Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

For all discussions relating to military weapons and tactics of the Victorian period.

Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 03 Jul 2017 02:04

Hello all, could someone shed light on the following please.

On a post titled 'Lancer issue Weapons, dated 26.9.2014' it has mentioned that Trumpeters and senior NCO did not carry the lance nor the carbine. Although this was in relation to non-native regiments.

What weapons would an Indian Trumpeter and a Trumpet-Major have been equipped with, in 2nd Bengal Cavalry and then in the 2nd Bengal Lancers 1882 till around 1896?
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby Frogsmile » 03 Jul 2017 14:13

I think that he would only have had his Tulwar. Trumpeters usually also carried a bugle for mounted calls (trumpet for dismounted).

On active service a 'Lancer percussion pistol' was also sometimes issued to British lancers until surprisingly late (1877). Around 1880 it was replaced by the Enfield revolver. I am unsure what happened with Bengal cavalry, as they mostly used the Silladar system (adopted in 1861), which required the Sowars to provide their own equipment, via a loan that was then repaid. There are numerous photos of Bengal lancers equipped with carbines in leather buckets so it seems that they did not necessarily follow the same practice as British lancers.

The enclosed image shows a trumpeter of the 9th Bengal Cavalry reclining in front of a group of his officers. The 9th were a mixed class regiment of Sikhs and Muslims. The single image shows a Sikh Sowar around 1870.

There are some good images here: https://uk.pinterest.com/dgpheathcote/bengal-lancers/
Attachments
private.jpg
private.jpg (37.05 KiB) Viewed 387 times
111b.jpg
111b.jpg (70.77 KiB) Viewed 389 times
120-65.jpg
120-65.jpg (14.95 KiB) Viewed 389 times
Indian_Officers_of_the_9th_Bengal_Cavalry._Suakin_Field_Force._1885.jpg
Indian_Officers_of_the_9th_Bengal_Cavalry._Suakin_Field_Force._1885.jpg (160.58 KiB) Viewed 393 times
Last edited by Frogsmile on 03 Jul 2017 19:28, edited 1 time in total.
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4970
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 03 Jul 2017 17:51

Very much appreciated Frogsmile, I have the seen the bugle and trumpet in pictures and photographs and wondered which out the two Sundar Singh would have used, so the answer is both.

I assumed as a soldier in the lancers he would have been equipped with one but thanks to the forum members I now know, not necessarily!

:) I have again contacted the illustrator and adjustments are being made.
I love the photographs and the more I understand about the subject another question arises!

Thank you.
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby Frogsmile » 03 Jul 2017 19:36

W.Singh wrote:Very much appreciated Frogsmile, I have the seen the bugle and trumpet in pictures and photographs and wondered which out the two Sundar Singh would have used, so the answer is both.

I assumed as a soldier in the lancers he would have been equipped with one but thanks to the forum members I now know, not necessarily!

:) I have again contacted the illustrator and adjustments are being made.
I love the photographs and the more I understand about the subject another question arises!

Thank you.


The 'Silladar system' would have been a central feature of your ancestor's entire career. Before the 1857 mutiny/uprising it was only a feature of the 'irregular' cavalry, but afterwards it was realised that it was a modus operandi that made rebellion much less likely. This was because rather like the old British system of officers purchasing their commissions, it ensured that all participants had a fiscal stake in maintaining the status quo, because any collapse of the government (and associated civil order) would financially ruin those in service. It made all members of a unit stakeholders in continued civil order and the rule of law.

The way it worked was that any young man who wanted to be a soldier would be funded either by his parents (if from a prosperous, high status family), or from a sponsor (individual, or business concern), with sufficient money to purchase horses, saddlery and weapons. The place, or position that he took was called an 'asami' and under an agreed arrangement for repayment from his military pay, he would continue in service until his debt was repaid and he fully owned his asami. Upon retirement, the sowar would return to his home village with honour and some capital, which he could use to support himself (and family) in relative comfort but also, often, to support the asami of the next generation of young men (frequently relatives) by passing it (i.e. his place in the Regt) on. These new recruits taking up the asami, but who had not yet repaid the outlay granted to equip them, were known as 'bargirs' and In this way the system was self sustaining and very convenient for the 'Sirkar'. By this means the economic prosperity of entire Sikh villages was underpinned and they became directly associated with specific regiments and generation after generation would go off to serve. This all worked to reinforce and sustain the Sikh people as a warrior race.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 05 Jul 2017 23:59, edited 3 times in total.
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4970
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 03 Jul 2017 22:03

I first read about the 'silladar system' in a whole chapter dedicated to it and it carried on and on. Having it broken down to the point and then adding relevance towards my researching in terms of the Sikh people makes much sense, easier to understand for a layman.

