1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers

This article is about the 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers and will help you to research the Battalion and those who served with it. I have also written a guide to the 2nd Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers and articles to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army:

1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers

Lineage: Formed near Baghdad, Mesopotamia (Iraq) in May 1918 and disbanded in 1920.

Class Composition of Battalion in 1919: 2 Companies of Mazbhi Sikhs, 1 Company of Jats and 1 Company of Rajput Musalmans.

The 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers was one of eighteen Indian infantry battalions formed in the Middle East in 1918. This was in consequence of the withdrawal of British battalions to the Western Front following the heavy losses sustained by the British Army in the German Spring Offensive. The Battalion was formed near Baghdad in May 1918 from drafts of the following regiments:

In July 1918, the Battalion moved to Egypt and joined the 53rd (Welsh) Division as divisional troops. The Battalion took part in the closing stages of the Palestine Campaign and remained in the Middle East after the war. Fortunately, there are war diaries covering the period between May 1918 and December 1919. The 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers was disbanded in 1920.

War Diaries of the 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers

There are three war diaries for the 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers and only the first covering Mesopotamia has been digitized. To download this war diary for a small fee click on the first blue link below. The other two war diaries can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have transcribed some entries from the diaries at the bottom of the page.

  • Date: 19 May – 30 June 1918
  • Advanced Bases and Defences, Mesopotamia
  • Reference: WO 95/5035/13
  • Notes: A good war diary with information on how the 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers was formed and its work in Mesopotamia. There is a list of British officers with the 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers when it was formed. This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: 01 July 1918 – 30 April 1919
  • 53rd (Welsh) Division, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO95/4621
  • Notes: A good, detailed war diary which provides plenty of information about the Battalion.
  • Date: 01 May – 31 December 1919
  • North Force, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO95/4459
  • Notes: A slightly more detailed war diary than is usually found for this period but little occurs. British and Indian officers and some Indian other ranks mentioned.

Further Sources for the 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers

For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 1st Battalion 155th Indian Pioneers, the Indian Army List should be consulted. There was no regimental history produced for the 155th Indian Pioneers nor are there any confidential reports.

Extracts from War Diaries

19 May – 30 June 1918, Mesopotamia, WO95/5035

19 May 1918 – Advance Base Baghdad – Companies from 64th Pioneers, 32nd and 48th Pioneers having been assembled the 1st Battalion 155th Pioneers was formed. Major T.B. Skinner 64th Pioneers assumed command of the battalion.

The Battalion was formed by the transfer of one complete company from each of the following Battalions:- 1 Company Jats 48th Pioneers became 1st/155th. 1 Company Raputana Musalmans, Meos, 128th Pioneers became B Company 1st/155th. 1 Company Ramdasia and Muzbi Sikhs from 32nd Sikh Pioneers became C Company 1st/155th. 1 Company Ramdasia and Muzbi Sikhs from 64th Pioneers became  D Company 1st/155th. B Company came originally from 121st Pioneers C and D from 23rd,32nd and 34th Sikh Pioneers.

29 May 1918 – Sappers and Miners Camp Makina – Work on the railway commenced, laying a line from Remount Depot to Muftia Coal and Oil Depot about 2 miles.

04 June 1918 – Sappers and Miners Camp Makina – 215 yards of light railway bank completed. Work on stables and other railway bank continued. Cholera inoculation of the whole Battalion was completed today.

29 June 1918 – H.T. Chenab – At sea. Very hot and steamy. Rounds 10.30 am. All told off to boats or rafts. Belts and water bottles worn on parade. Decks clean and in good order. The decks below are well ventilates. This used to be an emigrant ship.

01 July 1918 – 30 April 1919, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, WO95/4621

27 July 1918 -Kantara -The men are now equipped like infantry. The old pioneer tools which they used to carry on their backs are being returned to ordnance. The tools will in future be carried on 2 limbered wagons per company. The digging tools are now picks 4 1/2lbs, shovels R.E and a few Mammoties.

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