Researching Indian ancestor but will I find anything?

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Researching Indian ancestor but will I find anything?

Postby W.Singh » 01 Jul 2017 16:54

I am trying to locate some paperwork on my great grandfather. He served from the 1870's to 1890's in the Bengal Cavalry.

On his LSGC Medal Victorian Kaisar-I Hind the inscription reads '361 Trumpeter Sundar Singh 2nd Bengal L'

He enrolled around 1872-1876 at Sialkot with the 'old' 17th B' Cavalry, and I would guess his LSGS medal would have been awarded around 1892-1896.

His father name was Deva SIngh. I have found on http://indiafamily.bl.uk/UI/ a person with the name 'Sundar Deva Singh' who married in 1896 but the spouse (wife) does not have a Sikh name. I am aware that in those days some in-laws changed the first name of the wife after marriage. So yes, it may be his marriage certificate.

However, I seem to come to a dead end in terms of official military enlistments/records of Indian soldiers. I believe he may have retired as Trumpet-Major as all addressed him as Major during his civilian life.

We also have his IGSM Jowaki clasp, Afghanistan Medal, Khedive Star and Tel-El-Kebir clasp.

The British Library directed me to Kew but I understand they have little information on Indian soldiers.

Can anyone help?

Thanks
W.Singh
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Re: Researching Indian ancestor but will I find anything?

Postby Frogsmile » 01 Jul 2017 19:27

This superb website is the resource that we always recommend:

1. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Main_Page

2. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Category:India ... _Regiments

Forum member Maureene has excellent knowledge of its various facets and might be able to guide you in the right direction.
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Re: Researching Indian ancestor but will I find anything?

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 01 Jul 2017 20:20

The short answer is no...you won't find any official records of your relative. The records just do not exist anymore, or they are unknowingly waiting discovery in some forgotten storage facility. One Indian medals dealer offered up the belief that they disappeared during the transition from British rule to independence. That is pure speculation and sadly, most of the people who had knowledge of the records are all probably dead, so there is no one to ask about the matter!

I have a great many Indian campaign medals to native troops and I have had no luck on info. The Indian troops are the soldiers who made up the British army in India so I have great interest in the lives of these fine troops, Sikh, Moslem or otherwise.

I have found a website years ago, that was Indian based and was taking stories and information about the very subject of military service, and recording them for posterity. There was not much info on the site ten years ago, but maybe that has changed. The site is probably not hard to find but I have to go to work NOW so I leave that task to someone else.
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Re: Researching Indian ancestor but will I find anything?

Postby W.Singh » 02 Jul 2017 02:49

Frogsmile I have checked out the links very quickly and there seems to be a lot of information on there, which is great and will contact Maureen. Thank you for contact and the site info.

Hello Ed, I am going to contact http://durbaronline.co.uk/ there seems to be retired Indian officer(s) running the site, though I suspect their answer may be similar to yours. I am hoping to travel to Delhi soon and may visit a library or two as a last resort.
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Re: Researching Indian ancestor but will I find anything?

Postby Maureene » 02 Jul 2017 04:56

I would agree with Ed. For this period, you are not likely to find anything.

There are some sources set out on the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Indian Army, which you could try without much hope of obtain any information, including National Archives of India and the Adjutant General's Office in Delhi (which may have the same records as the National Archives of India). You could seek advice from the Centre For Armed Forces Historical Research (CAFHR), part of The United Service Institution of India as to whether they know of any sources.
http://wiki.fibis.org/w/Indian_Army#Nat ... s_of_India

As your ancestor was in the Bengal Army, one possible source is the West Bengal State Archives, in Kolkata. However, as far as I am aware there is no online catalogue, so what this archive contains is unknown. See the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Indian Libraries and Archives for some details. http://wiki.fibis.org/w/Indian_Libraries_and_Archives

As a further discouraging note, very few Indian institutions actually reply to emails.The National Archives of India is the one exception I am aware of.

Cheers
Maureen
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Re: Researching Indian ancestor but will I find anything?

Postby W.Singh » 03 Jul 2017 01:40

Thank you Maureen. I appreciate your response and guidance.

Although it seems unlikely to find anything, as you have posted, there are still avenues to explore.

There is hope !
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