14/12 Frontier Force Regiment and The Ajmer Regiment

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Georgewilliams, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. Dear All,

    I have started doing some research into my Grandfather (he sadly died when I was very young) Richard Michael Williams and would really appreciate suggestions on any further reading or if you had any information to hand regarding my brick walls it would be great!

    He was born in the UK but moved to India to work on a tea plantation in 1939 (as per Thackers guide).

    In 1940 he joined the army via the Officers Training Course at Belgaum near Goa. He joined the 2/12 Frontier Force Regiment and it seems he was then sent to Basra (30.4.41) during the Anglo-Iraq after which he was then posted back to India (21.1.43)

    He was then transferred onto the 14/12 Frontier Force Regiment, where he undertook a Jungle Warfare Course 23.4.43.

    He was later transferred onto the Ajmer Regiment 10.4.44 where he served until he left the army in 1947. He left a Major of the 3rd Batallion.

    I have found it very difficult to find any information about either 14/12 Frontier Force Regiment or The Ajmer Regiment. If anyone had any information at all about these it would be very well received!

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  2. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is a summary of the service of the 14th Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment:

    11th Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment, Indian Territorial Force

    Nowshera Brigade – 3 September 1939 to end September 1939
    The battalion was embodied September 4th, 1939 and completed by September 20th, at Nowshera. It moved at the end of September 1939 to Dacca to relieve the 2/14th Punjab Regiment.

    Eastern Bengal Brigade Area – End September 1939 to 16 November 1940
    It trained at Dacca and performed internal security duties for one year. It moved to Quetta on November 16th, 1940.

    Baluchistan District – 16 November 1940 to April 1942
    It performed internal security duties at Quetta. It was converted to the 14th (Suba Sarhad) Battalion at Quetta on September 15th, 1941. Two platoons were sent to the 2nd Battalion in Malaya and were captured.

    53rd Indian Infantry Brigade – April 1942 to July 1942
    The 14th Battalion moved to Bangalore in April 1942 to come under the command of the 53rd Indian Infantry Brigade at Talavasol. It moved to Trichinopoly in July 1942, but on arrival it turned over its stores and equipment to another battalion and moved almost immediately to Kohat.

    Kohat Brigade – July 1942 to end August 1942
    It trained at Kohat from July to the end of August 1942. It then moved to Havelian via Abbottabad to Bhairkund Camp and joined 55th Indian Infantry Brigade.

    55th Indian Infantry Brigade – End August 1942 to October 1942
    It received its war stores and equipment again at Bharikund Camp. In October 1942, the battalion moved with the brigade to Fenni in eastern Bengal, an eight days journey. On arrival, the battalion left 55th Indian Infantry Brigade.

    88th Indian Infantry Brigade – October 1942 to February 1943
    On arrival in Fenni, it joined the 88th Indian Infantry Brigade, a line of communications formation. The Battalion HQ remained at Fenni, but the companies were scattered over the LOC area for the Arakan. It left the brigade in February 1943 and came under 354th LOC Sub-Area.

    354th Line of Communications Sub Area – February 1943 to 8 May 1943
    The battalion served as a LOC unit at Chittagong.

    55th Indian Infantry Brigade – Attached - 8 May 1943 to 17 May 1943
    During the first days of May 1943, the battalion was ordered to join the 55th Brigade at Maungdaw in the front. It left Chittagong on May 8th and then moved to Maungdaw. It arrived at the front on May 11th and took up positions on the Maungdaw-Bawli Bazaar road.

    26th Indian Infantry Division – 17 May 1943 to September 1943
    It remained in the Arakan as part of the 26th Indian Infantry Division after the 55th Brigade withdrew to Bawli Bazaar and eventually to Ranchi on May 17th. Apart from a brief visit to Taungbaw by the sea to refit at the end of the first three weeks and a fortnight at Cox’s Bazaar in August 1943, the battalion remained in the Bawli Bazaar area patrolling during the monsoon.

    36th Indian Infantry Brigade – October 1943 to end December 1943
    It withdrew back to Cox’s Bazaar in October 1943, replacing 1st North Staffordshire Regiment in the 36th Indian Infantry Brigade after the battalion left on September 27th, 1943. It was there while the 7th Indian Infantry Division took over from 26th Division. The battalion left the brigade at the end of December 1943, when the 1/8th Gurkha Rifles took its place.

    Central Command – Lahore District – 5 January 1944 to 1 May 1945
    It moved back to India on January 5th, 1944 from the Arakan and moved to Lahore on internal security duties. It did winter training at a camp near Hushiapur and then returned to Lahore.

