Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
sylvia7

Indian volunteer troops in East Africa 1914

Recommended Posts

sylvia7

My grandfather, Aidan Oswald Evans, was a superintendent in the East India Railways. He was also, in 1911, a 2nd Lieutenant with the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway Volunteer Rifles, later the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway Battalion. He was promoted to Lieutenant in April 1917 with the 25th Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway Battalion. His medal index card says that he received the 1914/15 Star issued by the Indian Government. The theatre of war was given as Mombasa, German East Africa and the qualifying date as 4/11/14.

I assume that this battalion was part of the Indian Expeditionary Force B or C who were defeated in East Africa in November 1914. I would very much like to try and discover:

1. What part this battalion played in these battles?

2. What happened to them after the defeat and retreat? Did they return to India or were they sent elsewhere to fight?

I know my grandfather was back working on the railway company by 1921 but don't know where he was between 1914 and then. He did also receive the Victory and British War medals.

Can anyone help me please?

Sylvia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SteveE

Sylvia

I believe your grandfather arrived with the 25th Railway Company (Sappers & Miners) as part of Indian Expeditionary Force 'B' in November 1914. I'm away from any references at the moment, so not 100% sure, but I don't believe the Railway Companies (there were two initially, the 25th and 26th) were landed at Tanga, the defeat you allude to in your post. I'll try and check later if nobody beats me to it, Harry??

After the defeat at Tanga, in German East Africa, the Expeditionary Force proceeded to British East Africa and landed at Mombasa, which may be why that place is mentioned on the Medal Index Card. The 25th and 26th Railway Companies stayed in the East African theatre, where they were primarily employed in railway repair and construction until early 1918 when they left, I believe the 25th Railway Company moved onto Palestine.

Regards

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sylvia7

Hello Steve

Thanks for that information. Staying to repair railways would make sense as that was their occupation.

I am trying to find out as much as I can for my aunt. She was born in 1926 and was unaware that her father ever fought in the First World War. She is very keen to learn whatever I manage to discover.

Sylvia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SteveE

Sylvia

According to the Official History "Military Operations East Africa Vol.1" the 25th and 26th Railway Companies (Sappers & Miners) embarked at Karachi aboard the "Muttra". The "Muttra" and two other vessels of Indian Expeditionary Force 'B', the "Bharata" and "Homayun", sailed from Karachi and rendezvoused with the bulk of the I.E.F. 'B' convoy, which had sailed from Bombay, on 18th October. This force proceeded to Tanga and arrived there on 2nd November.

As an addition to my original post, and confirmation that the Sappers & Miners weren't landed at Tanga....the Order of Landing for the Operation shows that the two Railway Companies (Sappers & Miners) were due to be the last units of I.E.F. 'B' to be landed on 3rd November but there are a couple of entries in the History which suggest that this never happended. The first says "Orders were issued, however, for all the fighting units of the force, except the guns and the Sappers and Miners, to be landed as soon as possible" and the second is more emphatic when it says "It is noteworthy that the two companies of Sappers & Miners, highly skilled technical troops, were not disembarked".

Regards

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SteveE

The National Archives at Kew hold two unit war diaries which may be of interest;

The first one covers some of the units time in East Africa....


25 Railway Company Sappers and Miners
War Office: First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries. PART VII: EAST AFRICA, AND CAMEROONS, WEST AFRICA. LINES OF COMMUNICATION. 25 Railway Company Sappers and Miners.
Collection: Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies
Date range: 01 January 1915 - 30 June 1916
Reference: WO 95/5368

The second is for Palestine....

25 Railway Company, Sappers and Miners
War Office: First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries. PART IV: EGYPT, PALESTINE AND SYRIA. LINES OF COMMUNICATION EGYPT. 25 Railway Company, Sappers and Miners.
Collection: Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies
Date range: 01 November 1918 - 31 March 1920
Reference: WO 95/4718

Regards

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sylvia7

Thanks again Steve. Looks like another visit to The National Archives is called for! I always find this a bit daunting!!

Sylvia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bushfighter

Sylvia

Greetings

Steve is basically correct in everything he says.

Notably the railway companies were used as infantry for a short time in 1916 and some gallantry awards were made.

I'm away in north-eastern India presently, but please send me a personal message with an email address (via this forum personal message system) and when I'm home I'll consult the history of the railway battalion in East Africa and try to send you a copy.

Harry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sylvia7

Have spent a morning at The National Archives reading through WO 95/5368 and WO 95/4718. It gives me a very good feel of what my grandfather was doing in the war assuming he stayed with that battalion. He was presumably still there in 1917 as that was when he was promoted to lieutenant. I am sure my aunt will be very interested.

I will probably now visit the British Library to look at the Indian Army Lists to see how long he was listed there.

Thanks for your help.

Sylvia7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SteveE

Sylvia

I don't know if you have this already but it's his London Gazette entry showing his temporary commission into the Indian Defence Force...http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/32672/pages/3031

Glad you had a successful day at NA.

Regards

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sylvia7

Hello Steve

Yes thanks I did find this. Bit puzzled as to why it took nearly 5 years to make it to the London Gazette!!

Sylvia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SteveE

Sylvia

A large number of the East African/Indian commissions were 'caught up' with in the early '20s, wheels obviously turned slowly as they got the paperwork in order.

Did you also find Aidan's commission relinquishment over the page of the Gazette I linked to? It is this entry, I suspect, which led to his original commission in the I.D.F. being published in the same issue.

Regards

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sylvia7

No I didn't see that - well spotted. Off to see my aunt tomorrow with all the fresh information I/you Have discovered. Thanks.

Sylvia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...