Wednesday, April 11, 2012

45th (Rattray's Sikh) Native Regiment of Infantry

The 45th Rattray's Sikhs originated as the 1st Bengal Military Police Battalion. Raised in April 1856, at Lahore by Captain Thomas Rattray, the unit originally consisted of a troop of 100 cavalry and 500 infantry,  of which 50% were Sikhs and 50% Dogras, Rajputs and Muslims from the Punjab and NW Frontier. In 1864 the infantry section was redesignated Bengal Native Infantry as the '45th (Rattray's Sikh) Native Regiment of Infantry'.

45th platoon on the march, regimental Bhishti in tow

Afghanistan 1879
In March 1879 a detachment of the 45th under Lt. Barclay was providing a protective escort for Capt. Leach, Royal Engineers, who was carrying out a survey when they were attacked on a hill by large numbers of Shinwari tribesmen. The party began an orderly withdrawal, but Barclay was hit. Some of the Sikhs started to carry him downhill while Leach organised a skirmishing line to cover the retreat. As the tribesmen closed in for a rush, Leach called the troops together and led them in a sudden bayonet charge. After a fierce fight he was able to continue the withdrawal, although the outnumbered Sikhs had to charge twice more before Barclay could be got away. Leach was awarded the Victoria Cross.

And here they are in real life captured in this excellent photo (public domain) from Wikipedea.

45th Rattray's Sikhs with prisoners from the Second Anglo-Afghan War 

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