    24th Indian Infantry Brigade – 11 May 1945 to 23 May 1945
    On May 1st, 1945, the battalion was moved to PAIFORCE and ten days later it was on internal security duties at Abadan under the command of the 24th Indian Infantry Brigade.

    60th Indian Infantry Brigade – 23 May 1945 to 31 August 1945
    On May 23rd, 1945, it joined 60th Indian Infantry Brigade on the Hamadan plain at Bisiton, where it remained until the end of the war. It left for Haifa on October 10th, 1945 and four days later it was located at Rhodes with ‘B’ Company (less a platoon) at Leros and one platoon at Cos. It moved to Rodi on July 17th, 1946 and returned to India at the end of September 1946.
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  3. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is a summary of the service of the 1st Battalion Ajmer Regiment:

    1st Battalion, The Ajmer Regiment

    Bombay District – 1 July 1942 to February 1943
    The battalion was formed by converting the 26th Battalion 4th Bombay Grenadiers at Ajmer on July 1st, 1942.

    107th Line of Communications Area – February 1943 to August 1943
    The battalion continued to form at Ajmer.

    105th Line of Communications Area – August 1943 to September 1944
    The battalion served in the Madras area/

    Bannu Brigade – September 1944 to 31 August 1945
    It was located under the Bannu Brigade from September 1944 until the end of the war. The 1st Battalion was disbanded on August 30th, 1946.

    2nd Battalion, The Ajmer Regiment

    Bombay District – 1 July 1942 to January 1943
    The battalion was formed by converting the 27th Battalion 4th Bombay Grenadiers on July 1st, 1942 at Ajmer. It was located at Ajmer until September 1942.

    Mhow Brigade Area – September 1942 to January 1943
    It joined the Mhow Brigade Area in September 1942 and remained there until January 1943.

    202nd Line of Communications Area – January 1943 to March 1944
    The battalion served on LOC duties in Assam.

    116th Indian Infantry Brigade – March 1944 to end June 1944
    It served with the brigade at Ranchi from March to June 1944 and trained for jungle warfare.

    36th Indian Infantry Brigade – End June 1944 to November 1944
    The battalion came under command of the 36th Indian Infantry Brigade at Cox's Bazaar at the end of June 1944 and remained with the brigade until November 1944, replacing the 8/13th Frontier Force Rifles, which was serving with the Lushai Brigade.

    26th Indian Infantry Division – November 1944 to 20 April 1945
    On the return of the 8/13th Frontier Force Rifles, the 2nd Ajmers took over as the HQ Battalion of the 26th Indian Infantry Division from the 5/9th Jat Regiment in November. The division remained in the Ukhia area until January 1945, when 26th Division concentrated south of Cox's Bazaar for the assault on Ramree Island. The battalion landed on Cheduba Island on February 3rd, 1945 and took over from a force of Royal Marines that had landed on the island. It left the division as HQ Battalion on April 20th, 1945, when it was replaced by the 6/6 Rajputana Rifles.

    XV Corps Troops – 20 April 1945 to August 1945
    The battalion remained as part of XV Corps troops until August 1945, when it returned to India.

    Sind Brigade Area – August 1945 to 31 August 1945
    It served under the Sind Brigade from August 1945. It was disbanded on June 20th, 1946.
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  4. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Actually the last posing includes both the 1st and 2nd Battalions. I am not sure which one you are interested in.
    Georgewilliams likes this.
  5. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    Thank you dryan67 for providing such detailed information.

    The FIBIS Fibiwiki has a (small} page Ajmer Regiment which mentions a war diary at the National Archives Kew, and Private Papers at the Imperial War Museums, of an officer in the 2nd Battalion in Burma.

    One thing which however puzzles me is that the Ajmer Regiment is classified as an Indian States Forces Regiment, which are regiments raised by the Princely States of India, but under the control of the Indian Army. The war diary is so classified. However, Ajmer appears to have been under the direct control of the British, and not a Princely State, so I don't know why the Ajmer Regiment was classified as a ISF regiment.

    George said his grandfather was with the 3rd Battalion. I image with Richard Williams' background as a tea planter, and having undertaken a Jungle Warfare Course, he is more likely to have been at some point with the 2nd Battalion in Burma, rather than remaining in India.

    Georgewilliams likes this.
  6. Many thanks Maureen and Dryan for your replies - very much appreciated.

