Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Indian army, Artillery, oldest mountain batteries

30 May, 2011

My Army Days

Coming back to Indian Mountain Artillery once again as promised in  my  previous blogs, it is interesting to know the historical back ground under which these oldest five Mountain  Batteries were  raised and deployed.

As we know, the frontier area in the extreme West side of the then undivided India was - and still is - the home of mixed tribes who always believed in their own rules and tribal ways of administration. They never reconciled to the Mughal rule over their territory and kept asserting for independence. In the years after the Mughal rule, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, using his Zum Zum guns and cavalry, established control over the whole of the Frontier area. His empire thus included not only Punjab but also what today is Pakistan, POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir), and Jammu & Kashmir.

Later, when the British Raj took root in India, their Governor General Dalhousie, could not resist the temptation to extend British control further West. Taking into account that Ranjit Singh was already crippled by two paralytic strokes, Dalhousie, in October 1848, declared war against the Maharaja. By March 1849, after a series of battles, the Sikh Army finally surrendered and Punjab Empire was annexed outright by the British.

Soon after the annexation,  the British Army  raised four new Mountain Artillery Batteries in which most of the Indian Gunners from the disbanded Artillery units of Ranjit Singh were re-recruited. These  four Batteries were initially known as Punjab Frontier Force (PFF) Batteries & designated as:-

Ist Kohat Mountain Battery (PFF).
2nd Derajat Mountain Battery (PFF)
3rd Peshawar Mountain Battery (PFF) and
4th Hazara Mountain Battery (PFF)  

Incidentally, the 5th Bombay Mountain Battery had been raised much earlier in 1827 as the Bombay Foot Artillery as is the oldest Indian Mountain Battery. It was however, never part of PFF.

A brief account of each battery to follow in my subsequent blog posts.

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