30th Punjabis

This article is about the 30th Punjabis and will help you to research the Regiment and those who served with it during the First World War. I have written separate articles for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions 30th Punjabis and a series of guides to help you to research soldiers who served in the Indian Army in World War One. To view the guides, click on the links below:

The 30th Punjabis in the First World War

Lineage: Raised by Captain R. O. T. Nicolls at Ludhiana in 1857 and designated the 22nd Regiment of Punjab Infantry. In 1861, it became the 34th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and then the 30th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. Then the 30th (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1864 and the 30th (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1885. Then the 30th Punjab Infantry in 1901 and the 30th Punjabis in 1903 and the 1st Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment in 1922.

Class Composition of Battalion in 1914: 4 Companies of Sikhs, 2 Companies of Dogras and 2 Companies of Punjabi Musalmans. 1919: 2 Companies of Sikhs, 1 Company of Dogras and 1 Company of Punjabi Musalmans.

Location in August 1914: The 30th Punjabis was stationed at Delhi (India), having arrived from Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh, India) on 2nd February 1914.

The 30th Punjabis was stationed at Delhi when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment had been inspected by Major-General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend, Commanding Jhansi Brigade in its confidential report for 1913-14 who reported:

Turn-out: Good and smart.

Efficiency in drill: Handle arms well, particularly well drilled, steady on parade.

Manoeuvres: Supple in manoeuvres in the field.

Musketry: Very satisfactory.

Signalling: Very satisfactory.

Personnel: Well commanded, with capable and sound double company commanders and good young officers, has good marching powers.

Fire control and discipline: Satisfactory.

Arms and accoutrements: Complete and serviceable.

Conduct: All that can be desired.

Health: Generally good.

Recruits: Of prescribed class and countries.

General efficiency: Fit for service in every particular. Would hold its own anywhere with anyone.

Interior economy: Very satisfactory.

Confidential review reports on Indian Army units for 1913-1914IOR/L/MIL/7/17023

The Regiment was given an overall grade of “very satisfactory” in its 1913-14 which was the highest available, the 30th Punjabis had also received this grade for 1912-13.

The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the Regiment.30th Punjabis British Officers

War Diaries of the 30th Punjabis

  • Date: 01 January – 28 February 1917
  • 1st East African Infantry Brigade, Norforce, Detached Forces, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5332/19
  • Notes: A detailed war diary which contains a large number of Operation Orders and telegrams. Also, war diary of Detachment of 30th Punjabis at Nyakisiku from 20 January – 7 February 1917.
  • Date: 01 March- 31 May 1917
  • Colonel Beves’ Column, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5534/1
  • Notes: Only 7 pages in total, but like the rest of the 30th Punjabis’ war diaries it contains a lot of detail.
  • Date: 01 June – 31 July 1917
  • Colonel Dyke’s Column, Edforce, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5327/11
  • Notes: A short, yet detailed war diary.
  • Date: 01 August – 30 November 1917
  • No. 4 Column, Lindi Force, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5324/19
  • Notes: An excellent war diary, with many daily entries running to over a 100 words even if the Regiment was not engaged with the enemy.
  • Date: 06 May – 31 August 1919
  • 44th Infantry Brigade, 16th Indian Division, North West Frontier Force
  • Reference: WO 95/5414
  • Notes: May 1919 is detailed, and then the war diary becomes increasingly sporadic. An A4 map of the positions taken up by 30th Punjabis on the morning of 23 May 1919.
  • Date: 07 February – 31 March 1920
  • 7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division, Egypt
  • Reference: WO 95/4701
  • Notes: A poor war diary with few entries.

Further Sources for the 30th Punjabis

A very good source of information for the Regiment 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. Though, when it was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it are reported on. For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 30th Punjabis, the Indian Army List should be consulted.

Extracts from War Diaries of the 30th Punjabis

01 August – 30 November 1917, Lindi Force, East Africa, WO 95/5324/19

2 September 1917 – Mandawa – Constant patrolling without encountering enemy. Fever and dysentery beginning to be prevalent among the men.

17 October 1917 – Nakadi- Remaining 2 companies marched with column at 5 hours to join 3/4 King’s African Rifles in advanced position. C and D Companies now rejoined column [and] advanced to press attack on ridge over Nankadi River. Regiment in general reserve. 7-10 hours bursts of machine and Lewis gun fire as patrols gained touch. Also some shelling from our 13 pounders and howitzers. 11 hours- D Company taken to support right flank of the attack. 11-12 hours – Very heavy fire all along ridge as enemy main position reached. 13 hours – 4 howitzer shells bursting in the formation but causing no casualties. 15 hours – Colthre now in action on enemy’s left flank. Very heavy fire all along front. Enemy showed signs of weakening but rallied and drove K.A.R. off ridge again. A Company moved up to local reserve. 15.30 hours – B Company brought up to reinforce A and together to charge through with 3/4 KAR across river to recapture ridge previously taken by KAR and lost again.

Just as charge about to be launched enemy began to ? attack on front and left flank. Firing line driven in across valley and up hill into ? perimeter already dug by Reserves, and enemy worked round left flank onto the ?. For about 1/2 hour position looked dangerous, then enemy’s fire slackened and a counterattack was launched with some success, all the regiment now being forward in the firing line. 18 hours – enemy’s fire momentarily heavier, especially on right flank but died away towards dark and a quiet night followed. Regiment’s casualties. 6 killed, 19 wounded.

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