Can anyone help me identify this unit in the Indian Army

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Andrew King, Sep 26, 2022.

  1. Andrew King

    Andrew King Member

    Hi all.
    My grandfather, Reginald George Michael King, served in the Indian Army in WW2. I have in my possession this photograph, but alas no date or description of which unit he is with. I was hoping someone might be able to identify the unit. He was with the Royal Deccan Horse prior to the war, was made adjutant of the Bihar Light Horse between 1937-1940. In Feb 1940 he joined the 20th Lancers as Squadron Commander. In Nov 1942 he joined the 43rd Cavalry after a brief stints back in the Royal Deccan Horse and with the 46th Cavalry, and would appear to have spent the rest of the war with the 43rd Cavalry.
    If anyone can shed any light on this photo I would greatly appreciate it

    Attached Files:

  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    If there's a record of him being the signals officer, or going on a signsls course, that might narrow it down. It looks like he's the OC Signals Troop or similar in that photo.

    The heliographs suggest earlier rather than later, but there's always the risk that it could be a later photo invoking tradition.
  3. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    First name(s) Reginald George Michael
    Last name King
    Rank Lieutenant Colonel
    Year 1923-47
    Regiment -
    Regiment as transcribed 43 C
    Collection area India Office Records and Private Papers
    Date of commission 29 Aug 1923
    Date of release (4 Sep 1947)
    Start date 1923
    End date 1947
    Date range 1923-1947
    Record reference IOR/L/MIL/14/1768
    Scope and content Number: IA 167; Highest Rank: Lieutenant Colonel; Regiment: 43 C; R D H; R A; Date of commission: 29 Aug 1923; Date of release: (4 Sep 1947)
    Country India
    Record set Indian Army Records Of Service 1900-1947
    Category Military, armed forces & conflict
    Subcategory Regimental & Service Records
    Collections from Great Britain, England

    King, Reginald George Michael | The National Archives

    Notices | All Notices | The Gazette
  4. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    Agree with others about the image being of a signals section.

    Coming at the question from another angle and being that you know the timeframes of the units he served with, my thoughts are that that is a late pre-war photograph. I believe taken late in the 1930's. I'm basing that on the two motorcycles which look to be Douglas Aero models from 1936-38.

    See here-

    The Heavyweight Aero models, 1936-38

    It might be worth contacting the Douglas Motorcycle Forum with the image and see if they can positively ID the bikes and if there were any contracts to sell them to the Indian army to give you a definite timeframe.

    I vaguely recall mention of helios being used in John Masters 'Bugles and a Tiger' in the late 1930s.

    Cracking photograph by the way.

    dryan67 likes this.
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Picking up from Scott's opinion, I'd say it's from his Royal Deccan Horse days. A Signals Officer would be a relatively junior appointment so ought to predate the adjutant and squadron commander appointments.
    dryan67 likes this.
  6. Andrew King

    Andrew King Member

    Thanks so much all for your help. I had no record of him being specifically a Signals Officer but would not know whether that would be a specific title. His records note that he passed the Army Signalling course in Poona in 1930 but the list of 'nature of employment' in his Record of Service makes no specific mention of being a signalling officer. I attach this record. Thanks for other suggestions which I will pursuit and thanks again for taking the time to respond.

    Attached Files:

  7. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Hi Andrew

    Do you have the next page of his War Record for the period 1943 onwards? As a coincidence I came across a mention of 43rd Cavalry this morning. P1014670.JPG
  8. Andrew King

    Andrew King Member

    Yes, found it further back in the records sent by the British Library. Its led me to mention another dilemma that has arisen relating to an Australian press article dated October 1, 1945 in the Courier Mail (Queensland, Aust). Sorry it's such a long read but it specifically mentions the "the initial British force, which was rushed from Port Dickson (Malaya) because of possible political trouble, is under the command of Brigadier R. G. M. King. D.S.O., commander of the First Indian Brigade". It might well be a simple case of misreporting but to the best of my knowledge, my grandfather was neither a Brigadier nor did he receive a DSO. Pouring through various Indian Army lists also makes me believe there wasn't ever two R.G.M Kings. I am hoping someone more familiar with Indian Army Service records might be able to decode something from the records to solve this mystery.

    Courier Mail article: October 1, 1945


    Take Over from Japs

    MORE British troops will land in the Netherlands East Indies in the next few days. They will reinforce the troops which landed in Java on Saturday and began taking over from the Japanese. Other British forces are expected to arrive at Sumatra early this week.

