The official (British) Indian Army was formed in 1895. Prior to this date there were three separate Presidency armies (which after 1861 were sometimes unofficially referred to as the Indian Army).
Indian Army regiments can be viewed here.
- 1 See also
- 2 FIBIS resources
- 3 British Indian Army Cavalry
- 4 Reserve of Officers
- 5 Records
- 6 External Links
- 7 Recommended Reading
- 8 References
- Armies in India - an overview
- Auxiliary Regiments (Volunteer Regiments)
- Chronological list of Wars and Campaigns
- Indian Army Artillery
- Indian Army Images
- Unattached List
- Category:Organisations has links to a number of military historical societies which publish journals containing articles about India, including the Indian Military Historical Society
- Medal Rolls
- FIBIS research guide No. 3: Researching ancestors in the Indian Army, 1858-1947 by Peter A Bailey 2014.
- The book guides the reader through the various stages of the development of the Indian Army and covers aspects including the structure of the army, campaigns, the various regiments, as well as details of how to find information on officers, NCOs and other ranks; attestation, training, service history, leave, pensions, wills, etc. There is also a soldier’s detailed career path illustrating what can be found in the various records cited in the book. Available from the FIBIS Store.
- FIBIS database: Soldiers’ and Widows’ Pension details -1896 IOR/L/MIL/14/214 & 215. Includes previous members of the Bengal, Madras and Bombay Armies, including men from the Unattached List. May also include a few members of the Indian Army which officially was formed in 1895. These records are available on LDS microfilm 2029979 Items 1-2 with catalogue entry, however the FIBIS database record contains all the information available in the microfilm.
- Review by Richard Morgan of A Soldier’s Story in FIBIS Journal Number 26 Autumn 2011, page 52. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals. The review may also be read in this link, along with other reviews.
- Details of the book A Soldier’s Story-From the Khyber Pass to the Jungles of Burma: The Memoir of a British Officer in the Indian Army 1933-1947 by John Archibald Hislop, edited by Penny Kocher 2010.
British Indian Army Cavalry
The British Indian Army maintained about forty regiments of cavalry, officered by British and manned by Indian sowars (cavalrymen). The legendary exploits of this branch lives on in literature and early films. Among the more famous regiments in the lineages of modern Indian and Pakistani Armies are:
- Governor General's Bodyguard (now President's Bodyguard)
- Skinner's Horse (now India's 1st Horse (Skinner's)
- Gardner's Horse (now India's 2nd Lancers (Gardner's)
- Hodson's Horse (now India's 4th Horse (Hodson's) of the Bengal Lancers fame
- 6th Bengal Cavalry (later amalgamated with 7th Hariana Lancers to form 18th King Edward's Own Cavalry) now 18th Cavalry of the *Indian Army
- Probyn's Horse (now Pakistani)
- Royal Deccan Horse (now India's The Deccan Horse)
- Poona Horse (now India's The Poona Horse)
- Queen's Own Guides Cavalry (now partitioned between Pakistan and India).
- Several of these formations are still active, though they now are armoured formations, for example Guides Cavalry in Pakistan.
Reserve of Officers
The official title was Army in India Reserve of Officers or A.I.R.O, but it was also known as the Indian Army Reserve of Officers, or I.A.R.O.
Some, or perhaps all, appointments were promulgated in the London Gazette, which may be searched online here
There are India Office Records at the British Library called Collection 397 Reserve of Officers IOR/L/MIL/7/16215-16279 1886-1940 .Another item is the publication Regulations for the Army in India Reserve of Officers 1939. Delhi: Defence Dept, 1939. IOR/L/MIL/17/5/654 1939
The British Library has the book, in five volumes, covering the First World War, Alphabetical list giving particulars of officers of the Indian Army Reserve of Officers / [issued by] Army Headquarters, India, Military Secretary’s Branch. The catalogue entry states "Contents: [v.1]. 26th June 1916 _ v.2. 24th January 1917 _ v.3. 31st December 1917 _ v.4. 30th June 1918 _ v.5. 31st December 1918". The shelfmark is OIR 355.37 Open Access
- Explore the British Library for book titles relating to Indian Army in British Library catalogue.
- The British Library’s "Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts" Search by name.
