This article on the 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry aims to help you research this short-lived Battalion and those who served with it during the First World War. I have written a separate article for the 73rd Carnatic Infantry and a series of guides to help you research those who served in the Indian Army during the war. The links below will take you to the guides:
I also offer a First World War Soldier Research Service.
2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry
Lineage: The 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry was formed at Cannanore (Kannur, Kerala, India) on 6 June 1918. The Battalion was disbanded on 8 October 1921. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion 73rd Carnatic Infantry.
Class Composition of Battalion in 1919: 1 Company of Mapillas, 1 Company of Tiyyans and Christians and 2 Companies of Nayars.
The 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry was a short-lived Indian infantry battalion formed at Cannanore (Kannur, Kerala, India) on 6 June 1918. The Battalion’s first commanding officer was Acting Lieutenant-Colonel William Ralph Lawrenson, appointed from the 86th Carnatic Infantry on 15 July 1918. The excerpt below from the April 1919 Indian Army List shows the British officers serving with the Battalion. Only two were commissioned pre-war which is typical of a war-raised Indian infantry battalion. Most of the officers were either on probation (on probn.) or from the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (I.A.R.O.).
The Battalion received its first inspection by Brigadier-General Owen Cadogan Wolley-Dod, Commanding Bangalore Brigade on 19 February 1919. Due to the dearth of records concerning the Battalion, I have quoted a large portion of the report which paints the unit in a very bad light:
Instruction and Training: Training in this unit is very backward. There is a shortage of Instructors, and some of the Instructors, particularly in P.T. [Physical Training] are inefficient. This is reflected in the way the men stand in the ranks.
Marching: Not good, there appears to be a difficulty in getting men to keep step.
Physique: Variable. Some of the Nayars have very poor physique.
General Observations: The turn out at the inspection was good. Drill is very backward and steps are being taken to lend instructors to the Battalion. Training of specialists is receiving attention.
There appears to be no fixed stoppage from the men for messing and the Government allowance of 10 annas [An anna was 1/16 of a Rupee] a man is not made the most of. Food is lacking in quality. With good feeding and properly supervised physical training the general physique of the men would improve.
Keeping of books and records leaves much room for improvement.
Lieutenant-General Charles Alexander Anderson reported the following on 28 April 1919:
I have only seen this battalion passing in a troop train. The men appeared slack and lacking in discipline (17th November 1918). There were some cases of indiscipline in the battalion in the cold weather of 1918. The unit is still evidently a very backward one and requires much attention on the part of the Brigade Commander on most points.
Major-General William Cross-Barratt, Commanding 9th (Secunderabad) Division inspected the Battalion on 31 March 1919 and reported:
An unsatisfactory new unit. Sufficient progress not made despite outside assistance. British officers seem capable, but do not get good results. Good deal of lack of progress is due to inexperienced and incompetent Indian officers. Men are good material and should make a fine battalion. Classification unsatisfactory.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1918-1919: IOR/L/MIL/7/17030
In the April 1920 Indian Army List, the 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry was stationed at Bellary (Karnataka, India) under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Anthony Carleton who was appointed on 21 April 1919. In the July 1921 Indian Army List, the Battalion was serving overseas with its Depot at Cannanore. The Battalion was disbanded on 8 October 1921.
War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry
There are no war diaries for the 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry.
Further Sources for the 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry
For information regarding British and Indian officers who served with the 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry, the Indian Army List should be consulted. There is only one confidential report for the Battalion held at the British Library: Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1918-1919: IOR/L/MIL/7/17030. This report also contains the annual confidential reports of the British officers who served with the Battalion that year.