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Rattrays Sikhs


3rd Battalion Sikh Regiment, India

The Government in India decided in 1855 to raise a Corps of Mitlitary Police to control the Lower Provinces of Bengal, east of Behar where a rebellion had broken out. The person chosen to raise this body of men was Captain Thomas Rattray of the 64th Regiment of Bengal Infantry, who was currently commanding the Viceroy’s Body-Guard. It is said that, ‘There is no doubt that Thomas Rattray was a marked man - “a live wire” He was 36 years old and a Captain of some 5 years standing, when he was chosen to fill the then vacant position of Commandant of the Viceroy’s Body-Guard.
 

It was decided that the Bengal Military Police Battalion should be raised in the Punjab, where a large number of ex-soldiers of the old Sikh Army, who had fought the British, were available. When the 1st Bengal Military Police Btn was raised at Lahore, April 1856 by T Rattray, it originally had two sections, the Infantry and Cavalry/Mounted force. According to the formula adopted by Rattray, the Infantry composition was 50% Sikhs (ex Khalsa) and 50% Dogras and Muslims from Punjab (then also including Frontier); while the Cavalry section had 100 troopers of which 75 were Muslims and the balance Sikhs, Rajputs and Dogras. Col McRae's 'History of Rattray's Sikhs" (1933) briefly mentions these facts. Nawab-Bahadur Muhammad Habib Khan, Risaldar, CSI (1829-1888), was one of the original cavalry recruits in 1856 and fought along with his Sikh and Dogra comrades in many campaigns until 1863,

The recruiting of the soldiers led to a number of lovely stories, one of which we include as follows:

The Battalion played an important part in putting down the Indian Mutiny of 1857- 1859. Today the Battalion is the 3rd Battalion Sikh Regiment (Rattrays Sikhs). It is still very much an active Battalion, performing all the duties called upon it by the Indian Government of today.

 

Part of a group photo taken at a reunion durbar in 1901. Serving officers are mixed with ex-officers in mufti.


The seated British officer with five medals, holding his Wolesley helmet is Lt. Haldane Rattray (son of Thomas Rattray). Next to him in the old style Zouave tunic is Subadar-Major Jiwan Singh who represented the regiment as King's Indian Orderly Officer in 1903.

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