    Yes he was in the 3rd Battalion of The Ajmer Regiment, where by the end of the war he was the rank of Major (I think via an emergency commission) I am struggling to find anything on that Battalion... Any help would be great!

    I have put a request in for the diary at the National Archives - so thank you for that suggestion.

    Also when he served in Basra with the 2/12 Frontier Force Regiment in Iraq / Iran ( 30.4.41 - 21.1.43) he was ADC to two 'Commanders'. The handwriting on the form is difficult to read but the names suggest Commander Disu or Diall (?) and Commander BT (?) I am not sure if you have come across these names before. Sorry not much to go with but thought it would be worth asking...

    Many thanks again for your help

  7. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The Ajmer Regiment was actually a war-raised regiment of the Indian Army, which was formed from the 26th and 27th Battalion, 4th Bombay Grenadiers, which became 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Ajmer Regiment. The regiment was disbanded shortly after the war. Here is some more on the regiment and the 3rd Battalion Ajmer Regiment:

    The Ajmer Regiment

    Regimental Centre
    Ajmer (Nasirabad from 1 November 1943)
    Class Composition
    Kawats, Katats, Minas
    Battle Honours
    1st Battalion: 1 July 1942 at Ajmer. Disbanded 30 August 1946
    2nd Battalion: 1 July 1942 at Ajmer. Disbanded 20 June 1946
    3rd Battalion: 1 March 1943 at Ajmer. Disbanded 15 January 1946
    Training Company: 1 November 1943 at Nasirabad
    25th (Garrison) Battalion: February 1943. Disbanded 20 September 1946

    3rd Battalion, The Ajmer Regiment

    107th Line of Communications Area
    The battalion was raised at Ajmer on March 1st, 1943 and served there until August 1943.

    Lahore District – August 1943 to March 1944
    The battalion served in the Lahore area.

    Sind Brigade Area – March 1944 to 31 August 1945
    It served in the Sind Brigade Area until the end of the war. It was disbanded on January 15th, 1946.

    25th (Garrison) Battalion, The Ajmer Regiment

    107th Line of Communications Area – 1 November 1943 to May 1944
    The battalion served in the Bombay area.

    108th Line of Communications Area – May 1944 to 31 August 1945
    The battalion remained in the Bombay area. It was disbanded on September 20th, 1946.

    Garrison Companies, The Ajmer Regiment
    1st (Malwa) Garrison Company
    2nd (Baria) Garrison Company
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  8. Many thanks Dryan - much appreciated.

    Would you happen to have any ideas regarding the 'Commanders Question' that I raised in my last post?

    I appreciate it's little to go on and would be happy to email you the record if that would be of help...

    Many thanks

  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron


    I have been very interested in your post and the regiments involved. Please let us know how you get on and good luck going forward.

    Georgewilliams likes this.
  10. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I am sorry that I can't help with the commander question. You need to get your hands on the War Diaries or the regimental history. The regimental history is:

    Condon, Brig. W.E.H. The Frontier Force Regiment. Aldershot: Gale and Polden, 1962.

    I viewed my copy at the New York Public Library's main branch at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street quite a few years back. I would suggest a search of the larger public or university library catalogs that are online and located near you to view a copy.

    I imagine copies of the war diaries are located at Kew. There are a couple of members who provide an inexpensive copy service to forum members. Try the following:



    Good luck in your search.
    Georgewilliams likes this.
  11. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    Thanks dryan67 for your clarification about the status of the Ajmer Regiment

    Georgewilliams likes this.
  12. Many thanks all for your help.

    Very much appreciated

  13. Dear All,

    I wondered if you might have any extra information about the 2/12 Frontier Force during the Anglo-Iraq war and the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran?

    Any help would be much appreciated.


  14. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member


    You have the wrong battalion. the 2/12th Frontier Force Regiment served in Malaya and Singapore 1940-42 and was absorbed into the 5/11th Sikh Regiment as the Sikh Battalion, before being captured on February 15th, 1942.

    The 1/12th Frontier Force Regiment served in Iraq, Syria and Iran in 1941. Is this the battalion you are interested in? The 5/12th Battalion also did some garrison time in Iraq and Iran in 1941-42.
    Georgewilliams likes this.
  15. Thank you dryan67 for your prompt reply.

    What makes this quite interesting is that my Grandfather was definitely part of the 2/12th Frontier Force regiment and did serve in Iraq as well as Iran.

