The history of the HEIC Army and the "Bengal Europeans" Regiment is given below. Thomas Blanchett arrived in India in August 1817 and retired from the Army in 1836. He died in India in 1863. Like the "Bengal Europeans" many of the British Army regiments had their origin in the HEIC Army and had their name changed several times. Amusingly, like the "Bengal Europeans" which became the "Royal Munster Fusiliers", some of the Indian Regiments had their name changed to the names of Irish Regiments.
1. Summary History of "Bengal Europeans"
HEIC Bengal Europeans
HEIC 1st Bengal European Regiment
HEIC 1st Bengal European Fusiliers
HEIC 1st Bengal Fusiliers
1858-1861 (Indian "Mutiny" 1857)
1st Bengal Fusiliers
Taken onto British Army Establishment as
101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers
101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers
Combined with 104th to become
1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers
1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers
Disbanded with Ireland's independence from United Kingdom
2. Longer History of British Army, Bengal Europeans and Thomas
Blanchett in India
The Army in India may be said to have originated in Bombay, where in March 1668, a detachment of the King's troops were offered and accepted service under the East India Company, on the handing over of the Island of Bombay by King Charles II to the East India Company.
About this time the force in Bengal is described as "an ensign and 30 men to do honour to the principal agent", A Mr. Hedges was sent from Madras as "agent and governor of the affairs in the Bay of Bengal, and of the factories subordinate to it at Kassimbazar, Patna, Balasore, Malda, and Dacca. A corporal of approved fidelity and courage, with twenty soldiers to be a guard to the agent's person, and the factory at Hoogly, and to act against interlopers."
1685 - six companies of infantry sent from England, and a detachment from Madras for the purpose of establishing the position of the Company in Bengal.
1689 - the settlements in Bengal were given up, and the whole force returned to Madras.
1690 - the settlements were re-established by the end of the year the force amounted to a company of 100 men under a Captain Hill.
1692 - Captain John Goldesborough arrived in Madras, on appointment to the command of all the Company's forces in India.
1694 - Goldesborough when on a tour of inspection to Bengal, ordered the establishment to be reduced to 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, and 20 privates.
1697 - a dangerous revolt breaks out in Bengal, led by Rajah Subah Sing, against the Emperor's authority, the East India Company agent, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Charles Eyre, applied to the local Nawab for permission to fortify the factory at Chattanuttee, the modern Calcutta. This being given, it was decided to erect a fort, which was to be called "Fort William," in honour of King William III, and at the same time Bengal was declared a separate presidency.
1702, 24th December - in a letter from Bengal to the Court of Directors, reporting on the progress of work on "Fort William", the following was noted, "The flag was hoisted the sixth of October in the same manner as is done at Fort St. George, to the great satisfaction of the inhabitants...." .
1707 - the works at Fort William were reasonably completed, with a number of guns, and 125 soldiers, of whom half were Europeans.
1710 - by now the strength and constitution of the military forces in the three Presidencies had gone through many changes, each had more or less the organization and disposal of their own forces. The white portion of the armies was composed of detachments sent out from England and Ireland.
Historians have had to rely on the ordinary history of the time, to carry us on up to events which led to the formation of the Bengal European Regiment. Robert Clive is credited with formally bringing this about.
1743 - Robert Clive arrives in India as a civil servant of the East India Company, he later transferred to the military service of the Company and distinguished himself as a soldier.
1753 -Clive returned to England for a period of time where he involved himself in business and politics, not altogether too successfully.
1756, June - Clive returned to Madras from England, having been appointed Governor of Fort St David and with a commission as a Lieutenant-Colonel, also granted by King George II.
1756,5th August - news was received in Madras of the capture of Calcutta by Surajah Dowlah, the new Nawab of Bengal, and the imprisonment of Europeans in a dungeon known as the "Black Hole". Clive was commanded to secure Calcutta and release the prisoners.
1756, 16th December - independent companies and detachments were formed into a Regiment by Clive and placed under the command of Major Kilpatrick under the title of "The Bengal European Regiment".
1765, 5th August - Clive reorganized the Bengal Army. The Bengal European Regiment, at this time upwards of 1,600 strong was ordered to be formed into three single Regiments -
1st European Regiment under
2nd European Regiment under
Lieut.-Colonel Richard Smith.
3rd European Regiment under
Lieut.-Colonel Sir Robert Barker.
1779, 26th September - the three battalions of the Bengal Europeans formed on the 5th August 1765, were reduced to two battalions each, the total strength of the European army in Bengal then being about 3,000 strong.
1781 - these were reduced again to single-Regiment Corps., but the 1st Bengal Europeans for a time retained its two battalions, the second was sent to Madras, to assist in the defence of that Presidency against Hyder Ali. After the peace the Regiment returned to its own Presidency, and the Bengal Europeans were divided into independent battalions, numbered 1st to 6th.
