Christopher Trevelyan © 2003-2014 |

The Indian Army on campaign 1900-1939

The King’s Indian Orderly Officers 1939

The following photographs and text are from the May 13th, 1939 edition of the Picture Post.  The article, entitled The King's Indian Orderly Officers, concerns the four distinguished Indian Army Officers chosen to serve as the King's honourary bodyguard in the United Kingdom.

Please ask permission For the use of any photographs or illustrations on this site. Higher resolution images are often available.

From left to right: Subedar-Major Sardar Khan, Sardar Bahadur, OBI 1st Class, 2/8 Punjab Regiment; Subedar-Major Taj Din, Bahadur, OBI 2nd Class, 3rd S&M; Subedar-Major Rahim Ali, Bahadur, OBI, IOM, 5/6 Rajputana Rifles; Risaldar Ahmed Khan, 7th Light Cavalry.

The History     

On January 1st, 1903, the Viceroy issued a General Order announcing certain favours and concessions to the Army in India in connection with Edward VII's Coronation, among the annual appointment of Indian orderly officers.

Six Indian orderly officers were appointed in 1903, a number reduced to four in 1904. These four are appointed each year for the London season, from April to August. They attend the King at Courts and Levees, standing near the throne, at all reviews and at such ceremonies as the Trooping the Colour. Upon these occasions they appear in full dress. For garden parties and similar engagements they are dressed in grey coats of knee length.

For this supreme honour, officer and handpicked from all branches of the Indian Army, specially selected by the Commander-in-Chief himself.

   The Officers

This year's appointments have been made from four special branches of the Indian Army. All four officers are Mohammedans [Muslims], a race which, although it totals 77,000,000 out of India's 338,000,000, provides one-third of the Indian Army. They are all from the Punjab, which provides more than one half of the fighting troops in India.

 Subadar-Major Sardar Khan, Sardar Bahadur, has served 32 years with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Punjab Regiment, a unit raised in 1799 at Marsulipatam as part of the Madras Native Infantry. He served throughout the War in Egypt, and was in the Waziristan campaigns of 1921-24, and North-West Frontier 1930, 1936-37. Sardar Khan holds the 1st Class of the Order of British India. With it he received the title of Sardar Bahadur, "The Brave Warrior", and additional pay and pension.

Subadar-Major Taj Din, Bahadur, has had 29 years with the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners, and his full dress uniform, apart from the pugaree (turban), is the same as that of an officer of the Royal Engineers. His regiment dates from 1820. His Great War service was in France, Belgium, Iraq and Egypt, with Waziristan active service 1923-4, 1936-7. His title Bahadur, "the Brave," comes with his 2nd class of the O.B.I.

Subadar-Major Rahim Ali, Bahadur, O.B.I., I.O.M., left his regiment, 5th Battalion, 6th Rajputana Rifles, in Hong Kong. He won his I.O.M. [Indian Order of Merit] at Gaza, Palestine, September 1918, when a Havildar-Major in command of a platoon. [Subadar-Major Rahim Ali would come out of retirement during World War Two, serving in India and Burma, and retiring for a second time with the rank of Honourary Captain.]

Risaldar Ahmed Khan, the cavalryman of the quartette, from the 7th Light Cavalry, is the junior in rank and service. He saw Great War service in Persia and Russia.

Their first request upon arrival was to visit Woking Mosque, for they are strict Mussulmans, refraining from liquor, although allowed to smoke. Their brilliant full-dress uniforms have one particularly distinctive decoration. The aigulettes, a pattern chosen by Edward VII in 1903 or gold chord upon their shoulder, are made to for the King's Indian Orderly Officers alone.