This article on the 59th Scinde 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 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force) in the First World War
Lineage: Raised at Karachi in 1843 as the Scinde Camel Corps. In 1853 it became the 6th Regiment of Infantry, Punjab Irregular Force, or the Scinde Rifle Corps and the same year the Scinde Rifle Corps. Then in 1856, the 6th Regiment of Punjab Infantry and in 1865 the 6th Regiment of Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force. In 1901 the 6th Punjab Infantry, the 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force) in 1903 and the 6th Royal Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles in 1922.
Composition in 1914: 3 Companies of Pathans, 1 of Punjabi Musalmans, 2 of Sikhs and 2 of Dogras. 1919: 1 1/2 Companies of Pathans, 1/2 a Company of Punjabi Musalmans, 1 Company of Sikhs and 1 Company of Dogras.
Location in July 1914: The 59th Scinde Rifles was stationed at Jullundur (Jalandhar, Punjab, India) having arrived from Samana (Punjab, India) on 17th December 1913.
The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the 59th Scinde Rifles.
War Diaries of the The 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force)
There are three war diaries for the Regiment and the first two have been digitized by the National Archives. To download these war diaries for a small fee click on the blue links below. The last war diary hasn’t been digitized and can only be viewed at the National Archives.
- Date: 07 August 1914 – 31 December 1915
- 8th Jullunder Infantry Brigade, 3rd Indian (Lahore) Division, France
- Reference: WO 95/3927/4
- Notes: An excellent war diary (400 pages in length) which is available to download from the National Archives’ website. The writers record a number of interesting comments concerning reservists, followers, entry of Turkey into the war etc. A number of maps and appendices are found throughout. An interesting account of the experiences of the 59th Scinde Rifles written on 01 November 1914 is transcribed below. An exceptionally detailed account of the disastrous attack on the 19 December 1914 by Captain Anderson, which is preceded by a rare first-hand account by an Indian soldier (Havildar Dost Mahomed) of the same attack.
- Date: 01 January 1916 – 30 April 1918
- 8th Indian Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
- Reference: WO 95/5109/2
- Notes: This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
- Date: 01 May 1918 – 28 February 1920
- 8th Indian Infantry Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division
- Reference: WO 95/4702
Further Sources for the The 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force)
If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served with the 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force) the Indian Army List can be consulted. A very good resource for the Regiment are its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These reports also contain the annual reports for the British officers serving with the Regiment. However, when the 59th Scinde Rifles was serving abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on.
There is a regimental history for the 59th Scinde Rifles which I’d recommend: Regimental History of the 6th Royal Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles (Scinde), 1843-1923 by Captain D.M. Lindsey. Reprinted by the Naval & Military Press in 2006. A very good regimental history containing a large number of photographs and maps, and a detailed account of its service during the Firs World War. Appendices include Succession Roll of British Officers who joined the regiment from 1843-1924, and a list of decorations awarded, though there are no citations.
Extracts from War Diaries of the 59th Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force)
07 August 1914 – 31 December 1915, France WO 95/3927/4
Notes re Situation, Our own and Enemy’s positions. [Written below the entry for 01 November 1914]
Our position seemed to be part of a long line filling up the gaps between the French and British Armies to prevent the Germans breaking through. Our Division from the 21st October had been scattered in all directions
The 7th Brigade had been sent off to an unknown destination, the Manchesters of our Brigade somewhere else and the 34th Sikh Pioneers (Divisional Troops) were sent to our Brigade to fill up gaps and perform the duties of a Reserve in general. The line we had to take up was so extended that every available man had to be in the firing line so that we had no supports or reserves except what was sent to us.
Almost every day and all day we were pinned [?] to our trenches by snipers and Artillery fire and at night the German infantry attacked. They did not seem to try and push their attacks home but rather with a view to locating the weak points in the line. Had he located them he would in all probability have pushed up a Reserve and cut the line.
The acuteness of snipers was most marked, their aim was deadly and it is not yet known how they carry it out or remain so invisible. The German artillery fire makes terrific noise but does very little harm against well entrenched infantry. Trenches must be deep and narrow.
Enemy’s rifle fire is accurate as many more shots hit the parapet than go over, which fact accounts for so many of our men being hit in the hand. The ground in front of our line was flat plain of cultivation with deep ditches running up at right angles to our line. These ditches were used for night advances and when nearly our position the enemy would extended right and left from the ditches.
Immediately to our front, remaining parallel to it, 400 yards off, was a ditch 10 feet wide. Another 400 yards off also parallel was a wood with farm houses dotted along the edge. The enemy appeared to collect behind the farms and advance to the ditch in front and issue from this ditch for their night attacks.
Their system of spying has been [?] to perfection. There is no doubt whatever that our every move was at once communicated and especially the positions of any houses used as Regimental Headquarters or messes as these were invariably shelled. Snipers were everywhere and they seemed to be especially on the look out for British officers, some were even situated behind the lines.
All native regiments seem to have suffered very heavily especially the 57th Rifles, 47th Sikhs, and 9th Bhopal Infantry of our Division. Their sacrifices have however been recognised by Lord Kitchener, Field Marshal Sir John French, General Smith-Dorrien, Sir James Willcocks and Lieutenant General Watkins all of whom sent congratulatory messages.