This article is about the 24th Punjabis 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 to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army in the First World War:
The 24th Punjabis in the First World War
Lineage: Raised by Captain G. N. Cave at Peshawar as the 16th Regiment of Punjab Infantry in 1857. It became the 28th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and then the 24th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1861. Then the 24th (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1864 and the 24th (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1885. Then in 1901 the 24th Punjab Infantry and in 1903 the 24th Punjabis and the 3rd Battalion 14th Punjab Regiment in 1922.
Class Composition in 1914: 4 Companies of Sikhs, 1 Company of Dogras, 2 Companies of Afridis and 1 Company of Punjabi Musalmans. 1919: 2 Companies of Sikhs, 1/2 a Company of Dogras, 1 Company of Afridis and 1/2 a Company of Punjabi Musalmans.
Location in August 1914: The 24th Punjabis was stationed at Nowshera, North West Frontier (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) having arrived from Bannu (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) on 17th February 1914.
The 24th Punjabis was stationed at Nowshera on the North West Frontier when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment received orders to mobilize on 7 October 1914 as part of the 30th Indian Infantry Brigade which was sent to Egypt to guard the Suez Canal. The Regiment left India in early November and disembarked at Suez on 18 of the same month. The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers who were serving with the 24th Punjabis. The Indian Army List is a very important source of information to research both regiment and officers of the Indian Army. The Indian Army List is full of military jargon and I’ve written a page to help you decipher it all: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.
The 24th Punjabis left Egypt in March 1915 and proceeded to Mesopotamia (Iraq) where the Regiment saw extensive action. If you’d like to learn more about this period then I’d recommend combining the regimental history with the war diaries which I have discussed below. The 24th Punjabis was captured at Kut-al-Amara in April 1916 along with the rest of the 6th (Poona) Division. There is a list of Indian prisoners of war of the regimental along with their regimental number at the British Library. The Regiment was reformed on 25 September 1916 at the 24th Punjabis’ Depot at Jubbulpore (Jabalpur, India) and returned to Mesopotamia in April 1917. The Regiment served in Mesopotamia until it landed at Salonika in October 1918. The 24th Punjabis served briefly in Salonika before it moved to Turkey and the Black Sea in consequence of the Armistice with Turkey. The 24th Punjabis disembarked at Karachi on 21 October 1914, exactly six years after it had left Nowshera for service in Egypt. In 1922, the 24th Punjabis became the 3rd Battalion 14th Punjab Regiment.
A portrait of Captain Gilbert Leslie-Smith 24th Punjabis which appeared in The Sphere, 4 September 1915. Leslie-Smith was killed in action near Nasiriyah on 14 July 1915 and is buried in the Basra War Cemetery, Iraq. This portrait and a biography appeared in Bond of Sacrifice.
War Diaries of the 24th Punjabis
There are six war diaries for the 24th Punjabis but only the middle four 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 first and last war diaries can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have copies of all the war diaries and have transcribed some entries below.
- Date: 01 October – 28 February 1915
- 30th Indian Infantry Brigade, Suez Canal Defences
- Reference: WO 95/4426
- Notes: Like most Suez Canal war diaries very little happens, and therefore most entries are short. Despite this, longer entries when events do occur.
- Date: 01 April – 31 August 1915
- 30th Indian Infantry Brigade, 12th Indian Division
- Reference: WO 95/5146/4
- Notes: A good war diary with a variety of appendices. There is a very detailed entry with recommendations for gallantry awards for the Battle of Shaiba on 14 April 1915 and for “Sandhills” Nasiriya (Nasiriyah) on 14 July 1915.
- Date: 01 September – 30 October 1915
- 30th Indian Infantry Brigade, 6th (Poona) Division, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5125/3
- Notes: A short war diary with many of the entries just “Nothing to Report”.
- Date: 01 April – 30 September 1917
- 1st Indian Corps, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5060/4
- Notes: A poor war diary where daily entries are often very brief e.g. “Route march, morning”.