Beside rounding up dacoits in the state of U.P, India, after the Egyptian campaign of 1882 till his retirement, Sundar Singh and the regiment did not see battle again.

Going slightly off topic, do you recommend books that narrate the daily routine of Indian Cavalry when they were stationed at their various locations. I wish to understand how the regiments weapons training, excersise, horse riding skills, and drills were carried out and how often a soldier would get leave.

Thank you.
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby Frogsmile » 04 Jul 2017 17:50

W.Singh wrote:I first read about the 'silladar system' in a whole chapter dedicated to it and it carried on and on. Having it broken down to the point and then adding relevance towards my researching in terms of the Sikh people makes much sense, easier to understand for a layman.

Beside rounding up dacoits in the state of U.P, India, after the Egyptian campaign of 1882 till his retirement, Sundar Singh and the regiment did not see battle again.

Going slightly off topic, do you recommend books that narrate the daily routine of Indian Cavalry when they were stationed at their various locations. I wish to understand how the regiments weapons training, excersise, horse riding skills, and drills were carried out and how often a soldier would get leave.

Thank you.


It is a difficult area to research because most publications in English have inevitably been written by former British officers with a natural bias towards their own lives and an exciting tempo to attract those seeking an entertaining story, rather than focusing on the humdrum, but necessary routines and training of a Bengal Lancer regiment.

There is of course Yeats-Brown, who wrote at least two books about the Bengal Lancers, which I am sure that you probably already have. Your best bet would be to find a memoir written by a native Sikh officer, either in English (less likely before WW2) or in Hindustani, the language of the old British-Indian Army. If I were you, I would write a carefully drafted letter to the regimental secretary of the contemporary successor unit in the Indian Army Armoured Corps, the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) and seek advice there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Lance ... %27s_Horse)
The regiment is affiliated with the British Royal Tank Regiment.

Are you familiar with this Blog? http://sikhs-at-war.blogspot.co.uk/sear ... e=true&m=1
Last edited by Frogsmile on 06 Jul 2017 00:02, edited 2 times in total.
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4970
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 04 Jul 2017 18:57

Both great ideas, I will first write to the " contemporary successor unit in the Indian Army Armoured Corps, the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)" and yes, I have Yeats-Brown's book, there is some information but not what I am after.

I appreciate your help.

Thank you Frogsmile.
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 04 Jul 2017 19:09

...i have not come across this blogspot before, thanks for the link.
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby Frogsmile » 04 Jul 2017 21:13

W.Singh wrote:...i have not come across this blogspot before, thanks for the link.


There is a superb image of field dress that you can use as a basis for the later period uniform of your ancestor here: http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/indianarmy/2.html

Bear in mind that his 'appointment' as trumpet-major entitled him to the superior dress of a 'staff-daffadar', even though his actual rank could be as junior as sowar/trumpeter. This usually took the form (in full-dress) of extra gold lace in a configuration similar to that of a VCO (although it would be less rich). It would require extra research to determine precisely how this looked.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 05 Jul 2017 12:38, edited 2 times in total.
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4970
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby Frogsmile » 04 Jul 2017 21:22

W.Singh wrote:Both great ideas, I will first write to the " contemporary successor unit in the Indian Army Armoured Corps, the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)" and yes, I have Yeats-Brown's book, there is some information but not what I am after.

I appreciate your help.

Thank you Frogsmile.


I am glad to help. I don't know which Yeats-Brown book you have, but he wrote more than one and one or other of them might well contain details along the lines that you seek:

1. Bengal Lancer (autobiography).
2. Lives of a Bengal Lancer.
3. Lancer at Large.
4. Caught by the Turks.
5. Dogs of War.

A good research library should be able to help find copies and there are online resources to find copies too: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Francis- ... eats-Brown
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4970
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 04 Jul 2017 23:44

The Information given about his dress is all new for me. I am going to research this more... fascinating but the uniforms don't get any easier !

I have ' Star and Crescent- Being the story of the 17th cavalry from 1858 to 1922' By Yeats-Brown.
I also have Whitorth's work titled 'History of the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) From 1809 to 1922'.

I have already ordered another book from the Amazon link you have sent me.

It may be a silly question, but I do not fully understsnd to why his appointment as Trumpet-Major, would still leave him with a junior rank?

Appreciated so much and thank you.
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby Frogsmile » 05 Jul 2017 00:23

W.Singh wrote:The Information given about his dress is all new for me. I am going to research this more... fascinating but the uniforms don't get any easier !

I have ' Star and Crescent- Being the story of the 17th cavalry from 1858 to 1922' By Yeats-Brown.
I also have Whitorth's work titled 'History of the 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse) From 1809 to 1922'.