    Quiet Landing. Saturday's landing at Batavia passed off without incident, and few Japanese knew of the arrival of the British until hours later. The troops immediately took over the dock area and other vital centres in the capital. A company of Seaforth Highlanders from the 23rd Indian Division were the first troops ashore.

    They were followed by blue-jackets and marines from an Allied cruiser squadron, and an hour later by the remainder of the Seaforths. More than 200 sailors and 50 marines from the cruisers Essex

    and Cumberland and a party from the Dutch cruiser Tromp immediately were distributed in trucks

    to the 12 prisoners of war and internee camps in the neighbourhood. The Japanese at these centres

    were told curtly that they were not running things any longer. The British landing is bringing to an end the strange rule of the last few weeks when the Japanese were in control.

    A British Military Government is to be set up at once. An incongruous touch to the landing, which was typical of recent events in Java, was provided by the use of Japanese landing craft to assist to bring some British sailors ashore.

    The initial British force, which was rushed from Port Dickson (Malaya) because of possible political trouble, is under the command of Brigadier R. G. M. King. D.S.O., commander of the First Indian Brigade.

    The rest of the division, with its commander, Major-General D.C. Cawthorne, will arrive later.

    The Allied Commander in the Netherlands (Lieut.-General Sir Philip Christison) said yesterday

    that his command would insist that the Dutch issue an official statement on future N.E.I, policy.

    He made it clear that both in Java and Sumatra the task of the British and Indian troops were to

    protect war prisoners and internees and disarm and repatriate Japanese forces. Meanwhile, N.E.I. Nationalists would be given the responsibility of maintaining law and order. He added that his forces eventually would be extended to the east to Borneo, relieving the Australians.

    Call For Order

    A few hours after the Batavia landings, the Commander-in-Chief South-East Asia (Admiral Mountbatten) issued a proclamation calling for law and order. He said that it was his earnest hope that there were no acts of violence 'on the parts of small sections of inhabitants' in Java.

    'Such acts would bring the people of Indonesia into bad repute with the Allied nations,' said

    the proclamation. 'British troops have arrived in Java to accept the surrender of the Japanese, protect the people, and maintain law and order until such time as the lawful Government of the Netherlands East Indies is again functioning. 'The Netherlands East Indies laws, with which you are familiar, will be applied by officers of the N.E.I. Civil Administration now present in the country, subject only to any further orders which the Supreme Commander is obliged, in the interests of good

    order, to issue.'

    The proclamation makes clear that the Japanese are responsible for maintaining law and order in

    those parts of Java not yet occupied. Therefore, apparently there are now three authorities administering Java — the Supreme Allied Commander, the Dutch Civil Affairs officers, and the Japanese.

    Natives Quiet.

    There was no sign of trouble from the Indonesians, who crowded the road in front of the Des Indies Hotel when it was known that the British had landed. Reports reaching Batavia say that five Jap Gestapo men, including a major, were wiped out by Republicans at Cheribon. A Jap soldier was killed in Batavia last Thursday night. Before their withdrawal from Batavia the Japs ordered the Indonesians to cease publication of the daily newspaper, the Indonesian Messenger. The Indonesians, it is believed were supplied with news by the Domei agency in Batavia, which is still receiving an Allied news service. Plans Of Dutch After a conference in Singapore with Admiral Mountbatten a high Dutch official yesterday forecast the gradual infiltration of more Allied troops into Java. He said that he was unable to give a date for the arrival of the N.E.I. Government in Batavia.

    Three Dutch, submarines have arrived at Tandjong, in Priok Harbour. In London yesterday the Dutch

    War Minister said that about 4000 Dutch soldiers at present were on their way to the Dutch East In-

    dies. About 27,000 would be sent in the next few months.

    Attached Files:

  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    WO 373/39/20 is a Burma DSO for a Temp Brig RCM King, West Yorks. I think that's what's happened...
  10. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    You have probably seen this. He married into a very famous family here in New South Wales.


    King 1.JPG King 2.JPG
  11. Andrew King

    Andrew King Member

    Thanks Scott, yes that is both my grandparents and I'm fortunate to have a number of the wedding photos. I have also contacted the Douglas motorbikes forum and learnt the following - "The model depicted is a 350cc that was introduced in 1929 and ran through the 1931 season. That was the commercial version. They had a military version painted drab all over (as seen in your photo), no chromium plating, that was supplied to the Army in 1930 called the L3." This would appear to support Idler's thoughts that this is the Royal Deccan Horse
    Also thanks Idler, that also clears up that specific mystery about the Brigadier.
    Your responses all greatly appreciated

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