2nd Battalion 18th Infantry

This article is about the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry and will help you to research the Battalion and the soldiers who served with it during the First World War. I have written a separate article about the 1st Battalion 18th Infantry and a series of guides to help you to research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during the war. To view the guides click on the blue links below:

The 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry

Lineage: The 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry was formed at Shillong (Meghalaya, India) on 1 December 1917 and disbanded on 15 November 1920. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion 18th Infantry.

Class Composition of Battalion in 1919: 4 Companies of Muslims of the Eastern Punjab and Hindustan.

The 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry was a short-lived Indian infantry battalion formed at Shillong (Meghalaya, India) on 1 December 1917. The Battalion’s first commanding officer was Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest George Wilberforce Pratt who was appointed from the 95th Russell’s Infantry on 29 November 1917. The 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry was first inspected when it was serving as part of the 8th (Lucknow) Division on 24 February 1918. Brigadier-General R. G. Strange, Commanding Presidency Brigade reported:

General remarks: The battalion was only formed on 1 December 1917. It is making good progress. It is short of Indian officers and N.C.O’s. Training is on sound lines. Administration is satisfactory, Company messes are not yet started owing to difficulty in obtaining cooking pots, should be started on arrival at Jubbulpore. The battalion promises well. It is already nearly 750 strong.

Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1917-1918: IOR/L/MIL/7/17029

The extract below recorded the British officers serving with the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry and was taken from the July 1918 Indian Army List. Only 2 of over 20 British officers, were pre-war regulars which was typical of a war-raised Indian infantry battalion. Like other war-raised battalions, the majority of its British officers were either Indian Army officers on probation (on probn.) or from the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. (I.A.R.O.).

2nd Battalion 18th Infantry British Officers

The 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry was stationed at Jubbulpore (Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh) when the Battalion was mobilized in 1918. The Battalion departed Bombay on board His Majesty’s Transport Shuja bound for Egypt on 22 May 1918. The Battalion disembarked at Suez on 6 June 1918 and served on the lines of communication between May 1918 and March 1919. A war diary is available covering this period and the Battalion spent a lot of its time at Tel-el-Kebir, Beersheba and Jerusalem. In April 1919, the Battalion joined the 233rd Infantry Brigade, 75th Division. There is a war diary available between April and December 1919 when the Battalion spent most of its time at Suez, Port Said and Ismailia. The 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry returned to India in 1920 and was disbanded on 15 November 1920.

War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry

There are two war diaries for the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry and they can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have copies of both war diaries and have transcribed some entries below.

  • Date: 22 May 1918 – 31 March 1919
  • Lines of Communication Palestine
  • Reference: WO 95/4732
  • Notes: A good war diary for a unit which served on the Lines of communication, though little of interest occurred. There is a list of British officers of the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry who embarked the HMT Shuja on 22 May 1918 and another list of British officers who joined the Battalion on 9 June 1918. British and Indian officers appear throughout and there are a number of appendices that include a variety of orders, strength of the Battalion etc. There is a Special Order of the Day, January 1919, regarding resisting the temptation of women and wine makes interesting reading.
  • Date: 01 April – 31 December 1919
  • 75th Division, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO 95/4691
  • Notes: A typical post-war diary where very little happens. The names of British officers appear throughout.

Further Sources for the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry

For information concerning British and Indian officers who served with the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry, the Indian Army List should be consulted. The confidential reports for the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry are held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These also contain the reports of the British officers serving with the Regiment. However, when the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving there were reported on.

Extracts from War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry 

22 May 1918 – 31 March 1919, Palestine, WO 95/4732

17 July 1918 – Four hostile aircraft were seen over Beersheba on reconnaissance work at an altitude of 15,000 feet.

19 September 1919 – Jerusalem – Heavy firing heard to North of Jerusalem 4-5 am thereafter intermittently to midday. Aeroplanes from adjacent aerodrome very active. 1 man died in hospital of cellulitis neck. [3536 Sepoy Wazir Khan].

07 November 1918 -Jerusalem – Orders received to take over Dead Sea Post at Rujm-el-Bahr from Patiala Infantry. 1 NCO and 12 men to proceed by motor lorry to Jericho thence to Dead Sea.

01 April – 31 December 1919, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, WO 95/4691

02 April 1919 – Suez – 3 Emergency Platoons taken over from 3/153 Rifles and various guards. A daily escort of 1 Indian Officer and 12 Indian Other Ranks is found on the Suez – Ismailia passenger train.

21 April 1919 – Suez – Unit marched twice through Suez today with fixed bayonets for demonstration purposes.

22 October 1919 – Ismailia – Mecca party 4 Indian Officers and 75 Indian Other Ranks rejoined.

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