- British Library’s Help for Researchers: European Officers; Indian Officers and Other Ranks
There are India Office records in the British Library, reference IOR L/MIL/14. The records include Indian Army Records of Service IOR/L/MIL/14/239/1-72481 c 1901-1947. Note this reference is incorrect and should be IOR/L/MIL/14/239-72481 It appears unlikely that these records contain men who in the Volunteer or Auxiliary Regiments. The closure period for these files has been set at 75 years from the date of entry of the serviceman/woman into the service. The files are opened on an annual basis. On 1 January 2010, files relating to persons joining the service in 1934 were opened. A complete alphabetical index to the opened files is now available on open access in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room at the British Library or it can be searched by name on British Library archive search. Note: The search facility may only locate names where there is an open file. The highest numbered file located in a "trial and error" search (at 5 August 2013) was IOR/L/MIL/14/60650
Additionally, there are publications from the Military Department Library in respect of the Indian Army, in two catalogue entries IOR/L/MIL/17/5 1854-1947 and IOR/L/MIL/17/5: First World War -War Diaries, Second World War and Regimental Histories including
- Indian Army List IOR/L/MIL/17/5/1-219 1889-1947 These are readily available on the open shelves. War Services are a particularly valuable feature of the List and the volumes in which they appear or with which they were issued separately are marked within the link with an asterisk. After 1892 the war services of Indian Officers are included in January issues only. A few editions have been reprinted. See below.
- Stations of the Army in India Distribution Lists/Lists of Units IOR/L/MIL/17/5/771-1132 1908-1947
Earlier Indian Army Lists may be found in India Office Serials IOR/V/6 1768-1948 including
- Indian Army and Civil Service List, from January, 1861 IOR/V/6/125-156 1861-1876
- India List Civil and Military, from January, 1877 IOR/V/6/157-191 1877-1895
The book Index of Indian Army Regimental Titles by Anthony Farrington, published 1982 is on the open shelves at the British Library
India’s Army by Major D. Jackson 1940 contains a "potted history" of every Regiment & Corps (including the auxiliary & princely state forces). With 70 chapters, over 100 B & W photos & illustrations, 14 full Colour plates.
The India Office Records at the British Library include Government Gazettes IOR/V/11 1831-1947 which contain much military information.
The Government Gazettes were the official newspapers of the Government of India and its provincial governments. The series held are: Gazettes of India 1865-1947, Calcutta 1832-1947, Assam 1874-1947, Bihar and Orissa 1912-1947, United Provinces, 1850-1947, Fort St George 1832-1947, Bombay 1831-1947, Punjab 1872-1947, North-West Frontier Province 1932-1947, Central Provinces 1875-1947, Coorg 1885-1947, Sind 1869-1947, Burma 1875-1947. Summaries of the contents of each series are to be found in the handlists in the Reading Room of the British Library.
National Archives of India
Indian armed forces personnel records are held at the National Archives of India  with the contact email address given as: firstname.lastname@example.org
"I enquired at the National Archives in Delhi and received 150 pages of my grandfather's service record. An enquiry doesn't cost any money until they copy documents for you. The process is slow but well worth the wait". D. Fielder 14 April 2011. Some earlier advice is contained in “How to Retrieve Indian War Records” a WW2Talk Forum post dated 2 July 2009 
The writer of this section sent an email request in October 2013, using the email address previously quoted. A reply was received seven weeks later, but unfortunately no record is available, (nor is there a record at the British Library).
A researcher visiting India was advised to contact the Adjutant General's Office in Delhi. Eventually she found the actual address to be Adjutant General's Office, Indian Headquarters of the Ministry of Defense (Army), Room No. 280, South Block , New Delhi 110011. Email address email@example.com. The files in Delhi are filed by the service record numbers, so it is necessary to have this information.
It seems probable that the files accessible through the National Archives of India and the Adjutant General's Office, both located in Delhi, are the same files, but this is not yet known.
British Army records after January 1921/April 1922
If you are looking records for British personnel who served in the Indian Army , either officers whose service ended after April 1922 or soldiers whose service ended after January 1921, and there is no record in the series "Indian Army Records of Service IOR/L/MIL/14/239/1-72481", or at the National Archives of India, (refer above for both these sources), you could try contacting the Army Personnel Centre Historical Disclosures Section, whose details are set out in the article British Army-Army personnel serving after January 1921. This is not a confirmed source, but some other British Army records include British officers from the Indian Army
These are available as LDS microfilms and appear in the LDS catalogue as An East-India register and directory. It is possible that the publications from 1889 only contain the Civil Service List, and not the Army List, but this is not known. (The LDS catalogue also has an military records entry for "The India Office list, 1886-1940 : containing an account of the services of the officers in the Indian service and other information" available on microfiche. It seems likely that that these are in fact catalogued incorrectly and are not military records, as the India Office Lists for 1924 and 1929, (see Directories online) do not appear to contain an Indian Army List)
A limited number of additional LDS (Mormon) microfilms are available in respect of the Indian Army with Library catalogue entries using keyword search “Indian Army” and “India Office” (Ordering microfilms).
The National Archives (TNA) (UK)
The National Archives at Kew house a good run of Indian Army Lists available on open shelves. There is a full run from 1902-1939 but also some earlier volumes dating from 1860s.
