Indian Army and Indian Army Reserve of Officers Wills

This article looks at the wills of British soldiers who were commissioned into the Indian Army or Indian Army Reserve of Officers (I.A.R.O.) during the First World War. You’ll usually be able to find out a lot of information about British officers who served with the Indian Army. This is just one of a series of articles I’ve written on researching those who served with the Indian Army during the war:

I also offer a First World War Soldier Research Service.

Indian Army and Indian Army Reserve of Officers Wills

The British Library holds a collection of wills to soldiers who were commissioned into the Indian Army during the First World War. They cover both temporary commissions and those appointed to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. The three volumes are held in one slipcase and its catalogue reference is IOR/L/MIL/14/213. These volumes contain the wills of those who were commissioned from the ranks of the British Army not officers who transferred from the British Army to the Indian Army.  There is an alphabetical index in the volume allowing for ease of use and I have transcribed the index below. There are a variety of different forms used by the soldiers, but the most frequent is Army Form W 3601. This is a small double-sided document that contains the following information:

Obverse: Soldier’s Regimental Number, Surname, Christian Names and Corps.

Reverse: Will, Signature, Rank and Regiment, and Date.

Due to the size of Army Form W 3061, soldier’s wills are often only a sentence or two in length. The majority of men left their possessions to their mother, father or another family member. The four examples below are typical of the wills written on Army Form W 3601:

In the event of my death I give the whole of my property and effects to my father William Henry Dawson the Post Office, Fishergate, Yorkshire. Cyril Dawson, Trooper No.2576/236001/330371 [Dawson had three of his regimental numbers on the form], September 9th 1916, Yorkshire Hussars.

In the event of my death I Percival Henry Denyer hereby bequest the whole of my property to my mother Rosa Jane Denyer to be dealt with as she thinks fit. Signed P. H. Denyer No.2788 Cambridgeshire Regiment. Signed on the nineteenth day of February in the year one thousand nine hundred and fifteen. 19-2-1915.

In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother, Mrs Elizabeth Dybell, 10 High Mill Road, Southampton, Great Yarmouth. Charles W. Dybell, No.15263, Corporal 11th Royal Sussex Regiment, 10/3/17.

At my death I leave my will to my “Brother” Michael Kelly A. B. Chatham Naval Depot. Signed Private R. G. Kelly. No.14408. East Lancashire Regiment.

Another Army Form which also appears is W 3297, ”Form of Will to be used by a soldier desirous of leaving the whole of his property and effects to one person”. This contains the same information as Army Form W 3601, except it will include the names and addresses of two witnesses. In a few cases the wills are more substantial. Leslie Brown made a detailed will and it comes as no surprise that he was a solicitor by profession.

This is the last Will and Testament of me Leslie Clifford Brown formerly of Ladbrooke Biggleswade in the County of Bedford. Solicitor (unadmitted) but now serving as a Lance-Corporal in His Majesty’s 2nd (Garrison) Battalion, Essex Regiment ‘A’ Company No. 25033.

1. I revoke all former testamentary instruments heretofore made by me.

2. I appoint my father John Albert Brown and my mother Alive Brown to be executors of this my will.

3. I give to my friend Grace Chaundler of Biggleswade the sum of 25 (twenty-five Pounds) as a slight tribute to her kindness to me; also my photo.

4 I give Devise and bequeth all the residue of my estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever both real and personal… to my said father and mother in equal shares as tenants in common hoping (but without imposing any legal trust or obligation in that behalf) that they will make such provision thereout for my brothers Ralph Lawrence and Norman as may seem to my said father and mother most fitting…

Brown’s will was witnessed by 25056 Sergeant J. Cox and 25060 Robert Dack who were both serving in A Company of the 2nd Garrison Battalion The Essex Regiment. Lance Corporal 8359 David Turnbull 1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) also left more detailed instructions:

In the event of my death the finder of this might please send all photographs in my possession unless those which I have marked ”Home” to Miss Chris. E. Boag, Bethune’s Cottage, Mount Pleasant, Newburgh, Fifeshire, Scotland. Those marked ”Home” you might please send to Mrs Turnbull, Mayfield, Auchtermuchty, Fifeshire, Scotland, along with my fountain pen.

Alphabetical List of Indian Army Wills

A

Adamson, Robert James

Aird, Matthew

Allan, Thomas Lawson

Anson, Clifford E. I.

