38th Dogras

This article looks at the 38th Dogras 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 which will help you to research those who served in the Indian Army during the war. To view the guides click on the blue link below:

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The 38th Dogras in the First World War

Lineage: Raised by Lieutenant G. L. Fraser at Agra as the Agra Levy in 1858. Then in 1861, it became the 42nd Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and the same year the 38th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. Then in 1864, it became the 38th (Agra) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and the 8th Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1885. Then the 38th (Dogra) Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1890 and the 38th Dogra Infantry in 1891. It was designated the 38th Dogras in 1903 and became the 2nd Battalion 17th Dogra Regiment in 1922.

Class Composition of Battalion in 1914: 8 Companies of Dogras. 1919: 4 Companies of Dogras.

Location in July 1914: The 38th Dogras was stationed at Malakand (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) having arrived from Nowshera on 21st February 1914.

The 38th Dogras was stationed at Malakand on the North West Frontier when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment had been inspected earlier in the year by Major-General R. Ballatine-Allason, Commanding Nowshera Brigade who reported:

The regiment has well maintained the high standard of training which I was able to report on last year. With an intimate knowledge of this unit which has been under me for 3 years I have formed a high opinion of it. Drill and manoeuvres are quick and practical. Musketry, as far as individual tests apply, is very good and collective practices have been carried out on sensible and practical principles. All signallers are first class. A good tone exists.

The chain of responsibility is well maintained and all work for the common good. The interior economy is satisfactory; due economy is practised as regards clothing deductions.

The regiment is eminently fit for service.

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

Below is an extract from the October 1914 Indian Army List recording the British officers serving with the 38th Dogras. The Indian Army List is a great resource to use to research both Indian and British officers. I’ve created a guide to help you decipher all the military jargon: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.

38th Dogras

While the 38th Dogras remained in India until 1917, the Regiment sent a large draft of men to the 1st Battalion 39th Garhwal Rifles which suffered heavy casualties at Neuve Chapelle on 10 March 1915. The Regiment also sent another draft to the 41st Dogras which also suffered heavy casualties, this time in Mesopotamia (Iraq) during the Kut-al-Amara relief attempts in 1916.

In late 1917, the 38th Dogras moved to Aden in what is now Yemen. However, the Regiment’s stay was brief as the 38th Dogras disembarked at Suez, Egypt on 10 February 1918. Once in Egypt, the Regiment moved to Tel-el-Kebir where it remained until 24 April 1918 when it began to move to the front line. The Regiment joined the 30th Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division. The Regiment’s movements can be followed by looking at its first war diary which covers the period between February 1918 and February 1919.

The 38th Dogras took part in the Battle of Megiddo (19 – 25 September 1918) and the subsequent pursuit of Ottoman forces. The Regiment remained in the Middle East after Armistice and in March 1919 joined the 232nd Infantry Brigade, 75th Division. The 38th Dogras spent most of 1919 at Belbeis (Bilbeis), Egypt and was still there when the war diary ended in March 1920. In 1922, the 38th Dogras was redesignated as the 2nd Battalion 17th Dogra Regiment.

War Diaries of the 38th Dogras

There are two war diaries for the 38th Dogras which haven’t been digitized and can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have transcribed some of the entries from the second war diary below.

  • Date: 01 February 1918 – 28 February 1919
  • 30th Infantry Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division
  • Reference: WO95/4584
  • Notes: A very good war diary not so much for the daily entries but the wide variety of appendices it contains. These include operational reports, orders and nominal rolls. I would estimate that the appendices contain the names and regimental numbers of at least 200 Indian other ranks including a complete list of casualties sustained on 21 September 1918.
  • Date: 01 March 1919 – 31 March 1920
  • 232nd Infantry Brigade 75th Division, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO95/4689
  • Notes: Very little happened as the Regiment spent the majority of its time guarding prisoners of war. There is a list of British officers present with the 38th Dogras on the 1st of each month. There are a number of appendices, the most interesting being a 1-page report on “Operations at Inshas and Mashtul on 31 March 1919”. Reports by Lieutenant Norman Smith and note by Major Black on disturbance by prisoners of war. Two short accounts by Sepoys 13 Kali Ram and 3665 Bhart Singh on another disturbance on 17 July 1919. There is a list of Indian soldiers who left the Regiment to go on pension on 6 April 1919 (with regimental number and company). There is also a nominal roll of Indian officers and men for despatch to India dated 28 June 1919 (with service numbers and company).

Further Sources for the 38th Dogras

If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served with the Regiment then the Indian Army List can be consulted. A great source for the 38th Dogras is its confidential reports held at the British Library in London: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These reports also contain the annual reports of the British officers serving with the Regiment. Though when the 38th Dogras was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on.

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Extracts from War Diaries of the 38th Dogras (Crown Copyright: National Archives)

01 March 1919 – 31 March 1920, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, WO95/4689

23 March 1919 – Belbeis – 1/70 Burma Rifles mounted Prisoner of War guards. Relief sent for picquet at police station. Information received that train to Cairo on 15 was attacked and 3 other ranks and 1 public follower being transferred to hospital were maltreated by Egyptians. One man being shot through the thigh.

02 April 1919 – Belbeis – 09.45 – Prisoner of war escorts and flying picquet found by the Regiment. 09.45 Prisoners of War in No. 9 Division attempted to rush the gate guard under No. 2194 Naik Mani Ram and escort, under No. 2063 Naik Lachman E Company, which was passing, fired into them. 48 rounds expended. 2 prisoners of war killed, 9 wounded. (Appendix A). Regiment mounted prisoner of war guards 16.30.

08 April 1919 – Belbeis – Lieutenant H.R. Power admitted to No. 88 General Hospital with injuries to head received during rioting in Cairo.

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