The East India Company’s Marine (Indian Marine) and its Successors through to the Royal Indian Navy (1613-1947)
- A realistic guide to what is available
to those looking into the careers of officers and men
See below for the Bombay Marine (1686-1830) Indian Navy, Bombay Marine (1863-77), Indian Marine, Royal Indian Marine, Royal Indian Navy, Royal Indian Naval Reserve & Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Also, within these are references and links to a separate section on the Bengal Marine.
by Len Barnett
As a professional maritime researcher, with a sound knowledge of sources useful to those seeking genealogical information, for those both in armed and/or mercantile service on British vessels, I receive enquiries of a great variety. Sometimes only armed with a person’s name, happily I am able to provide a wealth of information from original documents. At other times, even with more information to hand no records survive and I have to tactfully explain that there is nowhere to go.
There is no doubt that genealogy has become a popular pastime. There certainly seems to be evermore people using the facilities of museums and archives to trace their ancestors. The media too has realised this. A number of television documentaries and ‘how to’ programmes have recently been aired on British screens. Often these tell amazing tales, with polished ease.
For those who have spent days trawling through tens of thousands of entries, red-eyed and tired, in the vain hope of finding one single piece of information, it is realised that research can be distinctly hard work! So, the following is based on years of working on various classes of original records and is meant as an aid to people who are interested in finding out about their mariner forebears. I cover the main Company and later state classes of records, the majority being at the British Library.
How to use this website
Due to the complexities of the organisations dealt with, including the numerous name changes, this guide will be split into two main sections. The former will cover the period up to 1857, as a distinct part of the ‘Honourable’ East India Company and the latter, from 1858 onwards when ultimately under the control of the British Government - as the Raj. Having covered the basics of the history and organisation in each section, the intricacies of tracing individuals will follow. Also, since study into the ‘personnel’ records are not only heavily intertwined with the Company proper (until 1858) and also, perhaps more surprisingly, the Royal Navy, as in my other guides, there are links where relevant. Similarly, I conclude with a listing of published sources, for further reading.
People within the United Kingdom who are easily able to travel around the London area may then want to conduct their own searches. As these often take a considerable time and therefore can cost much in time, money and effort, people from further away may want to invest in the expertise of a professional researcher. This is especially pertinent for people from overseas, where a trip to the U.K. may well cost a great deal of money.
Of course engaging a researcher is a matter of choice and requires trust. Some of the main institutions mentioned have lists of researchers. A number of researchers advertise that they are expert in a number of fields, both military and civil. However, as some of these bodies of records are immensely complicated personally I find it difficult to believe that these people can be truly ‘expert’ in all these areas. Therefore, I only deal in subjects that I am comfortable in, both relating to the day-to-day records and also the wider historical context. For those potentially interested in my services, I can be contacted at email@example.com. Please note that I earn my living as a freelance researcher and therefore charge professional fees.
Company Naval Forces c.1613-1858
Having begun in privateering against the Portuguese on the very first Company voyage to the Nicobar Islands (1601-03), even with the normal aggression associated with forging new trade links, it was hardly surprising that these fellow Europeans did not take kindly to the English freebooting upstarts. Per the published works on the naval aspect, consequently, just over a decade later the Directors of the English East India Company decided that more force was required in the waters of what was still being termed the East Indies. Under the command of Captain Thomas Best, a ‘fleet’ of four suitably heavier-armed vessels, Dragon, Hoseander (or Osiander), joined shortly after by James and Solomon were despatched as of February of 1612.
However, some accounts that concentrate on the business aspects give a considerably different understanding of this voyage. Firstly, as far as I can determine, these vessels were no heavier-armed than at least some of the previous forays. Secondly, the assertion that this was primarily a naval mission can be challenged on a number of grounds, including this fleet’s own movements and especially because it did not remain ‘on station’, but returned to London within a few years.
Anyway, the first element arrived in the Swally, the seaway off Surat, in western India that September (after previously venturing to southern Arabia) and the Portuguese soon engaged in their own display of force. This was superior not only in the four galleons, but also in a considerable number of smaller armed ‘frigates’. By the time this occurred, obviously having gained local knowledge and intelligence, seeking to maintain his defensive position Captain Best went on the offensive in late October 1612. Tactically astute, the English bloodied the Portuguese badly. According to the naval versions, on the strength of this the Company was awarded local concessions, by the Mughal emperor Jahangir and factories were set up not just at Surat, but also within the Gulf of Cambay and inland at Ahmedabad, Cambay and Gogo. And so at it’s simplest, in order to defend these tiny toeholds on the Indian mainland, not only from the Portuguese but also local pirates, in 1613 the East India Company’s Marine, otherwise known as the Indian Marine came into being.
Nevertheless, if other events and considerations are factored into the situation, this cannot be taken at face value. As it was not until 1614 that decisions were taken in England to increase investment in the Indian mainland, martial defence of these particular factories (and not others already established variously elsewhere) does not seem to have made any sense.
The formal order-of-battle of the early Indian Marine is not entirely clear from the standard published work on this force. But, careful study and reference to other sources can discern this. Firstly, it should be noted that individuals in command of Indiamen were not known as masters, but commanders, or captains. This was military terminology of the era. Secondly, if one checks the names of the primary vessels used in warlike operations, they are found to be Indiamen, rather than on the list of the Indian Marine.
For this particular early period the Indian Marine was designed as a limited coastal force, comprised of grabs and gallivants, operated originally in the rivers Nerbudda and Taptee and also within the Gulf of Cambay. Grabs were mostly two-masted, short but very broad-beamed, shallow-draught craft at around 150 tons, although some were three-masted and (presumably) displacing 300 tons. Gallivants were large rowing-boats, up to about 70 tons. They were used not only for convoying, but also cargo shifting within these riverine and coastal areas. In 1615 it was thought that their strength totalled ten craft.
Best’s vessels having quit the area, the next ‘fleet’ in theatre was under the command of Captain Nicholas Downton. In alliance with the local Nabobs, Downton defended Surat ably from a vastly superior Portuguese fleet from Goa. But, attempted trading into the Persian Gulf had the Company going on the offensive once again. Five ships, the London, Jonas, Whale, Dolphin and Lion, along with four pinnaces (two or three-masted vessels, also oar-powered, mounted with guns) made their presence felt at Ormuz in January 1622. The nearby Portuguese fort was besieged by the English and a Persian army: bringing surrender a month later and the sacking of Ormuz. (Due to this, the nearby port of Gombroon was renamed Bundar Abbas.) Although militarily successful, this showed pitfalls of operating directly with allies. It also proved financially highly expensive to the Company, as the Crown demanded and got a share of the booty (with the Company footing the entire bill). Nevertheless, the Portuguese lost prestige and some power, with the English seen as worthy of consideration regionally.
There was also another confrontation with the Portuguese in the Gulf three years later. Allied to the Dutch at this time, jointly they had eight ships and apparently they slogged it out with a not dissimilar number of Portuguese and some small craft, over a three day period. Victory was said to have gone to the allied fleet. Nevertheless, six months later the Portuguese, once again in strength in the Straits of Hormuz took a grim revenge on one of the victors, the Indiaman Lion and her company. In return, the English first visited the Portuguese on an island named Bombay in October 1625. Niceties would seem not to have passed at this time, but from the one source that mentions this (so far seen) there are no details.
Back in Surat, the Company’s Indian headquarters, the English were on excellent terms with the Moghul emperor Jehangir and was accorded rights to the Indian Marine to ‘make reprisals’ on Portuguese ships within the Moghul dominions in 1629. The following year the Portuguese again resorted to force at Surat and were, for the third time, defeated. The year of 1634 brought a negotiated treaty of truce between the Portuguese and English - the latter gaining limited entry to more ‘Portuguese’ ports. Furthermore, the first British shipbuilding in India, in the shape of four pinnaces for the Indian Marine, was begun in 1635.
The First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54) proved challenging to English force. The Dutch fleet was far superior and gained ‘command of the sea’, completely cutting the English lines of communication with the Persian Gulf. Three Indiamen, the Roebuck, Lanneret and Blessing were taken and another, the Supply was wrecked in her attempt to escape the Dutch. What was more, it was only the strong English links with the Mughal rulers that averted a Dutch assault of Surat.
The next threats to Surat came, not from fellow Europeans, but from the first of the Mahrattas, Shivaji. He had founded a fleet that harassed Moghul shipping and subsequently made a landing in force at Surat in January 1664. The Indian Marine deployed ashore, providing a defence both for the Company’s factory and wider within the town. This allowed for a Mughal army to arrive and see off the attackers. The Mahrattas were not finished by any means though and six years late, there was another successful shore defence of the Surat Factory by the Indian Marine.
Previously, events in Europe had long-term implications for the Company. With the end of the Commonwealth and the restoration of the monarchy, there was a dynastic marriage in 1662 between King Charles II of England (and Scotland) to the Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza. Among the dowry, the Portuguese ceded the island of Bombay to the English Crown. Having failed to administer it directly, in 1668 (through Portuguese intransigence locally) it was transferred to the Company in perpetuity.
At this time the British could hardly be described as the masters of the area. The Portuguese were on Salsette Island and also at Mahim and Varsova. The Moghuls had a presence at Mazagon; with the Mahrattas occupying Khanderi and Elephanta Islands. Dangerous times, the English managed to remain neutral in the wars between the Moghuls and Mahrattas (the former overwhelming the latter at Thana), while also negotiating trading rights from them.
The Bombay Marine (1686-1830)
With their assets being transferred from Surat to Bombay over time, the Company’s ‘seat of government’ was officially made Bombay in 1685. With this the new title Bombay Marine was adopted the following year. At this point, Sir John Child headed up the presidency and his aggression towards the Mughal regime (of the famous Aurangzeb from 1658), could well have spelled the end of the English in western India.
Employing surprise, this had initial returns, but soon the Sidi’s fleet had imposed the Mughal will over the English. (The Sidis were the hereditary admirals of the Mughals.) Maintaining ‘command of the sea’, most of the island of Bombay had been taken and occupied, with Child’s forces besieged in his own castle. That the English were not starved into submission rested purely in the hands of the Bombay Marine, in capturing supplies from Mughal vessels.
Child’s death in 1690 was the catalyst in resolving matters. The Company was required to pay £15,000 in compensation. It may, or may not, have been that Aurangzeb’s primary reason had been to gain protection for his pilgrim ships from the Bombay Marine.
The threat to the pilgrims came from pirates (or ‘pyrates’ as frequently shown in contemporaneous documents). In this particular era there were two varieties: European and local. Those of the former variety were of a temporary phenomenon, in large, well-armed vessels, under the command of individuals such as William Kidd and John Avery. They took much plunder for little risk. For all the same reasons that were just as applicable in later war (including the twentieth century’s world wars), convoying by the Bombay Marine was conducted successfully. Nevertheless, this service had only been provided after one incident. Avory had fallen on a Moghul vessel and stolen a fortune and since he (and the other pirates) flew the English colours of Saint George, Aurangzeb had much of the English presidency imprisoned - pending suitable financial indemnity!
While Kidd and company disappeared off the scene, in one way or another, the other pirates were a long-term problem however. Also, their nature was very different from the so-called ‘glamorous adventurers’ (currently promoted ridiculously by Hollywood films) and in at least some ways were not dissimilar to modern pirates, in areas such as western Africa. These were entire communities, holding land and sailing particular waters that for specific reasons had decided to take from the lucrative passing trade. (For those interested in relatively recent events Captain Roger Villar’s Piracy Today: Robbery and Violence at Sea since 1980 published by Conway Maritime Press in 1985 is a good starting point.) The Malabar pirates, on the Indian West Coast had partly come to prominence through the Mughal-Mahratta wars, but became stronger subsequently. Careful study will show that the politics were exceedingly complex and the fact that both the Mughals and the Europeans saw these as pejoratively as pirates might be challenged by others, both then and now.
In their various negotiations with Aurangzeb, the European trading companies had been required to take responsibility for anti- pirate cruising operations as of 1669. At the western edges of the Mughal dominions, the Dutch were assigned the Red Sea; and the French the Persian Gulf. The English, instead, received ‘the Southern Indian Seas’.
In the early eighteenth-century the Angrias, under Kanjohi, were operating out of Gheria (also known as Viziadrug) along the Malabar coast. On Kanjohi’s not inconsiderable strength were ten large grabs of almost 400 tons displacement and these could mount from 16 to 30 guns apiece. His ten gallivats were also larger, at around 120 tons and armed with four to twelve guns. Along with clan members, among their crews were human flotsam and jetsam, apparently including Arabs, ‘Negroes’ and ‘renegade’ Portuguese and Dutchmen.
