Volunteer Artillery Battery

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The Volunteer Artillery Battery took part in the Mesopotamia Campaign during the First World War, as part of the British Army R. F. A. (Royal Field Artillery). This unit may possibly also have been known as the Mobile Battery. However, for Army record purposes the men appear to have been mainly classified as Indian Defence Force, or according to the original Volunteer regiment in India from which they originated.

Detachments of the Volunteer Artillery Battery were captured at Kut.

The majority of the men were from Burma. They were known as the Volunteer Artillery Battery (Rangoon Contingent) and probably had a connection to the Rangoon Port Defence Volunteer Corps, which had an Artillery section.

They sailed from Bombay 16 July 1915, arriving in Basra 24th July.[1]

The Volunteer Artillery Battery included some men from the Calcutta Volunteer Battery, several men of the Bombay Volunteer Artillery, "some of whom made the great sacrifice".[2][3] There is also at least one member of the Madras Artillery Volunteers, C Rollins, whose CWGC entry for his death at Amara also records him as a member of the Volunteer Artillery Battery, RFA.[4]

The Battery, soon after arrival from India, was divided into two sections, one preceding up the Euphrates and the other up the Tigris river. [2]

The portion of the Volunteer Artillery Battery that went through the siege of Kut comprised four 15 pr. detachments, two being stationed at one period of the siege in the Fort and two others near the north-west section trenches.[2]

The total strength of the Battery was 67, of whom 50 were from Burma. Of the total Battery of 67, 38 became casualties. 45 of the men were taken POW with 18 of them dying during captivity.[5] Appendix II of Major Sandes' book In Kut and Captivity, see below, advises 5 British Officers, 53 British Other Ranks and 10 Followers, total 68.

The nominal roll of the Voluntary Artillery Battery at Kut indicates that the residences of the 62 other ranks were[6]:

42 - Burma (mostly Rangoon)
6 - Madras
5 - Calcutta
3 - Bombay
6 - other locations or unknown.


  • The National Archives, Kew
  • The Imperial War Museums, Department of Documents holds the papers of Major Sir Alexander James Anderson, who commanded the Volunteer Artillery Battery, catalogue reference AJA[7] The papers Include a manuscript diary, with later transcription, kept during September 1915 - April 1916, during which time the Battery was involved in the defence of Kut . The diary includes a list of officers, NCOs and men in his unit, giving their civil occupations and ultimate fates. (pp.1-5).


  • The Rangoon Times says:- It is regrettable that the first news of the Moblie Battery should be the sad news of the drowning of J C Jordan,… who was accidentally drowned in Mesopotamia on 31 July… the son of Mr Chater Jordan, the late well-known barrister of Rangoon.[8]. He was buried at Amara Cemetery, CWGC record, where his regiment is recorded as Madras Artillery Volunteers.
  • Rangoon, June 5. An official communication has been received from the Adjutant-General in India, giving the following twenty-eight names of non-commissioned officers and men from the Volunteer Artillery Battery, who were made prisoners at Kut. Sergeants Heals and Rollo; Bombardier Baroni, Christison, and Gunners Wells, Abrahams, Archer, Ariss, Dias, Illingworth, Lether, Ghosh, Macgowan, Grant, Mitchell, Prazer, Wall, Foley, Lecky, Thompson, Loader, Pearse, Sharp, Sirt [appears to be Sirr[9]], Warson, Blazey, Dawes, Webb and Wilcox.[10]
    He died at Shamras [probably Shumran, on the Tigris, just north of Kut] on 2 May 1916, and had previously been employed by Burma Oil Co. at Rangoon.[12]
  • Believed Prisoners of War: Volunteer Artillery Battery: Major A J Anderson, Captain K F Freeland, Lieutenant R Spence, 2nd Lieutenant E H Jones.[13]
  • "Kut Heroes: Bombay's Welcome": Corpl. Hutt and Gunners Archer, Gosh, Anderson, Ariss, Mitchell and Dias, all R.F.A. Volunteer Field Battery[14]
  • See Calcutta Volunteer Battery for two POW death records from the CWGC website.

Medal Index Cards

The Medal Index Cards for Bombardier J Baroni, and Gunner F W Sirr list the Corps as "Indian Defence Force".[15]

External links

  • En-Dor Unveiled : The Story behind The Road to En-dor by Tony Craven Walker February 2014. html version, pdf, link to other downloads hesperuspress.com. Retrieved 26 October 2014. Contains correspondence from E H Jones, refer "Historical books online" below. He was part of the Contingent from Burma.
  • Biographical details of Elias Henry Jones homefrontmuseum. Retrieved 27 October 2014
  • World War One - The Anglo Indian Force Members area only, angloburmeselibrary.com. Scroll down. Previous reference to "Extracts from the Muster Rolls of the Anglo-Indian Cavalry, the Anglo-Indian Battery and the Anglo-Indian Infantry, plus additional lists of men who were domiciled in Burma and served in other Imperial forces".
The Anglo Indian Force-WW1 The latter particularly contains men from the Volunteer Artillery Battery, and the Mobile Battery, It is unclear whether these are the same or different units.

Historical books online


  1. En-Dor Unveiled : The Story behind The Road to En-dor by Tony Craven Walker, refer External links, above
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Volunteers At Kut: How the Gunners Fought" The Times of India 16 Oct 1919: page 12
  3. 'Searle of the Bombay Artillery' (with a footnote specifying Bombay Volunteer Artillery ) is mentioned as a POW following the fall of Kut in "Trumpeter Inwood, an Anglo-Indian hero of the Kut Garrison" by Rosemary Reardon page 25, FIBIS Journal No 32, Autumn 2014, quoting TNA WO 157/1059. However, his name does not appear on a list of Volunteer Artillery Battery members.(see following Reference). Alternatively, and perhaps more likely, the Bombay Volunteer Artillery men may have been part of the Anglo Indian Battery.
  4. ROLLINS, C. Rank:Gunner Service No:5 Amara War Cemetery. Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  5. Flory, Dick Bombardier A N Christison Indian Volunteer Artillery Great War Forum 26 October 2014 et al., quoting Major A J Anderson. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  6. Flory, Dick. Indian "Volunteer Artillery Battery" Mesopotamia Great War Forum 9 May 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  7. Discovery catalogue entry (no details). Previous detailed catalogue entry, now archived. There is also a catalogue entry for papers at the National Army Museum
  8. "India And The War" (1915, Aug 17), page 7 The Times of India Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/500180775?accountid=13902
  9. clive_hughes On Soldiers Effects not on CWGC? Help please! Kut - Vol Arty Battery Great War Forum 26 March 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  10. "Rangoon Volunteers In Kut". (1916, Jun 07), page 7. The Times of India. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/596274855?accountid=13902
  11. charlie962. On Soldiers Effects not on CWGC? Help please! Kut - Vol Arty Battery Great War Forum 24 March 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  12. rflory Vincent Allen Alfred Pearse, Volunteer Artillery Battery Great War Forum 29 March 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  13. "The Roll Of Honour: Losses in the War" (1916, Jul 31), page 8 The Times of India. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/310895555?accountid=13902
  14. The Times of India 30 Dec 1918: page 9
  15. Medal card of Baroni, J Corps: Indian Defence Force Regiment No: 16 ... WO 372/25/1134 and Medal card of Sirr, F W Corps: Indian Defence Force Regiment No: 49 ... WO 372/28/3521