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Remembered Today:

Garrison Bn's to India 1917


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In November 1916 the War Office requested the India Office to despatch further troops to Egypt and Mesopotamia. To this request the India office responded with a promise to release 12 TF Bn's pending the following :

1. 6 Garrison Bn's being despatched from the UK.

2. The raising of 12 local Indian Bn's.

3. The enrolment of 6 Bn's of Volunteers .

To understand the relief of TF Bn's who went to Egypt to form the 75th Division I have been trying to locate which Garrison Bn's came out from the UK and where they were stationed. The TF Bn's were only to be released as the Garrison Bn's arrived in India. Todate I have only been able to identify the following :

1. 1st Peshawar Division :

1.1. No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

2. 2nd Rawalpindi Division :

2.1. 1st Garrison Bn, SLI - Feb 1917[/b]

2.2. 1st Garrison Bn, Gordon Highlanders - Jan 1917.

3. 3rd Division

3.1. No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

4. 4th Division

4.1. 2nd Garrison Bn, The Bedfordshire Regt - Feb 1917. To the Karachi Brigade in the 4th (Quetta) Division. Ultimately releasing the 2/4th Hamps from 11th Bde, Quetta Division for the 75th Division in Egypt.

5. 5th Division

5.1. No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

6. 6th Division

6.1. 1st Garrison Bn, South Staff's - Jan 1917 - To 6th Poona Divisional Area, having arrived in India during May 1917. Releasing the 1/5th SLI to the 75th. The 2/4th Dorsets did not leave for Egypt until the August. The 1/4th Wilts and 2/4th SLI until September so are currently thought to have been relieved by local Indian Bn's.

7. 7th Division

7.1. No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

8. 8th Division

8.1. No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

9. 9th Division

9.1. No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

10. 10th Division

10.1. 29th Bde broken up to create the 75th in Egypt.

11. 11th Division

11.1 No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

12. 12th Indian Division

12.1. Was in Mesopotamia until broken up in March 1916

13. 13th Indian Division

13.1. Never formed

14. 14th Indian Division

14.1 Formed and served in Mesopotamia

15. 15th Indian Division

15.1 Formed and served in Mesopotamia

16. 16th Indian Division

16.1 No apparent Garrison Bn relief.

17. 17th Indian Division

17.1 Formed and served in Mesopotamia

18. 18th Indian Division

18.1 Formed and served in Mesopotamia

19. The Burma Division

19.1 3rd Garrison Bn. The Bedfordshire Regt - Mar 1917

So Either I am missing one or the India Office was short changed. Trying to get my head around the restructuring of the Indian Divisions at this time as they struggled to meet the ever expanding requirements for drafts and new battalions is proving to be a challenge albeit an interesting one.

Anybody have any further info or knowledge on the transfer of these Garrison Bn's ?



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The missing Garrison Bn was never released and the need removed by the release of the Ceylon Govt of the 80th Carnatics. So I am back to the restructuring of the Indian divisions to allow the re-inforcement of Mesopotamia and the EEF.

No interest anyone ?



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  • 5 years later...

Dear Dave,

I have two cases (there were many such attachments), showing how the Govt of India put to use such officers.

For example, from 1st Garrison Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment and 2nd Garrison Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers:

1921 Indian Army List:-

Officers Employed with Frontier Corps. Zhob Militia:

Swift, Lt. G. A., Bedf. R.: Adjutant, Infantry.

Regimental Officers temporarily employed with the Military Accounts Department.:

Platt, Lt. (local Capt,) W. P. Platt, MBE, 2nd G. B., North'd. Fusrs.: Field C. M. A., Lahore.

Swift was awarded the KPM (IP)(1948). In addition: BWM (Lieut.) Victory (Lieut.); IGS Afgh NWF 1919 (Lieut., Zhob Militia); 1935 Jubilee (IP); 1937 Coronation (IP).

Platt (commissioned 1914, DLI), received the MBE (Mil) (1920) for Third Afghan, in addition to BWM (Lieut.), and IGS Afgh NWF 1919 (Lieut., M. A. Dept.)

Kimberley John Lindsay.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Its a fascinating and hard research area. By the end of the war there were 18 Garrison Bn's in India. Very little is known about the movements of any of them.



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Dear Dave,
Thank you for kindly responding.
Yes, a difficult research area: perhaps because the Garrison battalions were plucked of their best officers on the one hand (if Swift and Platt are any yardstick), and the relative inactivity and lack of limelight of such units, on the other hand.
I hold the medal groups of Swift (sans his later KPM) and Platt, MBE: both having been transferred from Garrison duty to active Frontier service. Happily, I have a grainy scan of 1st Garrison Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment officers, which is on the excellent Bedfordshire Regiment website. Taken in ca. February 1916, the group shows the Commanding Officer and his 26 officers, all named, including 2Lt G. A. Swift. This photo was published ca. June 1916 in The Tatler Sporting and Country House supplement, which perhaps could be scaned anew...

