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Photo please Capt Cecil M. Spaull: 1/43 Erinpuras; 87/Punjabis; Assam

Kimberley John Lindsay

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Dear GWFs,

Cecil Mickleburgh Spaull: born Lambeth 20 Mar 1897; died Rhodesia 17 Mar 1970.

Father: Reverend Frank William Spaull (1867-1903); Mother: Florence Spaull nee Cant (1867-19??), Sisters: Margaret; Florence.

School: Colot Court; St. Paul's School (2nd XV).

Passed for RMC Sandhurst but Indian Army Cadetship, Quetta Cadet College.

Commissioned 15 Nov 1915: 86 Carnatic Infantry.

Attached 1/43rd Erinpura Regt 1916 (Mesopotamia): A/Capt and Adj 15 Dec 1918; Mentioned in Despatches, 1/43rd Erinpuras, L. G. 12 Jan 1920.

Attached 1/87th Punjabis 1919 (Kurdistan and Iraq): The Rumaithah affair ('I killed two Arabs with my revolver not 15 yards away; they came right into us from all sides.')

'Axed' from IA 1922, then 'Went into Tea' at Doom Dooma. Joined Assam Valley Light Horse (Sgt), and commnd 2Lt., AVLH, 1939.

WWII: Seconded by Indian Tea Association to assist at the Manipur Road evacuation centre. Civil Liaison Officer, US forces and aerodrome construction.

Retired to Rhodesia: died Digaru, 17 Mar 1970.

Kindest regards,



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  • 4 weeks later...


Not a lot of options, UK-wise, for a photo to be found today ! A website for the St Paul's School has an alpha list of the more recognisable pupils, some names hyperlinked so there is probably a bit of history behind the name, but you may be looking for a more mature photo in any case !

Is it worth progressing the possibility that Quetta Cadet College has pics,if only of Cadet Classes ?

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Dear sotonmate,

Thanks for answering. I have tried St Paul's: no photo, but his own 87 Punjabis account. Amongst an Assam Valley Light Horse group, I tried to match up the medals; I found a small group of 87 Punjabis officers in an obscure Marathi-language book (one officer was unidentified); I contacted the grandson of Lt-Col Hunt, 87 Punjabis, but his uncle had no group photo; I contacted a Dr Spaull, South Africa (C. M. Spaull died in Rhodesia), but he is no relative.

The Quetta Cadet College would be worth a try, assuming such an establishment exists (I will look). The 43 Erinpura war diary is sparse, notwithstanding his MiD and Adjutancy.

Kindest regards,



Fortunately the still-impressionable Old Pauline Spaull wrote to his school about his experiences when still fresh in his mind; this being the third version of the Rumaitha account. This appeared in “The Pauline” of February 1921, signed by ‘Cecil M. Spaull’ with the headline: ‘NEWS FROM MESOPOTAMIA’

‘…We started off from Baghdad on 7 July 1920 to relieve a place called Rumaitha on the Euphrates, about 100 miles from Baghdad, where the Arabs had risen, cut the railway, and surrounded the small garrison. We reached Diwaniyeh, 115 miles from Baghdad, only to get cut off ourselves. We, however, went back and repaired the line and re-opened communication.

‘A strong brigade then concentrated just below Diwaniyeh, and finally marched for Rumaitha. We had a stiff fight before we got in, but the regiment did not get many casualties on that day. Next day we relieved the garrison, and on the following day started back for Diwaniyeh.

‘We did rearguard, and before we had gone half a mile we were cut off from the main body. We had very heavy casualties, including three British officers and over a hundred Indian Other Ranks in about a quarter of an hour, when two other regiments were sent back to get us out. We were on the march fighting a rearguard action from 0.4 till 19.30 [0400 to 1930 hrs?] without any food or water, on a very hot day, and were absolutely exhausted on arrival in camp. The Arabs attacked us all night, and we got no rest; in fact, they had done so every night from the 8th [8 July 1920] till now, when we are at last at rest.


‘I had over forty casualties in my company that day, including nineteen killed. How any British officer got out alive I can’t understand. I killed two Arabs with my revolver not 15 yards away from me; the cane right into us from all sides. When we got back to Diwaniyeh we found ourselves cut off from Baghdad. We spent days in trying to get the railway through, but it was always destroyed again at night.

‘I had one narrow escape of being cut off in the desert. I was out with a construction training squad, mending the line, with one hundred rifles and six Lewis guns, when we were attacked on all sides by about one thousand Arabs. They started puling up the line behind us, so we had to get out quickly. We killed about twenty or thirty of them, but they got six of my men, and “outed” one Lewis gun with a hit on the barrel mouthpiece. We were in open iron trucks, and the splinters off the trucks were flying all over the place. The brigade finally came back from Diwaniyeh, mending track for the trains as we went, by tearing up the track passed over and relaying it in front. It was dreadful work, so slow, and meant our being out all day in the sun, scrapping, and at night we got no rest, for snipers and small attacks on the picquet line.

‘When we finally got back to Hillah we found it cut off, and away we went again on the very next day. The regiment did some good on this last show, though it suffered several casualties again the first day out from snipers. The second day we had to attack a large bund, and lost a few men. The third day we had a nasty job. There was a large town in a thick palm grove, with a large bund running along our flank, and we had to advance over 1 ½ miles of open country, with the bund full of snipers enfilading us. We did not suffer heavily on the whole. But about four days later we bumped into a hornets’ nest.


‘I command two companies now, as we are so short of officers, only four British left. My two companies were doing advance guard. We were going through high grass towards a bund supposed to be held by the enemy. We got within 1,000 yards, and very heavy fire was opened on us from the bund. We advanced and took it, when the companies were suddenly fired into from their left rear, and we were finally charged from that quarter and in front by about 4,000 to 5,000 of them. The men behaved splendidly, one company facing rear about and charging to meet the enemy from this direction, while the other beat off the front attack by rifle fire. They held their fire until the Arabs were less than 100 yards off, and we mowed them down. The other company got in with the bayonet.

‘Some cavalry and another company of infantry came up at this point, and the guns got on to them and absolutely scattered them, but my two companies stood the brunt of the whole show, and I am sorry to say have suffered heavily.


‘I had had fever about this time, and finally went sick next day, so do not know what the actual casualties were, but there are fifty wounded in hospital with me here, and they tell me a large number were killed outright. I know this, as I saw ten dead lying about.

‘Cecil M. Spaull,

87th Punjaubis.’

(“The Pauline” February 1921, pages 11-12.)

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Dear Members,

Further to 87 Punjabis.

The attached group of 87 Punjabis officers is from a book in the Marathi language, by the erstwhile RMO, Lieut Limaye, published in 1939.

Translated, the captions read:-

Our battalion officers

(standing): Capt (T. C. D.) Ricketts, Capt (J. M.) Hunt; Capt (unfortunately unidentified)

(on chairs): Capt Karine (actually Lieut S. C. Kerridge, MC); Colonel Karoo (actually Bt.-Lt-Col, A/Lt-Col B. M. Carroll)

(sitting): Capt (Lieut. M. R.) Playfair; Capt (Lieut) Limaye.

While an image of my Capt C. M. Spaull continues to prove elusive, some members may be pleased to see these identified officers.

Indeed, there may be the one or the other story to be told. Colonel Carroll, for example, received the CIE for his efforts...

Kindest regards,



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