With far lesser force, the Bombay Marine (or ‘Bombay Buccaneers’ as the Royal Navy dubbed them) had been in combat with the Angrias at sea in 1715. An attack was subsequently made on Gheria the next year - with no success. Interestingly, an Anglo-Portuguese operation was carried out in 1722 against another Angria stronghold, again with no gain. Similarly, the Dutch assaulted Gheria with a strong squadron two years later. With the same result, the Dutch had suffered heavy casualties in the process. With other captures made by Kanjohi’s forces (although not without loss due to the Bombay Marine) this coast was regarded as too hazardous to merchant vessels unescorted by warships.
On Kanjohi’s death in 1730 his territories were divided between two sons, Sukhoji and Sambhaji. The former was soon got rid of by a half-brother, Mannaji, but as these two were not on the best of terms, European interests gained some advantage. The Company managed to negotiate a treaty with Mannaji, controlling the northern part, which was not broken (by captures of merchantmen) all that often.
The situation in the southern sector, under Sambhaji, was a different matter though. As is usual in what is currently termed asymmetric warfare, the pirates were loathe to get involved in full-scale ‘battle’ and instead employed ambush tactics. Unusually Commodore Bagwell in 1738 managed to inflict real damage on a pirate force using four Company ships and showed that employment of such a force level could be effective. Nevertheless, seen as short sighted by the seamen, economies ordered by the Directors in London reduced the Bombay Marine in 1742. This resulted directly in financial insecurity to the point that no Indiamen made the return voyage to Europe in 1743. In light of this, the cuts to the Marine were subsequently reversed.
In 1749 Captain William James, Guardian (28 guns), with Bombay (another 28) and a bomb-ketch Drake fought an extremely successful convoy action against an Agria fleet, counter-attacking and inflicting significant damage on the pirates. Two years later William James was made Commodore and Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Marine and he pursued a policy of maintaining a strong patrolling presence on the Konkan and Kanara coasts.
With Sambhaji’s death and succession by his son Tulaji, there was a new dynamic. In the feudal-type system, Tulaji would not accept the overlordship of the Mahratta Peshwa. This resulted in a joint operation between the forces of the Peshwa and the Company against the Angria strongholds of Gheria and Severndrug in 1755. These joint amphibious operations were highly effective and Severndrug was taken within days. The monsoon then intervened and operations were broken off until later that year.
Gheria had been thought to be impregnable, but in November of that year the newly arrived commander of a Royal Naval squadron, Rear-Admiral Charles Watson (apparently not being promoted Vice-Admiral until returning to Bombay), agreed to making an attempt on it. In February 1756 they made their move. The heavy firepower came from H.M. third-rate men-o-war Kent (74), Cumberland (66), fourth-rate Tiger (60), Salisbury (50) and the Company’s fifth-rate Protector (44). They were supported two smaller Royal and nine Company ships (the latter including bomb-ketches), plus four Mahratta grabs and forty gallivats; as well 1,400 infantry and a company of artillery (presumably Company troops). After two days of bombardment, not only had the pirate fleet been burned, Gheria also fell. - for the remarkably light losses of ‘nineteen men killed and wounded’.
As already mentioned on the main Company guide, the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) had repercussions out east (from 1745 onwards). Charles Rathbone Low, the author of a very detailed history of this force, thought that Bombay Marine ships (comparatively minor though they were) served with the Royal Naval fleet in theatre. Bearing in mind the then comparable strengths, this would have been entirely sensible. Nevertheless, British naval forces were reinforced twice. Four not particularly impressive ships commanded by Commodore Thomas Griffin R.N., arrived from England in 1747, giving the British some advantage in hulls and firepower (although there were losses to the French). This was followed in July 1748 with six further lower-rated ships of the line and lesser vessels, under Admiral Edward Boscawen R.N. With undoubted ‘command of the sea’ locally, immediately a very strong joint naval and military force, both Royal and Company, set out to reduce Pondicherry in the Carnatic (on India’s East Coast). In the event they were unsuccessful in light of the topography and skilled defence put up by the French under Joseph Dupleix.
Events on the West Coast would also bear out the contention that the Bombay Marine had been weakened. Two French privateers, originally operating off the Cape of Good Hope, had ventured to India, aiming to intercept Indiamen arriving from London. Being essentially a small coastal defence force, even at the best of times it was not that well placed to deal with threats such as these and only had to hand three diminutive war vessels, along with six fishing boats, the latter acting as an information service. That this was not an adequate defence can be seen in the taking of the Indiaman Anson, within sight of Bombay on 2nd September 1747.
Company vessels also served variously with Royal Naval forces during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). Once again these were overwhelmingly out of the Bombay Marine’s theatre though. On Vice Admiral Watson returning to Britain, the Royal Naval fleet was commanded by Vice-Admiral George Pocock, reinforced in March 1758 with a squadron from England, under the command of Commodore Charles Stevens. Off St. David in April that year, Stevens defeated a superior French fleet. The Bombay Marines’ frigate (sixth-rate) Protector (44) was among this British force. In operations off the Coromandel Coast in August 1759, under the command of Admiral Pocock, the Bombay Buccaneers’ frigate (sixth-rate) Revenge (28) was on detached duty to seek out the French fleet off Ceylon. Contact was indeed made, with the British again besting a superior French force - the two above named Marine frigates involved. Company vessels formed a part of the joint naval-military force, under Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish and Colonel Eyre Coote, that invested Pondicherry. This time successful, the French garrison surrendered in January 1761. Nevertheless, among casualties two Indiamen, the Advice and Mermaid and the Bombay Marine’s Protector were lost in a hurricane during these last operations. Incidentally, these were not one-off losses to nature, trading and military operations were routinely subjected to limitations through the monsoon and hurricane seasons.
A further responsibility fell to the Bombay Marine midway through the Seven Years War. The power of the Sidis had declined to the point that they had been failing to protect the Mughals’ trade from pirates. The Company had already been angling to take over this protection work for the high rates of remuneration attached. A conflict sprang up between the Nawab of Surat and the current Sidi in 1759 and the Company chose to intervene on the part of the Nawab. This resulted in the Company being commissioned to execute the duties of the Sidi, with a Bombay Marine officer being appointed annually as the ‘Moghul Admiral’. Carried out by the Surat squadron of the Marine, this remained their responsibility until 1829. It should be noted that this was no purely ceremonial duty.
Continuing in their political activities, c.1773 the Company had become loosely allied to Ragunath, the recently installed Peshwa of the Mahrattas, in his war with the Nizam. Consequently, an expedition to Thana was mounted in December 1774, with the Bombay Marine element under the command of Commodore John Watson. After an initial attempt to resolve the situation through bribery rather than death and destruction failed, there was an eight-day artillery bombardment from the ships’ armament that had been landed. Over two nights, assaults were attempted - the second succeeding.
Another aspect of the Bombay Buccaneers’ activities should be mentioned at this stage, not merely for chronological accuracy, but because it had both military and commercial uses. In 1772 the first surveying was carried out. Obviously the coasts of India and environs were covered, but in time those far further afield were also tackled.
The Bombay Marine took an active part in the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84). The small craft of a squadron, under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes R.N., destroyed a not inconsiderable number of Haidar Ali’s maritime fighting units within Mangalore Harbour, in December 1781. Two ships of the Bombay Marine gave covering fire for these demolition operations. Again, during the siege of Tellicherry the Marine, in the form of the Indiamen Neptune and Royal Admiral until mid May 1782 at least. During Sultan Tipu’s retreat, Bombay Marine units under the command of Commodore George Emptage took Rajamundroog at the mouth of the river Merjee (or Merjan), before moving on to Onore. The defence of this place had been desperate and included the offices and crew, both European and native, of the galivat Wolfe (6). On ‘home’ territory to the north-west, the Marine also took part in the defence of Bombay, when besieged by the Marathas.
As could be expected, during the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1790-92) they were also involved. In particular, officers and men were landed and took part in the further operations against Sultan Tipu ashore. They were well represented in both the Madras and Bombay armies.
Naturally, the ‘Bombay Buccaneers’ also did their bit during the complex and long Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). Of course this was also wrapped up with the never-ending local Indian political struggles and warfare, with the Europeans taking sides to their advantage. As already mentioned in the principal page on the Company, on the Indian mainland, from 1793 to 1805 there was a massive British expansion under the Wellesley brothers (Richard as Governor-General of Bengal and Arthur as a Royal Army officer). However, there were also other operations relating to the wider wars.
In 1799 H.M. Government ordered the occupation and fortification of the island of Perim (at the head of the Red Sea), with the aim of checking possible French moves through Egypt towards India. Carried out by elements of the Bombay Marine, this did not prove feasible in the long term, due to a lack of water. Two years later, there were further operations at Suez where they also served as integral parts of the Royal Navy’s formations.
The Ile de France was wrenched from the French with perhaps surprisingly little opposition, by an amphibious force of not inconsiderable size in late November 1810. Operating from this island, French warships, both naval and privateers, had continually threatened British lines of communications from the Cape to the East Indies and had been a persistent source of ire to the Company for decades. Most recently, the R.N. had suffered a number of embarrassing casualties in lost frigates. It was, therefore, tactically wise to remove this, the only real European naval threat in the region.
The largest gun-platform of the R.N. element of Vice-Admiral Albemarle Bertie’s fleet was the third-rate Illustrious (74), the rest being fourth-rate frigates or smaller. Apart from fifty-odd transports that were undoubtedly Indiamen and country ships (shifting 10,000 troops from India), there were five Bombay Marine ships of war, under Captain Robert Deane. At least some having just returned to Bombay from the Persian Gulf, they were the sloops Malabar (20), Benares (14), gun-brig Thetis (10), and brigs Ariel (10) and Vestal (10). A considerable number of prizes were given up to the British in Port Louis, including two Indiamen and the Bombay Marine sloop Aurora (14) that had been lost to the French two months before. With the return of her old Dutch name, Mauritius became a permanent British spoil of war.
As well as these inherently defensive measures, naturally there were also offensive operations within this theatre. Early on the British managed to oust the Portuguese from their possessions in the Bombay area. Strengthening their position further, this was just another action in ending this particular competitor nation’s power.
Only of temporary advantage for the H.E.I.C. (as it soon became a Crown Colony), the Bombay Marine was present when Ceylon was taken from the half-hearted Dutch garrisons in 1795. The R.N. force commander was Rear-Admiral Peter Rainier, with Commodore Charles Picket on the locally built and manned fifth-rate frigate Bombay (38) responsible for her and lesser units of the Marine.
Although politically allied to Napoleonic France, the Dutch island of Java was not particularly a martial threat. With the Company always having wanted this territory, Lord Minto, then Governor-General of Bengal took the decision to ensure that they acquired it early in 1811.
In a very much larger-scale and highly complex naval operation, with four different rendezvous to allow widespread elements to join, the assault was undertaken as soon as it could be organised. The first divisions, having been shifted from Madras and Bengal separately that April, combined at Penang in early June. Proceeding through the rendezvous, with the final force assembled on the south-west coast of Borneo, they sailed for their objective on July 27th. Interestingly, even counting the twelve hundred men left sick at Penang, the land forces only subsequently amounted to 10,700 - not that many more than in the earlier Mauritius affair. Anyway, awaiting hoped for intelligence from detached frigates, there was a hold up of three days at the end of the month. On August 9th the third-rate Scipion (74) caught them up from the Cape, with Rear-Admiral the Honourable Robert Stopford R.N. onboard and taking overall command from the then Senior Naval Officer, Commodore William Broughton R.N. on the third-rate Illustrious (74).
In this final formation, in the R.N. order of battle there was one other 74; one third-rate 64; one fourth-rate 44, four 38-gun frigates; six 36-gun frigates; two 32-gun frigates; and seven sloops. Under Commodore John Hayes (who was master attendant at Bengal), flying his pennant on the sloop Malabar (21), the Bombay Marine contributed (type unknown) Mornington (22), sloop Aurora (14), brig-sloop Nautilus (14), brigs Vestal (10), Ariel (10), and Psyche (10); gun-brig Thetis (10), and some unnamed gunboats.
The troop landings had already been made from fifty-seven transports, on the night of August 3rd, fifteen miles from Batavia. Astutely, the British stressed that this was an act of liberation from the French. Nevertheless, six weeks of hard fighting followed. Having been defeated though, the surviving Dutch troops apparently keenly threw off their French cockades.
