This article looks at the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry during the First World War and will help you research the Regiment and those who served with it. I have also created a series of guides to help you research those who served with the Indian Army during the World War One. Click on the link below to view them:
- Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army
The 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry in the First World War
Lineage: The Regiment was formed at Madras from independent companies as the 4th Battalion of Coast Sepoys in 1759. In 1769 it became the 4th Carnatic Battalion and then the 3rd Carnatic Battalion in 1770. Then the 3rd Madras Battalion in 1784 and the 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment of Madras Native Infantry in 1796. Then the 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment of Madras Native Infantry, or Palamcottah Light Infantry in 1812 and the 3rd Regiment of Madras Native Infantry, or Palamcottah Light Infantry in 1824. In 1885 it became the 3rd (or Palamcottah) Regiment of Madras (Light) Infantry and the 3rd (Palamcottah) Madras Light Infantry in 1901. In 1903 it was designated the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry. The Regiment was disbanded on 23 September 1922.
Composition in 1914: 4 Companies of Madrasi Musalmans, 2 Companies of Tamils, 2 Companies of Paraiyans and Christians. 1919: 2 Companies of Madrasi Musalmans, 1 Company of Tamils and 1 Company of Paraiyans and Christians.
Location in July 1914: The 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry was stationed at Kamptee (Maharashtra, India) having arrived from Bellary (Karnataka, India) on 20th April 1911.
The 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry was disbanded on 23 September 1922.
War Diary of the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry
There is only one war diary for the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry which has been digitized and can be downloaded from the National Archives’ website. To download the war diary for a small fee click on the blue link below.
- Date: 03 November 1914 – 31 December 1916
- Lines of Communication, East Africa
- Reference: WO 95/5369/19
- Notes: Only a war diary for the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry which begins when the regiment arrives at Tanga on the 3rd November 1914. The war diary is detailed in its description of the battle, both in the diary itself and in two reports by Lieutenant Colonel Vickers, the commanding officer. The second report contains a list of British and Indian officers (one private 2330 Govindasawmi) who Vickers wished to bring to notice for their conduct during the battle. The war diary also contains messages sent to the commanding officer during the battle. After Tanga, the majority of months for 1914-15 are written on a single page. Entries for 1916 are longer, though many simply contain the word “Nil”. February 1916 is missing. British officers are mentioned throughout.
Further Sources for the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry
For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry the Indian Army List can be consulted. An excellent resource for the Regiment are its annual confidential reports which also contain the annual reports of the British officers serving with it. Though, when the Regiment is abroad only its Depot and the officers serving with it are reported on: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc.
Extracts from War Diary of the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry
01 November 1914 – 31 December 1916, East Africa, WO 95/5369
Private No. 2330 Govindasawmi who was my personal orderly was with me throughout and remained close up in spite of the heaviest fire and he, with the subadar-major were the only two men of the Regiment who stood by me till I fell back accompanied by my adjutant Lieutenant Windeler.
9 April 1916 – Samburu – German bombing party surprised on the line mile 88/8 by a patrol of 63rd P.L.I. Patrol opened fire and enemy dispersed. No casualties. Bomb outfit and water supply (8 tins) captured.
10- 11 April 1916 – Samburu – Three men of patrol were found by the line unconscious, on night of 10th/11th. Probably struck by passing train. One died en route to Kilindini.
25 April 1916 – Samburu – Tin of dynamite and fuse found on line at mile 73/6 at 8.30 a.m. and removed.
16 May 1916 – Samburu – Bomb exploded on line at mile 63/1 under 5 up goods train at 9/10 p.m. Engine slightly damaged. 4 trucks derailed. Bomb party fired on and followed for seven miles. Water bottles picked up. Enemy retired towards Killibassi.