When a regiment was invited to Mysore

When a regiment was invited to Mysore

A lot has been written about the role of Princely Mysore in the First World War. The state made monetary contributions to the colonial government for the war. On the other hand, little is known about the arrival of a regiment to India from England in 1916. But, records in the Karnataka State Archives Department throw some light on the arrangements made by the respective administrative machinery for the march from Bangalore to Mysore.

The march was conducted by the 2/6 Batallion of Royal Sussex Regiment. Originally it was a cyclist battalion, formed in November 1914 at Brighton. In 1915, it moved to Chiseldon and later joined three other cyclist battalions formed earlier — 1/9 Hampshire, 1/25 London and 1/1 Kent. Later all these battalions sailed towards East Africa and the 2/6 battalion sailed to India from Davenport on February 4, 1916.  

The correspondence between the officers of the regiment and Dewan of Mysore shows that first permission was sought from the Maharaja for the march and it was to start from the Parade Grounds in Bangalore Cantonment. The administrative machinery in both the cities ordered the cleaning of wells and arranged for provisions for the soldiers to be used while travelling. There were orders to depute an officer to accompany the battalion. A timetable comprising of the details of the march was prepared and given to the officials concerned. 

On July 3, 1916, the battalion of 800 soldiers left Bangalore at eight in the morning, and they reached Kumbalgod at three in the afternoon, covering 14 miles. Their next stop was Closepet (Ramanagara) after which they halted on the banks of River Shimsha in Maddur. On July 6, they conducted field operations on the road, On the fifth day, they went around the town visiting tourist spots. On July 10, the battalion reached Mysore and visited the zoological gardens and the palace.  

Lt Fred Goode, an officer of the regiment, writes in his diary, “The reason we went to Mysore was that the Maharajah sent an invitation for the whole battalion to become his guests...In the evening, we were inspected by His Highness and then marched to the palace. The palace defies description, it fairly took our breath away by its magnificence. It was dark when we arrived, but suddenly the grounds became one blaze of dazzling electric light.”  

On July 11, the battalion left Mysore, it halted at Mandya and Closepet and conducted field operations. On July 18, 1916, the battalion returned to Bangalore. After the march, Lt Col Frank Johnson, commander of the batallion, in his letter dated July 31, 1916 written from Bangalore, acknowledged the help rendered by several people during the march.  

In the letter, he appreciated the organising ability and energy of Sir Mirza Ismail. Who then was the officiating private secretary to Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore. The officer also thanked immensely the Maharaja and his subjects for the reception accorded to the battalion in Mysore.