This article is about the short-lived 3rd Battalion 124th Duchess of Connaught’s Own Baluchistan Infantry and will help you research those who served with the Battalion. I have written separate articles for the 1st and 2nd Battalions 124th Baluchis and a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served with the Indian Army in the First World War. To view the guides click on the links below:
- 1st Battalion 124th Baluchis
- 2nd Battalion 124th Baluchis
- Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army in WW1
The 3rd Battalion 124th Duchess of Connaught’s Own Baluchistan Infantry in the First World War
Lineage: Formed at Karachi on 14 August 1917 and was disbanded on 20 July 1921. For a history of the Regiment’s lineage see my page on the 1st Battalion 124th Duchess of Connaught’s Own Baluchistan Infantry.
Class Composition of Battalion in 1919: 2 Companies of Punjabi Mussalmans, 1 Company of Khuttaks and 1 Company of Baluchis.
The 3rd Battalion 124th Baluchis was a war-raised Indian infantry battalion which was formed at Karachi, now in Pakistan on 14 August 1917. The Battalion was inspected by Brigadier-General F. J. Fowler, Commanding Karachi Brigade for its 1917-18 Confidential Report who recorded:
The turn-out of this unit is, considering its youth, very satisfactory.
Its training is handicapped by lack of efficient Indian Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers but British Officers and attached British Non-Commissioned Officers are striving to supply the deficiency, with the result that very satisfactory progress is being made…
Discipline and health are satisfactory, though a high proportion of Baluchis have deserted during their first two months of service…
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, depots, British officers, etc. for 1917-1918: IOR/L/MIL/7/17029.
The Battalion remained in India for the duration of the First World War but served as Baluchistan Force Troops during the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919. There is a very detailed war diary for the Battalion between July and August 1919 which I have discussed below. In the April 1920 Indian Army List, the 3rd Battalion 124th Baluchis was stationed at Quetta (Balochistan, Pakistan) and the Battalion was disbanded on 20 July 1921.
Below is an extract from the April 1920 Indian Army List showing the British officers who were serving with the 3rd Battalion 124th Baluchis at the time. The Indian Army List is a key resource to use when researching British officers and I have written a guide on how to use it here: Guide to Using the Indian Army List.
War Diary of the 3rd Battalion 124th Duchess of Connaught’s Own Baluchistan Infantry
There is only one war diary for the Battalion which as of January 2018 hasn’t been digitized and can only be viewed by visiting the National Archives. I have a copy of the war diary and have transcribed some entries below.
- Date: 01 July – 31 August 1919
- Baluchistan Force, India
- Reference: WO 95/5395
- Notes: An excellent war diary with plenty of information and appendices. Though only two months, the war diary contains 50 pages. Includes a “Copy of the memorandum of Headquarters Zhob Mobil Column” and a 6-page report by Captain A.W. Goolden between 1st and 4th July 1919.
Further Sources for the 3rd Battalion 124th Baluchis
For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the Battalion, the Indian Army List can be consulted. The confidential reports for the Battalion are held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These also contain the reports of the British officers who served with the Battalion.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 3rd Battalion 124th Baluchis
01 July – 31 August 1919, Baluchistan Force, WO 95/5395
03 July 1919 – Laka Band – Wor continued on the wall. A wire received from Officer Commanding Murgha stated that enemy reported round Murgha on 1st instant after having looted Mekhtar, now was believed making for Tortangi and Palan with loot. He asked if we could send out a party to intercept but having a depleted garrison, so many men being on escort duty, a wire was sent saying “considered the distance too far, and the attempt too risky”.
06th July 1919 – Extract from Intelligence summary:- “The raiders who burnt Mekhtar were intercepted by Gradiforce at Mina Bazar on 6th instant. One raider was killed and 2 wounded and 4 camel loads of loot recovered”.
On July 16th as the wireless party and a section of Mountain Battery were marching from Babar to Fort Sandeman, escorted by 200 of 3/1st Gurkhas and 100 Zhob militia, they were attacked by 2/300 tribesmen at Kapip. The enemy were in prepared positions and resisted the column with great determination. We drove off the enemy and counted 37 dead, including their leader (Jemadar) Masho of the Sheranni Scouts. We lost: 2 British Officers wounded (one severely), 1 Indian Officer wounded, 1 Indian Other Rank Killed, 14 Indian Other Ranks wounded, 7 Indian Other Ranks missing believed killed and a report received from the E.A.C. that a party of 40/50 Abdullazais were seen in the vicinity of Chamozai early this morning.
14th July 1919 02.40 hours – At 02.40 hours the camp was attacked from the nullah in front of no.2 picquet by an enemy force estimated at 200. Some of the enemy approached to within a few yards of No.2 picquet and demanded their rifles. The picquet opening a heavy fire, firing 700 rounds before daylight.
Colonel Holbrooke was dangerously wounded in the forehead at 03.15 hours and the command devolved on Captain F. L. R. Munn M.C.
The enemy’s fire slackened off considerably after the first hour and was finally kept under by the action of 2 Lewis guns. Throughout the fire was too high to do very much damage and though all animals were fully exposed at close range the only casualties among them were 1 mule and 3 goats killed. The casualties among the personnel were 1 British Officer wounded, 1 Indian other ranks killed, 2 Indian other ranks wounded.
At 05.30 hours (dawn) 150 rifles and 2 Lewis guns under Captain Lord were ordered to attack the enemy. Captain Lord ascertained that a portion of the enemy had retired to a position 600 yards North West of camp and evidently were intending to fire at the camp by daylight. The enemy were driven from their positions. It was difficult to estimate the numbers, as the enemy, some of whom were mounted, retired rapidly in small parties, taking advantage of the broken ground. After advancing a mile in pursuit, the attackers changed direction left and advanced towards the Zhara hills (3 miles North West of Lakaband, 1 mile North of camp).
Simultaneously a party of 1 Indian officer and 50 rifles with 1 Lewis gun was sent out to the Western end of these hills. This party engaged the other portion of the enemy who were returning up the valley, direction of Yaswala. The enemy retired hurriedly, large herds of cattle were seen being driven away.
The Indian officer, Subadar Ghulam Unis O.B.I. pressed the enemy for a short distance up the valley and retired at 08.45 hours. The enemy made no attempt to follow up. 1 mule was killed in this action. The enemy acknowledged 2 killed and about 11 or 12 wounded.
Both parties returned to camp at 10.00 hours. At 08.45 hours a priority message was sent to Zhob Force informing them of the intention to delay the convoy until the 15th instant. The whole camp was moved into the partially prepared perimeter camp. At 11.00 hours another priority message was sent to Zhob Force that “consider the situation sufficiently cleared up to warrant despatch of convoy at 13.00 hours”.