27th Punjabis

This article is about the 27th 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 separate article for the war-raised 2nd Battalion 27th Punjabis and a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army in the First World War:

The 27th Punjabis in the First World War

Lineage: Raised by Captain J. Doran at Rawalpindi in 1857 and designated as the Regiment of Rawal Pindi. The same year the Regiment became the 19th Regiment of Punjab Infantry. In 1861, it became the 31st Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and then the 27th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. Then in 1864 the 27th (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and the 27th (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1885. Then the 27th Punjab Infantry in 1901 and the 27th Punjabis in 1903 and the 3rd Battalion 15th Punjab Regiment in 1922.

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

Location in August 1914: The 27th Punjabis was stationed at Dera Ismail Khan, North West Frontier Province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) having arrived from Alipore (Kolkata, India) on 27th January 1912.

The 27th Punjabis was stationed at Dera Ismail Khan on the North West Frontier when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment received orders to mobilize on 11 October 1914 when it was stationed at Tank. The 27th Punjabis left India on 3 November for Egypt where the Regiment arrived on 16 November to help guard the Suez Canal as part of the 31st Indian Infantry Brigade, 11th Indian Division. The Regiment served in Egypt until early September 1915 when it landed at Marseilles, France. The 27th Punjabis joined the 9th (Sirhind) Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division on the Western Front. This Division was moved from the Western Front to Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the 27th Punjabis arrived in January 1916. The 27th Punjabis joined the 7th Indian Infantry Brigade of the 3rd (Lahore) Division and served in Mesopotamia until the Division was moved to Egypt in March 1918. The 27th Punjabis landed at Suez in April 1918 and served in the closing stages of the Palestine Camapign. The Regiment ramined in the Middle East after the war and in 1922 became the 3rd Battalion 15th Punjab Regiment

Below is an extract from the October 1914 Indian Army List which recorded the British officers serving with the Regiment. The Indian Army List is a very useful resource when researching both regiments and officers of the Indian Army and I’ve written a guide to help you to decipher all the jargon: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.

27th Punjabis

War Diaries of the 27th Punjabis

There are four war diaries for the 27th Punjabis but only the second, third and fourth 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 other two war diaries are only available at the National Archives. I have copies of all war diaries and have transcribed some entries below.

  • Date: 01 October 1914 – 31 August 1915
  • 31st Indian Infantry Brigade, 11th Indian Division, Suez Canal Defences
  • Reference: WO 95/4422
  • Notes: A good detailed war diary, though there are only a few entries between March and April 1915.
  • Date: 26 August – 31 December 1915
  • 9th (Sirhind) Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/3929/6
  • Notes: Very little occurred during the four months the 27th Punjabis spent in France and this is reflected in the short war diary entries.
  • Date: 01 January 1916 – 31 January 1917
  • 7th Indian Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5107/1
  • Notes: A good war diary which contains many appendices.
  • Date: 01 February 1917  – 31 March 1918
  • 7th Indian Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5107/2
  • Notes: A good war diary with a wide variety of appendices including a list of Indian soldiers wounded on 4 April 1917.
  • Date: 02 April 1918 – 31 March 1920
  • 7th Indian Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/4701
  • Notes: Another good war diary between April and November 1918. After this period, entries become shorter. There are a lot of appendices in this war diary and most months have nominal rolls of British officers serving with the Regiment.

Further Sources for the 27th Punjabis

A very good resource for the Regiment and the British officers who served with it 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 Regiment was abroad only the officers who were serving with the Depot were reported on. For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 27th Punjabis, the Indian Army List should be consulted.

Extracts from War Diaries of the 27th Punjabis

01 October 1914 – 31 August 1915, Suez Canal Defences, WO 95/4422

17 October 1914 – Dera Ismail Khan – Ordered by wire 5000 yards of flannel… 1000 vests and 398 drawers…

20 October 1914 – Dera Ismail Khan – Ordered by wire 850 pairs of boots from Cooper Allen Cawnpore.

22 October 1914 – Dera Ismail Khan – Two Kuki Khel Afridis deserted with their arms on the line of march from Khajuri Kalh.

24 October 1914 -Dera Ismail Khan – Received wire from Officer Commanding Reserve Centre at Ferozepore stating that out of 144 reservists joined, 91 were fit for service. Despatched conducting party to Ferozepore 1 Indian Officer and 6 rifles to bring in as large a party as possible up to 100 reservists.

27 October 1914 – Regiment left 755 strong Dera Ismail Khan ( 13 British Officers, 18 Native Officers, and 724 Rank and File) owing to no news of reservists, 52 recruits were brought into the ranks, some of whom were lacking in outfit. 6.30pm arrived Darya Khan and took over troop train. Spent night 27-28 in the train. 9 pm Received wire, from Officer Commanding Depot repeating Officer Commanding Reservists wire to say reservists would reach Darya Khan at 13.25 on 28 October 1914.

26 August – 31 December 1915, France, WO 95/3929/6

27 October 1915 – Relief completed (posts were taken over from 57 Rifles). The La Bassee road was shelled by high explosive and shrapnel during the relief. Shortly after arrival, the Regiment was ordered to segregate six platoons of men being suspected contacts of a case of cerebrospinal meningitis. These men were segregated in above ports.

22 December 1915 – After uneventful voyage arrived Alexandria where we expected to disembark but on arrival received orders that entire shop would proceed to Port Said.

30 December 1915- Reached Aden, where the ship stopped outside the harbour to receive orders.

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the British Army