Additionally, when Dutch and Malays were massacred at the Dutch factory at Palimbang in March 1812, a joint R.N. and Bombay Marine expedition against the local Sultan took the usual reprisals. As representatives of what would now be termed the ‘controlling power’ the ‘Bombay Buccaneers’ also acquired an anti-piracy role in the East Indies until Java was returned to the Dutch in the peace settlements post war.
As could be expected cruising against pirates and French privateers, such as La Confidence and L’Eugenie, continued. What was more, the ‘Bombay Buccaneers’ found themselves in a drawn out war with Arab pirates. They were of the strong Joasmi tribe, based in Ras-al-Khaima under Abd-ul-Wahab. The Company had tried to ignore this threat, by instructing the country ships to only to act in self-defence, even after the Bassein had been captured and the Viper attacked in 1797. Taken as a sign of weakness, further outrages including the massacre of the crews of the schooner Shannon (6) and Trimmer (possibly a brig in the country trade) followed. Finally, in 1806, forces of the Bombay Marine at Kism blockaded the pirates’ fleet. A treaty was rapidly made and broken, with the greatly emboldened pirates sending fleets of up to 50 vessels to the Sind and Cutch provinces within a year or so. The Company’s senior management in Bombay remained impassive, while merchantmen and minor men-o-war feverishly fought the pirates off - sometimes unsuccessfully. Serious losses in 1808 again forced executive action against their antagonists.
An expedition, under the command of Commodore John Wainright R.N. set out from Bombay for the Persian Gulf in September 1809. It consisted of H.M. fifth-rate ships of war Chiffone (36) and Caroline (36); along with the Marine’s ‘cruisers’ Mornington (22), Ternate (16), Aurora (14), Mercury (14), Nautilus (14), Prince of Wales (14), Vestal (10), Ariel (10), Fury (8) and Stromboli bomb-ketch; and four handy-sized transports. Onboard these transports were Royal and Company troops - the 65th Foot; elements of the 47th Foot; a detachment of Bombay Artillery and a 1,000 or so Sepoy foot. Potentially ranged against them were 63 large dhows and over 800 of lesser size. It was also said that they could put up 19,000 men. Arriving off Ras-al-Kaima on November 11th, the expedition began a bombardment the next day. On the 13th a landing was made to the south, which was resisted fiercely. Although the town was largely taken, the idea was to inflict severe damage, in reprisal and as the seamen had fired over 50 dhows (including 30 of the large variety) and blown up ‘several magazines’, the troops were re-embarked. Lingeh was occupied on the 17th without the pirates putting up any resistance and it too was put to the torch, with another 20 war-dhows destroyed. Those at Laft held out for three days, but in the end succumbed. There 11 more ‘war dhows’ were destroyed and the town turned over to the Imaum of Muscat. Other installations and craft were destroyed when found and patrols were continued in the Gulf for four months.
Unfortunately, this did not end the matter. With the area not then surveyed, many of the pirates’ craft had escaped and the Company’s management reverted to its past policy of ignoring attacks on their shipping and even naval-defence forces. From 1816 onwards these had become markedly more serious. Finally, a decision was taken to deal with the situation. With the aid of the Royal Navy a strong expedition was formed at Bombay, sailing in early December 1819. The heaviest gun platform was His Majesty’s fourth-rate Liverpool (50); along with the sixth-rate Eden (26) and brig-sloop Curlew (18). The Bombay Marine contributed the sloops Teignmouth (16), Benares (16), Aurora (16), brig-sloops Nautilus (14), Ariel (10) and brig Vestal (10) on sailing; convoying 18 transports (carrying 1,600 British and 1,400 Native troops). Three Marine ships had already been patrolling the Persian Gulf, the sloop Ternate (16), brigs Mercury (14) and Psyche (10) and were tasked to join the main force. On arrival at the head of the Gulf, the Imaum of Muscat supplied two frigates and 600 troops (with another 2,000 marching on Ras-al-Khaima separately). After two days bombardment, mostly from ships’ artillery landed and a subsequent infantry assault the town was occupied. Approximately 80 pirate vessels ranging from 40 to 250 tons, found in harbour were destroyed. However, prior to the assault the Joasmis had already retreated inland overnight. Landed troops dealt with them, while the naval forces took retribution up and down the coast - both forts and vessels were destroyed wholesale. On the back of this a treaty between H.M. Government and all the relevant seagoing Arab tribes came into being in January 1820. Sultan bin Sagar, who was friendly to the British, received all the former Joasmi ports in return for keeping the Arabs in check. This was regarded as a great success both politically and martially for the British.
The final major warlike operations undertaken as the Bombay Marine were related to the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-26). Conflict arose variously. Rightly, or wrongly, the French were seen as becoming too influential in Burmese courtly circles for British tastes. Allied to this were the competing claims of ‘India’ and Burma over the state of Assam. To the British this was seen as a threat to their rule in Bengal and whatever the actual merits (that at the point of writing I have yet to discover) Assam, Manipur and other areas had been invaded by the Burmese. That the Company had never been at all successful in Burma, or even on good terms with Burmese rulers either and that Lord Amherst, the then Governor-General of Bengal, wished military glory might also be seen as not unimportant though. One corporate history also suggests that some within and without the Government of India coveted the mineral oil (then used for lighting primarily) found in Burma!
Anyway, this was very much a coastal and riverine campaign and the Marine was heavily involved. The main invasion force from Port Cornwallis for Rangoon comprised the R.N.’s fourth-rate Liffey (50), sixth-rates Slaney (20), Larne (20) and sloop Sophie (18); with the Marine’s fifth-rate Hastings (32), sloop Teignmouth (16), brig Mercury (14), sloop Prince of Wales (14) and Jessy (possibly a locally-built brig and/or pilot schooner of the Bengal Marine) convoying twenty-three transports (with 9,000 troops). Rangoon was taken with little resistance, although fire ships floated down from Kemmendine proved a challenge, until neutralised. Further operations followed at such places as Cheduba, Ramree, Tavoy, Mergui, Dalla Creek, Panlaing and Martaban. In some of these, at Dalla Creek for example, the fighting was heavy. Eventually Ramree was taken, after successive failures and ultimately, Pegu, Bessein and Donabu in the Irrawaddi were occupied. Contact continued along the Arakan coastline, carried out by the Marine’s sloop Ternate (16), brig Vestal (10) and survey ship Research, a miscellany of small gun-brigs and schooners and even smaller armed rowing boats. The Company’s other naval defence force, the Bengal Marine was also involved, certainly with their wooden-hulled, steam-powered paddle-steamer Diana in support. Engagements included those in the Mayu and Kaladan rivers, particularly at Chanballa that was described as ‘sharp’. Arakan itself was the eventual target for these forces and was taken by assault in March 1825.
By the conclusion of hostilities not only had the ‘threat’ to Calcutta from the Burmese been dealt with, the Company had also annexed Assam, Arakan, and Tenasserim and acquired a ‘residency’ at the Royal Court. Nevertheless, this was not an end to Burmese resistance to the British.
The Indian Navy (1830-58)
Its last incarnation under the Company’s auspices was as the Indian Navy, by Government Order on 1st May 1830. Within a decade this service had fundamentally changed.
With the forced winding up of their trading activities in 1834, the future of the I.N. became very much in doubt. Fearing its abolition and partial loss of pensions, officers lobbied the Court of Directors in London. What was formulated was regarded as less than workable by many. In 1837 the decision was taken in London to turn the I.N. into a reduced, but all steam affair. Building both in Britain and Bombay consequently put this plan into effect over the following fifteen years or so.
On one hand this aspect is often portrayed in modern naval histories as forward looking, but on the other, one in-house celebration of the Peninsular & Oriental Company is exceedingly disparaging towards the Company. So, this move into steam should be seen in context.
A number of individuals had been keen to explore the possibilities into a regular commercial steam service between the United Kingdom and India. Bearing in mind the then rudimentary capabilities of steam boilers and coal consumption, this can be seen as more than slightly optimistic. Nevertheless, there was one single voyage from Falmouth to Calcutta via the Cape of Good Hope, made in 1824 by the Enterprize. Then described as a “monster”, she was a wooden paddle-steamer of 479 tons and 150 horse-power, newly-built in Deptford on the Thames. Unsurprisingly, she did not complete this passage in the 70-day time required to gain a modest prize of 20,000 Rupees, taking instead 113 days. Opinions differ as to the success, or otherwise of this. Personally, I reckon that while then commercially not then viable, technically it was significant, in helping to prove that very long distance travel by steamer could be developed. As for the vessel herself, the Enterprize was sold to the Indian Government, effectively at a loss and was immediately assigned to the Bengal Marine. Interestingly, steam-powered vessels were also beginning to be developed by the Government of Bengal separately at this time, but this is addressed further on the page dealing with the Bengal Marine (see nearby link).
By this era the Company was very much on the back foot in financial terms and can explain at least some of the London Directors’ general reticence to become involved in steam transport. All the same, there was interest in India, from the new Governor of Bombay, Sir John Malcolm. Consequently the Enterprize was requested for use on experimental voyages between Bombay and Suez in 1829. In the event she broke down and a locally-built steamer, the Hugh Lindsay was used instead and it should be pointed out, manned by the men of the Bombay Marine, then Indian Navy (with their name change in May 1830). In one of P. & O.’s corporate histories this first voyage in spring 1830 is written of at length, making much sport at the Company’s expense. This was indeed a more than slightly troubled trip, almost comic opera at times. Undoubtedly in commercial terms this too had been a dismal failure and she was small and rather under-powered for the conditions encountered (at 411 tons and with two 80-h.p. engines), but real lessons were learned, such as a requirement for a proper coaling organisation along the way.
Lacking support from London in these early years, Sir John Malcolm persevered and the Hugh Lindsay continued her periodic voyages to the Red Sea and back: putting a punishing strain on her hull and machinery. As a single vessel cannot maintain a liner service, in 1835 a decision was taken jointly by H.M. Government and the India Board to build two larger steamers for this run. Consequently, the first two British-built paddle-steamer sloops, Atalanta (6) and Berenice (3) joined the ailing Hugh Lindsay and a liner service of sorts was instituted between Bombay and Suez in 1837.
Another decision taken in London by the Board of Directors in 1837 was inherently at odds with this commercial aim though. The Indian Navy was to be a small, armed steam-powered force for war and more particularly, dealing with pirates and surveying, but also with peacetime passenger and mail services that could also be utilised for trooping duties when required. Without any competition, this might have been workable, assuming that there were no, or few military calls on their tonnage. However, competition with the new Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company arose soon after through a mail contract awarded in 1840. Two years later this new commercial company was operating a steamer service from the U.K. to Alexandria and another from Suez to Calcutta. It may have been politic for the Company to give up this commercial role.
Oblivious to the march of new technology, traditional piratical activities in the Persian Gulf, once more impinged on the Company in 1835. Carried on by the Beniyas (or Beni Yas) tribe, this had come about since Kaleefa bin Shakboot had recently become the Sheikh of Abu Thubi through murder. The I.N.’s sloop Elphinstone (18), under the command of Captain John Sawyer, was tasked to deal with this. Attacked by a far larger force, the Elphinstone’s defence was a brilliantly, spirited if extremely risky counter-attack, leading directly to the capture of the two largest pirate vessels. The surrender of the pirate stronghold at Abu Thubi followed soon after, with the recompense of much plunder.
There were also other political problems in the region. Potentially threatening the British interests in India from the west and although far inland, the Persian Shah’s military siege of Herat begun in November 1837, was primarily dealt with by the Indian Navy. After a not inconsiderable delay and having sent the usual communications to the Shah, orders were given by Lord Auckland to send an expedition into the Persian Gulf. The brand new, unarmed, steam paddle-sloop Semiramis, under the command of Captain George Barns Brucks, set out from Bombay in June 1838 and probably with the rest of the squadron in the Gulf, landed troops at Bushire and Kharrack that July. This act of applying specific indirect pressure had the desired effect and the Shah gave into British demands within a month.
