2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis

This article is about the short-lived 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis and will help you to research the Battalion and those who served with it during the First World War. I have written a separate article for the 1st Battalion 33rd Punjabis and a series of articles to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during the war. To view these articles click on the blue links below:

The 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis in the First World War

Lineage: The 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis was formed at Rawalpindi (Punjab, Pakistan) in January 1918 and disbanded on 15 March 1921. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion 33rd Punjabis.

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

The 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis was formed at Rawalpindi (Punjab, Pakistan) in January 1918 and served in India for the duration of the First World War. The Battalion was inspected by Brigadier-General G. Christian, Commanding 6th Infantry Brigade on 14 January 1919:

Marching powers: Good. Stable Management: Satisfactory. Physique: Fair. Musketry: Fairly Satisfactory. Fire discipline: Fairly Satisfactory. Field Work: Fairly satisfactory. General Remarks: Training is satisfactory, the general system is good. Not fit for active service.

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

The Battalion’s report for 1919-1920 was a lot more detailed and contained a number of defects including poor handling of arms and a list of Indian officers to ”be got rid of”. When the Third Anglo-Afghan War broke out the Battalion was stationed at Chaklala, Rawalpindi and was sent to Ali Masjid via Peshawar in May 1919. The Battalion served as part of the 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Indian Division and there is a war diary available. The 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis was stationed at Ali Masjid until December 1919 when it moved to Jamrud. In April 1920, the 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis moved to Shagai. While serving on the North West Frontier (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) the Battalion’s Depot was at Campbellpore (Attock, Punjab, Pakistan). The 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis was disbanded on 15 March 1921.

Below is an extract from the July 1918 Indian Army List recording the British officers serving with the Battalion. The Indian Army List recorded information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the Battalion and other important information such as where the Battalion was stationed. The books are very useful but are full of military jargon so I have created a page to help you: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.

2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis

War Diary of the 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis

There is only one war diary for the Battalion which hasn’t been digitized and can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have a copy of the war diary and have transcribed some of the entries below.

  • Date: 06 May 1919 – 07 October 1920
  • 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Indian Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5411
  • Notes: A good, detailed war diary with the names of British and Indian officers, and some other ranks, appearing throughout. The months of May and July 1920 are missing. There is a list of British officers serving with the 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis in May 1919. There are a number of appendices including orders relating to the Battalion issued in May 1919. Also, a report on an attack on the picquet at Fort Zintara on 23 May 1919 with a sketch map.

Further Sources for the 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis

For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis, the Indian Army List should be consulted. The confidential reports for the Battalion are held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc.

Extracts from War Diary of the 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis 

06 May 1919 – 07 October 1920, 2nd Indian Division, WO 95/5411

19 May 1919 – Ali Masjid -17.00 hours – Letter received from Brigade that a post at Fort Maude had been attacked that morning, one man killed and his rifles and equipment containing 120 rounds small arms ammunition missing, that the NCO and men in that post were to be relieved and arrested and that they would be tried by General Court Martial.

22 May 1919 – Ali Masjid – 14.00 hours – Letter received from 6th Brigade stating that in view of the evidence before him, the General Officer Commanding intends to take no further action against havildar and men concerned in the attack on the Fort Maude picquet on the 19 instant, but directs that all ranks are warned that casualties and the losses of arms and equipment of any men killed or wounded, through proper precautions not having been taken, will be treated as a most serious matter, and will be dealt with accordingly. Published in Regimental Orders and communicated to all posts.

08 June 1919 – Ali Musjid – 07.00 hours – No. 838 Sepoy Phulel Khan [died on the 12 June] of this regiment is reported by the Senior Medical Officer in command 13th Combined Field Ambulance to be suffering from cholera.

Contacts are immediately sent to segregation camp, Ali Musjid, tent is struck, water patrol and sanitary squads increased, medical inspection of all ranks takes place and all instructions issued by North West Frontier Force regarding cholera are as far as possible complied with. Three fresh cases of cholera in this unit are reported today and are sent immediately to cholera camp. Contacts are also sent. One of the cases admitted dies.

01 September 1920 – Ali Masjid – No. 211 Sepoy Sajawal Khan having been sentenced to death by Summary General Court Martial and transferred today to the Civil prison Peshawar for the execution of the sentence. His name is accordingly struck off the strength of the Regiment.

07 October 1920 – Ali Masjid – 24.00 hours – Pathans were seen by the sentry at Rope Way Station Picquet, Ali Masjid. No. 350 Lance Naik Akbar Khan threw a bomb. Lt D. R. St. J Shannon, commanding detachment 2nd Battalion 33rd Punjabis visited the spot and found that the wire has been flattened down about 30 yards from the picquet that 12 bags of grain were lying just outside the wire. At the foot of the slope under the picquet he saw a quantity of blood and little lumps of flesh scattered about.

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the British Army