Who were the six British brigades in India at Partition?

Discussion in 'British Indian Army' started by davidbfpo, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Well-Known Member

    I am tempted to research an aspect of Partition (September 1947) only recently discovered. In summary: Who were the six British brigades in India at Partition?

    My discovery came from glancing at 'Partition: The story of Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947', published in Hardcover – 10 Aug 2017 and later in paperback. The author being a retired British Army General, Barney White-Spunner.
    Link to publisher's website: Partition

    The book has had many reviews. Here is a key passage from one: 'The warnings were there, but they were ignored. White-Spunner blames everyone. Militarily ignorant politicians like Nehru and Jinnah were simply out of their depth. Mountbatten was not as personally culpable as is often supposed and, suprisingly, the man he blames most is Claude Auchinleck, the Indian army’s much-loved commander-in-chief. “The Auk”, it seems, saw Partition as a threat to his army rather than to the Indian public. He starved the Punjab of troops and, even when the scale of the tragedy was apparent, declined to deploy British regiments on the grounds that their job was to protect British personnel, not Indians. In Barney White-Spunner’s highly readable account, this is probably the greatest surprise. Coming from the pen of another likeable general it carries conviction.'

    One Indian review cited the author: 'An effective military deployment, which was urged on the authorities in Delhi from as early as March 1947, would have prevented much of the violence. Why had this not happened? I also feel that although lots is written about Partition in India there is surprisingly little in the UK - just as there is surprisingly little about the events of World War Two in India and the Bengal famine.'
    Link: Partition through the eyes of an ex-British commander

    To be fair Barney White-Spunner provides an explanation why these troops did not respond to the mayhem.

    In my glance there was no detail on which units were present, though I do recall the brigades were mainly infantry and with armoured car regiments.

    Months ago I posted on the last two infantry battalions to leave India and Pakistan, a long time afterwards. The delay in leaving was attributed to a shortage of suitable sea transport.

    I have looked through the threads here on Partition and cannot spot anything relevant. So help and pointers would be welcome. Finally this is a work in progress due to start.
  2. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    The 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Wellington's Regiment was the last British unit to leave Delhi in August 1947.

    This was gleaned from Lieut. Gen Sir Francis Tuker's While Memory Serves (the author was GOC-in-C Eastern Command).
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  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Same Source:

    Screen Shot 2019-01-06 at 04.14.17.png
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  4. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    A couple of British Regiments are mentioned in the links on the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Life in India
    Life in India - FIBIwiki
    Royal Norfolk Regiment
    2nd Battalion Black Watch
    1st Battalion the Somerset Light Infantry.

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  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Somerset Light Infantry - Wikipedia

    The 1st Battalion was the last British infantry battalion to leave India after its independence, departing on 28 February 1948. During the final ceremony, the battalion marched through Bombay (now Mumbai) and received a guard of honour from the newly formed Indian Army at the Gateway of India

  6. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Well-Known Member

    Tricky Dicky,

    The last British Army unit to leave Pakistan was the 2nd Battalion Black Watch, on the 27th / 28th February 1948 (most accounts say it was the 27th) when they boarded a ship @ Karachi. They had been on internal security duties @ Peshawar till August, except for a small rear party - who witnessed the mayhem - and stayed at Malir barracks, near Karachi. They duties there were to protect the departure of colonial staff, including General Auchinleck; this was a families posting and they boarded the day before.

    See 'The Black Watch: Fighting in the Frontline 1899-2006' by Victoria Schofeld. For this episode I relied upon a Google excerpt: The Black Watch

    A short one minute newsreel clip:
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thats interesting - my partners father was 1st Bn SLI based in Peshwar 1946/1947/1948


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