This article on the short-lived 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis aims to help you research the Battalion or someone who served with it during the First World War. I have written a separate article for the 1st Battalion 89th Punjabis and a series of guides to help you find out even more about researching soldiers who served in the Indian Army. The links below will take you to the guides:
- Guide to the 1st Battalion 89th Punjabis
- Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army
The 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis in the First World War
Lineage: The 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis was formed at Ferozepore (Firozpur, Punjab, India) on 5 June 1917 and became the 10th Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment (a training battalion) in 1922. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion 89th Punjabis.
Class Composition of Battalion in 1919: 1 1/2 Companies Punjabi Muslims, 1 Company of Sikhs, 1/2 a Company of Brahmans and 1/2 a Company of Rajputs.
The 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis was a war-raised Indian infantry battalion formed at Ferozepore (Firozpur, Punjab, India) on 5 June 1917. The Battalion’s British officers were mainly Indian Army officers on probation (on. prob.) or drawn from the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (I.A.R.O.). This was typical of a war-raised Indian infantry battalion. Below is an excerpt from the July 1918 Indian Army List which recorded the British officers serving with the Battalion.The 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis did not serve outside of India during the First World War and was part of the 1st (Peshawar) Division. The Battalion was inspected by Lieutenant-General F Campbell, Commanding 1st (Peshawar) Division on 23 April 1918:
This battalion which is in the making, has laboured under considerable difficulties in the past. The Commanding Officer has been little over four months with the battalion. On arrival in the 1st Division the discipline was bad, general appearance slovenly, training backward. Lieutenant-Colonel Oldfield is seriously grappling with this state of affairs, he is doing all he can to secure improvement. I already note a considerable change all round for the better. Interior economy satisfactory. Not yet fit for service.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1917-1918: IOR/L/MIL/7/17029
The Battalion continued to improve and there is a very detailed confidential report or 1918-1919, though it was still not fit for service. The Battalion was stationed at Nowshera, North West Frontier Province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) when it received orders to mobilize for service in Mesopotamia (Iraq). There is a war diary covering the Battalion’s service in Mesopotamia between August and September 1920 but it is very poor. In October 1920, the Battalion joined the 52nd Indian Infantry Brigade, 18th Indian Division in which it served until at least March 1921. The war diary is once again very poor and I have transcribed a couple of the more detailed entries below. After returning to India, the 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis became 10th Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment (a training battalion) in 1922.
The 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis qualified for the General Service Medal with Iraq clasp and the Medal Index Cards have survived. These can be viewed online on Ancestry or the National Archives’ website. I recommend viewing them for free on Ancestry.
War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis
There are two war diaries for the 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis and both have been digitized by the National Archives. To download a war diary for a small fee, click on the blue links below. I have transcribed some of the entries for the war diaries at the bottom of the page.
- Date: 16 August – 30 September 1920
- General Headquarters, Army Troops, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5003/2
- Notes: A poor war diary with very little detail and only a basic overview of the unit’s activities.
- Date: 01 October 1920 – 10 March 1921
- 52nd Indian Infantry Brigade, 18th Indian Division, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5226/6
- Notes: Another poor war diary for the 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis with little detail and a lot of dates with no entry.
Further Sources for the 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis
For information concerning British and Indian officers who served with the 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis, the Indian Army List can be consulted. The confidential reports for the Regiment are held at the British Library: Confidential Reports. These confidential reports also contain the annual confidential reports of the British officers serving with the Battalion for that year. The General Service Medal Index Cards for the Iraq clasp can be viewed online on Ancestry or the National Archives’ website. I recommend viewing them for free on Ancestry.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 89th Punjabis
16 August – 30 September 1920, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5003/3
1 September 1920 – Kut – Orders received to occupy on the 2 September 1920, blockhouse on the railway at Shumran, Iman Hadi, Sumar, Shaidiff, and Tubul. Battalion headquarters and two companies plus one platoon to remain at Kut
01 October 1920 – 10 March 1921, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5226/6
23 November 1920 – Baghdad – Battalion inspected by Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Haldane K.C.B. D.S.O. commander-in-chief M.E.F. Wire No. Q/174/3 received from Defences Baghdad informing that Battalion to be at Hilleh by the 26 November 1920.
12 December 1920 – Diwaniyah – Orders received that the Battalion will join Old Column proceeding to Umm-al-Barur on the 13 December 1920. Objective: The town of Umm-al-Barur has been a centre of insurgent intrigue and owing to its inaccessibility it has afforded a hiding place for fugitives from justice. Up to date this town has not been visited by troops and until troops are seen there the Arabs will believe that the place is a safe refuge for those who wish to evade arrest.