94th Russell’s Infantry

This article on the 94th Russell’s Infantry aims to help you research the Regiment and those who served with it during the First World War. I have written a separate article on the short-lived 2nd Battalion 94th Russell’s Infantry and also a series of guides to help you research soldiers who served in the Indian Army during the First World War. The links below will take you to the guides:

The 94th Russell’s Infantry in the First World War

Lineage: Raised at Hyderabad “in 1813, under the superintendence of Mr. Henry Russell, the Resident, and was originally designated the 1st Battalion of the Russell Brigade”. In 1826 it became the 1st Regiment of Infantry, Nizam’s Army and the 1st Infantry, Hyderabad Contingent in 1854. Then the 94th Russell’s Infantry 1903 and the 1st Battalion 19th Hyderabad Regiment in 1922.

Composition in 1914: 3 Companies of Rajputs, 2 Companies of Jats and 3 Companies of Dekhani Musalmans. 1919: 1 1/2 Companies of Rajputs, 1 Company of Jats and 1 1/2 Companies of Dehani Musalmans.

Location in July 1914: The 94th Russell’s Infantry was stationed at Bolarum (Hyderabad, Telangana, India) having arrived from Baroda (Vadodara, Gujarat, India) on 23rd December 1912.

When the First World War began in August 1914, the 94th Russell’s Infantry was stationed at Bolarum where it was serving as part of the 1st Secunderabad Brigade of the 9th (Secunderabad) Division. The 94th Russell’s Infantry remained in India for the majority of the First World War and spent part of the war in the Gomal area of the North West Frontier where the Regiment faced constant attacks by Mahsuds.

The Regiment received orders to mobilize on 5 November 1917 when it was at Nowshera (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan) and embarked on board the Hired Transport Egra at Karachi (Sindh, Pakistan) on 5 January 1918. The 94th Russell’s Infantry arrived at Basra, Mesopotamia (Iraq) on 11 January 1918 and moved to Nahr Umr to the north of the city. Between January and September 1918 the 94th Russell’s Infantry served with the 55th Indian Infantry Brigade which was part of the 18th Indian Division. During this period the Regiment is constantly on the move and it is best to consult the war diary to find out their exact movements.

The Regiment joined the 55th Brigade in camp at Kadhimain on 17 February 1918 where it remained until 13 March when it began a series of marches towards Samarra where it arrived on 18 March. Except for brief periods, the 94th Russell’s Infantry remained at Samarra until it moved to Baghdad on 2 September 1918. In October 1918, the Regiment joined the 52nd Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Division and remained at Baghdad until it moved back to Samarra on 11 December 1918. Between January and March 1919 the Regiment served in a variety of places including As Sulaikh and Baghdad before it moved to Hillah on 1 April 1919.

The 94th Russell’s Infantry remained at Hillah until 17 November 1919 when it entrained for Baghdad and arrived the next day. The Regiment moved to Kingirban shortly afterwards where it remained before moving to Kirkuk on 16 February 1920. Unfortunately, there is a gap in the war diary during the Iraqi Revolt with the months between May and July lost. When the war diary resumes on 13 August 1920, the Regiment was back at Kingirban and under attack from Arabs. There are some very good appendices for August 1920 which I have detailed below.

Unfortunately, the last entry for the war diary is on 15 September 1920 when the Regiment was at Kifri. The Iraqi Revolt came to an end in October 1920 and the 94th Russell’s Infantry remained in Mesopotamia before it returned to India in 1921. Soldiers who served with the 94th Russell’s Infantry during the Iraqi Revolt qualified for the General Service Medal with Iraq Clasp. Some of their Medal Index Cards have survived and can be viewed either on Ancestry or the National Archives’ website. I recommend looking at the cards on Ancestry as they are currently free to view. In the July 1921 Indian Army List the Regiment was at Nasirabad (Rajasthan, India) and under orders for Jhelum (Punjab, Pakistan). In 1922 the 94th Russell’s Infantry became the 1st Battalion 19th Hyderabad Regiment.

War Diaries of the 94th Russell’s Infantry

There are two war diaries for the 94th Russell’s Infantry and both have been digitized by the National Archives. To download the war diaries for a small fee click on the blue links below.

  • Date: 05 November 1917 – 30 September 1918
  • 55th Indian Infantry Brigade, 18th Indian Division, Mesopotamia
  • Reference: WO 95/5230/5
  • Notes: A poor war diary with brief entries usually concerning the number of men invalided from the Regiment. There is a list of British officers who left Nowshera with the 94th Russell’s Infantry in January 1918. From May 1918, there are appendices containing a list of British officers serving with the 94th Russell’s Infantry each month and those away on leave, courses etc.
  • Date: October 1918 – 15 September 1920
  • 52nd Indian Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Division, Mesopotamia
  • Reference: WO 95/5213/7
  • Notes: Another poor war diary with very brief entries. The war diary is missing the months between May and July 1920 during the Iraqi Revolt. There are a few more detailed entries from August 1920 describing attacks. There are lists of British officers serving with the Regiment each month. Also, a 1-page account of an attack on a convoy commanded by Captain W. L. Beales on 17 August 1920 and a very interesting 4-page account of “a journey to Salahiya Post on 16.8.20 and on conditions existent at that Post”. Also, a 1-page report on the situation at Kifra on 20 August 1920 and an interesting 4-page report by Captain J. R. H. Tweed concerning a visit to Kifri on 19 August 1920 and subsequent withdrawal.

Further Sources for the 94th Russell’s Infantry

A good source of information concerning the 94th Russell’s Infantry and in particular for the British officers serving with it are the Regiment’s confidential reports held at the British Library: Confidential Reports on Regiments etcThese also contain the annual reports of the British officers serving with the Regiment. Though, when the Regiment is abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving there are reported on. For information concerning British and Indian officers who served with the 94th Russell’s Infantry the Indian Army List can be consulted. Surviving Medal Index Cards for the General Service Medal with Iraq Clasp can be viewed on either Ancestry or the National Archives’ website. I recommend viewing the cards fror free on Ancestry.

If you’d like to learn more about the Mesopotamia Campaign and the 1920 Iraqi Revolt 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 94th Russell’s Infantry

05 November 1917 – 30 September 1918, Mesopotamia, WO 95/5230/5

5 November 1917 – Nowshera – Received orders to mobilize as strong as possible.

20 December 1917 – Nowshera – 10 am – Battalion ready to move.

2 January 1918 – Nowshera – Battalion left Nowshera in two trains at 20.05 and 22.55 hours. Strength. British officers 13, Indian officers 17, Sub-assistant Surgeon 1. Indian ranks 1095, followers 92.

11 January 1918 – Basra – Arrived Basra. 12 noon. 1 private follower died 7 January 1918 at sea. Transhipped on to PS 89 and 2 barges and left 7.30 pm for Nahr Umar. 4 sepoys left at Basra hospital and 1 Sub-assistant Surgeon returned to India.

22 January 1918 – Nahr Umar – Owing to minor foot and leg ailments which would prevent them accompanying the Regiment on the march to Baghdad, one Indian officer, 54 other Indian ranks and one private follower were transferred to No.2 Indian Base Depot, Basra, pending their recovery when they are to be sent up to rejoin the Regiment.

1 September 1918 – Samarra – Regiment less about 200 sick under Medical Officer and Lieutenant Edwards moved to right banks and entrained for Baghdad leaving garrisons on five posts from Samaichia to Baghdad relieving men of 199th Infantry consisting of a company and a half in all (D Company and two platoons C Company).

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