    Having accessed his military file at the British Library he was transferred from Karachi to Basra on 19.4.41. It seems that a certain number of troops must have been diverted from travelling over to Malaysia and instead sent to Iraq at the last minute. I believe this is likely to have occurred due to an uprising Rashi Ali.

    His records indicate that he returned from Iraq to India on 21.3.43

    If you had any information on what the 2/12th did during that time in Iraq and Iran it would be most great to know. Or do you think he is most likely to have been absorbed by 1/12th FF?

    He was ADC to a couple of commanders during this period in Iraq and Iran, whilst also being promoted to temporary Captain.
  16. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The 2nd Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment definitely did not serve in the Middle East at any time. Here is a summary of their service.

    2nd (Sikhs) Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment

    Bannu Brigade – 3 September 1939 to 4 October 1939
    The battalion formed part of the Bannu Brigade at Mir Ali on September 3rd, 1939. It left Mir Ali on October 4th, 1939.

    Landi Kotal Brigade 7 October 1939 to 24 October 1940
    After leaving Mir Ali it moved to Fort Salop, where it arrived on October 7th. It relieved the 4/11th Sikh Regiment and came under the Landi Kotal Brigade.

    22nd Indian Infantry Brigade – 24 October 1940 to early June 1941
    It then moved to Quetta in October 1940 and, on arrival on the 24th, joined the newly created 22nd Indian Infantry Brigade. The brigade moved to Balei near Quetta on December 31st, 1940. On March 1st, 1941, the brigade moved to Secunderabad and embarked for Malaya on April 10th, 1941. It arrived at Penang in April and moved temporarily to Ipoh. It then moved to Taiping. At the start of June 1941, 22nd Brigade moved to Kuantan and the battalion moved to Kota Bharu.

    8th Indian Infantry Brigade – Early June 1941 to 22 December 1941
    At Kota Bharu it replaced the 2/18th Royal Garhwal Rifles in the 8th Indian Infantry Brigade. It was located at Pulai Chondong on November 29th, 1941.
    On the outbreak of war on December 7th, 1941, it formed part of the brigade reserve in the Kelantan area at Chondary Camp. It fought under the brigade in the Kelantan area and withdrew to Kota Bharu by December 9th. By December 22nd, it had withdrawn to Kuala-Lipis-Jerantut area. It then moved to Kuantan to rejoin 22nd Indian Infantry Brigade there.

    22nd Indian Infantry Brigade – 22 December 1941 to 24 January 1942
    On arrival in Kuantan, the 2nd Battalion joined the 22nd Indian Infantry Brigade. The battalion withdrew with the brigade over the Pahang River on January 3rd, 1942, fighting in the Kuantan area until January 7th. The battalion moved into the Muar-Gemas line with the brigade on January 14th and the battalion was located at the bridges over the S. Musar near Segamat. After the attack on the line, the battalion withdrew to Klaung by January 21st. The brigade moved into positions at Paloh on January 24th. By this point, the battalion was no more than one company strong. It was then absorbed into a weak 2nd Battalion 18th Royal Garhwal Rifles to form a Composite Battalion under the brigade. In the next withdrawal around MS 437 on the railway line, the brigade was decimated between January 28th and February 2nd and ceased to be a fighting force.

    III Indian Corps – 24 January 1942 to 6 February 1942
    During this time remnants of the battalion withdrew into Singapore. The 5/11th Sikh Regiment absorbed the remnants of the battalion on February 6th in Singapore and this battalion, now called the Sikh Battalion, was placed under 8th Indian Infantry Brigade in Singapore in the Neesom-Sembawang area. Refer to the history of the 5th/11th Sikhs for the period up to the surrender on February 15th, 1942.
  17. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    More than likely he was cross posted to the 1st Battalion from the 2nd Battalion right after the latter left for Malaya on April 10th, 1941. Here is the service of the 1st Battalion. The date of 19 April 1941 is interesting as regards to the transfer from Karachi to Basra. The invasion force from India sailed from Karachi on 12 April 1941 and landed in Iraq on 20 April 1941. This was the 20th Indian Brigade consisting of 2/8th Gurkha Rifles, 3/11th Sikh Regiment and 2/7th Gurkha Rifles.

    1st (Prince of Wales’s Own)(Sikhs) Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment

    Bannu Brigade – 3 September 1939 to September 1940
    The battalion was organized with ‘A’ (Sikh), ‘B’ (Punjabi Mussalmen), ‘C’ (Pathan), and ‘D’ (Dogra) Companies. It formed part of the Bannu Brigade on September 3rd, 1939 and remained under command of the brigade until the autumn of 1940. It took part in operations in the Ahmedzai Salient from February 12th to March 7th, 1940. It was employed at Bannu on road protection until February 13th, when it moved into Gumatti Camp. On February 21st, it was attached to the 3rd (Jhelum) Brigade to attack the Gumatti defile. It returned to Bannu on March 7th.

