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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Old Indian Sikh Regiment Photo

Max (UK)

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Hello Everybody

I was amazed to see some of the topics here with people able to identify so much from old photos.

I have an old picture of an Indian Regiment - it is my wife's Great Great Grandfather and we know nothing about it other than his name. I have literally spent hours and hours scouring the internet to first identify the collar badge - it looks like an elephant to me. I have found plenty about Assaye elephants, but all seem to have other symbols or features around them - whereas these seem to be *just* an elephant.

I also looked at the medals until my eyes hurt. I think that the gentleman second from left has a Military Medal with bar (rosette) as it was the only one I could find that looked like that. Then the Sikh on the left has what I thought was the Victory medal with oakleaf, but I could be totally wrong.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try and post a part of the photo - if anyone has any information it would be fantasic. Thank you.

The picture is here - sorry I couldn't work out how to attach properly.

[Broken link removed]


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Thats a fantastic photograph - would love a scan of the whole thing.

My interest is in the Indian Army of this era - I might be able to help.

Which one is your wife's Great Great Grandfather and what was his name?

My gut feeling is that it dates from the late 1930's - I think I have seen the ribbon of the 1937 coronation medal on the ribbon bar of the officer 2nd from the left (who I think is a Lt-Col), whos first ribbon denotes the award of the Military Cross and the rosette denotes a second award. This is decidely pre-WW2. With it being 11th Sikh regiment you only have five active & the training battalion to pick from! Trust me its a little easier.


Matthew B.

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Hi Matthew !!

Wow - I hit the roof when I read that info - I'm currently researching my great grandad and my wife's great grandad and haven't got far with either....this is so exciting !!!

So it is the 11th Sikh Regiment? How were you able to tell this, please?

I will gladly scan the whole thing tonight when I get home - I am so delighted that you are interested !!

It is really great because the photo came in this really ancient frame and I spent 2 hours carefully removing it (the glass inside and outside was very dirty and couldn't see the pic well at all) - underneath the picture was nice and clean and bright and I am having it remounted along with (if I can find out) miniatures of his medals. He is actually the man on the far right.

But yes I did wonder if the Military Cross with rosette would help research it - I read somewhere on here that only a few thousand had been awarded.....and in a Sikh regiment surely that would reduce the number greatly?

I also thought it had to be pre-WWII because his daughter told me that he had been in Burma in WWII and had received a further 2 medals. His name was Rutten Singh and he was a Subedar.

Fantastic stuff - I am so excited !!!! :):)

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I might have jumped the gun saying Sikh Regiment - I am at work currently and I took your ID of a Sikh Regiment literally. I will have to look at my books at home.

I have posted a copy of your scan to some friends which hopefully will help further.

I like the challange you have given and hope I can help futher.

Best regards,


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Here is my opening gambit, based on my January 1939 Indian Army List

The Viceroy Comissioned Officer in question is really Subadar Rattan Singh (no Subadar Rutten Singh in the Indian Army List) and the unit is 3rd Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment. The elephant is standing a tablet labet Assaye

Subadar Rattan Singh enlisted 31-05-1909, Jemedar 24-4-1928, Subadar 1-9-1934.

War services:

War of 1914-21 - Iraq 1915

Afghanistan NWF 1919

Waziristan 1919-21 & 1921-24

NWF 1930

NWF 1936-37

So I read the ribbon bar thus - 1914/15 star, War medal, Victory medal, Indian General Service medal 1908-35 with four clasps, Indian General Service medal 1936-39 with one clasp, 1935 Jubilee, 1937 Coronation.

I could not say about any service beyond this

This makes the Lt-Col one Cecil Wotten Toovey, who was an MC & bar winner.

He was appointed to the command of 3/1 P. R. 18th January 1937 for three years.

Tooveys war service indicates 1914/15 star, War medal, Victory medal, Indian General Service medal 1908-35 with four clasps + Mention in Despatches oakleaf emblem, Indian General Service medal 1936-39 with one clasp + Mention in Despatches oakleaf emblem.

All this with a 1937 Coronation medal on the end would fit this. He later became a major general in WW2.

Hows that?


