Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




The pre-1946 Indian Army / Navy

Until the late 1940s the Indian Army was administrated by European officers and non-commissioned officers. These European personnel were predominately British and the Oriental and India Office Collections holds the archives of the "Indian Army".

Personnel Files

The military department of the India Office recruited Europeans in the UK and they served in the Indian Army. The files available for public inspection (in London) cover a number of Indian Army regiments & corps as well as other groups such as the Indian Army Corps of Clerks, Chelsea Pensioners, Voluntary Aid Detachments, Indian Medical Service, Women's Auxiliary Corps and Emergency Commissioned officers.

The majority of files start from around the 1890s and end in 1947 or shortly thereafter. Some earlier papers may exist and they may be as early as the 1870s.

Pension Funds

There are a number of pension funds that were organised for the benefit of officers, ratings and their dependents. It is possible to search these records and the associated papers may contain things such as service records, details of marriages, baptism of children, data on individual's promotions, date of retirement and death, date of wife's (wives') birth and death, information on children.

East India Company (EIC) Armies / Indian Army

The entry papers for EIC officer cadets detail the cadet's name, birth / baptism, parentage and educational history. There are also recruitment registers and embarkation lists for other ranks. Information on Queen's India Cadetships (1858 - 1930), Sandhurst cadets commissioned onto the Indian Army (1901 - 1940), Wellington and Quetta cadets (1915 - 1918) and Assistant Surgeon / Surgeon's papers are available.

Naval Service

Statements of service were collated in 1834 when the East India Company's mercantile marine was abolished. Maritime officials at this time received a compensation payment because of the termination of the EIC and this payment was mainly applied to those serving at this date. The payment was given to officers, surgeons, boatswains, pursers, carpenters and gunners. Complete records of service, applicants' baptism certificates and those for their wives / children are available amongst these records. The details of post-1860 naval officers, warrant officers and seamen are also open to the public. However, these records are classified under the 75 to 100 year disclosure agreement so only those who entered service before about 1930 are classified as "open" documents.