This article will look at the role of the war-raised 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry during the First World War and will help you to research those who served with the Battalion. I have written a separate article for the 1st Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry and a series of guides to help you research those who served in the Indian Army during the war:
- Guide to the 1st Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry
- Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army
I also offer a First World War Soldier Research Service.
The 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry
Lineage: The 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry was formed at Sitapur (Uttar Pradesh, India) on 27 June 1917 and was disbanded on 30 August 1922. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion, 97th Deccan Infantry.
Class Composition of Battalion in 1919: 1 1/2 Companies of Rajputs, 1 Company of Jats and 1 1/2 Companies of Dekhani Mussalmans.
The 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry was a war-raised Indian infantry battalion formed at Sitapur on 27 June 1917. The Battalion left Sitapur for Bombay on 15 May 1918 and set sail for Egypt on board the Hired Transport Chakdara on 18 May 1918. The Battalion disembarked at Suez on 30 May and moved into camp at Tel el-Kebir. The Battalion served as part of the 181st Infantry Brigade, 60th London Division of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. There is a war diary, discussed below, covering the period between May 1918 and March 1919. While serving with the 181st Infantry Brigade, the 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry took part in the opening day of the Battle of Megiddo on 19 September 1918 but apart from this day had an uneventful war.
In April 1919, the Battalion joined the 7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division and there is another war diary covering the period between April 1919 and March 1920. The Battalion remained overseas until returning to India in 1922 and was disbanded on 30 August 1922. The extract below was taken from the April 1919 Indian Army List which recorded the British officers serving with the Battalion.
War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry
There are two war diaries for the 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry and as of January 2018 neither has been digitized and they can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have a copy of the first war diary and have transcribed some of the entries below.
- Date: 15 May 1918 – 31 March 1919
- 181st Infantry Brigade, 60th London Division, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
- Reference: WO95/4672
- Notes: A poor war diary where the entries are brief and after the Armistice, the majority consist of “Training under company arrangements” or similar. Two movement orders for the 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry dated 15 July and 20 July 1918 are also included. British and Indian officers mentioned throughout.
- Date: 01 April 1919 – 31 March 1920
- 7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
- Reference: WO95/4701
Further Sources for the 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry
For information regarding British and Indian officers who served with the 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry, the Indian Army List should be consulted. There are two confidential reports for the Battalion’s Depot and the British officers who served with it. These are held at the British Library:
- Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1918-1919 IOR/L/MIL/7/17030
- Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1919-1920: IOR/L/MIL/7/17031
A regimental history The Story of the 97th Deccan Infantry by W. C. Kirkwood was published in 1929 and is available to download for free by clicking on the blue link above.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 97th Deccan Infantry (Crown Copyright: National Archives)
15 May 1918 – 31 March 1919, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, WO95/4672
30 May 1918 – Suez – Disembarked. Strength 1024, Entrained for Tel-el-Kebir.
09 August 1918 – Nejmeh – At a SGCM No.73 Sepoy Mahabir Singh found guilty of 1) Abstaining himself without leave. 2) Neglecting to obey Regimental Orders. Sentenced to suffer corporal punishment of 12 lashes with regulation cut [?].
19 September 1918 – South Sister – 03.30. Three companies and headquarters in position. 04.30. Zero hour. Kumaon Rifles advanced to the attack closely followed by D and A companies under command of Captain D Russell and Lieutenant J Lang M.C. respectively.
C Company under command of Captain J C Sharp in reserve. 50th Kumaon Rifles too first and second objectives… the smoke barrage did not fall till after the position was captured owing to signaller in charge of ships being wounded. About 40 prisoners, 4 machine guns and 250 rifles were capture and Lewis gun fire was turned on retiring Turks with considerable effect.
Casualties. One Indian officer Jemadar Neki Ram killed. One Indian officer Subadar Ranjit Singh wounded. British other ranks attached and Indian other ranks, killed and subsequently did in hospital 7. Wounded 27. Missing 4.