73rd Carnatic Infantry

This article on the 73rd Carnatic Infantry will help you research the Regiment and those who served with it during the First World War. I have written a separate article for the war-raised 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry and a series of guides to help you research those who served in the Indian Army during the war:

The 73rd Carnatic Infantry in the First World War

Lineage: Formed at Madras, now Chennai by Captain H. R. Alcock in 1776 of drafts from the 4th, 7th and 11th Carnatic Battalions as the 13th Carnatic Battalion. In 1784 it became the 13th Madras Battalion and in 1796 the 2nd Battalion 3rd Regiment of Madras Native Infantry. Then the 13th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry in 1824 and then the 13th Regiment of Native Infantry in 1885, the 13th Madras Infantry in 1901 and the 73rd Carnatic Infantry in 1903. It was redesignated as the 1st Battalion 3rd Madras Regiment in 1922.

Composition in 1914: 4 Companies of Madrasi Musalmans, 2 Companies of Tamils and 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 73rd Carnatic Infantry was stationed at Trichinopoly, now Tiruchirappalli in the present-day Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Regiment had arrived from Cannanore, now Kannur, on 27 January 1912.

The 73rd Carnatic Infantry was stationed at Trichinopoly, now Tiruchirappalli in southern India when the First World War began in August 1914. The Regiment was serving with the Southern Brigade, 9th (Secunderabad) Division which remained in India for the duration of the war. In August 1916, the Regiment was still serving with these formations and still based at Trichinopoly. Though, since at least October 1915, the Regiment had a detachment of two companies Berbera, in what is now Somalia, with detachments also at Ootacamund and Trivandrum. Sepoy Viraswami died while stationed at Berbera on 3 October 1915. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded that he was the “Son of Govindu Mudali, of Vellore, North Arcot, Madras”. Viraswami is commemorated on the Berbera Memorial.

The 73rd Carnatic Infantry most likely received orders to mobilize for service overseas in August or September 1916. On 12 October 1916, the Regiment landed at Basra a port in southern Mesopotamia, now Iraq. Commanding the Regiment was Lieutenant-Colonel H. R. Baker, one of ten British officers who landed. There were also nine Indian officers, 505 rank and file, ten public followers and eight private followers. Instead of having four companies, the unit only landed with three as another was still stationed at Berbera. In Mesopotamia, the Regiment served on the lines of communications. There are two war diaries covering its service abroad, the first between October 1916 and August 1917 and the second between September 1917 and January 1920. The Regiment had an uneventful war.

In the April 1920 Indian Army List, the Regiment was stationed at Secunderabad, India. The 73rd Carnatic Infantry became the 1st Battalion 3rd Madras Regiment in 1922. During the First World War, the Regiment formed a second battalion at Cannanore on 6 June 1918. This unit is covered in a separate article: 2nd Battalion 73rd Malabar Infantry. Below is an extract from the April 1919 Indian Army List showing a portion of the British officers who served with the 73rd Carnatic Infantry. The Indian Army List is a great resource for researching British and Indian officers who served in the Indian Army. As you can see its full of military jargon and I have created a guide to help you: Indian Army Abbreviations and Acronyms.

73rd Carnatic Infantry British Officers

War Diaries of the 73rd Carnatic Infantry

There are two war diaries for the 73rd Carnatic Infantry and both have been digitized by the National Archives and I have transcribed a few entries below. To download each war diary for a small fee click on the blue links below which will take you to the National Archives’ website.

  • Date: 12 October 1916 – 31 August 1917
  • Lines of Communication, Mesopotamia
  • Reference: WO 95/5247/6
  • Notes: There are only a handful of entries for most months and June and July 1917 simply consist of the word “Nil”. Seven Indian soldiers were wounded while on sentry duty and their name, rank and regimental numbers are listed along with the nature of their wound. There is a list of British officers serving with the 73rd Carnatic Infantry when the Regiment arrived at Basra on 12 October 1916 and also on 25 August 1917.
  • Date: 02 September 1917 – 31 January 1920
  • Advanced Base and Defences, Mesopotamia
  • Reference: WO 95/5035/10
  • Notes: A poor war diary from September 1917 to May 1918 with very few entries on a single page. From June 1918 onwards entries become more frequent and detailed. The majority of the months contain a list of British officers serving with the Regiment.

Further Sources for the 73rd Carnatic Infantry

For information concerning British and Indian officers who served with the 73rd Carnatic Infantry, the Indian Army List should be consulted. A good source of information concerning the Regiment is its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These confidential reports also contain the annual confidential reports of the British officers who served with the 73rd Carnatic Infantry. However, once the Regiment was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on. If you’d like to learn more about the Mesopotamia Campaign I can recommend When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914-1921 by Charles Townshend.

Extracts from War Diaries of the 73rd Carnatic Infantry

12 October 1916 – 31 August 1917, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5247/6

Afternoon 12th October 1916 – Basra – Arrived per Hired Transport Islanda. Strength: British Officers 10, Indian Officers 9, Rank and File 505, Public Followers 10, Private Followers 8. The following officers arrived with the Regiment: Lieutenant-Colonel H. R. Baker – Commanding. Lieutenant-Colonel H. L. Hole (80th Carnatic Infantry) 2nd in Command, Captain R. B. Harward Adjutant, Lieutenant C. N. Harding (88th Carnatic Infantry), 2nd Lieutenant G. W. Breithaupt Indian Army Reserve Officiating Quartermaster, 2nd Lieutenants T. R. Robb (88th Carnatic Infantry), R. Grant I.A.R., G. W. Clements, I.A.R., L. H. Rodwell, I.A.R. and Lieutenant Mahadevan Indian Medical Service.

13 October 1916: Disembarked – marched to Jeypore [Jaipur] Camp. Regiment detailed for garrison duties.

Night 29th/30th December 1916 – Tanuma – No. 4477 Private Krishna Nayar A. Company fired at by sniper while on sentry duty, wounded in the knee.

Night 12/13 January 1917: No.4484 Private Ramasami, A Company fired at by sniper while on sentry duty, wounded in the leg.

Night 30th/31st March 1917 – Basra – During a fire, 2nd Lieutenant (acting Captain) Breithaupt Indian Army Reserve was run over and severely injured by a fire engine: injuries necessitated the amputation of the left foot.

9 April 1917: Basrah: A draft of 30 rank and file arrived from Trichinopoly.

16 April 1917: Basrah: A draft of 3 Indian officers, 183 rank and file and 6 public followers arrived from the 83rd Wallajahbad Light Infantry.

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served with the Indian Army

Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served with the British Army