Arnold, Frederick

Ashley-Brown, Rev. W.

Askew, Jacob

Atkins, Charles Richard

Austen, Edward

Austin, B

Austin, J. B.

B

Bailey, Philip Edwin Canning

Baldwin, Reginald Alfred Charles

Banwell, Jack Albert

Batty, Ralph Edward

Beach, William Jackson

Bennett, Joseph William

Birch, Arnold

Bishop, Frederick John

Bishop, Henry George Stokes

Bisset, James Davidson

Blackburn, Frederick

Borton, Edwin

Boswarva, Henry George

Bromby, Thomas Alfred

Bromham, Arthur William

Brooks, Percy

Brown, Alan Davidson

Brown, Frank H.

Brown, Leslie Clifford

Buckley, Percy William

Bunt, Harry

Burgess, Frank Harold

Burns, Joseph

C

Campbell, James Whittaker

Campbell, William Balfour

Catron, Joseph Edward Thomas

Chamings, Reginald Gordon

Chatterton, Joseph

Clark, James Davidson

Cleave, John Clive Tyler

Collins, Joseph

Cooper, Arthur

Cornwell, Vernon John Shawcross

Croucher, Edward William

Crowe, Herbert

D

Danby, John Alexander MacDuff

Davis, Novor Eric

Dawson, Cyril

Dean, Langley

Deane, Frank

Denyer, Percival Henry

Devoy, Joseph Charles

Dickens, Harold Edington

Dominy, Frank Cyril

Dothwaite, Charles William

Dyson, Harry Peal

E

Eadin, Charles Leonard

Emmett, Charles Webster

Evans, Roy Meyrick

F

Farquhar, Dean

Foot, William John Hawken

Forbes, Andrew

G

Gore, Reginald Malpas

Gow, Henry

Green, Arthur William

H

Harrison, Harold Stuart

Harry, Hubert Teare

Hay, Edward Bruce

Hebson, Thomas Ernest

Henderson, George Paterson

Herridge, William John

Hickman, George Henry

Hodgman, Frederick John

Horncastle, John

Howells, David Richard

I

Iredale, Norman

J

Jenks, Jack Cecil Vidgan

Johnston, Albert James

Johnstone, Edward

K

Kelly, Roland George

Kersey, Arthur Oliver

Kingett, Arthur Edward

Kiy, David William

L

Letheren, Wallace George

Lewis, Thomas Meredith

Linton, John

Loder, Leslie Norman

Lyte, Edric Francis Neville

M

McEwel, Duncan Stephen

Mackay, John

Mackie, James

McLean, Douglas Allan

Magerty, Ernest Ross

Martin, Harold Lawrence

Martin, W.

Martin, William Milles

Mason, James

Mawson, James Eric

Maynard, Ralph

Mercer, Alexander Robertson

Michael, William

Moffat, John

Morris, Wilfred Cyril

N

Nash, George Frederick

Neale, Reginald Thomas

O

Oldroyd, John Epton

Oliver, Norman Edward

Owen, Stephen Fletcher

P

Pentland, Albert

Pinkerton, George E.

Price, Arthur Woodman

Provan, Andrew

R

Rea, Arthur Noel

Robinson, Harry

Roughton, George Edward

Rowe, William Campbell

Rowlinson, Percy James

S

Sandy, William James Ward

Sanders, Hubert J.

Scott, Sydney

Sharpe, George Frederick

Shearer, William

Sheridan, Frank Leslie

Sienesi, Alan Russell

Sisley, Frederick Ward

Smart, Richard Lynds

Smith, Stanley

Smith, Sydney John

Smithson, E.

Solman, Frederick Hubert

Squires, Archibald William Towers

Stephen, Arthur Alexander

Stewart, Alastair Moray

Stringer, Brian de Havilland

Symon, George

T

Taylor, Charles William

Thomson, William

Tucker, Keith Dunman

Turnbull, David

Turner, Francis

Turton, Walter

Twelftree, Arthur Edward

W

Walker, Frank Leitch

Wallace, Dixon

Walsh, Victor Phillips Francis

Wardropper, Thomas

Warren, William Corbould

White, Thomas Nicholas

White, William James

Wibby, Edward John

Wilcock, Horace Atkinson

Wright, Reginald Arthur

Wycherley, Richard

Y

Yeomans, Reginald Arthur