I have already ordered another book from the Amazon link you have sent me.

It may be a silly question, but I do not fully understsnd to why his appointment as Trumpet-Major, would still leave him with a junior rank?

Appreciated so much and thank you.


It is not a silly question and something that most laymen and very many foreigners find confusing. Put as simply as I can, a man's job/role was known as an 'appointment' and it described clearly what he did on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, his 'rank' determined his position within the unit 'roll' (list) and, concomitantly, his seniority, which determined both, pay and pension earning service at each level during his career. For example, the 'armourer sergeant' (an appointment) would spend his entire career carrying out the function of unit armourer, but his rank would ascend several steps during his career.

Those engaged in overseeing the communication of orders via beat of drum, or sound of bugle/trumpet (drum-major, bugle-major, trumpet-major - all 'appointments') were similar, in that their role did not change, but they could (although did not always) ascend in rank. They wore a richer uniform by virtue of the status of their vital role (appointment) as communicators rather than any rank (for pay and pension) that they might hold.

Thus a conscientious and skilled trumpeter who perhaps was poorly educated or limited in such a way that his promotion prospects were constrained, might still be appointed as trumpet-major, during the last 2, or 3-years of service as a meaningful reward for loyal and faithful dedication to duty over his career. A kind of consolation prize. His pension remuneration was according to his rank, not his appointment. The system has become more regulated now, but a trumpet-major (appointment) of today can still be a sergeant, a staff sergeant, or a warrant officer (ranks). This is called 'rank ranging', i.e. a range of ranks that may be held by a specific appointment as they ascend through a career.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 08 Jul 2017 10:32, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4970
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 06 Jul 2017 18:59

Frogsmile, I thank you again for this thorough, fair and impartial reply.

It has given the family and I knowledge to better identify with our ancestor.

As all, during his lifetime and today hold his service in the Cavalry with great pride, and it was his rank and pension which continued to hold him in high esteem within the village and provide well for his family.
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby Frogsmile » 07 Jul 2017 00:45

W.Singh wrote:Frogsmile, I thank you again for this thorough, fair and impartial reply.

It has given the family and I knowledge to better identify with our ancestor.

As all, during his lifetime and today hold his service in the Cavalry with great pride, and it was his rank and pension which continued to hold him in high esteem within the village and provide well for his family.


You are wholly and rightly justified in feeling proud of your ancestor, being appointed as regimental trumpet major (and thus responsible for all other trumpeters), is no small achievement. His position in the regiment was quite eminent at a time when there were no radios.
As a final point, I overlooked mentioning that regardless of his 'substantive' (i.e. Pension earning) rank, the badge of appointment was invariably consistent, comprising 4-chevrons surmounted by crossed trumpets.

The Indian Army no longer follows as closely the British model for NCO rank and, as part of a supposed modernisation reform, swept away all rank titles above havildar/daffadar and replaced them with junior commissioned officers (JCOs), thereby much extending the role and number of the subordinate group of officers once known as viceroy commissioned officers (VCOs) in the British-Indian service.

Interestingly the JCOs comprise, in effect, the same kind of grouping that the British called 'staff sergeants' within their own service before the introduction of warrant officers in 1881. Almost a wheel turning full circle. What they have done makes sense to me, there are no 'warrants' (parchments of authority) issued and instead they have two levels of commissioned officer with the lower (the JCOs) having constrained employment, but both granted a commission parchment by their government (in place of a Sovereign). I strongly suspect (but do not know for sure) that the wording (albeit in Hindi) for the JCO commission is very similar to a British Warrant and perhaps signed by the Defence Minister rather than the President (who signs the commission for the more senior officers). None of this is relevant to your ancestor, but I just thought that it was interesting.
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4970
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Weapons of Native Trumpeter 2nd Bengal Lancer

Postby W.Singh » 10 Jul 2017 00:57

Apologies, for the late reply. I enjoyed reading this, the radio interestingly made its appearance shortly after my ancestors retirement, leaving the trumpet looking like the 'landline' of today - not sure if that is quite the correct comparison !

The badge you mentioned, I suspected, but never found images to support my suspicions. To be honest I was very happy after you confirming the 4 chevron and crossed trumpets.

You mention the" Indian Army no longer following as closley the British model for NCO rank", so this is why when looking up NCO on the internt the 'NCO wikipedia page' does not list India, which I could not understand earlier.

Your last paragraph was an interesting read, although i must say my favourite part was the last line, "None of this is relevant to your ancester..." Loved that !!

Thank you again Frogsmile.
W.Singh
New Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 06 May 2017 18:03

Next

Return to Weapons & Tactics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests