Archive for the ‘east india company’ Category

An ode to the gunners

This piece of article is from the Indian Express and shows the importance of the gunners in the Armies the oldest piece of the armed forces.

Gopal K. Piplani  
Published : Sep 28, 2005 at 0000 hrs IST


The largest and most elite Indian Army regiment — the Regiment of Artillery — celebrates its 179th raising day tomorrow. It was on September 28, 1827, that it was Indianised with the raising of the 5 Bombay Mountain Battery. This unit has an unbroken record of service since then and presently forms a part of the 57 Field Regiment. It has the glory of being conferred with 11 honour titles to date. Other units of that vintage include the 1 Kohat, 2 Derajat and 4 Hazara Mountain Batteries.
Babur is credited with being the first to use artillery in India, in the first Battle of Panipat (1526). Then, artillery was used in wars throughout the Mughal period and later during the reign of the Marathas under Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the East India Company.
‘Gunners’ are a breed of professional warriors. The Regiment of Artillery has a history of dauntless grit and selfless sacrifice. Its valour during the military operations of 1948, 1962, 1965 and 1971 is much celebrated. Names like Dinshaw Mistri at Naushera (J&K, 1948); 2/Lt Goswami and his TA Gurdip Singh VrC, of 13 field Regiment, at Chushul (Ladakh, 1962); Major S.K. Mathur at Kanjarkot (Kutch, 1965) and Brigadier Tom Pandey (Bangladesh, ’71), are still remembered. They were all awarded the Maha Vir Chakras for their gallantry and devotion to duty.
Talking about the gunner fraternity, the French go ga-ga about their gunner — General Napoleon — even today. The British still adore their master gunners, Lord Alanbrooke and Air Defence C-in-C, General Sir Freddie Pile, of 1939-45 vintage. The Indian gunners, too, hold their institutions and legends in high regard. And why not, seeing that it was this regiment that has given the nation four army chiefs?
The other half of this revered institution is The School of Artillery, Deolali. It is the Malgudi of gunners. Located along with it is the Artillery Training Centre and its welfare wing, the Artillery Association, at Nasik Road Camp. There is another training centre at Hyderabad. Together they have become the temples of learning, training, bonding and caring.
The gunner’s motto — ‘Sarvatra: Izzat-O-Iqbal’ (everywhere with honour and glory) — is a reflection of their professional ethos and values. Their colours are their guns. In its 178th year, this formidable part of the Indian Army is alive and ticking.
September 28 will be marked by prayers, mess parties and barakhanas where all ranks join in. The gunners will pay their respect to their colours and heroes — both living and dead. It will also be a time for them to rededicate themselves to the high traditions and professional values of their distinguished forbears.

The writer is a member of the Academic Council of Bangalore University

1853 Enfield Rifled Musket


The Enfield Pattern 1853 Rifled Musket (also known as the Pattern 1853 Enfield, P53 Enfield, and Enfield Rifled Musket) was a .577 calibre muzzle-loading rifled musket, used by the British Empire from 1853 to 1867, after which many Enfield 1853 Rifled Muskets were converted to (and replaced in service by) the cartridge-loaded Snider-Enfield rifle.

The Enfield Rifled Musket was a major contributing cause to the Indian rebellion of 1857- Sepoys in the British East India Company’s armies in India were issued with the new rifle in 1856, and rumours began to spread that the cartridges (referring here to cardboard wrapped powder and shot, not metallic cartridges) were greased with either pig fat or beef tallow – an abhorrent concept to Muslim and Hindu soldiers, respectively, for religious reasons. British military drills of the time required soldiers to bite open the cartridge, pour the gunpowder contained within down the barrel, then ram the cartridge paper down the barrel to act as a wad, before finally ramming a musketball down the barrel, removing the ram-rod, shouldering the rifle, adding a percussion cap, and firing.The idea of having anything which might be tainted with pig or beef fat in their mouths was totally unacceptable to the sepoys, and when they objected it was suggested that they were more than welcome to make up their own batches of cartridges, using a religiously acceptable greasing agent such as beeswax or vegetable oil. But this, of course, seemed to be “proof” that the issued cartridges were, in fact, greased with pig and/or beef fat. A further suggestion that the sepoys tear the cartridges open with their hands (instead of biting them open) was rejected as impractical – many of the sepoys had been undertaking musket drill daily for years, and the practice of biting the cartridge open was second nature to them. The indifference of many British commanding officers only added more fuel to the already volatile situation, and helped spark the Mutiny in 1857.

East India company native fighters (Painting)

Council, National Army Museum, London, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library

“Native Troops in the Service of the East India Company,” by Charles Hamilton

Source: Colombia