- The [London] Gazette contains details of (some/all?) appointments and promotions for officers
- Some issues of the Gazette of India and the Calcutta Gazette (refer British Library above) are available online, refer Newspapers and journals online
- "British" Indian Army Officers 1939-1945 from World War II Unit Histories & Officers
National Army Museum
The National Army Museum in London has the following guide on its website:
- Information Sheet No 1: Researching soldiers of the East India Company’s Armies and the Indian Army.
The collection at the NAM includes the card index by Hodson and Percy Smith which includes details of officers who joined the Indian Army from Sandhurst, warrant officers and some Emergency Commissioned Officers of the Second World War. The NAM collection also includes 3,400 questionnaires completed in the 1960’s, 70s and 80s by former India Army Officers about their careers and families.
The NAM also holds some Indian Army regimental histories.
Prince Consort's Library
The Prince Consort's Library, Aldershot, Hampshire contains a large number of pre Independence Indian Army regimental histories.
- British Indian Army (1895-1947)
- List of Indian Army Regiments 1903
- List of Indian Army Regiments 1922
- Indian Army during World War II
- "Making A Virture Out Of Necessity: The Indian Army 1746-1947" by Dr Rob Johnson Google.docs version original pdf BCMH Summer Conference 2012 – Indian Armies (The British Commission for Military History bcmh.org.uk) (retrieved 8 May 2014)
- Map: Railways and Cantonments 1928 produced by General Staff India. retronaut.com . Double click on the body of the map. or here for an enlarged image. May also be acessed through same map, but smaller scale, on pinterest.com, by clicking through to first link, and then double clicking for enlarged version.
- The Cadet and Staff Registers of the Sandhurst Collection. The registers show the details for almost every officer cadet that attended the Royal Military Academy Woolwich and Royal Military College Sandhurst, England
- Military History Companion: Indian army-An overview from Answers.com
- Indian Army 1902 orbat.com
- East and Central Africa Medal 1897-99 with clasp: Uganda 1897-98, awarded to Sepoy Ahmad Khan, 27th (1st Baluch Battalion), Regiment of Bombay Light Infantry. The 27th (1st Baluch Battalion), Regiment of Bombay Light Infantry were one of three Indian Army regiments that took part in the suppression of a mutiny by the Sudanese troops used by the Colonial Government in Uganda. National Army Museum.
- This article briefly states that "in South Africa [2nd Anglo-Boer War, 1899–1902] there were a large number of officers and natives lent by India" and favourably mentions the Indian Military Accounts Department. Indian Army units in the Boer War from "Ladysmith History & The Boer War". (archive.org link). Also see Boer War
- Center for Indian Military History from Orders of Battle (orbat.com) is an index page which has links to articles such as “British-Indian Army: Imperial Service Troops 1888-1918”, “Indian Infantry Regiments of World War I: 1st Brahmans through 30th Punjabis “, “Indian Army, 1939” and the “British Indian Army”. The page History also has some links about the Indian Army pre 1947 which do not appear to be included in the previous index page.
- For the King-Emperor The Indian Army during 1901-1939. Photos, histories, profiles etc.
- Capt G T Gill George Theodore Gill from David Gill’s gillww1 includes School of Instruction for Officers, Sabathu & Ambala, 1917 to 1919 (archive.org link)
- "British colonial experience in Waziristan and its applicability to current operations" by Matthew W Williams, 2005 from Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library
- "The Indian Army in Africa and Asia 1940-1942 Implications for the planning and execution of two nearly- simultaneous campaigns" by Major James Scudieri, 1995 from Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library
- BBC website World War 2 People's War - Stories in the Category India. To search for "Indian Army", Google "BBC-WW2 People's War" "Indian Army".
- Indian Cavalry British Empire website
- Bengal Cavalry Regiments 1857-1914 Google Books
- A register of titles of the units of the H.E.I.C. & Indian armies, 1666-1947 by Chris Kempton published by the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, c1997. Copy can be found via the British Library catalogue
- The United Service Institution of India was founded in 1870 . It was founded for 'furtherance of interest and knowledge ...of the Defence Services.' It has published a Journal since that time, with the following (pdf) indexes which may be searched. Index Part 1: 1871-1921, Index Part 2: 1922-1970. The Journals are available at the British Library from 1883 (Volume 12)
- This article dated 8 July 2011, The Tribune, Pakistan by Sonia Malik gives details of records held at the Lahore Museum in respect of over 100,000 Indian soldiers who served in the British Army during the First World War.
