Talk:British Indian Army

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Page Name[edit]

Hello .. I can see it might be useful to disambiguate between the Indian Army (pre-1947) and the later Army, But it very offensive to describe the pre-1947 Army as the 'British' Indian Army. Many people (for example, Wallace Breem!) joined the Indian Army in preference to joining the British Army because of that very distinction.

May I suggest a title such as: 'Indian Army (pre-1947)' or 'Indian Army (19xx-1947)'? mfc 19:43, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I considered calling it Indian Army (British) but because so many pages on the internet already exist (google "British Indian Army" returns 2,810) it seems like a sane name. After all there is already an article called "British Raj" which has a redirect from "British India". And all the pages in Categories: Military ranks which mention the British Indian Army eg Naik used the words before I made the change from British Indian Army to British Indian Army.
I am not hard set on the name, but I am set on a seperation. I think it is a better name than your suggestions for anyone who is not a military buff. As more than 50 years have gone by, I think the Indians are entitled to the page for their modern army without lots of historic bagage. With the new page name the Pre 1947 page can be expanded. So much to do... PBS 01:04, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I agree entirely with the separation .. excellent work. It's just that all the historical references refer to the 'Indian Army'. Wallace Breem for example, was proud that he joined the Indian Army and not the British Army; the difference was (and, I suppose, still is) important – because of its independence. It really wasn't British; hence my mutterings about the name you have chosen.

Now I look at your Google list ... most (all?) of those seem to refer to the British army in India ... which is separate from the Indian Army at the time, and the latter's school for officers, for example. In short, and generalizing: the Indian Army had units composed of Indians, the British Indian Army had units composed of British. These are very different. mfc

That's incorrect. Pre-1895 "Indian Army" meant the "army of the government of India" and included British and Indian (sepoy) units. From 1895 to 1902 "Indian Army" was a collective term for the armies of the presidencies; the Bengal Army, Madras Army and Bombay Army. Post-1902, following Kitchener's reforms, "Indian Army" was, to quote the Oxford History of the British Army, "the force recruited locally and permanently based in India, together with its expatriate British officers." and was separate from the British Army in India (the two together made the "Army of India").
Yes, I over-simplified—the officers of the Indian army were British (Wallace Breem, of course, being an example of that). But the men were 'locals', which is the important distinction. mfc
The thing is, the Indian Army described by this article was a British institution, hence British Indian Army to distinguish from the post-independence Indian Indian Army. There would be units of the British Indian Army that came from what is now Pakistan, Nepal and, probably, Bangladesh. My only alternative for a name would be Indian Army of the British Empire. Geoff/Gsl 05:16, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Since this is all historical information, why not call it "History of the Indian Army". Then you can subdivide it as appropriate by period. You could also include a smaller history section (maybe only a paragraph) on the modern "Indian Army" article with a reference to the larger "History of the Indian Army" article. — Mike 04:13, Aug 20, 2004 (UTC)

Geoff would I be correct in saying that a Regiment of the British Army in India would be a British Army Regiment on a posting to India. They could be posted from there to Sudan, or South Africa (etc) or back to Blighty?

That's correct. British Army regiments in India didn't have permanent postings but usually stayed longer than the term of service for the soldiers. Up until 1861 there were also separate British East India Company units (predominantly European troops) but they disbanded or transfered to the British Army following the mutiny. Geoff/Gsl

I think that "History of the Indian Army" is not a good idea as it confuses 2 different institutions, which is why I made the break in the first place.

As to the other comments please have a look at Gurkha which includes references to the British East India Company army, The British Indian Army, The Indian Army and the British Army. I think the distinction between the four works better than the other options proposed.

One final point. If a none American see a reference to an article called the "Civil War", most would not be surprised if it turned out to be about the "American Civil war" because they know that this is what American, from none southern states, tend to use as a short hand name. If an English person puts together a "List of Civil War Generals" most Americans would be surprised to see Prince Rupert and Cromwell in the list, so the list would normally be qualified with "List of English Civil War Generals" Just as a none American will correct "List of Civil War Generals" to "List of American Civil War Generals" ;-). In the same way if you are into British history the "Indian Army" tends to be thought of as the pre-1947 outfit. But for people who are not versed in British history the name "British Indian Army" is much clearer. PBS 13:21, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I think we all agree that a distinction between the pre- and post-partition Indian Army is useful, and indeed necessary. My objection to calling the pre-partition IA the British Indian Army is that this is a new, non-historical name for it, and further, that term is already widely used as a more general description of the Army in India, as the Google search shows. Hence it is confusing, as it loses the essential distinction from the British Army in India.

