This article on the 75th Carnatic Infantry aims to help you research either the Regiment or a soldier who served with it during the First World War. I have also written a separate article for the short-lived 2nd Battalion 75th Carnatic Infantry and a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during the First World War:
The 75th Carnatic Infantry in the First World War
Lineage: Formed at Tanjore (Thanjavur) in 1776 by Captain John Davis from drafts of the 2nd, 6th and 12th Carnatic Battalions as the 15th Carnatic Battalion. It became the 15th Madras Battalion in 1784 and the 2nd Battalion 4th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry in 1796. Then the 15th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry in 1824 and the 15th Regiment of Madras Infantry in 1885. The 15th Madras Infantry in 1901, the 75th Carnatic Infantry in 1903 and the 2nd Battalion 3rd Madras Regiment in 1922.
Composition in 1914: 4 Companies of Madrasi Muslims, 2 Companies of Tamils and 2 Companies of Paraiyans and Christians. 1919: 2 Companies of Madrasi Muslims, 1 Company of Tamils and 1 Company of Paraiyans and Christians.
Location in July 1914: The 75th Carnatic Infantry was stationed at Cannanore, now Kannur in the present-day southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu having arrived from Fort William, Calcutta now Kolkata on 7 March 1914.
The 75th Carnatic Infantry is a difficult regiment to research for the First World War as it has left few records. The Regiment was serving at Cannanore in southern Indian when war broke out in August 1914. In its final pre-war confidential report for 1913-14, the 75th Carnatic Infantry had been inspected by Major-General E. S. May, who commanded the Presidency Brigade. On 5 January 1914, he wrote:
Turn-out: Well turned out.
Efficiency in drill: Very good.
Musketry: Very satisfactory.
Care of equipment and accoutrements: Complete and in good order.
Personnel: Satisfactory with the exception of some officers not up to the standard. Have been warned.
Discipline: Very good.
Health: Very good.
Recruits: Good and of the prescribed class and countries.
Interior economy: Excellent.
General efficiency: Battalion is particularly well trained and is exceptionally hard and fit for service owing to the great attention paid to its training by Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell. It marches particularly well and is ready to meet any emergency at manoeuvres. Clothing and necessaries satisfactory and no complaints.
Fitness for active service: Fit.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units for 1913-1914: IOR/L/MIL/7/17023.
The confidential report also included the view of Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Ivan Scallon, Commanding 8th (Lucknow) Division who reported on 25 January 1914, “A good Carnatic battalion, which cannot be said to be fit for service owing to the establishment being so low”. By May 1915, the Regiment was stationed at Baroda where it was serving as part of the 5th (Mhow) Division. In December, five of its eight companies were stationed at Baroda, with a company at Fort Ahmedabad, half a company at Summerpore and one and a half companies at Erinpura and Neemuch. The Regiment was still serving with the 5th (Mhow) Division. Below is part of the October 1914, Indian Army List which recorded the British officers serving with the Regiment. I have written an article on how to use this useful resource: Indian Army List.
The 75th Carnatic Infantry remained in India until approximately March 1916 when it moved to Aden, in what is now Yemen. Aden was considered one of the worst postings of the British Empire due to its unhealthy climate and isolation. Its Depot was opened at Bangalore. The 75th Carnatic Infantry remained at Aden for the rest of the First World War before returning to India in either late 1920 or early 1921. A second battalion was formed at Bangalore in October 1918. While this new battalion was in existence, the original unit became the 1st Battalion 75th Carnatic Infantry. When the second battalion was disbanded in December 1920 it reverted to its old title of 75th Carnatic Infantry. In the July 1921 Indian Army List, the 75th Carnatic Infantry was stationed at Bangalore. In 1922, the Regiment was redesignated as the 2nd Battalion 3rd Madras Regiment.
War Diary of the 75th Carnatic Infantry
There is only one war diary for the 75th Carnatic Infantry, which has not been digitized and can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have transcribed the entire war diary below. War diaries were written by an officer of a unit and recorded its daily activities and location. They are the most important resource for researching a unit during the First World War and it’s a great shame that the 75th Carnatic Infantry’s consists of just three months.
- Date: 01 April – 30 June 1916
- Aden Force
- Reference: WO 95/5438
- Notes: Unfortunately, the only war diary for the 75th Carnatic Infantry is just four pages in length. The majority of the days covered by the diary consist only of the word ”Nil”. There are no appendices.
Further Sources for the 75th Carnatic Infantry
If you would like to learn more about a British or Indian officer who served with the 75th Carnatic Infantry during the First World War, then the Indian Army List can be consulted. A 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 were serving with the 75th Carnatic Infantry. However, when the Regiment was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on. There is very little information on Aden but Harry Fecitt has written an article on operations in Aden just prior to the arrival of the 75th Carnatic Infantry which provides good context: Military Operations in Aden 1914-15.
The War Diary of the 75th Carnatic Infantry
01 April – 30 June 1916, Aden Force, WO 95/5438
25 April 1916 – Sheikh Othman – The advance party 75th Carnatic arrived at Sheikh Othman [near Aden in present-day Yemen] on 25 April from the Crater [part of Aden] and took over from the 69th Punjabis.
27 April 1916: Two companies from the Crater marched out and two companies from Steamer Point railed out to Sheikh Othman.
28 April – 1 May 1916: Nil.
2 May 1916 – Two companies from Kamaran and two companies from Perim arrived at Aden by SS Tuna about 6.30 am. They disembarked at Maala about 7 am and proceeded to Sheikh Othman by rail at 2 pm where they arrived at 4 pm and went into camp west of the Dhobi’s well. The regiment took over the duties of local reserve for the ensuing week.
3 – 7 May 1916: Nil.
8 May 1916: The Battalion took over the outpost line at 5 pm from the 33rd Punjabis for ensuing week.
9 – 12 May 1916: Nil.
13 May 1916: Second Lieutenant Baines, Jemadar Krishnasami and 20 rifles, reconnoitring patrol, went out from Halwan at 3.30 am towards Dar Mansur, where they arrived at 5.30 am. They were fired on by a party of about 100 Turks. The patrol withdrew, suffering no casualties. “war stations” received 7.20 am. men in camp reinforced No.3 Section. Dismissed 8.15 am.
14 May 1916: Nil.
15 May 1916: Outpost line relieved less No.4 Section by Malay States Guides. No.4 Section held by IV [No.4] Double Company. III Double Company local reserves to I and II Sections. II Double Company local reserves to III and IV Sections. I Double Company duties.
16 – 20 May 1916: Nil.
21 May 1916: Battalion detailed for training under commanding officer – placed in general reserve for ensuing week.
22 May – 27 May 1916: Nil.
28 May 1916: Sunday.
29 May 1916: I and II Double Companies took over 2nd and 1st Sections of the outpost line respectively, IV Double Company was detailed for flying column, III Double Company field practices at Regimental Headquarters.
30 – 31 May 1916: Nil.
1 – 3 June 1916: Nil.
4 June 1916: The Regiment took part in a demonstration intended to cover a cavalry reconnaissance of Fiyush. At 5 pm – III Double Company took over No.I Section of outposts for ensuing week. I Double Company took over local reserve Daral Amir for ensuing week. II Double Company field firing for ensuing week. IV Double Company duties for ensuing week.
6 – 7 June 1916: Nil:
8 June 1916: The movable column including 2 1/2 Double Companies, 75th Carnatic Infantry was ordered out to attack Waht in co-operation with bombardment by sea-planes. The operations were cancelled at 10.20 pm.
9 – 11 June 1916: Nil.
12 June 1916: At 5 pm II Double Company took over duties on flying column for ensuing week.
13 – 25 June 1916: Nil.
26 June 1916: No.I Double Company took over No.1 Section of outposts for the ensuing week. No.III Double Company took over No.II Section of outposts for the ensuing week. No.IV Double Company took over No.III Section of outposts for the ensuing week. No.II Double Company took over No.IV Section of outposts for the ensuing week.
27 – 30 June 1916: Nil.