In Collaboration With Charles Griffin


Brief History
The original 39th Native Infantry formed from the old Aligarh Levy was disbanded after disgracing itself at the Rawalpindi Review in 1888. Lord Dufferin the Viceroy was taking the salute. Unfortunately the marchpast took place in torrential rain and the 39th were following the cavalry and the elephant batteries of the artillery and having to negotiate deep mud. Most of the men lost their shoes and fell out to retrieve them and it seems that the native officer bearing the Queen's Colour used his flagpole to search for his footwear.

France, 1915
In January 1891, the 39th (The Garhwali) Regiment of Bengal Infantry was formed from the 2nd battalion 3rd Gurkhas. This was a battalion made up entirely of Garhwalis following an order of 1887. In 1892 they were given the title of 'Rifles'. Another regiment of Garhwalis was raised in 1901 called the 49th but shortly afterwards became the 2nd battalion of the 39th, making them, apart from the Gurkhas, the only two-battalion regiment in the Indian Army.

The 39th was in the Meerut division in WW1. They were part of 20 Brigade with 2 Leicesters and 2/3 Gurkha Rifles. They suffered heavy casualties in Flanders and were recalled to their base at Lansdowne from where they went to Mesopotamia. Two more battalions were raised during the war and in 1921 they were titled the 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles. In 1922 they were they only Indian Infantry regiment to remain intact without being amalgamated. They were renumbered 18th with the 4th battalion becoming the training battalion (10th).

During the Second World War, the first three battalions served in different parts, the 2nd being captured by the Japanese in Singapore in 1942. Three more battalions were raised, one of which, the 5th, was also captured in 1942. On Partition the Royal Garhwali Rifles were allocated to India. Having no Muslims to transfer, it had a relatively trouble-free handover.

Badge
Badge
Pouchbelts
1893
Uniforms
Post Mutiny
Principal Campaigns and Battles
Punjab Frontier
Predecessor Units
2nd Battalion, 3rd (Kamaon) Gurkha Regiment
(1887 - 1890)
39th (Garhwali) Bengal Infantry
(1890 - 1892)
39th (Garhwal Rifles) Bengal Infantry
(1892 - 1901)
Successor Units
18th Garhwal Rifles
(1922 - 1947)
Post-Independence Fate
To India
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