Geoff's Indian Army of the British Empire describes exactly what it was and is correct. Or if just talking about a certain period of that, one could use name(s) such as Indian Army (1902-1947), as originally suggested. Or, to keep the 3-word count: Indian Army (British), which you originally considered. How about that last one, for a compromise?  :-) mfc

I honestly don't know what's best. I could live with any of them but I see flaws in them all. I guess "Indian Army (1902-1947)" is the most explicit and, perhaps, least contentious. I think "Indian Army (British)" is too sneaky if people (like me) use the pipe trick whereas using the pipe trick on the (1902-1947) version is OK if I'm linking from, say, a WWI article. I haven't tried looking at what's used via Google but a quick scan of my WWI books shows "British Indian Army" used. The Australian WWI official history (published in the 1930s) just uses "Indian Army". Geoff/Gsl 07:55, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I would have expected a book pre 1947 to use the Indian Army because when published there had only been one Indian Army! The only problem I see with Indian Army of the British Empire is a bit of a mouth full and personally I would shorten it to British Indian Army. After all the term "British Empire" is short hand for a very long frequently changing list (Berwick-upon-Tweed was missed of the list at the end of the Crimea War and did not make peace with the USSR, which was the inheritor of Russia's obligations, until the late 1960s!)). The trouble with the title Indian Army (British) is that it is no more or less explicit than British Indian Army and in pages like Naik one would end up with British Indian Army (British)| Indian Army which seems over complicated.

I wrote a stub of an article on Thomas Henry Burke an Irish politician. But there was already an article on a Thomas Henry Burke an American politician. So I put in his entry under Thomas Henry Burke, (1829 – 1882) and thinking that that was a good idea put in a couple of other entries the same day with date of birth and death. I was jumped on by several people who moved the entries to other names. One of them posted the following to my talk page:

As a general note, I have never seen name (date - date) as an article title on Wikipedia. It makes searching very hard. I am moved the articles listed by that a listing the redirects on Wikipedia:redirect for deletion. Burgundavia 07:29, 27 May 2004 (UTC)

So although technically accurate I do not think that using dates is a good idea. PBS 11:51, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Well I guess ironically "British Indian Army" is the least ambiguous option then. "Indian Army of British India" might be another option, rather than "British Empire". I don't have a problem with a long article title as long as it's correct, but I'm not sure what "correct" is. Geoff/Gsl 23:33, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree that the dates approach is perhaps not the best, and it's cumbersome, too. But 'British Indian Army' remains confusing, as that term is usually used to talk about the combined Indian Army + British Army in India.

Therefore, 'Indian Army (British)' seems to be the best option, and is very much in the general style of naming Wikipedia articles. It reads better too, with the important adjective (Indian) first and the modified/distinguishing adjective (British) suitably parenthetical. mfc

PBS 23:04, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC) :The Current British Mod seems to be happy with the name "British Indian Army" see:
After the break up of the British Indian Army in 1948, the room became the Indian Army Museum and, in 1970, the Indian Army Memorial Room. The stained glass windows, the central chandelier, the crests hanging on the walls and the display of medals, portraits and other artefacts all commemorate the loyal service of the Gurkha Regiment and other regiments of British Indian Army.

Poll on Page Name[edit]

Enough said. Please see the discussion immediately above. Since there is no "official" term, we could use any. However there seems to be 5 options for a Page Name in the discussion. In alphabetical order these are: PBS 16:46, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC)

British Indian Army

  1. PBS 16:46, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  2. I'm comfortable with this... Geoff/Gsl 05:11, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)

dates as in Indian Army (1857-1947)

Indian Army (British)

  1. This is way Wikipedia usually applies disambiguation, and is therefore ptobably the best term (in Wikipedia) for the Indian Army pre-1947. mfc

Indian Army of the British Empire

Indian Army of British India

Comments or second choices

Since there is no "official" term, we could use any.
Yes there is, it is 'Indian Army'. We are just disambiguating, here. mfc
British Indian Army
This is OK for referring to the the British Army in India. Some of the uses in articles are of that nature. It cannot be used for the Indian Army for reasons cited above; the term is already in use. mfc


