted.