This article is about the 8th Rajputs and will help you to research the Regiment and soldiers who served with it during the First World War. I have written a separate article about the war-raised 2nd Battalion 8th Rajputs as well as a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during World War One.
- 2nd Battalion 8th Rajputs
- Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army during the First World War
The 8th Rajputs in the First World War
Lineage: Raised at Dinapore (present-day Danapur) by Captain F. Andre as the 1st Battalion, 30th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1814. Then it became the 59th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry in 1824 and the 8th Regiment Bengal Native Infantry in 1861. Then the 8th Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1885 and the 8th (Rajput) Regiment of Bengal Infantry in 1897. In 1901 the 8th Rajput Infantry and the 8th Rajputs in 1903. In 1922 became the 4th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment.
Class Composition of Battalion in 1914: 8 Companies of Rajputs 1919: 4 Companies of Rajputs.
Location in August 1914: The 8th Rajputs was stationed at Jubbulpore (Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India) having arrived from Hong Kong on 2nd July 1914.
The 8th Rajputs was an Indian infantry regiment which was mobilized at Abbottabad (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) on the 4 July 1916 for service in Mesopotamia (Iraq). The Regiment embarked on the SS Baroda on 14 July 1916 at Karachi (Sindh, Pakistan) and arrived at Basra on the 19 July. Between July and December 1916, the 8th Rajputs served on the Lines of Communication and spent most of their time at Qalat Saleh, Tanooma and Ahwaz. The 8th Rajputs remained at Ahwaz until 1918 proving guards and detachments in the local area. The 8th Rajputs raised a second battalion at Lucknow in March 1918 and I have written a separate article about the Battalion here: 2nd Battalion 8th Rajputs.
In November 1918, the 8th Rajputs joined the 34th Indian Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Division and moved to Basra on 28 November. The 8th Rajputs moved to Makina and subsequently Amara where they arrived on 15 April 1919. Then in July 1919, the 8th Rajputs joined the 18th Indian Division and moved to Shargat. During its time with the 18th Indian Division, the Regiment was constantly on the move and was at Kirkuk in November 1919. The 8th Rajputs served in the area around Kirkuk for the rest of the year. During the 1920 Iraqi Revolt, the Regiment served all over Mesopotamia including at Tikrit, Baghdad, Diwaniyah and Hillah. The 8th Rajputs suffered 10 killed and 14 wounded at Hillah on 1 August 1920 and continued to suffer casualties throughout August and into December.
The 8th Rajputs either returned to India in late 1920 or early 1921 and was stationed at Allahabad. In 1922 the 8th Rajputs became the 4th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment. The 8th Rajputs qualified for the General Service Medal with Iraq Clasp and their Medal Index Cards have survived. These can either be viewed on Ancestry or downloaded from the National Archives website. I would recommend viewing them on Ancestry as they are free to look at once you have signed up.
The above extract was taken from the October 1914, Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the 8th Rajputs. The Indian Army List is an important resource to consult if you’re researching an Indian officer or Indian regiment.
War Diaries of the 8th Rajputs
There are five war diaries for the 8th Rajputs and all have been digitized by the National Archives. To download each war diary for a small fee click on the blue links below which will take you to the National Archives’ website. I have transcribed some of the entries at the bottom of the page.
- Date: 04 July – 25 December 1916
- Line of Communication, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5247/1
- Notes: A poor war diary with very brief entries.
- Date: 01 December 1916 – 31 October 1918
- Karun Front
- Reference: WO 95/5012/2
- Notes: A poor war diary with brief entries which lack detail.
- Date: 01 November 1918 – 30 May 1919
- 34th Indian Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Division
- Reference: WO 95/5209/1
- Notes: A poor war diary, where the vast majority of days have no entry. Most entries just state the strength of the Battalion. There are nominal rolls of British officers serving with the 8th Rajputs on 01 December 1918 and 30 April 1919.
- Date: 01 July – 31 December 1919
- 18th Indian Division, Mesopotamia
- Reference: WO 95/5222/6
- Notes: A poor war diary where the majority of days have no entry. British officers are frequently mentioned due to the large number of detachments the 8th Rajputs provided. September 1919 is missing.
- Date: 01 January- 31 September 1920
- 55th Indian Infantry Brigade, 18th Indian Division
- Reference: WO 95/5229/11
- Notes: The best war diary in terms of detail for the 8th Rajputs which is average when compared to the war diaries of other regiments. There are a few interesting appendices including an offence report for March and April 1920 and a field return while the Regiment was at Tikrit in April 1920. All casualties during this period are recorded with their service number in the diary.
Further Sources for the 8th Rajputs
A good source of information for the 8th Rajputs and the British officers who served with it are its confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etc. These reports also contain the annual confidential reports of the British officers serving with the Regiment. However, when the 8th Rajputs was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving there were reported on.
For information regarding the British and Indian officers who served with the 8th Rajputs, the Indian Army List should be consulted. The Medal Index Cards for the General Service Medal with Iraq Clasp can be viewed on Ancestry or downloaded from the National Archives website. I would recommend viewing them on Ancestry as they are free to look at once you have signed up. 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 Professor Charles Townshend
Extracts from War Diaries of the 8th Rajputs
01 July – 31 December 1919, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5222/6
05 July 1919 – Shargat and Posts – Strength: British Officers 9. Indian Officers 14. Dressers 1. Indian Other Ranks 869. Followers 69.
19 July 1919 – Shargat and Posts – 14.00 hours – Orders received to proceed at once Mosul leaving detachments at Hadraniyah and Qiyarah 52nd Sikhs to be relived at those posts.
31 July 1919 – Mosul- Detachments from Hadraniyah and Qiyarah, having been relieved by the 88 Carnatic Infantry arrived Mosul. Owing to epidemic of influenza 50 men left sick at posts, and detachments, comprising A Company and No.9 and 12 Platoons of Company went into camp near ruins of Ninevah on left bank of river.
17 October 1919 – 06.30 hours – Left wing marched from Butak Su to Filfil distance twelve miles.
19 October 1919 – Right wing rejoined from Suwara strength as follows. British Officers 4. Indian Officers 8. Indian Other Ranks 304.
30 October 1919 – Regiment arrived at Baiji and detrained at daybreak. Marched to camp situated on the right bank of the Tigris.
16 November 1919 – Kirkuk – One platoon under Jemadar Shiupershad Singh left to act as guard over the 7th Labour Corps working on the Kirkuk – Kifri Road.
27 December 1919 – Regimental sports were held, Headquarters and two companies at Kirkuk and two companies at Chamchamal.