During the First Afghan War (1838-39), the Indian Navy was under the orders of Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland R.N. in the third-rate ship-of-the-line Wellesley (74) on his arrival at Bombay from China. In support of a request from Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane, K.C.B., G.C.H., Commander-in-Chief Bombay, to ‘proceed to Kurrachee and take it’ an operation was rapidly mounted. With the flagship were the I.N.’s paddle-steamer sloop Berenice (3), schooner Constance (3), brig Euphrates (10) and H.M. brig-sloop Algerine (10). On February 1st they formed up off the town, requesting the surrender of the fort at Manora. Refusing and firing on the troop landing, Wellesley made her presence felt with a couple of broadsides. Having the desired effect, both the town and the fort soon came under British rule. Shortly after, the I.N. formed a gunboat flotilla on the River Indus.
Meanwhile, there had been yet more piratical activities, this time off Aden. The spark was the taking of one of the Nawab of the Carnatic’s ships, the Daria Dowlat, in 1837. Even so, this was convenient to both the Company and H.M. Government for other reasons. An officer, Commander Stafford B. Haines, well known within the region for his surveying was conveyed to Aden in the sloop Coote (18), very late in the year, for negotiations with Sultan of Laheji. The Company required recompense for the piracy - plus the sale of Aden to the Company. While a coaling station was greatly desired for the new steamer route, there was a wider political concern, in keeping Muhammad Ali in check in Egypt. Having reported back to Bombay on conclusion of these talks, in October 1838 Coote returned in order to take peaceful possession of this island. Her pinnace being fired upon, a blockade was immediately instituted. She was reinforced in December by the I.N.’s schooner Mahi (3) and in mid January 1839 H.M. sixth-rate Volage (28) and brig-sloop Cruiser (or Cruizer) (18) and troops arrived from Bombay. After the rejection of a formal call for the port’s surrender, the forts were bombarded and a landing made by most of Mahi’s ship’s company, followed by the occupation later that same day.
For the next eight years or so relations between the Sultan of Laheji and the British remained fragile. A squadron of the I.N. remained in the area, occasionally having to blockade the near coastlines to press their case. Nevertheless, coaling stations went ahead at Aden - not just for the I.N., but also for the P.&O. services between Suez and Calcutta (reaching much further soon after).
The First China War (1839-42) was the next scene of action for the Indian Navy. Dubbed the ‘First Opium War’, this was as much a case of a western culture imposing its will of ‘free trade’ on the Chinese - by force. Even although the Company had lost its trading monopoly in China as of 1834, it remained a mass producer of opium and the smuggling continued unabated. In co-operation with the new trading houses, led by Jardine Mathieson, the Company had sought to have the British Government ‘open’ China further to them with naval power. The anti opium measures employed by the Chinese authorities were hardly gentle and these proved the spark for such action in 1839.
The Indian Navy’s contribution to these complex, hard fought naval and amphibious operations were their paddle-steamers Akbar (6), Atalanta (6), Auckland (6), Sesostris (4), Memnon (4), Medusa (unarmed according to contemporaneous published listings) and Ariadne (3 swivel guns), plus an undetermined number of sailing vessels. If mentioned, modern accounts normally state that the paddlers were employed in towing the more substantial R.N. men-o-war and transports into position and four of them of them did indeed fulfil this useful purpose. But this was not the full story by any means. Sesostris, in particular, was employed in multiple roles, including fire support and landing parties. On the other hand, although new and heavily-armed with six 8-inch guns, Akbar, was employed primarily as guardship at Whampoa - although she was involved in the suppression of pirates in the Cap Sing Moon passage. Ariadne, one of two brand new iron-hulled, flat-bottomed steamers sent from the U.K. in parts and assembled in Bombay, had an unfortunate and short life. Beached on a sandbank for repair at Chusan, after being holed badly by a rock up river, she floated off and sank. The other, Medusa, gave good service on the Yangtse, at one stage in reconnoitring shallow sections of river.
The Bengal Marine should also be mentioned. Not only did it provide five paddle-steamers in traditional roles, two brand new iron-hulled paddlers, Nemesis and Phlegethon were heavily armed and used offensively.
During 1845 to 1846 the I.N.’s sloop Elphinstone (18), was deployed far from India. She formed part of the martial force to crush Maori rebellion against British ‘protection’ in New Zealand. Her part was in the capture of Ruarpekapeka, the fort (or pah) of the chief Kawiti.
The Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852-53) was begun through claimed ill treatment of British traders in Rangoon and a general lack of respect towards the Company from the Burmese. The last straw was when a British ‘frigate’ was fired on: apparently due to the crass-mishandling of a misunderstanding by her commander. This brought the usual outraged ultimatum for satisfaction from Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India and Governor of Bengal that went unanswered by the Burmese.
A joint R.N. and Bengal Marine force had already taken Martaban when the Indian Navy joined them off Rangoon in early April 1852. The R.N. element consisted of the wooden-hulled, screw-sloop Rattler (9) flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Charles John Austen; fifth-rate Fox (46); wooden-paddle sloop Hermes (3), Salamander (6); brig-sloop Serpent (16); and a gunboat (unnamed even in the admiral’s reports to the Admiralty and not mentioned in the R.N.’s distribution lists). The Indian Navy contributed the wooden paddle-steamers Ferooz (8), frigate Moozuffer (6), frigate Zenobia (6), as well as Sesostris, Medusa and Berenice. Once again the Bengal Marine was also involved, supplying seven vessels.
Rangoon was overpowered in an afternoon, through the ‘crushing fire of shells’ from the steam frigates. That the Burmese defenders ashore remained at their posts while these were being destroyed was undoubtedly courageous, but perhaps rather futile. Although not yet being fully utilised in major warships at this time, the fruits of developing technologies married together was increasingly showing the gulf in military performance between those with access to these and those without in these minor campaigns.
Among other operations elsewhere on this vast coast with numerous rivers, Bassein was taken that same month of April 1852. On completion Sesostris was retained there as garrison ship, while Moozuffer rejoined the main fleet based on Rangoon. A long way up the Irrawaddy, Prome was assaulted in July. There, Medusa was said to have been particularly active in this. Sesostris and Medusa represented the I.N. in further engagements further up river and elsewhere, while Berenice, Ferooz, Moozuffer and Zenobia were re-deployed in transporting troops variously from India to the theatre of action.
Having returned to their periodic activities in operating the Company’s mail and passenger services, the Anglo-Persian War (1856-57) allowed them to return to combat-related activities. This conflict is said to have arisen variously out of the British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston’s paranoia over Russian expansion; the Persians’ pro-Russian attitudes during the Crimean War (1853-56) and their occupation of Herat; along with the Company’s frustrations at never having made the money they wished in Persia.
The Indian Navy provided the entire naval force, including a staff and convoy commodore, for the subsequent amphibious operations engaged in. Sir Henry Leeke, Superintendent, flew his flag on the virtually new paddler steam-frigate Assaye, (10). In company were more of these steam frigates, Punjaub (10), Ferooz (8), Ajdaha (6), Semiramis (6); paddler steam-sloops Victoria (5) and Berenice (3); sailing sloops Falkland (18) and Clive (18); along with twenty-nine transports (23 sailing vessels and 6 steamers).
Forming up at the head of the Gulf, off Bundar Abbas, in late November 1856, they proceeded along the coast to Bushire. In early December, operations over a two-day period resulted in its occupation. With two troop landings, a bombardment from Assaye’s eight-inch guns intimidated those within to the point that the ground forces did not have to storm the town’s defences. With this bridgehead, operations were continued the following spring. Their objective was Mohammerah (now Khorramshahr) on the Shatt-el-Arab, whose defences were regarded as ‘formidable’. Transported from Bushire on March 25th, troops, horses and ordnance were subsequently transferred to small craft. Something akin to what would be later termed a ‘creeping barrage’ was carried out by the men-o-war the next day. Whether through skill or luck, after four hours the fortress’ four main magazines exploded. Following this, troop-landings by both Royal and Company soldiery were made, along with parties of seamen from the naval vessels. Having fought bravely, the Persians then broke and fled the field.
The officers and men of the Indian Marine found that they could not bask in ‘glory’ following their activities in Persia. With most of the expeditionary force returning to Bombay in early May 1857, on learning of the emerging emergency in the Bengal Presidency, Assaye along with transports carrying the (Royal) 64th and 78th Regiments were immediately despatched to Calcutta without even setting foot on land.
The I.N.’s involvement in the great Sepoy Mutiny was not confined to transport work however. With British rule in the affected areas under severe strain, warships were not needed, but officers and men trained in small-arms most definitely were. Consequently, the I.N. began supplying detachments to the Bengal government, in June and July of 1857. Initially these came from Auckland, Coromandel, Punjaub, Semiramis and Zenobia (although as just stated Assaye had previously arrived in Calcutta in May). The sailors were used variously, either in garrisoning (in order to free up troops) or in direct operations. Conventional military company sized detachments (approximately numbering 100), complete with 12-pounder howitzers were formed, as of May 1858 and apparently were used in a less haphazard manner. Eventually 78 officers and 1,740 men of the I.N. were employed ashore. Incidentally, these naval brigades also included suitably trained merchant mariners, recruited from vessels in port.
Mustering as much dignity as possible, the histories of the ‘Bombay Buccaneers’ have made much of the two Victoria Crosses won in this tragic episode. Nothing is mentioned of the many vile atrocities committed by both sides in this terrible struggle. It is not unlikely that mariners of these naval brigades engaged in at least some of these bestial acts.
The first point to make is that effectively there are no personnel-type records for the Indian Marine. Therefore, researching all but commanders is liable to be unrealistic. If attempting this, as well as Charles Rathbone Low’s history, two classes of original documents should be consulted - that of the Bombay Proceedings and Bombay factory records.
There are a considerable number of relevant documents for the Bombay Marine and Indian Navy (while under Company control), although at first sight these can be exceedingly confusing. Partly this can be put down to initial poor cataloguing within the India Office, but Baxter’s Guide in this instance, is not particularly helpful either.
For a start, the only genuine ‘records of service’ that are available are for officers and these cover ten years near the end of this period. (There is also another series that theoretically covers from c.1840 onwards, but this will be dealt with below under the Indian Marine.) Saliently, officers’ careers can be constructed by going through the various published listings. Of these the East India Register, from 1803 through to 1863, is particularly useful as it shows individuals’ (including volunteers’) appointments. The Indian Navy List by the 1840s has listings not dissimilar to that of the dispositions in the Royal Navy List. There is also a series original documents that are essentially disposition lists, covering 1854 to 1863 with limited additional technical information on the vessels. Additionally, there are hand-written establishment lists for line officers, covering 1767 to 1837 (with gaps) and then from 1844 onwards. Surgeons are included from 1776; with pursers and captains’ clerks from 1829 (echoing the gentrification of warrant officers in the Royal Navy); and there are also separate listings for engineers and apprentices as of 1847 (although they can be found in other records earlier). By the 1860s masters down to acting 2nd masters are also shown: reflecting something of a similarity with the navigating branch in the R.N. It should be noted that these lists are not necessarily user-friendly though!
As per normal in records of the above varieties, there is nothing of genealogical value. Records of appointment relating to young officers to be (as volunteers and captains’ clerks in the Marine and also the seemingly separate Bombay Pilot Service) can be useful to family historians though. Documents on the young gentlemen’s nominations can produce a wealth of genealogical info, if of course, the writing can be understood. And, oath forms can also be of some interest.
For petty officers and the people, the sources are far more restricted. This only became apparent to me on going through ‘lists’ scattered throughout the Company records. Although categorised variously, on sight all the eighteenth century records maintain the same form - as musters (and incidentally, also contain officers). These must have been taken very regularly, perhaps weekly, but only bits and pieces of these have survived. At this present point, as far as I can determine the majority covers the 1760s and 1770s; with a few not dissimilar examples of men landed at Bombay Castle in earlier decades; and one for 1780.
The nineteenth century returns of seamen entered are more complex, but essentially are still musters. Far from clear in the catalogues, basically there were two forms of these - in rough alphabetical and separately, in chronological order. Although there are some gaps, basically individuals are traceable from 1816 on to 1865 and relate to all rates, including petty officers. Interestingly, these show that the Indian Navy had instituted engagements of continuous service. (for three years) for ratings long before the Royal Navy (see above link). Additional to this are similar lists for the boys entered by the Marine Society as apprentices and should be used in conjunction with the latter’s records at the National Maritime Museum.
There are also casualty lists for Europeans in the Bombay Marine. These not only relate to deaths, but also desertions and discharges and cover officers, petty officers and the people. Annual returns were made between 1777 and 1834 (with gaps) and depending on the time period, they can be organised chronologically, alphabetically, or in neither! There is also a second series of monthly returns for 1824 to 1834.
