In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Brief History
In 1849, when the two Sikh Wars had ended in the annexation of the Punjab, 6 regiments of infantry and 5 of cavalry were raised as the Transfrontier Brigade, by 1851 it was called the Punjab Irregular Force (known as Piffers). The first 5 of the infantry units were recruited from disbanded Sikh troops and the 6th by the conversion of the Scinde Camel Corps.

The 3rd Punjab Infantry Regiment was disbanded in 1882 and its number left blank, and in 1903 the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Regiments became the 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th and 59th Rifles.

55th Coke's Rifles started life in Delhi in May 1849 and was the 1st Regiment of Punjab Infantry. Whereas the other Punjab regiments wore drab uniforms with varying facing colours, the 1st chose to wear very dark green with red facings.

In 1903, they were afforded the status of Rifles and were named after a former commander with the title of 55th Coke's Rifles (Frontier Force) universally known as 'Cokies'. Their service in WW1 was to remain on the Frontier, stationed at Bannu with detachments at Idak, Saidgi, Thal, Jani Khel and Kurram Garhi. The regiment comprised 2 companies of Sikhs, 2 of Afridi Pathans, one of Yusufzai Pathans and one of Punjabi Musalmans. Half their strengh went to France as reinforcements. Among these was Jemadar Mir Dast who won the VC while attached to the 58th Vaughan's Rifles. He had a brother in the 58th called Mir Mast who managed to win the Iron Cross, Germany's highest award, after deserting with a small party of Pathans.

When the 13th Frontier Force Rifles was formed in 1922, the 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th and 59th Rifles returned to their old numbers as the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th battalions, the 3rd remaining blank as before. The 13th adopted the uniform of the old 55th, dark green with red facings, and were stationed at Abbottabad.

The 1st battalion was captured by the Japanese in Malaya in February 1942 and reconstituted in April 1946 as 14/13th.

Post Mutiny
Lieutenant Colonels
Principal Campaigns and Battles
1878 - 79 Afghanistan
Predecessor Units
1st Punjab Infantry
(1849 - 1851)
1st Punjab Infantry, Punjab Irregular Force
(1851 - 1865)
1st Regiment of Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force
(1865 - 1901)
1st Punjab Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force
(1901 - 1903)
Successor Units
1st/13th Frontier Force Rifles
(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

Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe