This is a guide to finding records of the Indian Army during British rule. The vast majority of these records are currently held by the British Library.
The army in India during British rule
East India Company Army – before the formation of the Indian Army, the East India Company raised and maintained its own army which consisted of both indigenous Indian and European troops.
Indian Army – formed in 1859, the Indian Army, before 1947 also referred to as the British Indian Army, fought in both world wars. The British Indian Army was made up of both European officers and Indian soldiers.
British Army – also present in India, alongside the British Indian Army.
Many records held at The National Archives are available online, some of them on partner websites, others on our own website. See the records in other archives and organisations below for more online records.
First World War Indian Army unit war diaries from the Western Front, Mesopotamia and Gallipoli
Search by unit name and number for the units that served in the Gallipoli Campaign at the Dardanelles on Ancestry.co.uk (£).
The original records are held in series WO 95. See below for advice on searching for the war diaries from the same series of units that served elsewhere in the world during the war.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
As well as the records listed here, we hold a set of published Indian Army Lists 1903–1939 (more details below), though these records are not exclusive to The National Archives.
First World War Indian Army unit war diaries from Egypt, Palestine and East Africa
Search by unit name and number for document references to unit war diaries, in series WO 95, of Indian Army units which served in Egypt, Palestine and East Africa during the First World War.
Records in other archives and organisations
Search the India Office Family History Search database for births, baptisms, marriages and deaths of mainly European people in India from about 1600 to 1949.
Indian Army Lists
Trace the careers of Indian Army officers in the quarterly publications of the Indian Army List, available at The National Archives for 1903–1939 and the British Library for 1889–1947.
Information on officers varies but should include:
- date of first commission/date of entering service
- date of appointment/promotion to current rank
- date of joining regiment
- date of birth