For those interested in pay matters, there are some records from 1797. Overwhelmingly, these relate to officers, but there are also two pay books of steam vessels leaving United Kingdom ports for transit out to the India from 1837 variously through to 1859.
(Her Majesty’s) Indian Navy 1858-63
Direct rule from London, in the form of the India Act 1858, was the not unnatural result of the great Sepoy Mutiny. Before being wound up in London, the ‘Honourable’ East India Company’s assets, including martial forces were turned over to the Crown and the ‘Bombay Buccaneers’ became Her Majesty’s Indian Navy.
In this form, eight vessels were supplied for service in the China War of 1860. Sailing in February with troops were the paddle-frigate Assaye (10), wooden-hulled paddle-sloop Victoria (5) and screw-steamer troopships Dalhousie (6) and Prince Arthur (2). The others serving variously were the iron screw-frigate Coromandel (4), wooden paddle steam-frigates Ferooz (8) and Zenobia (6) and paddle-steamer sloop Berenice (3). This time they were reduced primarily to transport, escort and other auxiliary duties. However, Lieutenant Arthur Whatley Chitty I.N., commanding Zenobia had H.M. gunboats Grasshopper and Weazel under his orders for one operation.
Having become something of an anomaly and after lobbying similar to that leading to 1837, H.M. Indian Navy was abolished on 30th April 1863, in accordance with an Indian Governmental Order. On this date the Royal Navy assumed responsibility for India’s maritime defence. Nevertheless, this was not quite as clear cut as might be thought at first sight.
The Bombay Marine 1863-77
One of the two standard works for this era, written/edited by a Commander Hastings R.I.N.V.R, tends to rather lose interest at this stage. He comments that on the demise of the I.N. ‘a sadly reduced Service was reformed as the Bombay Marine once more and, for fourteen years, did various non-combatant jobs, including trooping and the laying of the submarine telegraph cables from Bombay to Suez and from Karachi to Basra’. The published listings seem to indicate that the majority of the ‘commercial’ liner activities were shorn around 1870.
The other main history, by Charles Rathbone Low, gives the terms of the abolition of the Indian Navy. This shows that there were a few unresolved matters. Harbour defence was one of these and the wider context should be considered. Students of naval warfare will know that this was a period of great technical experimentation for the Royal Navy. Allied to this, was, of course, tactical discussion and can be seen in the writings of Captain Sir John Colomb R.M.A. (Retired) for instance. It had originally been mooted that two gunboats, possibly Clyde (3) and Hugh Rose (3), should be kept for this (as these had recently been suggested for policing the Persian Gulf). However, in 1870, or 1871, the Indian Government bought two, screw-driven coast defence vessels, Abyssinia and Magdala (both armed with four 10-inch Muzzle-Loading Rifles). Built by two London yards, it is important to stress that even if small, these were turret-ships. (A very detailed shipbuilder’s model of Abysinnia can be seen in the Asian and African Studies reading room at the British Library.) In purchasing these, this showed a real commitment to this particular form of weapon system, at a time when the Royal Navy was still deep in trials on competing types. This was the beginning of the Indian Defence Squadron.
The vessels that were earmarked for retention came both from the Indian Navy and the Bengal Marine. In total there were eleven of these. Of six steam transports, four were to be ‘ready for sea’, split equally between Bombay and Calcutta, with two in reserve. The Indian Navy’s contribution was to comprise Coromandel, Dalhousie and Prince Arthur. Three sailing transports were to be retained, one at Calcutta and two in reserve - all from the Bengal Marine. And, there were also two steam vessels ‘for general service’ of the Government of India. Zenobia was detailed for Bombay, with Ferooz for Calcutta.
During this phase the Bombay Marine were involved in trooping the Indian Army (as the once Company troops had been designated in the wake of the Sepoy Mutiny), under the command of Lord Napier of Magdala, in the conquest of Abyssinia in 1871. According to the famous historian Trevelyan, this was an ‘almost bloodless’ campaign. As can be discerned in earlier examples, there was a tendency of naming warships after regional territorial acquisitions and successful commanders and can be clearly seen in the two new turret-ships.
(H.M.) Indian Marine 1877-92
In a re-organisation in 1877, by the almost unbelievably named Rear-Admiral John Bythesea V.C. C.B. R.N. (Retired), it assumed a title not unlike its original seventeenth century title once again! In the new line up, the Bombay Marine and Bengal Marine were combined. Nevertheless, there were two divisions, western and eastern, headed by superintendents and based around the dockyards at Bombay and Calcutta respectively. Its responsibilities as defined were multifarious. Of course, trooping and transporting government stores was salient, as well as retaining the coastal defence ships. Also, harking back to its past ‘glory days’ in some ways, station ships were to be kept at Aden, in the Persian Gulf, and in Burma including in the Andamans, for any roles that were deemed required. Two gunboats, Quantung and Hugh Rose, were to also be deployed on the Irrawadi and Euphrates (even if disposition lists do not necessarily show them there). The useful, but less than glamorous marine surveying was to continue. As for the dockyards, they were to be utilised for the building and maintenance of all Indian Government small and perhaps not so small-craft.
The Indian Defence Squadron grew slowly. With the development of locomotive torpedoes (as opposed to static torpedoes now known as mines) new types of craft appeared and seven first-class torpedo-boats, Baluchi, Gurkha, Karen, Marhatta, Pathan, Rujput and Sikh, were commissioned in 1889. Three years later, Assaye and Plassy, torpedo gunboats, were also acquired. Not identically armed, as well as sporting torpedo tubes, they had two 4.7 inch guns (with the former also having four 3-pounders). Commanded by a Captain R.N., the squadron personnel were part Indian Marine and part R.N., although in what percentages is not apparent from sources so far seen.
In this form, the I.M. contributed to yet more of Britain’s Imperial wars. These consisted of the take-over of Egypt in 1882 and again in subsequent campaigning in Sudan in 1885; the Third Burmese War of 1885-86; and the Chin-Lushai Expedition in Burma of 1889-90.
In depth commentary on the performance of these Indian maritime efforts is occasionally (if normally fleetingly) to be found within specialist publications and saliently, on original operational records or staff analyses. As this is designed to be a guide, rather than any sort of ‘definitive’ account, readers should note that I have not spent the considerable time that would be required in researching these smaller conflicts.
Royal Indian Marine 1892-1934
Apparently regarded well in London, in 1892 this was rewarded with the awarding of the ‘Royal’ title. In the last decade of the century and into the next further effort was put in supporting various British martial operations. Unsurprisingly, considering European attitudes towards the one continent of old-style colonial acquisition still open to the European powers, many of these were in Africa. There was the Suakin Expedition of 1896 (in Sudan), and another to Mkwelo (East Africa) the next year; throughout the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902); and also in the various Somaliland Expeditions between 1902 and 1904. In Asia there were also the ‘Boxer Rebellions’ of 1900 to contend with.
The year of 1903 brought a blow to the R.I.M.’s prestige though. In this year the Indian Defence Squadron was done away with. In all likelihood this was more to do with the financial considerations in London than anything else.
Possibly adding insult to injury, during joint R.N./R.I.M. anti-gun-running operations carried out in the Gulf of Oman (into the Straits of Hormuz as far as Kishm Island) between 1909 and 1914, the R.I.M.’s duties were non-combatant. The R.N. employed cruisers (from the East Indies station), gunboats and smaller craft, including ships’ cutters for patrolling, the latter for inshore work. The R.I.M.’s Minto (four 3-pounders) was used as a depot and repair ship for the armed launches; while the troopships Hardinge (six 3-pounders) and Northbrook (six 3-pounders) transported mobile landing parties complete with mountain batteries. (Incidentally, in the Asian and African Studies reading room in the British Library there are also beautiful makers’ models of the Minto and Hardinge.)
In an explanation of these activities, Muscat, a free port, had been used for shifting arms and ammunition for use in the troubled Afghanistan/North West Frontier areas. They reached there via Persia, being shifted across the Gulf of Oman by dhows. In the event, it was not the martial actions that resolved matters, but diplomatic moves in the form of a treaty with the Sultan of Muscat: entered into shortly before the Great War broke out.
At the beginning of the Great War (1914-19) three of the troopships, Dufferin, Hardinge and Northbrook were converted into Armed Merchant Cruisers and commissioned into the Royal Navy, although largely manned by officers and ratings of the R.I.M. Even if operational records show that they were primarily utilised as escorts for the Imperial convoys, they were also involved in other events. For example, Dufferin and Hardinge were among the men-o-war seeking out the German cruisers Emden and Königsberg in the early months.
Another troopship, Dalhousie (six 6-pounders), on the other hand began her war as the examination vessel at Aden, before redeployment to the Persian Gulf, as permanent guardship at Basra. Even with the original objective of the Indian Expeditionary Force to Mesopotamia, to defend the British oil-fuel facilities at Abadan, there was a commitment on the R.I.M. in operating gunboats and river transport there. This increased dramatically with the subsequent military operations, at one point, employing 500 commissioned officers and 13,000 ratings of the R.I.M. in these Inland Water Transport duties. In their craft, scoured from India, Burma and even Egypt, they are said to have acquitted themselves well, especially on some of the desperate river actions caused by utterly contemptible generalship - particularly by the General Officer Commanding Expeditionary Force D, Major-General Sir Charles Townshend I.A. The unnecessary mass suffering and death to his own troops this man caused through his vain, selfish, incompetent and cowardly behaviour was staggering.
In the early stages at least, Minto that had been in the Persian Gulf as depot ship, was shifted to the Red Sea, along with Lawrence (an almost thirty-year old paddle-steamer despatch vessel). Incidentally, as well as can be seen in operational records, occasionally there are references to Minto (and the A.M.C.s) within T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Minesweeping was also apparently conducted off Bombay and Aden. This is not surprising, as stores had been laid in, along with a certain amount of practice pre-war.
As elsewhere in martial service, commissioned officers, if ordered, or when they could be spared, contributed to all sorts of adventures: state and private. One oft quoted individual pre-war, was Lieutenant Henry Robertson ‘Birdie’ Bowers R.I.M. - unfortunately lost on Scott’s final doomed Antarctic expedition. Similarly, during this first twentieth-century world conflagration officers of the R.I.M. were also seconded to Britain’s armed forces. Consequently, they were scattered throughout the world, on land, sea and in the air.
Also, already touched on, the R.I.M. also expanded massively in this war. Pre-war there had been no reserves, so as was common in other British armed forces, for officers at least, temporary commissions were awarded. At the time of writing, I have been unable to find out how more ratings were recruited. As for craft, apart from those already in service and shifted long distances for active deployment, others were requisitioned, or built in the Indian dockyards.
Post war, initially things returned to normal for this tiny service. With the severe economic stresses in the 1920s caused by the war (after a short boom), it was hardly surprising that the R.I.M. was subjected to cut backs. In 1923 their troopships were sold and shortly after the Inchcape Commission spelt an even worse future, with further reductions in strength and budgetary cuts.
However, due to the findings of the Rawlinson Committee of 1928, there was the chance of more than a reprieve. This was apparently largely down to the two naval representatives - Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond K.C.B., R.N. (then Flag Officer East Indies) and Captain Sir Edward Headlam C.S.I., C.M.B., D.S.O. R.I.M. (Director of the R.I.M.). It was recommended that the Royal Indian Marine should become a combatant service and even before agreed, the White Ensign was flown by all their vessels as of November this same year. After something of a false start, the relevant legislation was passed.
Until this time the officer corps had been exclusively European. However, in January 1928 the first Indian to be commissioned in the R.I.M. was Engineer Sub-Lieutenant Dijendra Nath Mukerji.
Royal Indian Navy 1934-1945
On 8th September 1934 the Royal Indian Navy was officially formed and it is interesting to note in the one service history published, considering the politics of the era, that the new force was stated as engaging in ‘nation building’. Nevertheless, with the even worse economic situation after the 1929 crash, finances were extremely tight. As in Britain, it was the clear signs of another world war that brought about re-armament.
Even with the varied experience during the First World War, the R.I.N. was in many ways unfit as a fighting force during its early years. For a start it was top heavy in commissioned officers and promotion was by ‘dead men’s shoes’. Most of the senior executive officers, through no fault of their own, had limited experience in shiphandling, while more junior officers that in larger navies would have had commands, were not given the opportunity. It was also admitted in one wartime piece (forming part of Cdr. Hasting’s history) that with little time at sea (due to very limited fuel rations), too much drinking was being done in wardrooms!
