16th PUNJAB REGIMENT
Centre: 1923 MOOLTAN
This chapter is being re-produced with thanks from JOHN GAYLOR'S fine book 'SONS OF JOHN COMPANY'. JOHN GAYLOR, first came to India with the Royal West African Frontier Force and served in India and in Burma with the 82nd (West African) Division. He subsequently served with the London Scottish and the Special Air Service. He is the Secretary of The Military Historical Society and lives in retirement in Kent. This book is available from JOHN GAYLOR directly at £19.99 (UK) plus postage. He can be contacted at 30 Edgeborough Way, Bromley, Kent BRI 2UA Tel 44 (181) 3251391
The 16th Punjab Regiment, was raised in 1922, was the last one to be made up of Lawrence's Punjab levies and, like the 14th and 15th Punjab Regiments, although its constituent elements were raised for service in the Great Mutiny, they did not receive honours for that campaign.
The 22nd Punjab Infantry began life in Ludhiana in 1857 and was regularized in 1861 as the 30th Punjab Infantry. The 31st Punjab Infantry was also raised in 1857, in Ferozepore, being known as Bloomfield's Sikhs, a name derived from Captain C G Bloomfield, their first Commandant. In 1878, the 31st served in Malta and Cyprus, both new stations for Indian troops.
The Allahabad Levy was formed from men of more lowly social strata desirous of showing their loyalty to authority at a time when many of their social superiors were less scrupulous. In 1861, they became the 33rd Punjab Infantry and, a few years later, recruitment of the menial classes ceased and, by 1890, the regiment was entirely Punjabi Mussalman in its composition.
Raised in 1900, was the old 46th Punjab Infantry who were later to become the 10th Bn 16th Punjab Regiment.
FIRST WORLD WAR
30th Punjabis - India, German East Africa, Egypt
31st Punjabis - India, Mesopotamia, Russia
33rd Punjabis - India, Egypt, France, Aden, German East Africa
9th Bhopal Infantry - India, France, Egypt, Mesopotamia
46th Punjabis - India, Egypt
If one of the component regiments of the 16th Punjab can be singled out for comment, it must surely be the 9th Bhopal - usually referred to as the Bo-Peeps - in Flanders in October 1914. In the late afternoon of a cold, wet, late autumn day, the Bhopals went to the aid of the remnants of a British battalion near Neuve Chapelle. Still in cotton-drill, they had their first encounter with trenches and barbed wire and stayed, locked in battle for three days without food. Their losses were eleven officers and 262 men. Three days later, at Festubert, they lost a further 200. Remaining in France until May 1915, they then went on to Mesopotamia where a sepoy, Chattar Singh, earned a Victoria Cross. On return to India, there remained only fifteen of the originals who had sailed for France in 1914.
The Bhopals did not have linked battalions so that they suffered immediate problems when they sustained the heavy casualties of Flanders in 1914 and 1915. Unknown officers were posted in and whole platoons of reinforcements arrived, made up of differing tribal origins. Notwithstanding, the Bo-Peeps' reputation stood high but they constituted a potent argument in favour of the reforms planned for after the war.
BETWEEN THE WARS
The badge chosen for the new 16th Punjab Regiment in 1922 also incorporated the Sikh quoit and the Muslim crescent with a Maltese cross, a crown above and a title scroll below.
The battalions of the new Regiment became - 1st Bn (the old 30th Punjabis), 2nd Bn (the old 31st Punjabis), 3rd Bn (the old 33rd Punjabis), 4th Bn (the old 9th Bhopal Infantry) and the 10th Bn (the old 46th Punjabis). No Territorial battalion was raised for the 16th Punjab Regiment.
Despite the changes in title in 1922, most officers continued to claim allegiance to, say, the 33rd Punjabis for years afterwards and it took the Second World War to establish the 1922 titles in the minds of the older Indian Army officers.
SECOND WORLD WAR
1st Battalion - India, Burma, Dutch East Indies.
2nd Battalion - India, Malaya. Captured by the Japanese in February 1942.
Reconstituted in May 1946 by amalgamation with 5/16 Punjab.
3rd Battalion - India, Malaya, Singapore. Captured by the Japanese in February 1942. Reconstituted in May 1946 by amalgamation with 6/16 Punjab.
4th Battalion - India, Egypt, Italian East Africa, Italy, Palestine 5th Battalion - raised in Lucknow in April 1941. Joined 9/8 Punjab and 6/15 Punjab in 39 Indian Infantry Brigade, the only all-Punjab brigade in the Indian Army. India, Ceylon. In January 1945 became Airborne as part of 14 Air-landing Brigade of 44 Indian Airborne Division. Redesignated 3/16 Punjab in May 1946.
7th Battalion - raised in Sialkot in May 1941. India, Burma, Malaya. 9th Battalion - formed by redesignation of the 25th Garrison Bn. India.
25th Garrison Battalion - raised in Sialkot in mid-1941. India. Redesigned 9/16 Punjab in May 1946.
7th Battalion - raised in Sialkot in May 1941. India, Burma, Malaya.
9th Battalion - formed by redesignation of the 25th Garrison Bn. India. 25th Garrison Battalion - raised in Sialkot in mid-1941. India. Redesignated 9/16 Punjab in October 1943 on conversion to active status.
26th Garrison Battalion - raised in Sialkot in March 1942. India. Disbanded May 1946.
Machine-Gun Battalion - raised in July 1942. In August 1942, transferred to the Indian Artillery as the 16th Punjab A/TK Regt.
Despite the grievous loss of two of its regular battalions, Solah (Sixteen) Punjab, as it was known, had a creditable war record.
The Regiment was allocated to Pakistan on Partition. On transfer of power, the regular battalions were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th - all pre-war battalions - plus the 7th, universally known as Sath Solah and probably rewarded for its notable service in Burma during the war.
The Willcox Committee Report on the future of the Indian Army after the war had recommended the disbandment of the 16th Punjab Regiment but Partition overtook almost everything and Solah Punjab passed to Pakistan to suffer extinction by merger nine years later.
Afghanistan 1878-80, Burma 1885-87, Chitral, Tirah, Punjab Frontier, Malakand.
La Bassee 1914, Messines 1914, Armentieres 1914, Festubert 1914, Givenchy 1914, Ypres 1915, St Julien, Aubers, Loos, France and Flanders 1914-15, Macedonia 1918, Suez Canal, Egypt 1915-16, Megiddo, Nablus, Palestine 1918. Aden, Tigris 1916, Kut-al-Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1915-18. NW Frontier India 1915, 1916-17, Behobeho, Narungombe, Nyangao, East Africa 1917-18, Afghanistan 1919.
Mescelit Pass, Mt Engiahat, Massawa, Abyssinia 1940-41, Jitra, Ipoh. Kampar, the Muar, Singapore Island, Malaya 1941-42, Sidi Barrani, Omars, Benghazi, El Alamein, Mareth, Akarit, Djebel Garci, Tunis, North Africa 1940-43, Cassino I, Kaladan, Imphal, Tamu Road, Litan, Arakan Beaches, Burma 1942-45.
'Solah Punjab' by Lieut. Col J P Lawford MC and Major W E Catto (Gale and Polden Ltd, Aldershot 1967)
'Historical Records of the 4th Bn, 16th Punjab Regiment' (Gale and Polden, Aldershot, 1931).