Imperial Duties, 1920 – 1940

Oct 18, 2016

Imperial Duties between the wars. 

India and Iraq, 1920-1925

India remained the jewel in the Imperial Crown, though there was to be no Imperial Durbar on the accession of George VI as King Emperor in 1936. There were increasing demands from Indian nationalists for self-government and even independence.

The Battalion’s first posting was to Sialkot (NW Punjab, now Pakistan)

In 1923, it moved south near Bombay (Mumbai)

Sgt Brophy with family and servant in Sialkot

Sgt Brophy with family and servant in Sialkot

Iraq – the area had been called Mesopotamia when it was part of the Turkish Empire.  After the war, the Turkish territories in the Middle East were given to Britain and France as mandates.  They would govern these territories with a view to giving them independence at some time in the future.  The territory known as Iraq was a British mandate.

From 1924 to 1925, the Battalion was posted to the city of Baghdad in Iraq.

While there, the Inniskillings were involved in what is believed to be the first time troops were deployed by air.

On Sunday 4th May 1924, serious communal rioting broke out in the city of Kirkuk, 150 miles north of Baghdad.  By road, it would have taken five days to bring up reinforcements.  ‘D’ Company was mobilised and RAF’s Vickers Victoria and Vickers Vernon bombers flew the first detachment of 70 men to Kirkuk before the day was out.   They occupied an old Turkish fort, sleeping on the ramparts and patrols were sent out. They were joined by an RAF squadron of armoured cars.  Two days later, the aircraft brought in the rest of the Company. This speedy action ended the rioting.

Kirkuk Fort

Kirkuk Fort

The Far East, 1934-1940

In 1934, the Battalion’s first posting in the Far East was to Shanghai in China.  This city, by then the fifth largest in the world, was internationally administered by Britain, the United States of America and France. Britain kept a full infantry battalion in the city. The Chinese had been forced to open the port (along with others) to international trade in 1842.

Weihaiwei, in NE China, was a British leased territory from 1898 to 1930 when it was returned to China. The port was principally used as a summer anchorage for the Royal Navy’s China squadron. However, after 1930, Britain leased an island in the bay for the Royal Navy for a further 10 years.

Weihaiwei harbour - HM Submarine Proteus

Weihaiwei harbour – HM Submarine Proteus

In 1936, the Battalion moved to Singapore, part of the Straits Settlements, (Malaya) and which had been a British possession since 1824. Married men could now bring out their families.

Battalion transport - Singapore, 1937

Battalion transport – Singapore, 1937

In 1938, the Battalion moved to Wellington, Southern India.  In 1939 new Regimental Colours were presented.

Wellington Barracks, S India, today

Wellington Barracks, S India, today

During the Second World War, the Battalion fought against the Japanese in Burma in 1942 and 1943. It did not return to the UK until 1949, after further service in Hong Kong and Malaya.

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