In some respects the situation improved. With no relevant facilities in India, officers’ training in a good variety of specialisations was conducted in the United Kingdom - especially for lieutenants and lieutenant-commanders. Also, sub-lieutenants were given temporary R.N. commissions and served with the parent service for six-month periods. Nevertheless, this brought about another problem. By 1939 it was not uncommon for first lieutenants to be better trained than their commanders.
There were five warrant officer ranks. In the executive branch they were boatswains and warrant gunners, while in communications they were warrant telegraphists. It should be noted that they were exclusively European - drawn from R.N. petty or chief petty officers. Warrant officer writers on the other hand, were Indian. So too were assistant surgeons - but they were in a strange position, being on secondment from the Indian Army.
Ratings (by this time) were Indian. Traditionally they had been Ratnagiris, from the Konkan region of Maharashtra (on the Arabian Sea coast to the south of Bombay). They were otherwise known as Lascars and while regarded as good mariners, they were ‘mostly ill-educated’, which is hardly surprising as the British had never instituted proper education systems for lower orders of the Indian population. With warfare increasingly requiring specialist skills, recruitment was conducted throughout India for better-educated members of the lower deck. This would have marked changes in the Service. For instance until Indian telegraphists were trained up and drafted to ships, there was no way that constant communications could be kept - in all likelihood with the warrant telegraphists keeping wireless schedules instead.
Ratings’ training was conducted in India. This improved through the efforts of the commissioned officers returned from up to date training in the U.K. All the same, there were still significant deficiencies in 1939, inasmuch as there was nothing in basics such as electrics, or torpedo warfare, as well as the new technology of Radio Direction Finding (later known as Radar).
In January 1938 the British Government decided that the annual subvention of approximately £115,000 to £120,000 was to be done away with. This meant that India became responsible for it’s own local defence (while still supplying sloops in aid of the R.N. regionally). This obviously required changes in roles, principally to coastal escort, minesweeping and anti-submarine, with a knock-on effect on vessels. This, therefore, required a relatively modest programme of replacement, re-arming and expansion of the R.I.N., with a nine-year plan submitted by the Flag Officer Commanding the Royal Indian Navy that March. An essential part of this related to reserves and will be dealt with separately below. Due to politics in India and a re-appraisal by the Chatfield Committee in 1939, this was substantially altered in detail, if not in objective. War against Germany in 1939 merely accelerated this process.
According to the defence plans drawn up pre-war, merchant vessels were requisitioned when war with Germany broke out in September 1939. Routine patrolling in the traditional areas of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf were undertaken, as was escorting of troop convoys. At one stage or another the sloops Clive, Cornwallis, Hindustan, Indus, Jumna, Lawrence and Sutlej, along with the auxiliary patrols vessels Netravati, Parvati and Ratnagiri were all employed as part of the Arabian Bengal Ceylon Escort Force (A.B.C.E.F.).
With Italy coming into the war in June 1940, there were complications. In the emergency caused by Italian advances in Somaliland, there was R.I.N. involvement in the evacuation of Berbera that August. Of course, they were also there in the fight back the following spring. In the early operations BEGUM and BREACH, mostly conducted by ground forces, Ratnagiri made landings of troops in February and April 1941: some of which were from the Free French forces. In the re-occupation of Berbera, in the aptly named Operation APPEARANCE that March, Parvati and Netravati played their part. When Massawa was occupied the next month, Indus and Ratnagiri were among the mixed British, Australian and Indian assets. It was during these latter operations that the minesweeper Ratnagiri was lost while in convoy - to an Italian mine. She sank in ninety seconds, there being at least one casualty. And, during May, Operation CHAPTER cleared Dante. The sloop Clive, along with H.M. special service vessel King Gruffyd, was part of this - with a Royal Marine Commando embarked. Indus and Clive were deployed differently during Operation CHRONOMETER, the capture of Assab, in June 1941. They were used in minesweeping for the assault forces.
The war in the Persian Gulf began routinely enough. The small Indian men-o-war involved were part under the orders of the Senior Naval Officer Persian Gulf (S.N.O.P.G.) Captain Cosmo Moray Graham R.N. Logically, the Straits of Hormuz were patrolled, in support of Allied merchantmen in the Gulf; preventing German raiders entering these waters; and also sealing in interned German merchantmen. With Italy’s entry into the war, in the wake of the brilliant German success in the invasion of France in mid 1940, the Indian Ocean trade routes were thought to be under threat from Italian submarines. This, however, did not materialise greatly.
One of the principal aims of a ‘British’ naval presence in this Persian Gulf had been the defence of the Anglo-Persian oilfields. Post First World War, the British Mandate in Iraq had been terminated in 1932. However, under the conditions the British were allowed to maintain troops there in time of war, although few actually had been. With considerable German successes in the North African deserts and good political relations breaking down, to the point of a ‘Pro-Axis coup’ in Baghdad in early April 1941, it was decided in London to take action. Sailing from Karachi on April 12th, unopposed troop landings were made at Basra, six days later. The naval covering force consisted of H.M. light-cruiser Emerald, sloop Falmouth and armed-yacht Seabelle; H.M. Australian sloop Yarra; and H.M. Indian sloop Lawrence. From there, further operations were conducted resulting in the occupation of Baghdad in August 1941.
With the German invasion of the U.S.S.R. in the summer of 1941, Iran became strategically important in keeping lines of communications open with the Soviet Union. Through claimed increasing Nazi infiltration into this middle eastern country, there was also the need to have Kuzistan, that is the land on the eastern side of the Shatt-al-Arab, under direct Allied control - with the Soviets also entering Iran from the north through the Caucasus. (Of course, this was not the first time that this country, as Persia, had been carved up between the British and Russians. There had also been the Anglo-Russian convention in 1907.)
Operation COUNTENANCE was planned for mid August 1941, but put off, before going ahead on the 25th. The specific naval aspects related to occupying the island and port of Abadan, with its important oil facilities; as well as Bandar Shapur, which was the headquarters of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; and Khorramshahr, where the insignificant Iranian naval forces were based.
Generally their objectives were taken smoothly, although there were some pockets of stiffer opposition from the Iranians (before the armistice on August 29th). For numerous reasons, including the limiting factor of shallow waters, these were small-scale operations and were co-ordinated from H.M. Armed Merchant Cruiser Kaninbla (later turned over to the R.A.N). The larger warships (even if diminutive by normal naval standards), such as H.M. Indian sloop Investigator, covered the landings at all three of these ports from offshore, offering gunfire support when required. On the other hand, the Indian sloop Lawrence was the lead ship in the assault on Bandur Shapur - capturing the gunboats Karkas and Shahbaaz. The (assault) minesweeping role in the Abadan element was conducted by H.M. Indian auxiliary minesweeper Lilavati.
Operation BISHOP seems to have related entirely to the capture of nine Axis merchantmen (five German and four Italian) interned at Bandar Shapur. Relying on boarding parties from H.M. A.M.C. Kanimbla, corvette Snapdragon, river gunboat Cockshafer and H.M. Indian sloop Lawrence, this did not go entirely according to plan. The enemy mariners set their vessels on fire, two being totally lost and others damaged. Nevertheless, seven were shifted initially to Basra and then India a month or so later.
The mining of Ratnagiri in the Somaliland operations was not the only loss prior to the Japanese entry into the World War. The patrol craft Pathan mysteriously exploded off Bombay, on 23rd June 1940. Officially put down to an enemy mine or torpedo, this may or may not have been the case. Two officers and four ratings were killed (or died of wounds). One officer was seriously injured. He was Engineering Lieutenant-Commander D.N. Mukerji R.I.N. and the account of this loss, within his personal papers, is intriguing as some detail would seem to contradict the reports of others.
If 7th December 1941 was not a bad enough day for the Allies, there was an utterly tragic action that night. H.M. cruiser Glasgow, recently deployed from the Med and making for Marmagoa from the Laccadives, opened fire with her six-inch guns and sank a darkened contact. Previously in the day H.M. Indian auxiliary minesweeper Dipravati had made an attack on a Japanese submarine and this later contact was thought to be the same boat surfaced. In fact, she was H.M. Indian armed patrol vessel Prabnavati, towing barges. Well over half her ship’s company were casualties - two officers and 33 ratings were killed, with twelve severely wounded.
This was only the beginning of disasters in the East. The sloop Indus was lost at Akyab between the 5th and 6th of April 1942. At anchor, while fighting off Japanese air attacks, at least two bombs found their mark. Luckily there were no fatalities. Most of Burma, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands having been wrenched away by the exceedingly rapid Japanese offensive action, the situation became so serious that shipping and other minor craft were evacuated from the River Hooghly in the spring of 1942. By this time the Allies had lost any ‘command of the sea’ in the Bay of Bengal. Organised by the R.I.N. in Calcutta, and after some offensive air operations by the Royal Air Force on Japanese air assets, merchantmen made their own way - with no effective surface or air cover. In the event the invasion of India itself did not take place, the Japanese momentum on this front at last having been dissipated - at least in part through the arrival of the monsoon.
Elsewhere, Indian men-o-war were being put to good use. In accordance with the pre-war plans to upgrade the Service, six sloops and nine minesweepers were built in the U.K. during this conflict. The sloops were Godavari, Jumna, Narbada and Sutlej of the modified Bittern class; and Cauvery and Kistna of the modified Black Swan class. The British-built fleet minesweepers were Baluchistan, Karnatic, Kathiawar, Khyber, Kondan, Kumaon, Orissa, Rajputana and Rohilkhand.
Due to the general dire and continual shortage of escorts and other craft, they were utilised both in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and elsewhere variously before reaching India. But even prior to joining the Clyde and Irish Sea Escort Forces, the sloops Sutlej and Jumna were used in an anti-aircraft defence role during the Clyde Blitz in 1941. The other four Indian sloops also contributed to the direct defence of the U.K. as and when they were completed. All six of these new sloops also found their way into the Med, at one stage or another. In particular, Sutlej and Jumna (transferred from India) were deployed on convoy escort and anti-submarine roles in Operation HUSKY - the invasion of Sicily, in July 1943.
Returning to the eastern theatres, one action that the R.I.N. was greatly proud of related to the humbling selflessness of those onboard the diminutive H.M. Indian minesweeper Bengal (commanded by Lieutenant-Commander William Joseph Wilson R.I.N.R.) on 11th September 1942. Recently built in Australia, on her transit to India she was escorting a tanker, the M.V. Ondina, when large Japanese raiders set upon them. In a deliberate attempt to allow the tanker to flee, Bengal attacked and sank the larger of the two enemy vessels - expending virtually all ammunition for her one 12-pounder, one Bofors and two Oerlikon guns. This was a considerable feat since the Japanese was of the Maru class of over 10,000 tons and armed principally with 5.9-inch guns. Nevertheless, both Bengal and the Ondina were badly damaged by the second raider. Of the Kiyosumi class, she was well over 8,000 and similarly armed.
Unable to spare much materiel for the Far East, the ‘fight back’ from India began in an almost comic opera manner. Originally centred upon the newly commissioned Coastal Forces Base, Cheetah, at Trombay, from June 1942 the first harbour defence motor launches were being delivered from the U.K. and built locally. Stiffened from R.N.V.R. officers already experienced in coastal warfare, using larger motor launches the 55th M.L. Flotilla was deployed forward to Chittagong in December that year. Their first operations, in January 1943, were offensive patrols into the Mayu River and in the Oyster Island and Akyab areas. The smaller H.D.M.L.s began ops a year later - amazingly in a trip to the Irrawaddy Delta, which was a round trip of one thousand miles!
With the gradual build-up gaining strength, elements of the international Allied assault of Burma began in October 1944, post monsoon. Understandably, the role of the R.I.N.’s Coastal Forces was within the very broken up littoral of the Burmese coast. They were tasked to interrupt Japanese coastal communications and make their presence known in harbours and inland waterways. In this way, the Japanese forces holding the coastline could be harried and isolated, thereby supporting the British 14th Army inland then aiming for Mandalay.
But, this was only the start. By the end of 1944 the newly formed Landing Craft Wing of the R.I.N., with 42 Commando Royal Marines embarked, were making raids on the Burmese coast. Not only were these putting further pressure on the Japanese, they were gaining experience for what was to come.
