2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles

This article looks at the short-lived 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles and will help you research those who served with the Battalion during the First World War. I have written a separate article on the 1st Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles and a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during the war. To view the guides click on the links below:

The 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles in the First World War

Lineage: The 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles was formed at Anandi July 1918 and disbanded on 20 June 1922. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles.

Class Composition of Battalion in 1919: 1 Company of Punjabi Musalmans, 1 Company of Rajputana Jats, 1 Company of Bharatpur Jats and 1 Company of Rajputana Rajputs.

The 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles was a short-lived Indian infantry battalion formed at Anandi in July 1918 and disbanded on 20 June 1922. The Battalion’s first commanding officer was Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Meredith Ashton Hamer who was appointed from the 129th Baluchis on 1 August 1918. Hamer was a career Indian Army officer who had served with distinction first as Staff Captain and then as Brigade Major of the Bareilly Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Division on the Western Front and in Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Below is an excerpt from the July 1919 Indian Army List recording the British officers serving with the Battalion. Only two officers had served pre-war with most having a mixture of temporary commissions (T.C.), being on probation (on probn.) or from the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (I.A.R.O.). 2nd Battalion 125th Napier's RiflesThe Battalion served in India with Southern Command during the First World War and was inspected by Brigadier-General E. J. M. Wood who wrote in a report dated 21 January 1919:

General observations: The battalion is well commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hamer. Its organisation and discipline is very good and had it been completed would no doubt have turned out a most efficient unit.

Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1918-1919: IOR/L/MIL/7/17030

The Battalion served with Waziristan Force from the 2nd July 1919 during the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles was stationed at Dhond (Maharashtra, India) when it was mobilised for the Third Anglo-Afghan War and served at Bannu. The Battalion served on the North West Frontier after the end of the war leaving its Depot at Poona (Maharashtra, India). In the July 1920 Indian Army List, the Battalion was stationed at Poona.

The Battalion was one of a number of Indian infantry battalions sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq) in 1920 and would help quell the 1920 Iraqi Revolt. There is a very detailed war diary covering the period between October 1920 and 28 February 1921 when the Battalion served with the 34th Indian Infantry Brigade, 6th Indian Division. Soldiers of the Battalion who served in Iraq qualified for the General Service Medal with Iraq clasp and fortunately some of their Medal Index Cards have survived. The Battalion returned to India in 1921 and was disbanded on 22 June 1922.

War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles

There is only one war diary for the 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles which has been digitized by the National Archives. To download the war diary for a small fee click on the blue link below.

  • Date: 01 October 1920 – 28 February 1921
  • 34th Indian Infantry Brigade, 6th Indian Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5125/6
  • Notes: It is fortunate that the only war diary for the 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles is very detailed with many entries run to over a hundred words

Further Sources for the 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles

For information concerning the British and Indian officers who served with the 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles, the Indian Army List should be consulted. The Medal Index Cards of soldiers entitled to the General Service Medal can be downloaded from the National Archives or viewed on Ancestry. I’d recommend viewing them on Ancestry as they are free and in colour. There are two war diaries for the 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles held at the British Library which also contain reports on the British officers serving with the Battalion:

  • Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1918-1919: IOR/L/MIL/7/17030
  • Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1919-1920: IOR/L/MIL/7/17031

If you’d like to learn more about the Mesopotamia Campaign I can recommend When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914-1921 by Charles Townshend.

Extracts from War Diary of the 2nd Battalion 125th Napier’s Rifles 

01 October 1920 – 28 February 1920, 6th Indian Division, WO 95/5125/6

11 October 1920 – Khidr Stn – Four blockhouses and wire fence of new post completed and party of 60 men sent left bank to help 3rd battalion 124th Baluch Infantry to clear brushwood. B Company supported by one Vickers and to Stokes mortars visited villages of Ibrah, found them entirely vacated, to fire [?] all flammable and worthless material. C company worked on South West parapet of new campsite all day and B Company cleared site of brushwood after return from Ibrah… Nights cool. Sandflies and other flies are a real pest here. No Arabs seen this day.

25 October 1920 – Khidr – Between hours 03.30 and 05.00 Arabs made heavy fire attack on blockhouses 353 to 356, concentrating on No. 354 much of the sire of blockhouse was cut by their bullets and the sandbags riddled. We had no casualties. Arranged for 18 pounders to open fire on this area at night in case of another such attack…

17 November 1920 – Khidr – One Rifleman killed accidentally on left bank by sentry. Deceased man had left his post without warning anyone and was wandering about wrapped up in a blanket. When challenged did not answer and in the dark was taken for an Arab.

27 November 1920 – Khidr – Arrangements for hot baths for all Indian ranks at Battalion Headquarters…

03 December 1920 – Khidr – Orders received to allow Arabs to return to their villages and instructions issued accordingly, also forbidding troops to enter any [?] Arab village in suture except under the orders of a British officer.

04 December 1920 – Khidr – Many men suffering from chapped hands. Cooking oil being issued for application in these cases.

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