This article is about the 32nd Sikh Pioneers and will help you to research the Regiment and the soldiers who served with it. I have also written articles about the 2nd and 3rd Battalions and a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army:
- 2nd Battalion 32nd Sikh Pioneers
- 3rd Battalion 32nd Sikh Pioneers
- Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army
The 32nd Sikh Pioneers in the First World War
Lineage: The Regiment was raised by Lieutenant Dyas at Madhopore (Madhopur) in 1857 and known as the Punjab Sappers and Punjab Pioneers. In 1858 the Regiment became the 24th (Pioneer) Regiment of Punjab Infantry. In 1861 the Regiment first became the 36th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and then the 32nd Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. Then in 1864, the 32nd (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry (Pioneers) and in 1885 the 32nd (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry (Pioneers). Then in 1901 the 32nd Punjab Pioneers, the 32nd Sikh Pioneers in 1903 and the 2nd Battalion 3rd Sikh Pioneers in 1922.
Class Composition in 1914: 8 Companies Mazbi and Ramdasia Sikhs. 1919: 4 Companies of Mazbi and Ramdasia Sikhs.
Location in August 1914: The 32nd Sikh Pioneers was stationed at Sialkot (Punjab, Pakistan) having arrived from the Lahore Cantonment (Punjab, Pakistan) on 14th November 1913.
The 32nd Sikh Pioneers was stationed at Sialkot when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment was inspected by Brigadier- General H. P. Leader, Commanding Sialkot Brigade in its confidential report for 1913-14:
The regiment works well in the field. It is a fine regiment, well commanded and well officered. Instruction and training very satisfactory.
Musketry: With reference to the remarks of Major-General Watkis, it is to be noted that although the regimental average is three points lower than last year, the possible total obtainable has been reduced ten points owing to alterations of deleting the bull’s eye in one practice. With the above hypothesis the actual figures show an improvement.
Signalling: Very satisfactory.
Discipline: Very good.
Interior economy: Satisfactory.
Clothing: Due economy is practised as regards clothing deductions.
Fit for active service.
Technical work particularly good. I have carefully examined the changes asked for in tools and I am satisfied that the suggested alterations are very necessary.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units for 1913-1914: IOR/L/MIL/7/17023
The 32nd Sikh Pioneers remained in India until April 1917 when it left Sialkot for Karachi (Sindh, Pakistan). The Regiment boarded the Franz Ferdinand and arrived at Basra, Mesopotamia (Iraq) on 8 May. The 32nd Sikh Pioneers joined the 17th Indian Division shortly afterwards and served with this formation for the remainder of the war. If you’d like to learn more about the Regiment I’d recommend downloading its war diaries and looking at the regimental history The Sikh Pioneers (see below for more information). The Regiment’s initial period in Mesopotamia was spent working on the Baghdad-Samarra railway, then the Bagdad-Euphrates line and in 1918 the Tekrit railway. The Regiment remained in Mesopotamia after the war and in 1922 became the 2nd Battalion 3rd Sikh Pioneers in 1922. The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List. As the Indian Army List is full of military jargon I have written a page to help you: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.
War Diaries of the 32nd Sikh Pioneers
There are three war diaries for the 32nd Sikh Pioneers and all have been digitized and can be downloaded for a small fee by the clicking on the blue links below. The links will take you to the National Archives’ website where you can download the files.
- Date: 08 April – 31 August 1917
- General Headquarters, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5003/2
- Notes: An average war where the daily entries tend to be brief, like most pioneer war diaries, but do give an overview of the activities of the 32nd Sikh Pioneers.
- Date: 01 September 1917 – 30 September 1918
- Divisional Troop, 17th Indian Division
- Reference: WO 95/5206/4
- Notes: Overall a good war diary with a handful of interesting camp sketch maps. There is a list of British officers serving with the regiment on 31 March 1917 and 31 March 1918.
- Date: 01 November 1918 – 30 April 1920
- Divisional Troop, 17th Indian Division
- Reference: WO 95/5206/5
- Notes: A poor war diary which contains short repetitive entries.
Further Sources for the 32nd Sikh Pioneers
A good source of information for the Regiment is its annual confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. However, when the Regiment was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it are reported on. If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served with the 102nd King Edward’s Own Grenadiers, then you can consult the Indian Army List for information regarding their career.
There is also a regimental history of The History of The Sikh Pioneers by Lieut-General Sir George MacMunn which can be viewed for free online by clicking on the blue link below:
Extracts from War Diaries of the 32nd Sikh Pioneers
8 April – 31 August 1917, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5003/2
8 April 1917 – Sialkot – The Regiment left Sialkot in two trains at 2.30 pm, and 10.45 pm respectively.
2 May 1917 – Kiamari – The Regiment embarked on H.T. Franz Ferdinand.
8 May 1917 – Makina Masus – Regiment disembarked and proceeded into Camp at Makina Masus.
14 May 1917 – Makina Masus – A working party of 2 British officers and 311 Indian other ranks started work on the new explosive dump west of the railway at Makina. Holes were 2′ 3” deep and 9” square were [?] for fence. The party left camp at 6 am returning at 11.30 am.
19 May 1917 – Makina Masus – 4 British officers and 500 Indian other ranks from B, C and D Companies contibued work on explosive dump. Started putting up barbed wire apron on outside of fence and stays on inside. 2500 yards in all complete. 5 am to 11.30 am.
30 May 1917 – Rest Camp – Received orders to proceed to Kazamain to relive half battalion of 128th Pioneers. Transport unavailable and orders for move cancelled.
3 July 1917 – Sadiyah – Left Samaihchah 4.30 am, arrived Sadiyah Bridgehead 9 am. Jemadar Hira Singh and party Indian other ranks acting as escort to motor lorry arrived 10 am. Camp pitched 5 pm. Two platoons laid sleepers on Sadiyah – Samaihchah railway. Thirty men acted as covering party.
25 August 1917 – Near Iron Bridge Baghdad – Continued work on embankment for new Baghdad – Felujah railway.