This article is about the short-lived 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs and will help you to research the Battalion and those who served with it during the First World War. I have created a separate article for the 1st Battalion 35th Sikhs 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 blue links below:
The 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs in the First World War
Lineage: The 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs was formed at Lahore Cantonment on 20 November 1917 and disbanded on 25 August 1921. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion 35th Sikhs.
Class Composition of Battalion in April 1919: 2 Companies of Sikhs and 2 Companies of Jats.
The 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs was a short-lived Indian infantry battalion formed at Lahore Cantonment on 20 November 1917. Unlike the 1st Battalion 35th Sikhs which had 4 companies of Sikhs, the 2nd Battalion had 2 companies of Sikhs and 2 companies of Jats. This composition reflected the increasing difficulty the Indian Army had in recruiting Sikhs as the war continued. The Battalion’s first commanding officer was Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Kemp Bourne who was appointed on 29 November 1917 from the 2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse).
Below is part of the 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs’ Indian Army List entry for July 1918 recording the British officers (except for Lieutenant-Colonel Bourne). The date in the first column was when the officer was first commissioned and of the 22 officers, only two were serving before the outbreak of war. The third column is when the officer was appointed to the Battalion. I.A.R.O. stands for the India Army Reserve of Officers, T.C. Temporary Commission and probn. for probation. The Battalion was inspected by Brigadier-General J. L. J. Clarke, Commanding 43rd Infantry Brigade on 19 February 1919:
General remarks: This Battalion though only 15 months old has made very satisfactory progress towards fighting efficiency. Under the able direction of its Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Bourne, it was ready and fit for active service by the 1st December 1918. Turnout and drill are good. Thorough training and musketry were handicapped by the epidemic of influenza, the armistice and partial demobilization. The battalion did well at Brigade training and all ranks displayed remarkable dash and keenness.
The Battalion is very well commanded but the Commanding Officer has been handicapped by several unavoidable changes in his Adjutants. Not yet up to pre-war standard in training but promises to be so in future.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc for 1918-1919 IOR/L/MIL/7/17030
The Battalion served with the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Indian Division of the North West Frontier Force during the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The Battalion was mobilized at Lahore for service at Kacha Garhi and there are two war diaries which cover the dates between April 1919 and October 1920. While the Battalion spent most of the war at Kachi Garhi it also served briefly at Landi Kotal, Landi Garhi and Ali Masjid. In 1920, the Battalion became part of Northern Command, Peshawar and Khyber Area. The 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs spent January 1920 at Landi Khana, before the Battalion moved to Landi Kotal where it served until October 1920. The Battalion arrived at Ambala (Haryana, India) on 28 October 1920 ending over a year’s service on the North West Frontier (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan). While the Battalion was on the frontier its Depot was at Lahore. The 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs was disbanded on 25 August 1921.
War Diaries for the 2nd Battalion, 35th Sikhs
There are two war diaries for the Battalion which are only available to view at the National Archives. I have copies of both war diaries and have transcribed some of the entries below.
- Date: 01 April – 31 December 1919
- 2nd Indian Division, 5th Infantry Brigade, North West Frontier Force
- Reference: WO 95/5410
- Notes: An average war diary which contains a few appendices in the form of a variety of orders (regimental etc.). The only detailed entry is a good account of an action fought at Chora Kandao on 13 September 1919.
- Date: 01 January 1920 – 28 October 1920
- 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Indian Division, Northern Command
- Reference: WO 95/5409
- Notes: A poor war diary for the 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs where the majority of entries consist of ”nothing to report”. The days which do have an entry are usually very short and I have transcribed a few examples below. British officers are mentioned throughout.
Further Sources for the 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs
For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs, the Indian Army List should be consulted. The confidential reports for the Battalion are held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These also contain the annual reports of British officers who were serving with the Battalion.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion 35th Sikhs
01 January 1920 – 28 October 1920, Northern Command, WO 95/5409
12 January 1920 – Landi Khona – A man, apparently a Finn, was brought to the frontier by an Afghan escort, and sent on under escort to Landi Kotal.
25 January 1920 – Landi Khona – 5 shots fired at Tangi Blockhouse about 01.00 hours. Sentry on duty fired 4 shots.
28 January 1920 – A party of 5 Indian officers and 53 Indian other ranks despatched to depot for pension and discharge.
05 February 1920 – Landi Kotal – Lieutenant N.J. Rodd and Lieutenant W. Lockhart left for Deolali for demobilisation.
16 March 1920 – Landi Kotal – Subadar Katha Singh proceeded to depot and conducted a furlough party of 105 Indian other ranks and 5 followers to Depot.
01 June 1920 – Landi Kotal – Caravans through Khyber Pass ceased to be escorted by military escort.
18 June 1920 – Landi Kotal – 16.00 hours – night of 17/18 about 20 shots were fired into camp from the open ground outside perimeter. No casualties. Pathans took iron bars from incinerator.
27 June 1920 – Landi Kotal – 8 shots fired by B Company group near ice factory at movement near latrines. Machine gun post near ice factory killed one donkey.
09 October 1920 – Landi Kotal – Small fire broke out in motor car by engineers mess close to quarter guard. Fire extinguished by men of D Company.
28 October 1920 – Ambala – Arrived Ambala.