- Date: 01 October 1917- 30 September 1918
- 30th Indian Infantry Brigade, 12th Indian Division
- Reference: WO 95/5198/6
- Notes: A poor war diary with brief entries. However, there is a list of killed and wounded with regimental numbers for the Battle of Khan Baghdadi on 26 March 1918 along with a narrative report. I have transcribed the wounded below.
- Date: 01 January – 30 November 1919
- 80th Infantry Brigade, 27th Division, Salonika
- Reference: WO 95/4890
- Notes: A typical post-war diary where very little happened. Some months contain short handwritten appendices including a report on the looting of the 24th Punjabis’ baggage.
Further Sources for the 24th Punjabis
A very good source of information for the Regiment are its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These reports also contain the annual reports of the British officers serving with the Regiment. However, when the 24th Punjabis was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it are reported on. For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 24th Punjabis, the Indian Army List should be consulted.
There is also a regimental history which I would recommend which has been reprinted by the Naval & Military Press in 2010: War Records of the 24th Punjabis 1914-20: 4th Battalion 14th Punjab Regiment by A.B. Haig. Despite being only 84 pages in length, this book contains a lot of useful information about the Regiment, especially since there is a large gap in the 24th Punjabis war diary due to its capture at Kut-al-Amara. Chapter 6 described the experiences of British and Indian officers and Indian other ranks who were taken prisoner by the Turks. Appendices list all British officers who served with the regiment and honours and awards gained by all ranks, though there are no citations.
The grave of 4244 Cook Mohammed Bux 24th Punjabis, buried in the Haidar Pasha Cemetery Haidar Pasha Cemetery, Istanbul. Cook Bux was originally buried in the Osmanieh (Osmaniye near the Syrian border) Moslem Cemetery but re-interred in the Istanbul in 1962.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 24th Punjabis
01 October – 28 February 1915, Suez Canal Defences, WO 95/4426
11 November 1914 -7 PM – Nowshera – Received orders warning 24th Punjabis for service and to recall leave and furlough men: and also to call out Reservists. Detailed orders to be sent later- Telegram dispatched to Officer Commanding Reserve Centre Jhelum with above information.
23 January 1915 – El Kubri – Fatigues from Suez as above. 4985 Sepoy Puran E Company killed and 2 sepoys badly injured by subsidence of a trench.
25 January 1915 – Aeroplane reconnaissance reported total of 1500 enemy or more at Bir Mabeuk with guns, Aeroplane was fired at with shrapnel and rifle fire. Second reconnaissance of aeroplane about 1 pm reported enemy in Bir Mabeuik considerably reinforced and estimated strength at 5000…
01 October 1917- 30 September 1918, 12th Indian Division, WO 95/5198/6
The soldiers recorded below were wounded at Khan Baghdadi on 26 March 1918.
Jemadar Karam Illahi
4845 Havildar Niamat Khan
4823 Temporary-Havildar Fateh Sher
1945 Sepoy Sikander Khan
1862 Sepoy Ghulam Muhammad
1808 Sepoy Sadar Din
2244 Sepoy Ahmed Var
1371 Sepoy Raza Khan
1837 Sepoy Jagat Singh
1330 Sepoy Bhagat Singh
2143 Sepoy Ganga Ram
1837 Sepoy Thakur
1374 Sepoy Sultan Muhammad
1656 Sepoy Nizam Din
2413 Sepoy Muhammad Khan
1649 Sepoy Nur Muhammad
2150 Sepoy Fakir Muhammad
2066 Sepoy Ghulam Muhammad
2044 Sepoy Rawel Singh
2512 Sepoy Ratan
1245 Sepoy Abas Ali Shah
2221 Sepoy Hira Singh
1350 Sepoy Achhar Singh
1637 Sepoy Hukmat Singh
1826 Sepoy Shib Dayal
1381 Sepoy Rama
1834 Sepoy Moti Ram
1451 Sepoy Shamas Din
2446 Sepoy Abdul Karim