Imperial Service Troops

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The Imperial Service Troops (IST) were forces raised by the Princely States of the British Indian Empire. These troops were available for service alongside the Indian Army when such service was requested by the British government.

They were formed in 1885 under the pretext of supporting India against the threat of Russian invasion. The IST were supplied and largely trained by officers of the Indian Army and were expanded and elected to fight alongside the British Army or the Indian Army, during the two world wars. In 1920, they were renamed the Indian States Forces.

Histories and other publications

  • Catalogue entry for British Library IOR/L/MIL/17/6 Military Department Library: Indian States Forces 1884-1946 includes Imperial Service Troops/Indian States Forces Army List 1915-1946
  • The Maharajas' Paltans : a History of the Indian State Forces, 1888-1948 by Richard Head and Tony McClenaghan. 2 volumes (1081 pages) New Delhi United Service Institution of India, Manohar Publishers & Distributors. Available at Newcastle University Library, England.
  • For the Honour of My House: The Contribution of the Indian Princely States to the First World War by Tony McClenaghan.
  • A Legendary Force, 1st Patiala : 300 years of 15 Punjab (Patiala) by Anil Shorey. Published New Delhi c 2005 Available at the British Library UIN: BLL01013248347 .
This regiment was the first battalion of the state forces of the Maharaja of Patiala, formed in 1705. In May 1900, the battalion was re-designated as First Patiala Imperial Service Infantry (Rajindra Sikh).

First World War

Faridkot Sappers and Miners

The State of Faridkot lies forty miles south east of Lahore in the Punjab. Faridkot Sappers and Miners were raised, and paid for by the His Highness the Maharajah of Faridkot, recruited from his princely state of Faridkot. The Indian officers and troops were all from Faridkot. Initally the Faridkots were the only Field Engineeer unit deployed in the East African Campaign.

Refer External links below.

Jodhpur Lancers

The Jodhpur Lancers were supposedly the most aristocratic unit in India that went to the Great War. Sir Pertab, the 70-year-old Maharaja Regent of Jodhpur, himself accompanied the unit to France. Jodhpur Lancers fought at France and Flanders, Palestine and Syria during the whole of the War from Aug 1914 to Feb 1920. In the Jordan valley, at Haifa, and at Aleppo, the Jodhpur Lancers acquitted themselves gloriously. [1]

Kashmir Rifles

2nd Battalion Kashmir Rifles was sent to East Africa, see Kashmir Infantry

1st Kashmir Imperial Service Mountain Battery was also in East Africa, refer External links, below.

Second World War


  • 1st Patiala (Rajindra) Lancers: Indian Government Service 6 November 1940 - 30 March 1946. Middle East service from 28 April 1945.
  • 3rd Gwalior Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia’s Own Lancers: Indian Government Service March 1942 - August 1945. Some service in Burma.
  • 1st (Nizam’s Own) Hyderabad Imperial Service Lancers: Indian Government Service 4 November 1940 - August 1945. Some overseas service in the Middle East.
  • 2nd (Nizam’s Own) Hyderabad Imperial Service Lancers: Indian Government Service March 1942 - December 1945. Served in Syria from January to December 1945.
  • Jodhpur Sardar Rissala. Title Change to Jodhpur Lancers – 1943. Indian Government Service 8 January 1940 - August 1945. Embarked for Persia in Persia March 1944 and served there until the end of the war.[2]

External links

Historical books online

  • A History of The Imperial Service Troops of Native States with a Short Sketch of Events in Each State compiled by Brigr.-General Stuart Beatson 1903 Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing. version, mirror from Digital Library of India.
  • History of the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade during the Great War 1914-1918 London: HMSO, 1920. Includes maps IOR/L/MIL/17/6/78 Digitised Manuscripts from the India Office Records, British Library
    • The Brigade seems to have spent the War in Egypt and Palestine. The constituent regiments include the
Kathiawar Signal Troop
Hyderabad Lancers
Mysore Lancers including two troops Bhavnagar Lancers and one troop Kashmir Lancers
Patiala Lancers
Jodhpur Lancers


  1. Abstract of a paper A Rajput in France and Palestine: With the Jodhpur Lancers in the Great War by MS Jodha presented at the India and the Great War Conference at The United Service Institution of India New Delhi: 5-7 March 2014, now an archived webpage.
  2. dryan67 [Ryan, David]. Indian States Forces cavalry regiments WW2Forum 13 March 2016. David A Ryan is co author of books on the Indian Army in WW2, see the WW2Talk Forum post Indian Army: An Organisational History Retrieved 11 August 2016.