92nd Punjabis

This article will look at the role of the 92nd Punjabis during the First World War and will help you research those who served with it. I have also written a series of guides to help you research those who served in the Indian Army during the war:

The 92nd Punjabis in the First World War

Lineage: Raised at Madura by Lieutenant Colonel A. Dyce as the 2nd Battalion, 16th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry in 1800 and became the 32nd Regiment of Madras Native Infantry in 1824. Then the 32nd Regiment of Madras Infantry in 1885 and the 4th Regiment of Burma Infantry in 1890. The 32nd Regiment (4th Burma Battalion) of Madras Infantry in 1891 and the 2nd Burma Infantry in 1901. In 1903 the Regiment was designated 92nd Punjabis and the 4th Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment in 1922.

Composition in 1914: 4 Companies of Sikhs and 4 Companies of Punjabi Musalmans. 1919: 2 Companies of Sikhs and 2 Companies of Punjabi Musalmans.

Location in July 1914: The 92nd Punjabis was stationed at Benares (Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India) having arrived from Fort William, Calcutta (Kolkata, India) on 22nd April 1914.

When the First World War began in August 1914, the 92nd Punjabis was stationed at Benares (Varanasi) where the Regiment received orders to mobilize on 11 September. The 92nd Punjabis moved to Bombay (Mumbai) on 20 October 1914 and boarded the Hired Transports Glenetive and Elysia. On the 2 November 1914, the two ships sailed as part of a convoy for Egypt and the Regiment disembarked at Suez, Egypt on 21 November 1914. The Regiment remained in Egypt guarding the Suez Canal until December 1915 when the 92nd Punjabis moved to Mesopotamia (Iraq). The Regiment was involved in repelling the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal in February 1915 but apart from this battle, there was very little to report. The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the Regiment.

92nd Punjabis British Officers WW1The 92nd Punjabis arrived at Basra on 24 December 1915 and took part in the subsequent attempts to relieve the besieged 6th (Poona) Division in Kut-al-Amara. The 92nd Punjabis served as part of the 19th Indian Infantry Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Indian Division in Mesopotamia.

The Regiment fought at the Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad (6-8 January 1916), Battle of Wadi (13 January 1916) and the Battle of Hanna (21 January 1916). The 92nd Punjabis did not play an active part in the Battle of Dujaila on 9 March 1916. The Regiment took part in the relief attempts between 5 and 9 April after the arrival of the 13th (Western) Division allowed further attacks to be made, with the 92nd Punjabis suffering over 100 casualties on 7 April 1916. A final attack on the 22 April also ended in failure with the 92nd Punjabis suffering heavy British and Indian officer casualties.

After the fall of Kut on 29 April 1916, the Mesopotamia Campaign entered a period of inactivity. The 92nd Punjabis remained in the Sanniyat position or in rest camps nearby for the remainder of the summer. The Regiment subsequently took part in General Maude’s offensive to capture Baghdad and suffered over 200 casualties in the successful Second Battle of Kut on 22 February 1917. The Regiment subsequently moved to Baghdad and took part in the Battle of Istabulat on 21 April 1917 during the Samarra Campaign where it suffered 45 casualties. The 92nd Punjabis remained in camp a Samarra until early November 1917 when it took part in the Capture of Tikrit on 5 November 1917. The 92nd Punjabis moved frequently over the next month before arriving at Beled and subsequently Hanaidi.

The Regiment left Mesopotamia in January 1918 and moved to Egypt where it joined the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. The 92nd Punjabis continued to serve with the 19th Indian Infantry Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Division while in Egypt. The Regiment moved into camp at Moascar before proceeding to the front line in late March 1918. The Regiment’s war diary 92nd Punjabis took part in the Battle of Megiddo (19 and 25 September 1918) and there is a very detailed description of the opening day of the battle in the war diary. The Regiment then took part in the pursuit of the Turkish forces and when the Armistice with Turkey came into effect on 31 October 1918 the 92nd Punjabis were near Arqa in northern Lebanon.

The 92nd Punjabis remained in the Middle East after the end of the war and moved to Beirut in early December 1918 where it remained until February 1919 when it moved to Mersin and subsequently Bozanti. The 92nd Punjabis remained at Bozanti until late April 1919 when the Regiment moved to Adana and then back to Bozanti. The Regiment stayed at Bozanti until it moved back to Mersin in November 1919 and then sailed for Kantara, Egypt. The Regiment remained at Kantara and Ismailia before returning to Indian in 1920. In 1922 following the reorganisation of the Indian Army, the 92nd Punjabis became the 4th Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment.

War Diaries of the 92nd Punjabis

There are three war diaries for the 92nd Punjabis but only the second covering the Regiment’s service in Mesopotamia has been digitized. To download this war diary for a small fee click on the second blue link below. The other two war diaries can only be viewed at the National Archives. I have copies of all the war diaries and have transcribed some entries below.

  • Date: 11 September 1914 – 30 November 1915
  • 22nd Indian Infantry Brigade, No. 2 Section Canal Defences, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO 95/4428
  • Notes: A good war diary with a very detailed account of the part the 92nd Punjabis played in repelling the Turkish attacks on the Suez Canal in February 1915. After March 1915 entries become less frequent.
  • Date: 01 December 1915 – 31 December 1917
  • 19th Indian Infantry Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Division, Mesopotamia
  • Reference: WO 95/5137/7
  • Notes: Overall a good war diary, though entries become a lot shorter in 1917. The names of British officers appear throughout. This war diary has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives’ website.
  • Date: 01 January 1918 – 31 March 1920
  • 19th Indian Infantry Brigade, 7th (Meerut) Division, Egyptian Expeditionary Force
  • Reference: WO 95/4712
  • Notes: An average war diary for most of the period covered. There is a detailed entry covering the opening day of the Battle of Megiddo on 19 September 1918. There is a nominal roll of British officers present with the 92nd Punjabis each month between May 1918 and March 1920.

Further Sources for the 92nd Punjabis

If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served in the 92nd Punjabis, then the Indian Army List can be consulted. A good resource for the Regiment is its annual 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 92nd Punjabis. However, when the Regiment was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving there are 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 92nd Punjabis

11 September 1914 – 30 November 1915, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, WO 95/4428

11 September 1914 – Benares – Orders received to mobilize; depot at Scale A. 10% reinforcements to be taken. Numbers required to complete strength to be made up as follows:- a) Reservists to be taken, up to a maximum of 120. b) Balance to complete strength from 93rd Burma Infantry.

04 October 1914 – Benares – Last batch of Reservists joined from Reserve Centre and number authorized for inclusion in war strength completed viz. 120. Notes 1) There appears to be a considerable time required in recalling all reservists -24 days. 2) It was found that approximately only 40% of reservists were physically fit for active service, 50% being suitable for only depot work, and 10% being totally unfit for any work. It appears that the pensionable service of reservists should be considerably reduced. …

26 January 1915 -Serapeum – Enemy engaged at long range 4 miles East of Kantara. Large bodies of troops reported at points 25 to 30 miles from Canal… Night attacks made at posts near Suez; enemy driven off without difficulty.

02 February 1915 – Serapeum – Our guns fired 4 rounds in the morning at Enemy’s camels, at range of 6000 yards.

16 – 21 March 1915 – Fatigues for making and clearing trenches and other Brigade fatigues. Parades held daily for men not otherwise employed with a view to instruction of newly promoted N.C.Os.

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