Railway Regiments

From FIBIwiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

As part of the volunteer corps that began to spring up all over India, railway companies formed infantry corps from their staff beginning in 1869. These railway regiments comprised European and Anglo Indian staff only.

Anglo-Indians and Railway Regiments

Megan Stuart Mills writes: "The rise of nationalist agitation in the 1920s brought a highly visible role to the [Anglo-Indian] community as participants in the Auxiliary Force, a reserve organization created after the Mutiny and known widely as the Volunteer Corps. A full 75% were Anglo-Indian, an unsurprising figure in view of the Anglo-Indians often having provided the backbone of the different provincial police forces. In most areas, the AFI represented only handfuls of men but in India's larger commercial and railway towns they were an obvious, relied upon presence. (Craddock:1929) By 1947, the AFI had expanded to almost 30,000 as it was deployed to contain the Gandhian movement as well as communal disturbances. It has been easy for nationalist historians to assume that its members were pro-British. However, as the Bangalore educator C.N. Weston explained, the Anglo- Indians by the 1930s, contended with a particular predicament with regard to the Force:

encouraged and in many cases, compelled to join ... On the railways they cannot get posts unless they agree beforehand to join ... where no military are stationed, the Auxiliary Force is called out and often has to fire and kill... This naturally tends to cause hatred on the part of the Indian towards the Anglo-Indian. (1938:116)"[1]

Satoshi Mizutani writes "One of the most important roles assigned to these [Railway Auxiliary Force] men was to crack down on strikes by native employees...

As Henry Gidney, [a campaigner for Eurasian rights, in 1934] rightly complained:
‘for economic purposes we are called statutory natives of India, and as such we are expected to work amicably on an equality with our Indian fellow-workmen. Suddenly a railway strike develops, as has so often happened during the past decade, or a riot breaks out. Promptly, the Anglo-Indian [Eurasian] and domiciled European employee on the railways (still classed as “statutory Indian”) has to don his uniform, carry his rifle, and turn out as a member of the Auxiliary Force […] he is suddenly metamorphosed into a European British subject'." [2]

See also


  1. "Some Comments on stereotypes of the Anglo-Indians (Part II)" by Megan Stuart Mills from the International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies 1996, quoting
    • Craddock, Sir Reginald. (1929). The Dilemma in India. London: Constable and Company.
    • Weston, C.N. (1938). Anglo-Indian Revolutionaries of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Bangalore: Scripture Literature Press
  2. Loyalty, Parity, and Social Control-The Competing Visions on the Creation of an ‘Eurasian’ Military Regiment in late British India by Satoshi Mizutani The International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies Volume 10, No. 1, 2010