46th Punjabis

This article will provide an overview of the activities of the 46th Punjabis during the First World War and will help you research those who served with the Regiment. I have also written a series of guides to help you research those who served with the Indian Army during the First World War:

The 46th Punjabis in the First World War

Lineage: Raised by Major G. P. Ranken at Sialkot in 1900 as the 46th (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry. In 1901 it became the 46th Punjab Infantry, then the 46th Punjabis in 1903 and in 1922 the 10th Battalion 16th Punjab Regiment.

Class Composition in 1914: 4 Companies of Punjabi Musalmans, 1 of Afridis, 1 of Orakzais and 2 of Labana Sikhs. 1919: 2 Companies of Punjabi Musalmans, 1/2 a Company of Afridis, 1/2 a Company of Orakzais and 1 Company of Labana Sikhs.

Location in July 1914: The 46th Punjabis was stationed at Nowshera, North West Frontier Province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) having arrived from Bannu (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) on 18th March 1913.

The 46th Punjabis was stationed at Nowshera on the North West Frontier when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment had been inspected earlier in the year by Major-General R. Bannatine, Commanding Nowshera Brigade who reported:

The regiment can march very well, the drill is good and the officers, both British and Indian, drill well.

Hill warfare and picketing have, I think, improved and another year should quicken them up. The principles are well understood but the execution is slow.

There were two cases of stealing rifle bolts during training. Although this, where there are Pathans, may be expected occasionally, I cannot help thinking that the Indian officers and non-commissioned officers should be able to detect the criminals.

The present commanding officer and his officers take great interest in the welfare of the men and encourage games. The regiment is a lately formed one and is “coming on.” As far as I can judge there is an improvement in many matters and though there is room for still more improvement the unit is fit for service.

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

The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the Regiment. The Indian Army List is a great resource to use to research both officers and regiments of the Indian Army and I have a guide to help you with the jargon: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.

46th Punjabis British Officers 1914While the 46th Punjabis remained in India on the North West Frontier until 1918, it sent large drafts to other Regiments including the 26th Punjabis and 93rd Burma Infantry. The Regiment left Dera Ismail Khan on 13 February 1918 and proceeded to Karachi where it arrived on 19 February. The Regiment embarked on board SS Chakdina on its arrival and the ship sailed the same day for Egypt. The 46th Punjabis disembarked at Suez, Egypt on 4 March 1918 and moved into camp at Tel-el-Kebir. The Regiment remained at Tel-el-Kebir until 19 May 1918 when it began to move towards the front line. There is a war diary covering the period between February 1918 and May 1919 which recorded the Regiment’s daily activities and location. During its service in Egypt, the 46th Punjabis was part of the 30th Infantry Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division. The Regiment took part in the Battle of Megiddo (19 September – 25 September 1918) and the subsequent pursuit of Ottoman forces.

The 46th Punjabis returned to Egypt after the Armistice and was involved in helping to quell the Egyptian Revolution of 1919. In June 1919, the 46th Punjabis joined the 29th Infantry Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division and there is another war diary covering the period between June 1919 and March 1920. When the war diary ends in March 1920 the Regiment was at Sidi Bishr, Alexandria. In 1922 became the 10th Battalion 16th Punjab Regiment which was the Regiment’s training battalion.

War Diaries of the 46th Punjabis

There are two war diaries for the 46th Punjabis which haven’t been digitized and can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have copies of both war diaries and have transcribed a few examples below.

  • Date: 13 February 1918 – 31 May 1919
  • 30th Infantry Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division
  • Reference: WO 95/4584
  • Notes: A good war diary, not so much for the daily entries but the large number of appendices which include patrol reports, the Regiment’s strength and maps. There is a nominal roll of British officers who marched from Dera Ismail Khan on 13 February 1918 and a list of British officers with the 46th Punjabis on 8 May 1918.
  • Date: 01 June 1919-31 March 1920
  • 29th Infantry Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO 95/4580
  • Notes: An average war diary at best in which many days have no entry. The following appendices appear, monthly strength returns which do list the names of British officers joining and leaving the 46th Punjabis; a short inspection report dated September 1919 and ‘bullet and bayonet course general instructions’.

Further Sources for the 46th 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 who served with the 46th Punjabis. However, when the Regiment was abroad only its Depot and the British officers who served with it were reported on. If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served with the Regiment then the Indian Army List can be consulted.

Extracts from War Diaries of the 46th Punjabis

01 June 1919 – 31 March 1920, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, WO 95/4580

01 June 1919 – Wasta – Owing to paucity of men parades were not possible except for specialists as remainder were employed in guard duties etc.

07 July 1919 – Wasta – Working parties under Royal Engineers and bayonet fighting.

July 1919 – Wasta – During the month all specialists have been under their own instructors. A great man working parties have daily been under the Royal Engineers supervision. School has been carried on daily, morning and afternoon, with the object of young N.C.Os etc. obtaining their 3rd class certificate. Men have shown great keenness in bayonet training, the 3rd squad was started, all squads being made up of men who volunteer.

15 August 1919 – Wasta – Mecca party, 2 Indian officers, 50 Indian other ranks, 2 followers left for Suez.

September 1919 – During the move an accident occurred to the 2nd train with the party from Fayoum. When entering Cairo Station vacuum brake broke and train stopped dead going at 15 miles an hour with the result that men were thrown about the carriage and those who were looking out of the window had their heads banged against the woodwork. Windows were broken and doors shattered. 11 were sent to hospital and 12 were slightly injured. Re. Railway authorities are enquiring into the matter.

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the British Army