Hooray for democracy! Geoff/Gsl 23:35, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Yeah .. looks like we've ended up with both names :-( mfc 05:50, 13 Sep 2004 (UTC)

As User: Quota did not change any of the links to the page, I've moved it back. His main interest seems to be changing quotes on pages to annoy computer scientists. I am not sure why he chose to move a page on which there had been a poll, because there are no quotation marks of the type with which he is concerned. As he says he is the the pedantic alter ego of a regular Wikipedia contributor perhapse he would like to join this conversation as himself PBS

India/British India[edit]

I amended a link from India (the current republic) to point to British India. It seems more appropriate: hope this is ok. Folks at 137 18:20, 20 August 2006 (UTC)


Several battleboxes (eg, Operation Compass) refer to "India" or "British India" as a separate participant. Some editors argue that, as India was not independent at the time, its forces should not be shown separately from Britain's. Individual Indian formations could be identified in the text. Any thoughts? My amateur-2p-worth is that the Indian Army of the time was separately organised and distinct from the British Army in a way that those from Ceylon or the West Indies were not - so separate entry is appropriate. There's been debates about this issue here and here. Folks at 137 18:20, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

India at the time was not a separate participant, it was governed directly via the Foreign Office as a normal part of the empire - the princely states however were technically IIRC protectorates.
The Indian Army was very well respected and liked within the overall British forces and indeed many non-Indian British officers and men were well pleased to be associated with it.
IIRC, after the Indian Mutiny it was decided that the Indian Army henceforth would consist of at least a third of attached normal British Army officers and personnel, regiments, etc., so as to ensure that the mutiny would not happen again. Whether this still applied at the relevant times for WW I and WW II I don't know, but although termed 'Indian' it usually had a sizeable British Army contingent attached.


Just a thought: shouldn't this be renamed Indian Army (United Kingdom) under the new naming policy? Grant | Talk 02:53, 8 February 2007 (UTC)


One sentence reads: "The Indian Army comprised of 65% of Sikh Officers and 20% of Infantry/foot soldiers". Besides being gramatically incorrect, the sentence makes no sense, it seems to be taken out of context or something. If taken literally it means there were 3 times as many officers as soldiers.

Name again[edit]

The problem with this article being British Indian Army is that it has not correlated with the formations and units of the pre-1947 Army. In titling the divisional articles the convention of prefixing with British eg. British 8th Indian Infantry Division has not occurred since the first vote years ago. In fact the usage has has gone terribly wrong with either 8th Indian Infantry Division (United Kingdom) or 8th Infantry Division (Indian). I would suggest the article be moved to Indian Army (British) to disambiguate from the national Indian Army--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 12:15, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

perhaps Indian Army (British Raj) which would match with the wiki article British Raj. GraemeLeggett (talk) 12:49, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
The official name used in primary sources is (India Army). British Raj was a position occupied by a person.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 13:06, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I've been uncomfortable with this for some time. "British Indian Army" is clear enough, but it is not a term that was ever formally used as the name, and we seem to be implying it was. (This is the reason we dropped Nationality Xth Division - pagenames should be proper nouns where possible with disambiguation adjectives in brackets) Indian Army (pre-1947) might be the cleanest term? Shimgray | talk | 12:24, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

How about "Indian Army (British Empire)" if we want to avoid dates in the heading as suggested above. The term "British Raj" is completely unofficial, the term used was Indian Empire which was part of the British Empire. Dabbler (talk) 12:38, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

It was brought to my attention that the official name under which India was admitted to the United Nations before its Independence was the Indian Empire.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 00:13, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
After 1857 when the British government took over the administration of the British Indian possessions, they decided that "legally" they did so as a direct replacement of the last Mogul Emperor who they had deposed. Queen Victoria was given the title Empress of India and the land they ruled was known as the Indian Empire until independence. I suppose that the article could be called Imperial Indian Army, if that wouldn't be confused with the Mogul armies. Dabbler (talk) 02:10, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm no expert on the Mughal forces, but they would be (Mughal Empire)--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 02:52, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
There is some confusion here. British India was transferred from the administration of the East India Company to the control of the India Office and the government of the Governor-General of India. British India did not include the Indian Princely states, more than 40 per cent of the area of India, many of which had their own military forces. There were "Imperial" bodies which related to the whole of India, but they did not include the Indian Army. As it happens, it was almost twenty years after the departure of the last Mughal emperor that Queen Victoria was declared Empress of India, but even then India itself was only rarely called "the Indian Empire". In any event, we have only just escaped from the invented name of "British Indian Army" - surely better not to invent another! I am happy with "Indian Army", with a suitable qualification, but "1858-1947" isn't the right one - please see the thread below. Xn4 (talk) 07:17, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Name and content[edit]

