58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)

This article is about the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force) aims to help you research either the Regiment or a soldier who served with it during the First World War. I have also have created a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during the war. The links below will take you to the guides:

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The 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force) in the First World War

Lineage: Raised by Captain J. E. Gastrell at Leiah in 1849 as the 5th Regiment of Punjab Infantry. In 1851 it became the 5th Regiment of Infantry, Punjab Irregular Force and then the 5th Regiment of Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force in 1865. In 1901 it became the 5th Punjab Infantry, the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force) in 1903 and the 5th Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles in 1922.

Class Composition in 1914: 3 Companies of Sikhs, 1 Company of Dogras, 3 Companies of Pathans and 1 Company of Punjabi Musalmans. 1919: 1 1/2 Companies of Sikhs, 1/2 a Company of Dogras, 1 1/2 Companies of Pathans and 1/2 a Company of Punjabi Musalmans.

Location in July 1914: The 58th Vaughan’s Rifles was stationed at Chaman (Balochistan, Pakistan) having arrived from Quetta (Balochistan, Pakistan) on 6th April 1914.

The 58th Vaughan’s Rifles was stationed at Chaman when the First World War broke out and received orders to mobilize on 12 August 1914.

The Regiment left India on board the Erinpura on 16 September at Karachi (the ship did not sail until the 21 September) and disembarked at Marseilles on 11 October. The 58th Vaughan’s Rifles was part of Indian Expeditionary Force A and served on the Western Front with the 21st Bareilly Infantry Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Division. The 58th Vaughan’s Rifles saw extensive fighting during its service in France and Belgium and by the time it was withdrawn to Egypt in late 1915, few who landed in France in October 1914 were still with the Regiment.

The 58th Vaughan’s Rifles embarked on board the SS Ivernia at Marseilles on 6 December 1915 and landed at Port Said on 14 December. The Regiment served in Egypt first with the 31st Indian Infantry Brigade and then the 20th Indian Infantry Brigade from mid-January 1916 onwards. The Regiment served with the Egypt Expeditionary Force for the remainder of the war. In August 1917, the remaining Afridis of the Regiment were dispatched to East Africa to join the 55th Coke’s Rifles. This was in response to desertions in the Afridi Company and the unease the remaining Afridis were causing within the Regiment. In September 1917, the Regiment joined the 234th Infantry Brigade, 75th Division and began to move to the frontline near Gaza. In March 1918, the remaining Pathans of the Regiment were sent to East Africa to join the 55th Coke’s Rifles after a shooting incident involving two Yusufzais. The Regiment returned to Egypt after the Armistice where it remained until it embarked on board the Franz Ferdinand at Suez on 30 January 1920 and disembarked at Karachi on 9 February 1920. In 1922, the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force) became the 5th Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles.

The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force). The Indian Army List is a great resource to use to research both officers and regiments of the Indian Army and I have written a guide to help you with its jargon: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.

58th Vaughan's Rifles British Officers 1914

War Diaries of the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)

There are nine war diaries for the 58th Rifles but only the first and that covering service by a company of the Regiment in East Africa have been digitized. To download these war diaries for a small fee click on the blue links below which will take you to the National Archives’ website. The rest of the war diaries can only be viewed at the National Archives.

  • Date: 12 August 1914 – 30 November 1915
  • 21st Bareilly Infantry Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Division, France
  • Reference: WO95/3948/4
  • Notes: A very good war diary which has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website. Very useful for the detailed descriptions of the problems faced by the 58th Vaughen’s Rifles during the winter of 1914. There are a number of hand-drawn maps of the Regiment’s position to be found throughout the war diary. Also a large number of messages sent to the Commanding Officer of the Regiment between 20-22 December 1914.
  • Date: 04 December 1915 – 30 November 1916
  • 20th Indian Infantry Brigade
  • Reference: WO95/4426
  • Notes: A good war diary which provides plenty of information concerning the activities of the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles, with entries becoming longer during the last two months of the diary.
  • Date: 01 December 1916 – 31 May 1917
  • 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, Suez Canal Defences
  • Reference: WO95/4436
  • Notes: A very good war diary which doesn’t just concern itself with military matters but contains comments on a range of subjects from the political allegiance of sheikhs to the description of the ruined castle at Ras el Gindi (18 February 1917). Only a handful of British officers were mentioned in this diary.
  • Date: 01 June – 30 September 1917
  • 49th Indian Infantry Brigade, Suez Canal Defences, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO95/4436
  • Notes: A good war diary with British and Indian officers appearing throughout. There is a list of British and Indian officers of C and D Companies on 2nd September 1917. Also, a table showing when indents for equipment was received between August and September 1917.
  • Date: 01 October 1917 – 31 May 1919
  • 234th Infantry Brigade, 75th Division, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO95/4694
  • Notes: A good, detailed war diary with many long entries. From 1919 there are monthly entries only but these are detailed. The only appendices are orders for August and September 1918.
  • Date: 01 February – 31 May 1918
  • Pamforce, East Africa
  • Reference: WO95/5326/16
  • Notes: A short war diary of a single company of the 58th Rifles which served in East Africa. Very little happened during these months, though there are some detailed entries and it contains nominal rolls of British and Indian officers serving with the company. This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: 01 May – 31 December 1919
  • 29th Infantry Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division
  • Reference: WO95/4581
  • Notes: A very good war diary with many long detailed entries, especially when the Regiment was in action. British and Indian officers appear throughout and there is a small sketch map detailing a patrol encounter on the 9 August 1918. The only appendices are a number of regimental orders.
  • Date: December 1920
  • 24th Indian Infantry Brigade, Waziristan Force
  • Reference: WO95/5402
  • Notes: A very detailed war diary which is included with the 58th Rifles war diary for July – December 1921 (see below).
  • Date: 1 July 1921 – 31 December 1921
  • 24th Indian Infantry Brigade, Waziristan Force
  • Reference: WO95/5402
  • Notes: A good detailed war diary which makes interesting reading. This war diary appears after the war diary above (December 1920).

Further Sources for the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)

If you are researching British and Indian officers who served with the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force) the Indian Army List should be consulted. A good resource for the Regiment is its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etcThese reports also contain the annual reports of the British officers serving with the Regiment. However, when the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force) was serving abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on.

A Record of the 58th Rifles F. F. in the Great War by Colonel A. G. Lind DSO (Commandant 1917 – 1926). This book was written by Colonel Lind after he and fellow officers were dissatisfied with the history written by Wylly below. It is a very useful book which is packed full of information and British and Indian officers and other ranks (with regimental numbers) are mentioned throughout the text. Appendices include a list of British and Indian officer casualties, total casualties of the Regiment, list of honours and awards, list of units reinforcements were drawn from, numbers of recruits enlisted at the Depot and extracts from orders and letters. There are also seven maps. Unfortunately, this book hasn’t been reprinted but can be downloaded for free online by clicking on the link below and then the image of the front cover:

 Download A Record of the 58th Rifles F. F. in the Great War

There is a good regimental history giving an overview of the Regiment from its raising in 1849 to 1926: History of the 5th Battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles by Colonel H.C. Wylly CB. This book was reprinted by the Naval & Military Press in 2004. Appendices include a list of British and Indian officers killed and wounded during the war, honours and awards gained (1914-18) and a breakdown of the Regiment’s casualties.

 

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Extracts from War Diaries of the 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force) (Crown Copyright: National Archives)

01 October 1914 – 28 February 1915, France, WO95/3948/4

09 November 1914 – In the morning a German was seen to be crawling up a depression in the ground in front of our trenches. He was shot by the sentry, and from his uniform and service papers… it was ascertained that he belonged to the 112 Imperial Baden Regiment.

20 November 1914 – Festubert – The snow lying on the ground made it inadvisable that any patrols or scouting parties should be sent out, as anyone moving was at once visible. The enemy continued to throw bombs and to knock down loopholes by firing on them. The frost and consequent hard ground caused our hand grenades, which had hitherto proved ineffective to explode. Coke burnt in old cans, pails etc. in the trenches was a valuable aid against the cold; one fire being in use by every group (between traverses).

01 December 1916 – 31 May 1917, Suez Canal Defences, WO95/4436

20 December 1916 – Transfer of troops, animals and stores completed by 11 am at which time H.T. Georgian left for Tor taking there H.Q. 58th Rifles F.F. and the relieving detachment. By order of intelligence officer Suez, the agent of a storekeeper in Suez named Abu Gedail was installed as manager of the local canteen vice Sabha, the son of the local Sheikh Madakhl, who was managing it too much to his own profit. Sheikh, being an inveterate miser, is very angry. He is influential in this district and i one of the few sheikhs who has remained loyal.

27 February 1917 0 Quarantine – Letters and post diary received from Las Khorai. Detachment there is suffering from scurvy: only one boat visits them during the month carrying rations and vegetables: the latter go bad after 14 days and no fresh ones worth considering can be grown. Milk is also scarce. This company received its first consignment of clothing on 19 January 1917 having then been absent from the Regiment for 5 months. Shirts were in rags, socks non-existent, putties torn and worn out. 70 serviceable pairs of boots remain among 200 men. Rifles 20% out of action. It is obvious that this company has been badly treated: it was expected to be absent from its unit for two months: six months has now elapsed and this fine company is in danger of becoming ineffective. Application has been made for their recall.

01 June – 30 September 1917, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, WO95/4694

26 August 1917 – At 2 am Salem Fateh, Mawalera tribe was found shot dead in his house in the Wadi Tor. Investigations showed that he had been shot with an automatic pistol. Two of the assassins (Awana tribe) escaped back into the hills and ere followed by a military patrol but to no purpose. Five suspected accomplices are under arrest. The case is one involving tribal marriage laws.

01 February – 31 May 1918 – Pamforce, East Africa – WO95/5326/16

03 February 1918 – Kilindini Harbour – The British and Indian officers were allowed ashore today to visit Mombasa.

25 February 1918 – Dar es Salaam – The last few days men have been playing quite a lot of football to keep fit, but in spite of this a large number go into field hospital.

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