Tag Archives: Indian Army

Alfred Tomlin East

Alfred Tomlin East was the only son of the late Sir Alfred East, R.A., President of the Royal Society of British Artists. One of his father’s paintings is owned by the school and hangs in Weston’s.

East was in Ashburnham House from September 1891 to April 1895. He became an engineer and worked as a special assistant during the construction of the Bombay Municipality Waterworks. He enlisted in the Indian Marines at Bombay at the outbreak war and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Indian Army in 1915; in July he was attached 17th Company 3rd Sappers and Miners and left Bombay with the Expeditionary Force to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) in the following month.


The role of British and Indian troops in Mesopotamia was originally envisaged in limited terms — securing the oil pipeline at Abadan. The success the forces met with in late 1914 and early 1915 led the Viceroy and Indian government at Simla to reconsider and they decided to order further advances with a view to securing the Shatt al Hai, a canal connecting the Tigris and Euphrates river and potentially capturing Baghdad. The British government disagreed and wished to conserve forces for the Western front. The Viceroy was given permission to act as it wished, but told in no uncertain terms that no reinforcements should be expected.

The initial success experienced by the British and Indian forces quickly disintegrated in the face of Ottoman opposition. The Siege of Kut Al Amara began on 7th December with the besieging of an 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. Alfred Tomlin East died on Christmas Day, 1915 of wounds he received in action during the siege a week earlier.

Memorial to Alfred Tomlin East in Mumbai Cathedral.  Many thanks to Geoff Brown, who commented below, for supplying this image.
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Arthur Guy Worthington

19150722_Worthington,AGDuring his time at the school, Worthington was a member of the Scientific Society and shortly before he left the school in December 1914, he read a paper to the society on ‘Insects and Disease’, which he “illustrated with a series of personal drawings”.

He was also in the Officer Training Corps and, in the February after leaving school, he sat the Sandhurst Examination. He took a high place on the lists and was sent to Northern India in April 1915 to the newly re-opened Cadet College in Quetta. Worthington was one of the first batch of 100 cadets to undertake a six month course to train to be a British Officer in the Indian Army.

The cadets’ working day was between 6am and 11pm, and included an intensive introduction to infantry and cavalry tactics, field engineering, map reading, musketry, sanitation and language instruction in Hindustani, along with drill and physical training.

Worthington was taking part in a routine Bathing Parade in a lake near Quetta on the 22nd of July, when he was accidentally drowned. The Commandant of the College wrote: “your son showed every prospect of becoming a good and useful officer. He was a most popular lad, and we are all most deeply grieved at the loss of a most promising young life on the threshold of its career.”

On the British Path├® website you can view footage of a First World War British Army Bathing Parade:http://www.britishpathe.com/video/bathing-parade

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Richard Edward John Thomson

Richard Edward John Thomson was in Rigaud’s House from 1906 until 1909. He was interested in a military career from an early stage and joined the school’s Officer Training Corps, taking part in shooting competitions – with mixed success. He left the school after passing his Woolwich qualifying examination and in 1910 joined the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He joined the Indian Army in 1912 as a Double Company Officer for the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs. With this regiment he saw active service at Nowshera and Lorala before joining the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in September 1914. He was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on 18th May 1915.

The same day, just a few hundred metres away, Lieutenant John Smyth of the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs, led ten volunteers on a perilous mission to supply bombs to the front line. Lieutenant Smyth conveyed a supply of 96 bombs to within 20 yards of the enemy’s position over exceptionally dangerous ground, after the attempts of two other parties had failed. Lieutenant Smyth succeeded in taking the bombs to the desired position with the aid of two of his men (the other eight having been killed or wounded), and to effect his purpose he had to swim a stream, being exposed the whole time to howitzer, shrapnel, machine-gun and rifle fire. Smyth was awarded the Victoria Cross, Lance-Naik Mangal Singh the Indian Order of Merit, and every sepoy in the party the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.

Speaking at the 500th Birthday Anniversary of Guru Nanak at Grosvenor House in Park Lane in December, 1969 the then Brigadier the Rt. Hon. Sir John Smythe, Bt. V.C. made the following speech:

56 years ago I joined the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs in Loralai, Baluchistan and at once became embued with the teachings and the life of Guru Nanak. The Sikh Gurus, the Sikh religion, the Gurdwara, the Granth Sahib became part of my life. The British and Sikh officers of the Regiment were convinced that religion was an important factor in the make-up of a good soldier and we fostered that in every way possible.

Many thanks to Souchez Historic Committee who pay tribute to soldiers – such as Richard Edward John Thomson – who are buried in their village, for the supply of the photograph above.

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Guy Neale Landale Labertouche

The Battle of Shaiba was fought on April 12-14 1915, between British forces defending Basra, and men from the Ottoman Empire, attempting to retake the strategically important city. It is considered a turning point in the long Mesopotamian campaign, as after it, the allies generally held the advantage in the area. Labertouche was a Major with the 122nd Rajputana Infantry, in the Indian army, at this time. He received fatal wounds on the 14th of April, and died on the same day.

Labertouche atte19150414_Labertouche,Guynded Westminster from April 1886 until July 1888. He was a homeboarder, and a good cricketer, but little else is known about his time at the school. He was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1871, to Peter Paul, a public servant, and Eleanor Annie. There he attended the prestigious Scotch College from 1881, where they have noted that “he did not star scholastically or in sport”, so nothing is known about his time there; we don’t even know in which year he left, or when his family moved to England.

He received his first commission in early 1892, into the Sussex regiment. From there he spent a few months in 1895 as aide-de-camp to the acting governor of Victoria, Australia, before leaving in November to go to Bombay. He was in the India Staff corps from 1896, and was involved in a number of actions, including suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. He was married to Janet Muriel Campbell Stewart in 1908, and promoted to the rank of Major in 1910.

Labertouche was commemorated at Basra War Cemetery, in modern day Iraq. After years with little maintenance to the site, headstones were removed by the British army in 2003 for safekeeping. Since then, the cemetery has been almost completely destroyed, although in the last few years, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Iraqi security forces have been attempting to restore it, though it is unclear how much progress they have been able to make.

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