In Collaboration With Charles Griffin


Brief History
Brief History The 20th is one of the more prominent of the Indian regiments. It crops up in many of the major engagements that took place in the latter half of the 19th century as the battle honours show. When the Mutiny broke out, John Lawrence, the Governor of the Punjab, set about recruiting men from the north-west of India to form regiments to aid the British in quelling the mutinous Bengali troops. The 20th was one of these.
Tel-el-Kebir 1882
The 20th was one of the three Indian infantry regiments chosen to go to Egypt. The other two were the 7th Bengal and the 29th Baluchistan. They formed the Indian Brigade along with 1st Bn Seaforth Highlanders and 7th Battery 1st Brigade Nothern Division, Royal Garrison Artillery, all under the command of General MacPherson. In the event, the Scottish regiments were the main players in the battle of Tel-el-Kebir since the Indian Brigade was on the left of the line, cut off from the action to a great extent by a canal and railway line. They came under heavy artillery fire from guns in the South facing defences. Under covering fire fron the 7th Battery and the Naval Brigade, the Seaforths stormed the defences of the town supported by the 20th with the 7th Bengal and 29th Baluch behind them. This was the last action of the battle which was a satisfying victory for the British and Indian force. The title of Duke of Cambridge's Own was conferred on the 20th in recognition of their services in Egypt.
Shabkadr 1897
In August the Mohmands, inspired by the Mullah of Hadda, Najib-ud-din, attacked the village of Shankargarh some 18 miles north of Peshawar . Most of the villagers had taken refuge in the fort of Shabkadr nearby and the Mohmands who numbered about four to five thousand made an ill planned assualt. The fort stood on a mound and had 50 ft high walls. It was held by a detachment of Border Police at the time and they managed to repell that first attack. The commander of the Peshawar District was Brigadier General Elles and he went to the relief of Shabkadr with a force that consisted of 4 guns of the 51st Field Battery, 2 squadrons of the 13th Bengal Lancers, 4 companies of the Somerset Light Infantry and the whole of the 20th Punjab Infantry.

This force was installed in the fort and put under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Woon while Brig-Gen Elles returned to Peshawar. On August 9th, at daybreak, the force moved out to attack the Mohmands who by this time had been reinforced and now numbered 6000 lined up along a two mile front. As the infantry attacked, the enemy flanks moved in and Woon's men were in danger of being encircled so they began to withdraw towards the fort. Fortunately, Elles returned at this point with more troops in the form of the 30th Punjab Infantry. But it was the cavalry that saved the day with a charge sweeping along the line of the enemy from right to left. The 20th and 30th then pressed forward and drove the tribesmen into the hills where they scattered and lost heart. The casualties of the 20th on that day were 7 killed and 20 badly wounded.

The task of maintaining the defence of the North-West Frontier was one that lasted for many years and it was a landmark in the history of any regiment, be it British or Indian to be sent on an expedition. Half the British regiments that served in India only ever achieved one Frontier expedition. Some like the King's Royal Rifle Corps carried out five, including the relief of Chitral. In contrast the Indian regiments of the Frontier Force carried out an average of 10, the Guides and 55th Coke's Rifles (as 1st Punjab Infantry), served in 15 expeditions. The other Indian regiments whose work was not primarily on the Frontier performed much fewer than these, but the 20th served in no less than eleven expeditions between 1858 and 1898. In 1914 the regiment was stationed at Poona with a detachment at Mahableshwar. The regiment comprised 4 companies of Pathans, 2 of Sikhs and 2 of Dogras. Their WW1 service was in Mesopotamia and Egypt. In WW2 they were captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong in December 1941.

Badge
Badge
Soldiers
Post-Mutiny
Uniforms
Post-Mutiny
Pouchbelts
Post-Mutiny
Principal Campaigns and Battles
Taku Forts
Pekin
1878 - 80 Afghanistan
1878 - 80 Ali Masjid
1882 Egypt
Tel-el-Kebir
Punjab Frontier
1900 China
Predecessor Units
8th Regiment of Punjab Infantry from loyal elements of the 4th and 5th Punjab Infantry
(1857 - 1861)
20th Bengal Native Infantry
(1861 - 1864)
20th (Punjab) Bengal Native Infantry
(1864 - 1883)
20th (Duke of Cambridge's Own Punjab) Bengal Infantry
(1883 - 1901)
20th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Punjab Infantry
(1901 - 1904)
Successor Units
2nd/14th Punjab Regiment
(1922 - 1947)
Post-Independence Fate
To Pakistan
Suggested Reading
A Matter of Honour
by Philip Mason

India's Army
by Donovan Jackson

Regiments and Corps of the British Army: A Critical Bibliography
by Roger Perkins

Sons of John Company
by John Gaylor

Armies of India
Painted by Lovett, Text by Macmunn

The Indian Army
by Boris Mollo

Forces of the British Empire
by E. Nevins and B. Chandler

Indian Army Uniforms - Infantry
by W. Y. Carman

Sergeant Pearman's Memoirs
by Anglesey, the Marquess of

Soldier Sahibs
by Charles Allen

The Bengal Native Infantry
by Dr Amiya Barat,

An Account of the War in India Between the English and French on the Coast of Coromandel, From the Year 1750 to the Year 1761
by Richard Owen Cambridge

Sketch of the Services of the Bengal Native Army
by Lt Cardew

The Indian Army: The Garrison of British Imperial India
by Heathcote

Britain's Army in India from its Origins to the Conquest of Bengal
by James Lawford

The Battle Honours of the British and Indian Armies
by Leslie

Sikh Soldier; Battle Honours and Sikh Soldier; Gallantry Awards by Narindar Singh Dhesi

A Matter of Honour: An Account of the Indian Army, its Officers and Men
by P Mason

A History of Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan from the Year 1745
by R Orme

From Sepoy to Subedar
by Sita Ram

Forty-one Years in India
by Earl Roberts

Wellington in India
by Weller

The Bengal Native Infantry
by Captain Williams


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by Stephen Luscombe