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Two Punjab regiment Rattan Singhs in the MICs:

Medal card of Rattan Singh

Corps: Punjab Regiment

Regiment No: 3078

Rank: Sepoy


Medal card of Rattan Singh

Corps: Punjab Regiment

Regiment No: 77

Rank: Company Quarter Master Havildar


A little on Toovey:

London Gazette 26-11-1918

The appointment of the following Officers, who had been admitted to the Indian Army on probation, is confirmed from the dates specified:—

Lieut. C. W. Toovey. 3rd Apl. 1918.

London Gazette 14-1-1919

82nd Punjabis.

Lieut, (actg. Capt.) C. W. Toovey, attd., on ceasing to command a Co., retains his actg. rank while actg. Capt. (additional), from 7th Dec. 1917 to 8th Jan. 1918 inclusive, and while comdg. a Co., from 9th Jan. 1918.

The notifications in the London Gazette dated 23rd July 1918 and 1st Oct. 1918 regarding Lieut. C. W. Toovey are cancelled.


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:blink: Matthew, I cannot believe how AWESOME that is !!!! :D

Thank you thank you thank you !!!!!!!!

Wow - I am truly awed at that !!!!

I hold you in the utmost respect, that was absolutely stunning.

Thank you so much - I owe you, big time !!!!!!! :)

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Oh gosh I just saw Steve's post too !!

THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am truly stunned !!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

THANKS !!!!!

I am so grateful to you both, I can't tell you how much.

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By the way, Max (UK) the MICs are on the same sheet of 6 - you will only have to pay one lot of £3.50 if you want to download the cards.


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Extracts on Cecil Wotton Toovey:

LG 2-5-1913

9th Battalion, The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment); Private Cecil Wotton Toovey, from the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps, to be Second Lieutenant. Dated 3rd May, 1913.

LG 8-3-1918

The KING has approved the admission of the undermentioned Officers to the Indian Army on probation:—

To be Lieutenants.

Lieutenant Cecil Wotton Toovey, 1/9th Battalion, The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment), attached 82nd Punjabis. Dated 3rd April, 1917, but to rank from 5th May, 1916.

LG 24-9-1920

MC award:

Capt. Cecil Wotton Toovey, 82nd Punjabis, Ind. Army.

For gallantry on the 21st December, 1919, at Palosina camp, on Black Hill Ridge. When in command of the battalion, which was driven off the ridge, by the enemy, he gallantly organised and led a counter attack

under heavy fire, though himself wounded. He displayed conspicuous coolness and set a fine example to his command.

LG 6-5-1932

Bar to the Military Cross.

Captain and Brevet Major Cecil Wotton Toovey, M.C., 5th Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment, Indian Army.

(M.C. gazetted 27th September, 1920.)

LG 30-12-1941

The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in recognition of distinguished services in the Middle East (including Egypt, East Africa, The Western Desert, The Sudan, Greece, Crete, Syria and Tobruk) during the period February, 1941, to July,

1941: —

To be an Additional Knight Commander of the Military Division of the said Most Excellent Order:—

Brigadier (acting) Cecil Wotton Toovey, M.C. (125528), Indian Army.

Just background, mind you, I realise you're looking for Rattan Singh.


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Guys - I am amazed. Brilliant stuff. Well done all.

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All of the additional info is so great to have too - I've spent so many hours looking at the pics, medals, etc. trying to work it out.....it is very, very cool to learn about Mr Toovey as well - thanks so much.

I am still completely stunned about all this !!!!

Thank you so much.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello everyone

Thanks again to Matthew and Steve - I have managed to buy medals to make up a set of what Rattan Singh would have had and am doing a nice display.

I thought it would be good to know one other thing if someone can help.....I know he would have had 2 pips on his shoulder, but would there have been the crown as well? I looked all over the Internet and couldn't find it anywhere - what would a Subadar have on his shoulder?

Below the 2 pips in the photo is another object, but I couldn't make it out.

Thanks :)


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The two pips are correct (if I recall correctly) for a Subedar. No crown come into play (but thats just off the top of my head).

The object just below the rank pips is a shoulder title, in this case it probably said 1 / Punjab Regiment but I must say badges have never really been my forte.



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