This article will look at the role of the 98th Infantry during the First World War and will help you research those who served with it. I have written a separate article for the war-raised 98th Infantry and a series of guides to help you research those who served in the Indian Army during the war:
- Guide to the 2nd Battalion 98th Infantry
- Guides to Researching Soldiers who Served in the Indian Army
The 98th Infantry in the First World War
Lineage: Raised at Ellichpur (Achalpur) by Nawab Salabat Khan in 1788 as the Salabat Khan’s Regiment and afterwards became the 1st Battalion, Ellichpur Brigade. Then the 7th Regiment of Infantry, Nizam’s Army in 1826 and the 5th Hyderabad Contingent in 1854. The Regiment was designated the 98th Infantry in 1903 and the 4th Battalion 19th Hyderabad Regiment in 1922.
Composition in 1914: 3 Companies of Rajputs, 3 Companies of Hindustani Musalmans and 2 Companies of Ahirs of the Eastern Punjab. 1919: 1 1/2 Companies of Rajputs, 1 1/2 Companies of Hindustani Musalmans and 1 Company of Ahirs of the Eastern Punjab.
Location in July 1914: The 98th Infantry was stationed at Saugor (Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, India) having arrived from Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on 3rd June 1911.
The 98th Infantry was stationed at Saugor when the First World War began in August 1914. The 98th Infantry was regarded as a poor regiment which can be seen by reading its confidential reports in the years prior to the outbreak of war. While the 98th Infantry’s confidential report for 1913-14 is “Satisfactory” and appears to show an average, or slightly below average regiment, its 1912-13 report is far more illuminating:
I saw this Battalion at a tactical exercise, which was not well carried out, and it seemed to me that the leaders were lacking in a grasp of some of the essential principals in the attack; the men looked strong and moved actively, but I think it would be for the good of the unit if they were brigaded with other troops. There is room for improvement.
John Nixon, Lieutenant-General Commanding Southern Army 23 April 1913.
Confidential review reports on Indian Army units, British officers, etc. for 1912-1913: IOR/L/MIL/7/17022
When the First World War began, the 98th Infantry was mobilized for service in East Africa as part of the 27th (Bangalore Brigade) under Brigadier-General Richard Wapshare. This was part of Indian Expeditionary Force B which made a disastrous attack at Tanga, German East Africa between 3 and 5 November 1914. During the attack on the port on 4 November, the 98th Infantry retired in disorder. After Tanga, the Regiment was used to patrol railway lines and on the lines of communication. The 98th Infantry left East Africa in 1917 and returned to India, before serving on the lines of communication in East Persia in 1918. There are two war diaries for the Regiment which I have discussed below. In 1922 the 98th Infantry was redesignated as the 4th Battalion 19th Hyderabad Regiment. The extract below was taken from the October 1914 Indian Army List and recorded the British officers serving with the Regiment.
War Diaries of the 98th Infantry
There are two war diaries covering the 98th Infantry’s service during the First World War. The first, for East Africa, has been digitized and can be downloaded for a small fee by clicking on the first blue link below. This link will take you to the National Archives’ website.
- Date: 11 September 1914 – 31 December 1916
- East Africa
- Reference: WO 95/5333/15
- Notes: A very good war diary which has been digitized and is available to download from the National Archives” website. The names of British and Indian officers and other ranks (with regimental number) appear throughout. There are a number of interesting appendices, including the part the 98th Infantry played at the Battle of Tanga, Action at Lubembe 6 December 1915, with map. A report on bombs on the railway line on the night of 17-18 January 1916. Report by a havildar of 101st Grenadiers regarding a patrol on the night of 21-22 January 1916. A separate report written by Captain Porter Loyal North Lancashire Regiment regarding the same incident. A very rare statement by a captured African porter appears in the diary, which I have transcribed: Statements made by prisoner captured by Kashmiri on 30 August 1915.
- Date: 01 May – 24 September 1918
- Lines of Communication, East Persia
- Reference: WO 95/5418
- Notes: A poor war diary with brief entries. Some months consist of short summaries rather than daily entries.
Further Sources for the 98th Infantry
If you are researching a British or Indian officer who served with the 98th Infantry then the Indian Army List can be consulted. A good source of information regarding the 98th Infantry and the British officers who served with the regiment is its confidential reports. These reports also contain the annual confidential reports of the British officers who served with the Regiment. However, when the 98th Infantry was abroad only its Depot and the British officers serving with it were reported on.
Extracts from the War Diaries of the 98th Infantry
11 September 1914 – 31 December 1916, East Africa, WO 95/5333/15
04 November 1914 – Tanga – 8.30 am. Regiment embarked in lighters and landed south west of Ras Kasone. Moved off at 9.30 am and joined the rest of the brigade at the bivouac. At 10.50am attack orders were issued, and the Regiment moved off at 11.20am.
05 November 1914 – 11.30 am Orders received to embark in lighters and abandon all reserve ammunition and bulky kit. The battalion embarked in the Cupid and Khalifa.
20 April 1915- Railway Defence Mile 231-12 – 4.30 am. Party of enemy suddenly rushed picquet before they could reach heir rifles, and captured them. They blew up the bridge and took away the picquet with them, releasing them in the jungle, after they had gone a few miles. They kept the four rifles belonging to the picquet.
01 May – 30 September 1918, East Persia, WO 95/5418
18 July 1918 – Sistan – No. 981 Sepoy Chabat Khan, B Company accidentally shot dead while asleep in his tent at Maki Surkh at 4 am 18 instant.