    Delhi Independent Brigade Area – September 1940 to 1 November 1940
    It moved to Delhi Cantonment in September 1940.

    17th Indian Infantry Brigade – 1 November 1940 to 31 August 1945
    It joined the newly created 17th Indian Infantry Brigade at Delhi in on November 1st, 1940. It served with the brigade until June 1945.
    The battalion was mobilized in May 1941 and embarked with the brigade from Bombay on June 2nd, 1941, arriving at Basra on June 9th. It then remained in the area, working on improving transit facilities. The battalion was sent north in advance of the brigade on June 26th, 1941 and arrived at Mosul on June 28th, two weeks before the arrival of the rest of the brigade. From Mosul, the battalion formed a column called ‘Cotswald’ that consisted of the Battalion HQ, two companies with a detachement of mortar and MMG platoons, one section of guns and a detachment of Sappers and Miners. The column occupied Tell Kotchek in Syria on July 2nd. The rest of the battalion followed and advanced to Tell Aalo and occupied it on July 4th/5th. Three companies remained at Tel Aalo with the 17th Brigade and a mobile column of the Battalion HQ, ‘C’ Company and two RAF armoured cars moved to Hassetche on July 8th. The battalion moved to Tell Kotchek on July 10th and then returned to Mosul on July 11th, where it remained for the next ten months.
    The battalion left Mosul on May 27th, 1942 for Habbaniyah and then Haditha (K3). The battalion was ordered to Syria on June 25th, 1942 and left for Syria on July 1st. It arrived at Aleppo on July 3rd and then moved to Tripoli. It remained in Tripoli detached fro the brigade until September 29th, when it returned to Iraq at Kirkuk and rejoined the brigade on October 6th. The battalion moved to Kifri on December 1st and had ‘D’ Company detached to Kermanshah in Persia. The battalion trained in January 1943 and then moved to Syria in April and arrived at Baalbek, Lebanon on April 29th to train as part of the 8th Indian Infantry Division. The brigade moved to Kabrit for further training on July 7th and then moved to Jebel Mazar at the end of the month. The battalion was designated to form part of the force to capture Rhodes on August 9th, but instead moved to Alexandria on September 11th. It embarked for Italy on September 20th and arrived at Taranto on September 24th, 1943.
    The brigade moved into the front line at Larino on October 19th/20th, 1943 and was then involved in the crossing of the Biferno and Trigno Rivers. It reached Lissi by November 7th, 1943. It then crossed the Sangro on November 27th-30th followed by an advance to Villa Grande. It then remained on the Adriatic Front until May 1944, when in moved to the central front near Cassino. It crossed the R. Gari and advanced to Pignatero from May 11th-16th and then crossed the Melfa on May 27th and advanced to Alatri. The brigade switched to the area around M. Libretto on June 10th and prepared to advance to Montopoli. It led the advance starting on June 17th and was in action until June 28th-30th. The brigade was then back in the line on July 22nd north of Poggibonsi for the advance to Florence. It began the advance on Montelupo on August 2nd/3rd, crossed the Arno on August 11th, and by August 18th was in the line at Florence. From August 12th-18th, it attacked M. Colrana and Femmina Morta. The brigade then advanced to M. Scarabattole and captured M. di Castelnuovo from September 22nd-27th. It then moved to the Adriatic coast and patrolled there from October 1st-5th. The advance continued from October 25th-26th and the brigade took M. Bassana. The brigade then rested from November 29th to December 17th, when it returned to the line to attack Vena Del Gesso. It was involved there until January 8th, 1945 and then returned to the division on January 13th at Lucca in the Senio Line. The final battle began on April 11th and the brigade crossed the Senio and Santerno. The Po was finally crossed on April 25th-26th and the advance was over on April 29th.
    After the campaign was over, the battalion moved to Perugia on May 19th. It sailed from Italy in two detachments on the 14th and 19th of June and arrived at Karachi on the 26th of June and 1st of July. The battalion then moved to Sialkot for leave until the end of the war.
  18. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    It would help if you could post a copy of his records here.
  19. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Yes. I see. That was the 1st Battalion under 17th Indian Infantry Brigade. See the history I posted above.

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