57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force)

This article on the 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force)) aims to help you research either the Regiment or a soldier who served with it during the First World War. I have also have created a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during the First World War. The links below will take you to the guides:

The 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force) in the First World War

Lineage: Raised by Captain G. G. Denniss at Lahore in 1849 from drafts from the disbanded Sikh Darbar regiments as the 4th Regiment of Punjab Infantry. In 1851 it became the 4th Regiment of Punjab Irregular Force and the 4th Regiment of Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force in 1865. In 1901 it became the 4th Punjab Infantry, in 1903 the 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force) and in 1922 the 4th Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles.

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

Location in July 1914: The 57th Wilde’s Rifles was stationed at Ferozepore (Firozpur, Punjab, India) having arrived from Bannu (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) on 19th March 1911.

The 57th Wilde’s Rifles was stationed at Ferozepore when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment had been inspected by Brigadier-General Raleigh Gilbert Egerton, Commanding Ferozepore Brigade for its confidential review report for 1913-14 who reported:

Drill: Very much improved.

Manoeuvre: Very satisfactory.

Physical training: Very satisfactory.

Signalling: Satisfactory.

Musketry: Requires more attention.

Discipline and conduct: Very good.

Arms and equipment: The rifles are old but well cared for. Equipment complete and serviceable.

Health: Good.

Recruits: Well selected.

Arms and equipment: The rifles are old but well cared for. Equipment complete and serviceable.

Health: Good.

Recruits: Well selected.

Personnel: Very satisfactory.

Interior Economy: Very efficiently maintained. Due economy is exercised with regard to recruits outfit.

General efficiency: The standard of general efficiency is quite satisfactory and the battalion is fit for active 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 57th Wilde’s Rifles. The Indian Army List is a great resource to use when research both regiments and officers of the Indian Army and I have a guide to help you with its jargon: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.

57th Wilde's Rifles 1914 British Officers

The 57th Wilde’s Rifles saw extensive service in the First World War and I recommend combining the regimental history and the war diaries if you’d like to learn more about the Regiment. The Regiment landed at Marseilles, France as part of the 7th (Ferozepore) Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division in September 1914. The Regiment suffered heavy casualties on the Western Front and left France at Marseilles for Egypt on 12 December 1915. The Regiment disembarked at Alexandria on 24 December and the 57th Wilde’s Rifles served in Egypt until it moved to East Africa in July 1916. The Regiment spent just over a year in East Africa where it was decimated by disease before it returned to India in October 1917. In 1922, the Regiment became the 4th Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles.

War Diaries of the 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force)

There are nine war diaries for the 57th Wilde’s Rifles which are held at the National Archives. The war diaries for the Western Front and East Africa have been digitized and can be downloaded for a small fee from the National Archives’ website. To download these war diaries click on the relevant blue links below. The other war diaries covering Egypt and the North West Frontier can only be viewed at the National Archives.

  • Date: 01 August 1914 – 30 November 1915
  • 7th (Ferozepore) Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
  • Reference: WO95/3923/5
  • Notes: An excellent war diary, which has been digitised and is available to download from the National Archives’ website. British and Indian officers and Indian other ranks (with service number) appear throughout. A nominal roll of British and Indian officers which left Ferozepore on 21 August 1914. Four-page report actions “around Wytschaete and Messines on the 29, 30, 31 October, and 1 November 1914. A very long account “Action for the recovery of trenches lost near Festubert, November 23-24, 1914”.Also, a 5-page “Report on part taken by 57 Rifles F.F. in action on 20, 21 and 22 December”. Appendix on the attack on 27 April 1915, with complete casualty list.
  • Date: 01 November 1915 – 30 June 1916
  • Suez Canal Defences
  • Reference: WO 95/4432
  • Notes:
  • Date: 01 July – 31 December 1916
  • 2 East Africa Infantry Brigade, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5341/1
  • Notes: Overall a good war diary which contains casualty lists for the Regiment including regimental numbers. There are dozens of names recorded.
  • Date: 01 January – 31 March 1917
  • Kassangire Column, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5334/19
  • Notes: An average war diary.
  • Date: 01 April – 31 May 1917
  • Hanforce, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5320/7
  • Notes: An average war diary, April has longer entries than May.
  • Date: 01 June – 30 September 1917
  • Lines of Communication, East Africa
  • Reference: WO 95/5369/18
  • Notes: A poor war diary for June, July and September with few entries. August is better with a few longer entries.
  • Date: June 1919
  • 60th Infantry Brigade, Lines of Communication, Kohat-Kurram Force
  • Reference: WO 95/5392
  • Notes: A good detailed war diary. There are two appendices, both orders.
  • Date: 01 August 1920 – 30 September 1920
  • 16th Infantry Brigade, 1st Indian Division
  • Reference: WO 95/5407
  • Notes:
  • Date: 02 January 1922 – 28 February 1922
  • 9th Indian Infantry Brigade, Waziristan Force
  • Reference: WO 95/5400
  • Notes: An average war diary where there is not much to report.

Further Sources for the 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force)

If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served in the 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force) then the Indian Army List should be consulted. A good resource for the Regiment is its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etcThese reports also contain the annual reports for the British officers serving with the Regiment. However, when the 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force) was serving abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on.

There is also a regimental history which was reprinted by the Naval & Military Press in 2009: Regimental History of the 4th Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles (Wilde’s) by Sir A. T. Wilde. This book covers the history of the Regiment between 1849 and 1929 with the bulk of its pages devoted to the First World War and subsequent campaigns on the North West Frontier. There are a variety of appendices including a list of British officers who served with the Regiment along with noted regarding their service. This is a good book and I’d recommend it for anyone interested in the Regiment or the Indian Army.


Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the British Army