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Remembered Today:

53rd Sikhs FF October 1918


Rob B
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I have discovered a copy of a letter from my Great Uncle Lt Mac Spence 11th Sikhs, who served as a Liason Officer in late 1918 at Brigade HQ, and in this letter he described a Brigade action involving the 11th Sikhs and he mentioned the Leicesters. The two geographic points he mentioned in the letter are Samariah Hill overlooking Nessudieh.

Can any one point me at a description of the action, its location as he gives a degree of nitty gritty, but I want to find out how it all fitted in.

He explained at the start of the action how they ran into a Turkish rear guard at 4pm and lost 9 killed and 35 wounded all were members of his company, one of the significant casualties was the Supedar Major.

Cheers,

Rob

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Hi Rob,

There was no '11th Sikhs' in WWI, rather there was an 11th Rajputs, although after 1922 the 11th Sikh Regiment was created. However, you mention 53rd Sikhs FF in your subject line, and this fits with your letter...

28th Infantry Brigade (F.F.) of the 7th (Indian) Division

- 2nd Bn Leicester Regiment

- 51st Sikhs (F.F.)

- 53rd Sikhs (F.F.)

- 56th Punjabis (F.F.)

19th September 1918 - the launch of Allenby's Megiddo Offensive that broke the Turkish line in Palestine - the infantry were only engaged for a few days, thereafter the Cavalry took over and carried the fight well into Syria.

After front line objectives taken on Sept 19th/20th, some stiff reaguards the next couple of days:

22nd September

"28th Inf.Bde. pushed on from El Burj, and seized Messudieh railway station at 0300. 53rd Sikhs were sent round to attack Samaria Hill from the west and occupy the town, while 51st Sikhs attacked the hill from the south. Both hill and town were captured by 0500 after a sharp fight, in which 200 prisoners and four MGs were taken" - The Advance of the EEF July 1917-1918 reprint-N&M Press.

This was pretty much the end of hostilities for the divison. No more detail in the Regt. history of the 12th FFR, of which the 53rd Sikhs would be a part.

The Subadar-Major was the senior Indian Officer in a Regiment, really second only to the Lt.Col. and a very prestigious and important post.

I hope this helps, and I'd love to hear more from the letter!

Best Regards,

Christopher

I have discovered a copy of a letter from my Great Uncle Lt Mac Spence 11th Sikhs, who served as a Liason Officer in late 1918 at Brigade HQ, and in this letter he described a Brigade action involving the 11th Sikhs and he mentioned the Leicesters.  The two geographic points he mentioned in the letter are Samariah Hill overlooking Nessudieh.

Can any one point me at a description of the action, its location as he gives a degree of nitty gritty, but I want to find out how it all fitted in.

He explained at the start of the action how they ran into a Turkish rear guard at 4pm and lost 9 killed and 35 wounded all were members of his company, one of the significant casualties was the Supedar Major.

Cheers,

Rob

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Hi Chris,

Many thanks for that I have just got his medals out and checked both BWM and VM have Lieut Spence but IGS with Waziristan bar 1921-24, has 4-11Sikhs hence error.

The letters I have are between him and his brother who was a DH9 pilot in the Aegean so in parts smacks of a good Bulldog Drummond novel.

They are however quite graphic and give a good overview of the battle as he was attached as a Liason officer to Brigade HQ.

Send me an e-mail and I will try and scan them as puts your text in context.

Thanks so much.

Cheers,

Rob

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Interesting - the 53rd Sikhs, as Chris says, became part of the 12th Frontier Force regiment in 1922 - the 3rd Battalion - along with the 51st, 52nd and 54th Sikhs (1st, 2nd and 4th Bns), and the Guides Infantry (who became the 5th Bn). Your great uncle's later unit (4/11th Sikhs) was formed from the 36th Sikhs, so he must have transferred.

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Steve,

That is intersting, from his records he was posted I presume from Officer Training to the Egyptian Expeditionery Force on 19 June 1918, and from then on he was with the Indian Army. In 1923 he was in Waziristan and after that served with 4/11 Sikhs in Crater ,Aden for a short period he was on secondment as Assistant Political Officer on Perin Island.

He was tragically killed on 26th June 1926 when the roof of the Officer Mess anti room collapsed and he died en route to hospital. We still have the dented pips and shoulder titles with an ominous red stain on the brass!

If he didn't join the 11th Sikhs straight away who would you hazard a guess at him being posted to?

Thanks for this pointer.

Cheers,

Rob

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Dunno. In peacetime it was routine for British Officers to spend a year with a British regiment to learn the ropes, before going to their 'native' regiment. Don't know if this was the case in wartime.

Try the Indian Army List (available at Kew): that should tell you.

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Steve,

Thanks I knew the Indian Army required Officers to do a posting to a normal Infantry battalion prior to moving across to the Indian Army but was this stuck to in the course of the 1st war.

Rob

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Steve,

Thanks I knew the Indian Army required Officers to do a posting to a normal Infantry battalion prior to moving across to the Indian Army but was this stuck to in the course of the 1st war.

Rob

I honestly don't know. I know that NCOs commissioned from british units sometimes went to indian outfits , but I highly doubt that the 1 year rule was (or could be) observed in war time.

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He was tragically killed on 26th June 1926 when the roof of the Officer Mess anti room collapsed and he died en route to hospital. 

Crikey. What terrible luck after all he must have been through. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Nick

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Hi Nick,

We were always under the impression it was a dry stone wall that fell while he was leading his troops, but no the Board of Enquiry had it all laid out 1:30 in the Anti Room probably with a G&T in his hand.

Cheers,

Rob

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There are probably worse ways to go.

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