1796 - the six Bengal European were reorganized in three regiments, the 1st and 5th Battalions forming the 1st Bengal European Regiment, the 2nd and 6th Battalions the 2nd Bengal European Regiment, the 3rd and 4th Battalions the 3rd Bengal European Regiment.
1798 - the 3rd Bengal European Regiment was drafted into the 1st and 2nd Battalions.
1803 - the 2nd Bengal Europeans was drafted into the Marine Battalion, the 1st reverting, to its original position of The Bengal European Regiment.
***Note: 1817 Thomas Blanchett arrives in India joins "Bengal
European" Regiment of HEIC Army.
1824 - an important change was ordered in the constitution of the Bengal Europeans, which was then separated into two Battalions.
1830, 1st January - the two battalions were again joined into one which was designated "The Bengal European Regiment". In 1831 the Regiment moved from Agra to Dinapore, and in 1835 it proceeded to Meerut.
***Note: 1836 Thomas Blanchett retires from Army.
1840, per General Order No. 244, as a reward for their services in the Afgan campaign, the Regiment learned with satisfaction that under instructions from the Court of Directors, they were to be designated the "1st Bengal European Light Infantry", and to be armed and equipped as such.
1845-1846 - the first Sikh War, the 1st Bengal European Light Infantry bore a distinguished part in the great battles of Ferozeshah and Sobraon. (The Colours carried by the regiment in that campaign were laid up in Winchester Cathedral.)
It was these Regimental Colours that bore blood-stains of the gallant Ensign Moxon, from whose dead body, in one of the Khalsa entrenchment's, it was taken, at great personal risk, by Ensign P. R. Innes, the future historian of the corps.)
1846, 11th April - per General Order, in recognition of its services the above campaign, the 1st European Light Infantry was made a Fusilier corps, and thenceforward designated "1st Bengal European Fusiliers"
Note by Eugene Blanchette: 1857 -- "Indian Mutiny" -- British Government (Queen Victoria) takes control of India from HEIC in 1858.
1858, 1st November - Queen Victoria's proclamation, intimated that she
assumed the direct government of India, and the East India Company, after a
duration of over 240 years, ceased to exist.
The troops in the Company's service were to be transferred to that of the Crown, and the distinction between "Royal Troops" and the "Company's European Troops", which had existed for over 100 years, was to disappear.
Two questions had to be solved from a military point of view, one whether the former forces of the East India Company, now classified as "British Troops" in India, should henceforth form portion of the Imperial British Army, or whether they should become localized forces maintained solely for services in India.
It was decided in the end that they should form part of the Imperial British Army, however by now two years had lapsed.
1861 - the Regiment became the 101st (Royal Bengal Fusiliers) in the British line.
1862, 25th February - General Sir Hugh Rose, presents new Colours to the Regiment.
*** 1963 Thomas Blanchett dies in India -- buried in Agra Cemetery
1868 - under this new title it did good service in the Umbeyla campaign.
1868 - the regiment left Cawnpore en route Bombay to embark for England.
1869, 3rd February - regiment arrived Portsmouth, proceeded to Gosport Barracks, England.
1870, June - regiment moved to Aldershot Barracks, England and formed part of the 3rd infantry Brigade.
1871, July - the old Colours of the regiment placed in Winchester Cathedral. (Colours of the Bengal Regiment)
1871, September - regiment moved to Bury Lancashire.
1872, July - regiment moved to Manchester.
1873, September - regiment moved to Fleetwood.
1874, July - regiment moved to Aldershot barracks for summer drills.
1874, 6th October - the regiment embarked for Malta on the troopship "Malabar".
1874, 19th October - regiment arrives Malta.
1878, 18th July - regiment left Malta for Cyprus.
1878, 8th October - regiment embarked at Larnaca Cyprus for Halifax Nova Scotia.
1878, 11th November - regiment arrives Halifax. the Regiment sent to to Nova Scotia.
In the 1881 Cardwell territorial reforms of the British Army, the 101st (Royal Bengal Fusiliers) were renamed the -
ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS
- and joined their ally the 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers, (formerly the 104th Bengal Fusiliers).
The Royal Munster Fusiliers Regiment, now consisted two Battalions, 1st and 2nd.
1883, 10th November - 1st Battalion RMF as now titled, embarked Halifax in the ship "Himalaya", for England.
1883, 21st November - Battalion arrives Pembroke Dock Wales.
1885, 14th September - Battalion moves to Portsmouth, England.
1883, 17th September - Battalion proceeds by rail transport to Dover Citadel.
