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Regiments of the British Indian Army:

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The United Kingdom gained an increasing influence over the Indian sub-continent during the Nineteenth Century, driven by the East India Company. As British dominance over the sub-continent grew, private armies were recruited by the East India Company to gain control and protect British interests. Over the late nineteenth century these evolved into the British Indian Army.

In order to distinguish between the pre-partition Indian Army under British rule, and the current post independence Indian Army, the pre-1947 organisation will be referred to a the British Indian Army, although at the time it was simply referred to as ‘The Indian Army’. It should be remembered that the pre-partition British Indian Army incorporated territory now to be found in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

After issues about recruitment, reinforcement and management of the British Indian Army during the Great War (ie, the First World War), the British Indian Army was reorganised in the early 1920’s. Regiments were amalgamated and some disbanded. By 1930, the structure of the British Indian Army was relatively settled and it was in this format that the Indian Army faced the commencement of the Second World War.

Cavalry Regiments

There were twenty-one cavalry regiments in the British Indian Army at the commencement of the Second World War. The full list of the regiments can be found on the accompanying pdf document.

Infantry Regiments

In 1921, following the the issues raised in the First World War where it proved difficult to reinforce the many, single battalion, regiments of the British Indian Army, a full-scale reorganization took place. The regiments were consolidated into twenty ‘groups’, each comprising at least three and up to five battalions. Each of the regiments was numbered until 1947, which causes confusion to many uninitiated people. As an example, the correct terminology is the 1st Royal Battalion, 9th Jat Regiment. The same applied to the regiments of the Gurkha Rifles, except that each had only two battalions.

There were many additional battalions raised during the Second World War, including several for garrison or internal security duties. Details of the pre-war Indian Army infantry regiments is attached below:

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