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Kashmir Rifles in the thick of the fighting at Tanga - 4 November 1914

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

The German Memorial Garden at Tanga

(Refer to the article The Loyal North Lancashires at Tanga for an overview of the operation.)

Tanga harbour

On 4th November 1914 the British advanced on Tanga town with the 2nd Kashmir Rifles on the right flank and the 3rd Kashmir Rifles immediately to the left. As the advance developed the 2nd Kashmir Rifles inclined north towards Tanga harbour so that the battalion could not be outflanked on its right.

The railway cutting at Tanga

The advance then came up to the quite deep railway cutting that nearly encircles the eastern end of Tanga town. The cutting was defended on the town (west) side by entrenched German troops, but the Kashmiris attacked and fought through the enemy line to get into the town.

Whilst fighting over the cutting and into the town Subadar Randhir Singh, 2nd Kashmir Rifles, led his men from the front and for his bravery he later received an Indian Order of Merit, 2nd Class, with the citation:

For his gallant behaviour in the action at Tanga on the 4th November 1914, when in command of a detachment which charged and secured the enemy's trenches and captured a machine gun. In leading his men, he was severely wounded.

Sketch map showing the advance of the Kashmiris

Once into the town Lieutenant Colonel Durga Singh IOM, 3rd Kashmir Rifles, became a tower of strength to his men by his brave and bold leadership. After the battle he was promoted to the 1st Class of the Indian Order of Merit (men already holding an Indian Order of Merit, 2nd Class were promoted to the 1st Class when they received a second similar award) with the citation:

Promoted to the 1st Class. This gallant officer, who was suffering from fever at the time, was conspicuous for his courageous behaviour in leading his men on the 4th November 1914 at Tanga. He was shot across the face and again through the back of the head.

Because of the lack of aggression displayed by other units on the battlefield, and also because of the incompetence of senior commanders, the Kashmir Rifles were compelled to withdraw back across the railway cutting into a perimeter near the beaches.

The Kashmir Rifles were Imperial Service troops (refer to the previous article on the Bharatpur Imperial Service Infantry) provided by the Indian Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, but at Tanga and elsewhere in East Africa they operated and fought much more efficiently and boldly than did some British-sponsored Indian Army units.

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