The seaborne invasion of Burma began with the taking of Akyab, as of 3rd January 1945 (Operations TALON and LIGHTNING) - brought forward due to known Japanese intentions of withdrawing from this port. D-Days for subsequent operations were January 12th for Myebon (Operations PASSPORT and PUNGENT); January 21st for Kyaukpyu (Ramree Island that had already been subject to a blockade); January 22nd for Kangaw; January 26th for Cheduba; February 16th for Ru-Ywa; and Letpan for March 13th. Places not necessarily recognisable to most readers, if one consults a relevant map the progress of those of the many nations involved can be traced. Incidentally, it was not only the coastal forces and landing craft wing that were in action. H.M. sloop Flamingo and H.M. Indian sloops Narbada, Kisna and Jumna were utilised in shore bombardment, including one hair-raising exploit thirty miles inland in uncharted chaungs (creeks).
In a letter of proceedings from the Commander-in-Chief East Indies, Vice Admiral Sir Arthur John Power K.C.B., D.V.O., R.N. to the Admiralty it was stated that:-
‘... The Myebon, Kangaw and Ruywa operations afforded splendid opportunities for enterprise, resource, impromptu operations and close range fighting. On each occasion the enemy was caught on the wrong foot and defeated. Sloops, destroyers, minesweepers, motor launches and landing craft manned by the Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy personnel took full advantage of the perfect weather for fighting and the unique opportunities for displaying good seamanship. They landed and supported our troops without any fuss, navigated uncharted waters with skill and although in the face of considerable hardships, especially in the minor landing craft, they never flagged...’
Rangoon was the major prize for the first days in May 1945 though, especially as the Japanese did not oppose these amphibious landings. DRACULA was the code name for the actual amphibious assault, whereas BISHOP related to the considerable naval forces covering (including one battleship and aircraft carriers), as well as diversionary attacks on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Of course, opening up the Rangoon River required all sorts of small, specialist craft - including minesweepers of more than one type, yachts, M.L.s, H.D.M.L.s and survey craft. The R.I.N. were obviously involved in these multifarious tasks: for instance the 37th Minesweeping Flotilla that then comprised of H.M.I.S. Bengal, Bihab, Bombay, Khyber, Kumaon, Orissa, Punjab, Rajputana and Rohilkhand (Senior Officer). The monsoon put paid to any further effective advances for some months.
Even then, planning had already begun in New Delhi for the next season’s campaigning. Penang was to be taken in Operation JURIST, assuming the Japanese had not surrendered. There was also Operation ZIPPER, with the object of securing ‘a bridgehead in the Port Swetenham/Port Dickson area, and to advance south by land and sea to capture Singapore...’. The dropping of the atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland in early August rendered these plans nothing more than of academic interest to later researchers (and fascinating they are too).
Returning to ‘small ships’ for a moment, as elsewhere they tended to attract all sorts of colourful characters. One of these was Thomas Henry Lewn Macdonald, a tea planter in civilian life. As an acting lieutenant-commander in the R.I.N.V.R. and Senior Officer of the 55th M.L. Flotilla, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross. The recommendation stated that this was for:-
‘... consistently good leadership, courage and devotion to duty during a series of operations lasting from 12th Oct 1944 to 28th Feb 1945. During this period he has led many offensive sorties frequently under enemy fire and his complete disregard for danger has been an example to all. In the river blocking operations following the Ramree assault, his flotilla, led by him, accounted for many enemy craft and they killed many Japanese’.
Out to sea the Allies were also taking back the initiative. This could be seen in Force 66 as of mid 1944. This was made up of H.M. frigates Findhorn, Lossie, Nader and Taff (S.O.); and H.M. Indian sloops Cauvery and Godavari (as the 60th Escort Group); along with H.M. escort carriers Begum (Force Commander Captain ‘Jackie’ Broome R.N.) and Shah. Incidentally, it may be interesting to note that these vessels were refuelling at sea, on the move: something that became standard practice in the decades following the Second World War and was later known as Replenishment at Sea (Liquid).
It was not just the hulls that were modern, so too was the training that was put to effective use. An U-boat (presumably German from the description), had been sighted and attacked by aircraft over numerous days without success. Spread out, on 12th August 1944 Godavari located the enemy as a subsurface contact, but having no suitable anti-submarine weapons could not engage. Therefore, she acted as directing vessel (on the U-boat’s tail at three knots), until Findhorn and Parret (another frigate) arrived on the scene. Findhorn then made an immediate attack using hedgehog - with end of this contact! Godavari’s commanding officer, Commander Anthony Brian Goord R.I.N. consequently won a D.S.C. for this action.
In a second example, Japanese submarines had been occasionally attacking Allied merchantmen within the Bay of Bengal in early 1945, one of these being s.s. Asphalion on 11th February, as part of convoy CJ 36. The escort comprised H.M.I.S. Jumna (S.O.) and H.M. Australian minesweepers Ipswich and Launceston. With the last mentioned warship standing by the stricken freighter, Jumna correctly analysed the area where the enemy submarine was, made contact in an Asdic sweep and loosed off a series of depth-charge attacks. These successfully destroyed RO 110. Jumna’s commanding officer was Acting Commander Hugh Murray Clark. R.I.N.
The unconditional surrender by Japan, while obviously very welcome, did not necessarily mean the end of hazardous operations. For Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, then Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, to receive the enemy’s surrender at Singapore, a safe route through the Japanese minefields was required. Having sailed from Trincomalee mid month and reached the Malacca Straits, two minesweeping flotillas made such a safe channel 10 cables (6,080 ft, or one nautical mile) wide. The Indian contribution was again the 37th Minesweeping Flotilla, enlarged slightly since the Burmese operations, while the R.N.’s 7th Minesweeping Flotilla was the other element. Further clearing went on went on until completion in November.
Of course, there were also other tasks to complete. These were varied, including supplying two sloops, Godavari and Cauvery, for service with the British Pacific Fleet. Then there was the liberation of the Andaman and Nicobar groups of islands. The R.I.N.’s flag-ship, Narbada, preceded the main force that arrived at Port Blair (in the Anadamans) in October 1945. Meanwhile, on her own Kristna evacuated three brigades of Japanese troops from the Nicobars, before being re-deployed as the relief for Narbadda.
Royal Indian Naval Reserve, Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve, Royal Indian Fleet Reserve & Communications Reserve 1938-45
Under the 1938 nine-year plan, the coastal defence aspects would overwhelmingly be undertaken by newly formed reserves in not dissimilar ways to that of the R.N.’s. The backbone, presumably, was from the 252 commissioned officers and 912 ratings of the Royal Indian Naval Reserve allowed for - as professional merchant mariners. As for the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve, this was to consist exclusively of 71 commissioned officers. There was also to be stiffening through 592 experienced ratings of a Royal Indian Fleet Reserve. And, with the usual shortage of trained communicators, there was also a separate Communications Reserve.
Adding to the six tiny minesweepers and eight torpedo boats of the R.I.N. for coastal defence, 48 vessels were to be requisitioned. Of these 25 were planned as minesweepers; and 23 for the anti-submarine role. Of course, in the event the expansion was greater, although at the time of writing I have not managed to determine by how much, or how recruitment was conducted.
Incidentally, certainly from around mid 1943 there was also a Burma Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in existence. By 1945 this seems to have been formed into the 59th Motor Launch Flotilla. In all likelihood, it had been put together at least partly from those with maritime experience escaping from the 1942 Japanese onslaught in Burma.
The R.I.N. and its Reserves 1945-47 (with reference to the Royal Pakistan Navy)
Perhaps over optimistically, as early as mid 1943 planning had been carried out for the R.I.N.’s post-war under orders of Vice Admiral John Henry Godfrey C.B. R.N. - Flag Officer Commanding Royal Indian Navy. He proposed introducing not only destroyers, but also cruisers - something that was generally regarded in London as ‘too ambitious’. Even so, negotiations continued throughout the last two years of the war and there were tentative plans to upgrade the R.I.N. even further: with the possibility of a small aircraft carrier.
In the meantime, apart from a considerable number of auxiliary vessels returned to their civilian owners, or transferred to other service, several of the R.I.N.’s older warships were paid off, with more up to date replacements commissioned. Three of the latter were the River class frigates Dhanush, Shamser and Tir (lately the R.N.’s Deveron, Nadder and Bann respectively). Of those in building, two other warships were commissioned in 1945 - the Bangor class minesweeper Malwa and the Basset class trawler Rampur.
The final post-war size and composition never was finalised though. Understandably, this was down to political events. Aspirations of independence from British rule (as opposed to mutiny for cultural reasons) had long been in evidence in India, and preceding the formation of the Indian National Congress in December 1885. Post First World War British governments had tacitly agreed, but of course, the time for stepping aside was not envisaged to be realistic for many decades to come. For numerous reasons, the Second World War brought this very much closer though and the serious ‘Quit India’ campaign of civil disobedience initiated later in 1942 showed the British that they really were on borrowed time.
Although the wartime expansion had not been without its difficulties, the demobilisation was far more problematical. Apart from anything else, the senior officers were not in a position to be able to plan the future size of the R.I.N. with any certainty. While it was realised that it’s nature would have to change inherently, with an ‘Indianisation’ of its officer class, even in the best circumstances, judging from the experience drawn from other Dominions’ naval forces, this would take over a decade. But then, with the inter-war period of cutbacks and subsequent losses variously, there was already a dearth of experienced British commissioned officers at the higher end - never mind the increased numbers required for the new larger warships envisioned. Calling on reserve officers to take regular commissions was seen only as a partial and limited answer - as only a comparably small percentage were judged up to the standards required for peacetime. (This is an attitude that I have occasionally seen elsewhere and one that I find more than slightly annoying. By my way of thinking if individuals are up to holding positions of responsibility in combat, then they should be able to handle lesser strains of not engaging in battle!)
For perfectly good reasons, their ratings caused the R.I.N.’s officer corps many more serious headaches though. As elsewhere throughout the world, demobilisation was being carried out grindingly slowly - too slowly for many involved. With warships being paid off, men were being discharged to shore establishments, where grievances mounted. Tensions grew especially at the signal school Talwar and the mechanical training school Shivaji: both in Bombay. At the former this initially manifested itself, in November 1945, in slogan writing on buildings - from the aspirational ‘Quit India’, through to the practical ‘Kill the White Bastards’!
Investigations were carried out and if R.I.N. officers’ versions are to be believed, genuine promises were given to deal with the numerous grievances within the R.I.N. It should be explained to readers without a good knowledge of events that this particular resentment to authority was not in isolation, or even confined to Indians. From Singapore to the Middle East there had been a campaign of non-co-operation from the other ranks of the Royal Air Force and this had a very deleterious effect on the British Government’s range of possible actions. This ‘strike’ had already also spread to the Royal Indian Air Force and the Indian Army Signal Corps, with approximately 1,600 British soldiers of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers acting similarly later in February 1946. Also, there had been a not inconsiderable number of mutinies by R.I.N. ratings already through the Second World War.
Before any improvements could be effectively implemented on 17th February 1946 ratings of the R.I.N. took this much further. There was a service-wide mutiny (also termed ‘strike’ by those taking part), beginning at Talwar, but rapidly spreading to other establishments and warships. (Apparently, only the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service remained loyal to the British.) There had been all the usual complaints that related to demobilisation, poor food (at a time of famine in Bengal), absolutely foul conditions in barracks, pay and associated rights. Another was the demand for the removal of Talwar’s commanding officer, Commander Frederick William King R.I.N. - an action reminiscent of many other naval mutinies through the centuries when individually named officers were particularly hated by ‘the people’. But there were also others of an overt political nature, including demands to release those once of the Indian National Army (Prisoners of War that joined the Japanese cause) that were due to be tried as traitors. What was more, sailors identified through their uniforms, were known to have been involved in violent political incidents ashore and Congress flags were also beginning to be flown on warships in harbour.
Initially the senior R.I.N. officers attempted to deal with this in a low-key manner. However, when ratings tried to break out of Talwar, troops resisted this and there was an exchange of fire. Vice-Admiral Godfrey, by most accounts a fair and sensible commander, appealed to them unusually through a public wireless broadcast and the mutiny crumbled on the 23rd. According to Cdr. Hastings’ account only at Karachi was there any further violence, where the sloop Hindustan did not surrender to the army before twenty minutes of combat. At the end of these six days one officer and nine ratings had been killed. Lawrence James, in his excellent book Raj, gives a significantly different impression. For a start, he reckoned that the gunnery duel at Karachi lasted two hours and that there were also 51 more mutineers wounded during these fateful days. What was more, he reported that British troops regaining order (not only in the naval mutiny but also in civilian riots) in Bombay were said to have been ‘trigger happy’: with claims of random firing into peaceful and unarmed civilians (while, as could be predicted, officially they were rioters).