Kindest regards,



Kimberley John Lindsay

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My interest lies in two drafts; the first of 42 men the second of 10, who being too old for active service or medically unfit were transferred to the 2nd GB Bedfords from the 1/5th Devons when the 1/5th Devons left India for Palestine. A photograph of a part of this draft appeared in the Western Times on December 18th 1917 and this sparked my original post. Men who went to 2nd GB Bedfords apparently first went to Quetta. Service records show them there in April 1917. They were then in Hyderabad in May. Service records show they were still there in October 1917. They joined the 2nd GB Bedfords at Karachi.

The men from the 1/5th Devons were not the only men drafted to the 2nd GB Bedfords on their arrival. Service records and MIC’s show men from other battalions then headed for Egypt were drafted into the garrison battalions as they arrived in India. Service records also show that men from the 2nd GB Bedfords were att’d to Indian units, as per your examples. As of todate no ex 5th Devons have been found to have been subsequently attached and all remained with the 2nd GB Bedfords for the remainder of the war.

Have as yet been unable to trace much detail on their service in India in 1917~1919 but would love to know more.



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Dear Dave,

I had great pleasure sharing the comings and goings of the two Garrison officers, coincidentally in my collection, with you. I tried to attach documents, but all too big. Tricky.

Unfortunately, I fear that I can be of little further help, which is a great pity indeed.

Certainly, your clever overview of the situation of the Garrison battalions in India was extremely helpful, not only vis-a-vis my Lieuts Platt and Swift research. Many thanks for that!

I tend to concentrate on individual officers, to find a good story - the MBE to Platt having been quite seldom to the MAD, for example. Or his contretemps with the War Office and India Office following his return to Blackpool after years overseas: they refused to pay his excess baggage, and only hesitatingly granted him the promised rank of Honorary Captain.

Your search for the fifty-odd ORs from 1/5th Devons who for various reasons were shunted to 2nd GB Bedfords (perhaps saving many of their lives), is most commendable.

Kindest regards,


Kimberley John Lindsay.

William Percival Platt, MBE, was an accountant in Blackpool: perhaps Great War Forum members from Blackpool have seen his photograph?

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  • 7 years later...
On 21/11/2009 at 06:05, ddycher said:


In November 1916 the War Office requested the India Office to despatch further troops to Egypt and Mesopotamia. To this request the India office responded with a promise to release 12 TF Bn's pending the following :

Hello Dave and all, I am somewhat late to this post but I would like to add my bit please. Whilst researching a soldier G454 Pte Thomas Stewart Royal Irish Fusiliers link here;

,  I know for certain now that he was a member of the 1st Garrison Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers sent to Bombay in 1916. I started a thread about him in 'soldiers and their units' a while back now. I came across your thread and here I am. From various sources I find that the 1st Garrison Bn RIF landed at Bombay and were dispersed to Deolali (of gone Doolally fame) and Rangoon in Burma. The CWGC lists about  30 men buried or commemorated in Rangoon military cemetery, Taukkyan cemetery and memorial and the Kirkee memorial. As you say there is very little written about these Garrison battalions so I thank you for your thread here. As there were no TF in Ireland some  great experts have explained this in the thread about Thomas Stewart.  Regards, Bob.    Edit here. Another link, thank you @MaureenE ; https://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=First_World_War#British_Army_Territorial_Force_troops_in_IndiaA link I found that may interest you is here; https://www.researchingww1.co.uk/1st-garrison-battalion-royal-irish-fusiliers

Edited by Bob Davies
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Not much but a few snippets on the three Garrison Battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment, if it helps.

1st Garrison Bn.

The 1st Garrison Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment was raised at Seaford, on the 18th December 1915, by Major Smithers, of the Bedfordshire Regiment, by the transfer of about 400 ranks from the Middlesex Reg., 200 men of the Suffolk Regiment formerly "D" Company, and by the drafts of men from Essex, Surrey, Kent and Sussex Reg. Of a strength at Seaford of 1,200 men about 50 per cent were old soldiers, of whom the majority were "Old Contemptibles", the remainder over age and "Unfits"

A full complement of officers joined at Seaford

On January 8th 1916 Colonel W E A Blakeney, I.A. arrived and took over command. Army Lists to June 1919 still CO, so probably all the way through?

Sailed from Devonport on 26 Feb 1916 on HMT BELTANA. 26 Officers and 972 Other Ranks. WO25/3544 (Jan to Mar) - shipping carrying troops to foreign parts for the first 6 months of 1916.

2nd Garrison Bn.

Raised in December 1916, thence to India from February 1917 until disbanded January 1920

3rd Garrison Bn.

Raised January 1917. Battalion recorded as being in Burma between March 1918 and June (or December, depending on the source, see below) 1919, thereafter India until disbanded January 1920. That said, below logs them in Burma Christmas 1917 so they may have been widely spread or the source listing March 1918 wrong?

D Company locations, from the letters home of D Coy's  Pte. 37240 Maurice Evans:

  • Meiktila - Christmas 1917
  • Rangoon - 30 August 1918
  • Meiktila again 27 October to 9 December 1918 



Edited by steve fuller
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