I suggest that this article deal with the Indian Army (1895-1947) (i.e. from when the Indian Army officially existed until independence), and be titled "Indian Army (1895-1947)", with a separate page (or pages) dealing with the presidency armies, which were separate entities. Since the modern Indian Army is an institutional continuation of the pre-independence army, i think it makes sense to name this page Indian Army and then add dates in brackets. Mesoso2 (talk) 21:12, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

I completely agree with the above, except that we already (luckily) have articles on the Presidency armies, the Bengal Army, the Madras Army and the Bombay Army. The military organization of India was very formal, and it's a mistake to invent an army retrospectively which didn't exist at the time. Also, I'm afraid that some of the text of this article has wandered some way from the facts, failing to match what is revealed from reliable sources in other articles. Xn4 (talk) 06:56, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Following this discussion, I've now renamed the page Indian Army (1895–1947) and also made some corrections in the text. Xn4 (talk) 01:40, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Rank System[edit]

I have restored the Rank titles and the section on King's Commissioned Indian Officers

Requested move March 2010[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was consensus to move to British Indian Army -- PBS (talk) 22:57, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Indian Army (1895–1947)Indian Army (British) — We do not usually use dates for disambiguation and as few if any readers are going to know the dates to search for an article on the Indian Army of the British Empire, it is better if it is moved to a more descriptive name. Originally the name British Indian Army was chosen for this page and confirmed using a poll that pre-dates the WP:RM page! It was moved to the current name without a WP:RM, but it has been at that name for some time hence this request rather than a bold move. -- PBS (talk) 09:33, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Much of this talk page involves threads about the name of this page. Please read the previous debates to save the need to repeat the debates in this section. -- PBS (talk) 09:33, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Agree - British Indian Army is descriptive and easy to understand and just as accurate. Dabbler (talk) 23:06, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support British Indian Army, not Indian Army (British). --Redtigerxyz Talk 03:42, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I am happy with British Indian Army if that is what the current emerging consensus -- PBS (talk) 03:50, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


According to Stephen Badsey, the BIA was the largest all-volunteer force even during WWI and remained so until the end of WW2. This differs from what our article says. He appears to be a reliable source. The statement can be see here - can't give a page number, alas. - Sitush (talk) 18:02, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

There was no conscription in India and AFAIK the same applied to all the Empire countries that had non-white 'native' populations, in these only white inhabitants, i.e., the actual colonists, settlers, etc., were liable to be called up. For the other populations joining the armed services was IIRC entirely voluntary.

Martial Race[edit]

martial race and Punjabinization of Army here are omitted. Any one please add them.Ovsek (talk) 06:21, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Final Command[edit]

After the end of WWII and before partition, there was one more military action, the last action in which Indian troops were sent into action under British command. I don't remember what it was, specifically, but it would be a good addition to this article. Anyone know? The Sanity Inspector (talk) 02:25, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

I believe that there were at least two campaigns that Indian Army troops were involved in after WWII. They were involved in fighting the Viet Minh in Indochina after the Japanese surrender and before the French reestablished colonial government and similarly in Indonesia against the republican Indonesians partly to protect the interned Europeans held by the Japanese who were being attacked by Indonesians opposed to the possible return of Dutch rule. They also undertook retaliatory attacks in response to the assassination of a senior British officer who had been negotiating with Sukarno. Dabbler (talk) 03:51, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Uploading pictures[edit]

Hi, I have an old picture of FF Rifle Training Staff from British Indian Army at Small Arms School Sagor India (from 1945-46) Could someone please indicate where I should upload it? My father is also in this picture with a British Colonel and a British Captain.

See Wikipedia:File_Upload_Wizard for how to upload images etc. Also you should sign your posts on Talk pages by putting ~~~~ at the end. This automatically puts in a signature block with date and time like this Dabbler (talk) 09:16, 25 January 2016 (UTC)