There were, of course, repercussions to the R.I.N. mutiny. A high-powered commission sat and as far as the commissioned officers of the R.I.N. were concerned, was biased against them. From the evidence so far seen, I am inclined to agree to a degree, inasmuch as in some respects the naval organisation was far more multi-racial and multi-cultural, thereby making the political, operational and administrative aspects far more difficult to manage than in Indian Army units. Analysis by naval officers at the time reckoned that one of the major failings related to the way the divisional system had become weak. In explanation, branches or departments are known as divisions and have their own internal structures, whereby the concerns of those within are supposed to be passed up the line appropriately through divisional senior rates, divisional officers and if necessary, further up the chain of command. These R.I.N. officers maintained that due to the junior rates being recruited mostly from southern India and senior rates being Punjabi Mussulmans that there was little social interaction between these two groups. This was compounded by commissioned officers maintaining a distance from the ratings. While interesting, as an one-time rating in the Royal Navy, personally I never had much faith in the divisional system, or felt that the vast majority of commissioned officers had any interest in ratings as people. Down to the character of individuals, all too often divisional senior rates were less than willing to admit that there were any problems within ‘their’ departments - even when they knew fine well that there was routine group intimidation and violence towards unfortunates. Without divisional senior rates reporting up problems, it would take unusually strong-minded divisional (commissioned) officers to get involved in the squabbles on the mess-decks. So, the result was that decidedly nasty things were routinely occurring on the lower deck that commissioned officers either did not know of, or simply did not want to know of. Taking into account both the class and race structures of the R.I.N., it is rather intriguing to see these officers cite this in particular. And, this can be taken even further if the not inconsiderable gripes of those on the lower deck in the Royal Navy that are known of during and post Second World War are also entered into the equation (see the last item at the foot of the main page on the R.N.). What is more, Lawrence James’s study cites the conclusions of the commission, as laying much of the blame on poor leadership by the officers of the Royal Indian Navy.
Anyway, with both Vice Admiral Godfrey and his second in command, Rear-Admiral Arthur Rullion Rattray C.B., C.I.E., AdC, R.N., relieved under a cloud, as a stopgap virtually all warships were de-commissioned, their ships’ companies sent on extended leave and demobilisation shifted up a gear. For those still remaining, on return from leave the warships were once again commissioned and as of the beginning of 1947 some exercises at sea were conducted.
Back in the U.K. the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, announced that February that political power would be transferred into ‘responsible Indian hands’ by June 1948 at the latest. However, still without any agreed long-term plans for the naval forces committed to and by that time with Lord Louis Mountbatten as Viceroy of India, the news in early June 1947 that Partition would become effective as of August 15th came as a massive administrative shock.
During the early months of 1947 the wartime demobilisation had been almost completed, all but the two sloops that were still serving in the British Pacific Fleet and the boys’ training ship Investigator were in coastal waters. Detailing the ships between the two new Dominions of India (then referred to as Hindustan) and the as yet undefined Pakistan was the least of the small British staff’s worries. The Royal Indian Navy was allocated ‘four sloops, two frigates, six minesweepers, and a number of small vessels’. Soon after the planned expansion began, with the acquisition from Britain of the elderly cruiser Achilles (Delhi); three (repeat) Q-class flotilla leaders (destroyers) Raider, Redoubt and Rotherham (Rana, Ranjit and Rajput); one Landing Ship Tank Avenger (Magar); and two oilers Empire Gypsey and Empire Bairn (Chilka and Sambhar). As for the new Royal Pakistan Navy, it received the sloops Narbada and Godavari; frigates Shamsher and Dhanush; minesweepers Kathiawar, Baluchistan, Oudh and Malwa; trawlers Rampur and Baroda. Both navies also possession of miscellaneous small craft - motor minesweepers and H.D.M.L.s: with the R.I.N. also getting one M.L..
The distribution of shore establishments proved more difficult, but the personnel aspects were even worse. All British officers (possibly with two exceptions), including those in the reserves were removed from the R.I.N.’s strength and at least some were subsequently granted short-service and direct entry commissions. (I am indebted to Brian Goord, the onetime commander D.S.C. mentioned above, who has contacted me. He wished to stress that these officers were not compulsorily retired, as a result of the mutiny and were offered generous contracts. Reference to The Navy List is intriguing though. When the new listings were shown, none of those then serving in 1947 are shown on the R.I.N.’s retired list.) Ironically, officers loaned from the Royal Navy initially took up the shortfall! And, the two navies were still headed by British ex-R.I.N. officers - Rear-Admiral John Talbot Savignac Hall C.I.E. for the R.I.N., as F.O.C.R.I.N.; and Rear-Admiral (and later Vice-Admiral) James Wilfrid Jefford for the R.P.N., as F.O.C.R.P.N.
Due to the past recruiting practices, the new R.I.N. found itself exceedingly short of experienced senior rates. This would take time to resolve, but at the end of the day was just one of a great many difficulties. On the other hand, the R.P.N. would have been, at least theoretically, over supplied with senior rates, but with a more short-term dearth of junior rates. In many respects, it is just as well that the first Indo-Pakistan Wars, over Kashmir in 1947-48, did not spill over to combat at sea. And, although ceremonial more than anything, both navies still flew the white ensign!
Anyway, as with Ireland post First World War, neither of these states was content with Dominion status. India became a Republic on 26th January 1950, while Pakistan became an Islamic Republic on 23rd March 1956...
Tracing individuals in the above organisations 1858-1947
Apart from officers that were still employed in 1877 on the formation of the Indian Marine, it would seem that the only ways of tracing their service in the Indian Navy and Bombay Marine (including at least some warrant officers) is through the various published lists, appointments and disposition lists etc. Incidentally, commissioned officers of the Royal Indian Marine are shown in The Navy List as of spring 1892.
With one proviso, Commissioned and Warrant Officers’ service records from the formation of the Indian Marine in 1877 through to 1947, are absolutely excellent though. Through experience I have found that those with First World War temporary commissions are not shown in these registers of service records. Presumably there were separate volumes that have not survived, or are still in India. Additionally, there is a very useful volume of service records relating to Royal Navy commissioned officers loaned to the R.I.N. during the Second World War.
There are also service records for commissioned officers of the Royal Indian Naval Reserve and Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve, c.1937 to 1947. Unfortunately, these (unlike their brethren in the R.I.N. or loaned from the R.N.) are subject to the plethora of restrictions, including the ‘Data Protection Act’ and the often contradictory ‘Freedom of Information Act’. The British Library has issued a leaflet on the subject and from this, it would seem that their management has taken a particularly strict and narrow view of the above mentioned legislation. Therefore, up to now I have not been able to view any of these, although I shall be testing one point in this leaflet that states that they ‘... may provide a Statement of Service taken from the information on the Army file...’.
Nevertheless, some of these officers’ official records have already been released. These are among those related to pay and pensions and do not provide a wealth of information by any means.
Winding up the records at the British Library, some officers may have transferred into other areas of the Indian Administration. If so, there may well be certificates of service published for them within the normal volumes relating to ‘gazetted’ officials. Also, there is a possibility of individuals being in the Quarterly Civil Lists, but up to now I have not seen any.
At least from the 1860s through to 1916 officers were recruited from the static training ship CONWAY in the River Mersey for service in India. More on this subject can be found at http://hmsconway.org/sea_career%20RIN.html and this includes a list of individual cadets.
Also, the papers of the Royal Indian Navy Association (along with the private papers of at least one R.I.N. officer) have been deposited with the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. There is predominance towards commissioned officers of the R.I.N. proper. Nevertheless, there are also some R.I.N.V.R. and a few R.I.N.R. officers’ papers and one warrant officer’s included. They differ greatly in their composition, some including individuals’ commissions, certificates of service, reports, signals, photographs, press cuttings and published booklets including the R.I.N.’s one monthly journal (that may or may not be judged as propaganda). In at least one, that of Lt./Cdr. T.H.L. Macdonald D.S.C., R.I.N.V.R. there is also operational analysis. In this case it is a draft for what would seem to have been a staff monograph (on the 55th M.L. Flotilla’s Arakan operations). His papers also include examples of not terribly good poetry and ditties that only the initiated could understand!
Finally, I have learned that at least some technical ratings in the R.I.N., such as electrical artificers, were Anglo-Indian. Apparently, their service records are still in India, although where is as yet unknown by me. I am indebted to Mr. Des Mead for bringing this to my attention.
Apart from where already mentioned, the main sources of information for this guide have come either from operational records (especially for the Second World War), or from the following published works:-
Cdr. D.J. Hastings R.I.N.V.R.: ‘Bombay Buccaneers’: Memories and Reminiscences of the Royal Indian Navy (London: BACSA, 1986)
Cdr. D.J. Hastings R.I.N.V.R.: The Royal Indian Navy, 1612-1950 (North Carolina and London: McFarland & Co. Inc., 1988)
Lawrence James: Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (London: Little, Brown & Co., 1997)
Charles Rathbone Low: History of the Indian Navy (1613-1863) (London: The London Stamp Exchange Ltd., 1990 reprint) in two volumes
There were also more minor (or indirect) consultations from others including:-
The Bengal Almanac and Directory (Calcutta: Mirror Press)
The Calcutta Annual Register and Directory (Calcutta: Scott & Co.)
The East-India Company Register and Army List (London, East India Company)
The New Calcutta Directory (Calcutta, Frank Carbery)
Shipping and Shipbuilding in India 1736-1839: A Check List of Ship Names (London: India Office Records, 1995)
Richard Brooks: The Long Arm of Empire: Naval Brigades from the Crimea to the Boxer Rebellion (London: Constable, 1999)
Boyd Cable: A Hundred Year History of the P. & O. (London: Ivor Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1937)
J.J. Colledge & Ben Warlow: Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy from the 15th Century to the Present (London: Chatham Publishing, 2006 revised)
Rear-Admiral P.H. Colomb: Naval Warfare: Its Ruling Principles and Practice Historically Treated (London and Calcutta: W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd., 1891)
T.A.B. Corley: A History of Burmah Oil Company 1886-1924 (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1983)
Sir Evan Cotton (edited by Sir Charles Fawcett): East Indiamen: The East India Company’s Maritime Service (London: The Batchworth Press, 1949)
David Divine: These Splendid Ships: The Story of the Peninsular and Oriental Line (London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1960)
Robert Gardiner (Editor): The Line of Battle: The Sailing Warship 1650-1840 (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1992)
Robert Gardiner (Editor): Steel, Steam & Shellfire: The Steam Warship 1815-1905 (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1992)
Brian Gardner: The East India Company (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1971)
Captain Peter Hore R.N.: Seapower Ashore: 200 Years of Royal Navy Operations on Land (London: Chatham Publishing, 2001)
Richard Harding: Seapower and Naval Warfare 1650-1830 (London: University College London Press, 1999)
Andrew Lambert: ‘Strategy, Policy and Shipbuilding: the Bombay Dockyard, the Indian Navy and Imperial Security in Eastern Seas, 1784-1869’ in H.V. Bowen, Margarette Lincoln & Nigel Rigby (Editors): The Worlds of the East India Company (London & Leicester: The Boydell Press, N.M.M. & University of Leicester, 2002)
John Keay: The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company (London: Harper Collins, 1993 in paperback)
Hugh Trevor Lenton: British and Empire Warships of the Second World War (London: Greenhill Books, 1998)
David Lyon & Rif Winfield: The Sail & Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889 (London: Chatham Publishing, 2004)
D.M. Schurman: The Education of a Navy: The Development of British Naval Strategic Thought 1867-1914 (London: Cassell, 1965)
Lawrence Sondhaus: Naval Warfare 1815-1914 (London and New York: Routledge, 2001)
Hannen Swaffer: What would Nelson do? (London: Victor Gallancz Ltd., 1946)
Operational and personal papers related to the loss of Pathan seen are:-
TNA: PRO ADM 199/157; and NMM: MS 81/022
Operational files on the Arakan, Burmese and proposed Singapore Operations of 1945 studied included:-
TNA: PRO ADM 116/5617; ADM 116/6151; ADM 199/1463; DEFE 2/179 and WO 203/1192
It should also be mentioned that there is a great wealth of information within the papers of Vice-Admiral J.H. Godfrey R.N. who was F.O.C.R.I.N. in the latter half of the Second World War. These are at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.