1886, 22nd September - Lady Louisa Fielding presents the Battalion with new Colours, the old Colours presented to the Corps in 1862 were then laid up.
1888, 17th October - Battalion left Dover for Aldershot North Camp for training.
1889, 9th August - Battalion left Aldershot for Colchester.
1888, 16th December - Battalion embarked at Parkeston on ship "Assistance" for Dublin.
1888,21st December - Battalion disembarked at Kingston, marched to Dublin, occupied Wellington Barracks.
1894, 25th May - Battalion moves to the Curragh, engaged in new form of training and route marching.
1896, 20th August - Battalion moves to Fermoy from the Curragh.
1896-1899, August - Battalion remained at Fermoy when orders were received to proceed to South Africa.
1899, 23rd August - Battalion left Fermoy for Southampton.
1899, 24th August - Battalion embarked in the "Arundel Castle" at Southampton.
1899, 16th September - Battalion arrives Cape Town, South Africa.
1899-1902, September - Battalion served with distinction during the duration of the Boer War.
1902, 14th September - Battalion received orders to return to Cape Town.
1902, 22nd September - Battalion embarked on the "Manitoba" and sailed for India on the 24th.
1902, 10th October - Battalion arrived Bombay, transshipped for Karachi arriving on 14th, entrained for Multan arriving 17th.
1902-1905 - Battalion stationed Multan.
1905, 22nd November - Battalion left Multan for Rawalpindi. Remained here until 1907, participated in training and maneuvers.
1907, 14th November - Battalion returned to Rawalpindi. Here they mounted expeditions against the Zakha Khels and the Mohmands, who were threatening British Territories. Remained India until 1912.
1912, 11th March - Battalion embarked for Rangoon Burma.
1914, 21st November - It was from Rangoon the, the 1st Battalion sailed for England via Calcutta and Bombay.
1915, 10th January - Battalion arrived Avonmouth Docks, proceeded to Coventry to billets, re-equipped and trained for the Gallipoli campaign, the Battalion also fought on the Western Front.
1839, 29th July - in accordance with General Order published this date, by the President in Council, the raising of a " 2nd Bengal European regiment " was carried out, and volunteers from the 1st Bengal European regiment were called for to form a nucleus. Eighty-two men were selected, and proceeded to Hazarebagh, with the invalids and time-expired men of the 1st regiment.
Out of this number Lance-Corporal Sullivan was appointed Sergeant-Major. The regiment was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel George Warren, who had by this time recovered from the wounds he had received at the capture of the fortress of Ghuznee.
1839, 15th October - the detachment marched from Cabul with the second column of the Army returning from Afghanistan, under command of Major-General Thackwell. Although many of the officers of the old 2nd Bengal European regiment, which had been incorporated with the 1st in 1830, were still serving with the latter regiment, all the officers of the newly-formed regiment were taken from the General List of the Army.
1840, July - regiment proceeded from Hazarebagh to Ghazeepore.
1840, November - arrived Ghazeepore, during the march cholera broke out, causing many deaths, but the disease was gradually mastered.
1842, March - moved to Cawnpore, where the first batch of recruits from England joined.
1842, 1st October - was then detailed to form part of the Army of Reserve, under General Sir Jasper Nicols, K.C.B., left Cawnpore on this date to assemble at Ferozepore,
1842, 20th November - arrived Ferozepore, was placed in the 4th Brigade, 2nd Division, along with the 39th Native Infantry and Sirmoor Battalion under Brigadier F. Young.
1843, 6th January - left Ferozepore for Meerut. On arriving at Delhi en route, it formed part of the escort to Lord Ellenborough, the Governor-General.
1843, 24th February - arrived at Meerut, where a great many of the men suffered ophthalmia.
1843, 30th October - resumed it's march towards Umballa.
1843, 10th November - arrived Umballa, camped in this region for over 5 months.
1844, March - regiment divided into 2 wings, left wing and Headquarters staff returned to Meerut. Right wing under Major Cowslade marched to Ludhiana.
1844, 9th April - right wing arrived Ludhiana.
1844, 15th April - left wing arrived Meerut.
1844, October - headquarters and left wing left Meerut for Sukur.
1844, 6th November - headquarters and left wing, joined up with Right Wing joined up with right wing on passing Ludhiana.
1844, 30th December - halted at Subzulkote, then proceeded to north of Shikarpore, in action against border tribes.
1845, 26th March - moved to Sukkur.
1845, August - regiment left Sukkur for Karachi, leaving No.2 Company to garrison Sukkur.
1845, 13th September - regiment arrived Karachi, where they remained till December.
1845, 24th December - Headquarters and Right Wing returned to Sukkur.
1845, 30th December - Left Wing under Major Fairhead returned to Sukkur.