- Illustrations of Uniforms
- Indian Native Cavalry and Indian Native Artillery and Infantry, originally from Our Armies by Richard Simkin 1891 soldierssoldiers.com
- Armies of India originally from The Armies of India painted by Major A. C. Lovett 1911 soldierssoldiers.com. This book is available to read online, refer below
- British uniforms India 1914 Thread from the Great War Forum, with many pages, showing both British Army and Indian Army uniforms with many photographs. Note, to view the photographs attached to posts you must be a logged in member of the Forum, refer Military message boards
- Indian Tales by Patrick O‘Meara (born 1930) describes his childhood in India, spent in Army cantonments. His father was in the Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC). Indian-tales.com
- Obituary of Charles Chenevix Trench, c 1914 -2003 (telegraph.co.uk, archive.org link) He served as an Indian Army officer in the 1930s, commissioned into Hodson's Horse, and winning an MC during the Second World War . In 1946 he retired from the Army to follow his father into the Indian Political Service for the 18 months until Partition. His 19 books included three classic accounts of British India: The Indian Army and the King's Enemies, 1900-1947; The Frontier Scouts; and The Viceroy's Agent, all published in the 1980s and available at the British Library
- "Ethnicity, Religion, Military Performance and Political Reliability - British Recruitment Policy and The Indian Army - 1757-1947" by Maj (Retd) Agha Humayun Amin Defence Journal [Pakistan] February 2001
- Pay to view British Pathe Film, Good News From China 1927, an indication that Indian troops were leaving China in 1927 "owing to marked improvement of situation in Shanghai."
- Schola Forum thread Middle-Eastern and Indian martial arts www.fioredeiliberi.org
- India: Regimental histories stonebooks.com (retrieved 23 April 2014)
- Swords trembling in their scabbards': A study of Indian officers in the Indian Cavalry, 1858 – 1918 by Michael John Creese 2007 PhD thesis University of Leicester (retrieved 27 April 2014)
Historical books online
- East India Military and Budget Estimates. Session 5 February-21 August 1867 House of Commons Accounts and Papers, Volume 15 Google Books
- My Service Days: India, Afghanistan, Suakim '85, and China by Maj.-Gen. Sir Norman Stewart 1908 Archive.org The author initially came to India in 1872 with the 68th Regiment of Foot and subsequently joined the Indian Army where he held many positions, retiring in 1904
- Reminiscences of an Indian Cavalry Officer by Colonel John Sutton Edward Western 1922 Archive.org. Born in India in 1857, he returned after schooling in England in 1876 , the greater part of his service being with the Punjab Frontier Force.
- Under Ten Viceroys: the Reminiscences of a Gurkha by Major-General Nigel Woodyatt 1922 Archive.org . The author, who was in a British Army regiment, arrived in India c 1883, and was subsequently appointed to the Indian Army where he held many positions.
- The Armies of India painted by Major A. C. Lovett, described by Major G. F. MacMunn With 72 coloured illustrations 1911 Archive.org
- A catalogue of books relating to the military history of India drawn up by Maurice J.D. Cockle 1901 Archive.org
- The Indian Engineers 1939-1947 by Lieut Colonel E. W. C Sandes, published 1956, is available to read online on the Digital Library of India website.
- Look inside the book details of Army Regulations (India) 1913. Volume VII. Dress. This book is available to read online on the Digital Library of India website. There are two copies available, however both copies appear to be incomplete. The better copy is catalogued as army regulations, india, 1913 barcode 99999990265902, but is missing the rear index, pages 91-96. A 1991 reprint is available at the British Library.
- Indian Defence Problem: A Study by Capt G V Modak 1933 Archive.org. The author “spent many years in active military service in an important Indian State”. Contents, Statistical Contents
- A Matter of honour : an account of the Indian Army, its officers and men. By Philip Mason (London: Cape, 1974) Review in FIBIS Military reading list
- India’s Army by Donovan Jackson (pub 1940) Review in FIBIS Military reading list
- A Soldier’s Story-From the Khyber Pass to the Jungles of Burma: The Memoir of a British Officer in the Indian Army 1933-1947 by John Archibald Hislop, edited by Penny Kocher 2010. See FIBIS resources above.
- Tracing your Asian roots on the Indian subcontinent by Abi Husainy (Last updated 2011-02-17) BBC
- WW2Talk Forum thread British Indian Army records - where are they? by D. Fielder dated 14 April 2011.
- How to Retrieve Indian War Records , a WW2Talk Forum post dated 2 July 2009 by 'Elven6'
- India List Post Address for Adjutant General's Office in Delhi by Shirley Barbur dated 1 March 2014
- "Lieutenant-Colonel Seton Churchill and the financial lessons of the African campaigns, 1879-1902" by J Black Military History Journal Volume 14 No 1 - June 2007 South African Military History Society. (archive.org link)