Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

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Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

Postby Maureene » 29 Oct 2011 05:31

Hi

Can anyone provide an approximate date for the photographs in the following links from the rather limited details of the soldiers, who presumably are in an Artillery Battery. Is it possible to tell from the uniforms whether they would be Royal Artillery? Most of the Artillery Batteries in India were Royal Artillery, although there were some Indian Army Mountain Artillery units. Also , some of the Princely States, not under full British control had small armies.

http://imgzoom.cdlib.org/Fullscreen.ics ... calisphere

The following two images are virtually identical
http://imgzoom.cdlib.org/Fullscreen.ics ... calisphere
http://imgzoom.cdlib.org/Fullscreen.ics ... calisphere

The images may be re-centered, or further enlarged.

They come from this link from the University of California collection
http://content.cdlib.org/search?facet=t ... &x=35&y=12

Cheers
Maureen
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Re: Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Oct 2011 12:06

Maureene wrote:Hi

Can anyone provide an approximate date for the photographs in the following links from the rather limited details of the soldiers, who presumably are in an Artillery Battery. Is it possible to tell from the uniforms whether they would be Royal Artillery? Most of the Artillery Batteries in India were Royal Artillery, although there were some Indian Army Mountain Artillery units. Also , some of the Princely States, not under full British control had small armies.

http://imgzoom.cdlib.org/Fullscreen.ics ... calisphere

The following two images are virtually identical
http://imgzoom.cdlib.org/Fullscreen.ics ... calisphere
http://imgzoom.cdlib.org/Fullscreen.ics ... calisphere

The images may be re-centered, or further enlarged.

They come from this link from the University of California collection
http://content.cdlib.org/search?facet=t ... &x=35&y=12

Cheers
Maureen


Hello Maureen,

It is a British Heavy Battery of around 1895 going by the equipment and dress of the soldiers. These were, like all Field Artillery after the Indian Mutiny, manned by British Gunners (of the RGA), but the Elephant Mahouts were from the Indian Army and part of a specialist 'haulage' unit attached to the artillery. There were only a few Heavy Batteries (four in 1890 but six by 1914) in India, so if the Station of the unit is known it is usually possible to work out its designation. It was not until 1935 that the Indian Army was trusted to have its own Field Artillery again.

The Heavy Batteries (courtesy of Lt-Col Roger Ayers).

The Indian Army establishment for 1890 provided for four Heavy Batteries, two Bombay, one Bengal and one Madras.

Each had 4 x 40 pounder rifled muzzle-loading (RML) guns, and two 6.5" howitzers, manned by 4 officers and 88 Other Ranks, all Royal Artillery from the Garrison Artillery.

Transport by both elephant and bullock was provided by:

12 elephants, 2 per gun and howitzer, tended by 24 mahouts under a jemadar.

262 bullocks tended by 131 drivers supervised by 6 sirdars under a jemadar. No number of bullocks per gun is given, but assuming the same proportion of spare bullocks as for other sizes of gun, each gun team would be 38 or 40 bullocks. There may have been different numbers for the two types of gun.
There was an unspecified number of Indian followers as grass cutters, conservancy (sanitary) orderlies and others.

The use of Elephants.

Major General B.P. Hughes, in British Smooth Bore Artillery of the 18th & 19th Centuries, (Arms & Armour Press, London, 1969), comments that the most impressive means of draught that was ever used was undoubtedly the elephant:

...elephants were freely used in India during the 18th and 19th centuries. They are efficient and highly intelligent draught animals, and are surprisingly surefooted over difficult country. Their only disadvantage has been described as "a strong sense .of self-preservation", as a result of which they are not reliable under fire. After one or two unfortunate incidents when elephants galloped off with the limbers immediately after the guns they had drawn had been brought into action, the Indian Armies abandoned their use in the forefront of the battle.

They were then used for the task for which they were eminently suitable—the draught of the heavy-siege equipments on the line of march. Elephants were used to draw the 18pr guns of the Siege Train on the way to Delhi during the Mutiny in 1857. Two elephants were normally used in tandem to draw each carriage, but the lead elephant was always ready to be unhooked, and to go round to push with his fore­head against the gun muzzle if the gun got stuck.

See photos: taken from Army Life in the Nineties by Philip Warner (Country Life Books, Hamlyn Publishing, London 1975) p. 119. It shows a 'division' (later a section) of two guns, each known as a sub-division, with the gun detachment of 8 men standing in front of the team. In the rear are the two corporals who command the guns. Note how everyone is focused on the camera.
Mounted, in the centre, is the subaltern 'division' commander.

There are more images available (for purchase) here: http://www.superstock.com/stock-photogr ... +artillery

The Elephant Batteries were used in action in the Pathan Revolt of 1897.
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Last edited by Frogsmile on 12 Dec 2012 21:39, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

Postby Maureene » 29 Oct 2011 14:11

Great information! Thanks Frogsmile

The FIBIS Fibiwiki has a page called Mountain Artillery, about the Artillery which remained part of the Indian Army, even when most of the Artillery in India became part of the Royal Artillery
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=M ... _Artillery

Cheers
Maureen
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Re: Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Oct 2011 14:27

Maureene wrote:Great information! Thanks Frogsmile

The FIBIS Fibiwiki has a page called Mountain Artillery, about the Artillery which remained part of the Indian Army, even when most of the Artillery in India became part of the Royal Artillery
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=M ... _Artillery

Cheers
Maureen


Yes, the Mountain artillery was of such small calibre/bore that it was not considered a threat and so (to a degree as a sop) it was permitted to remain a part of the Indian Army.

One of the 'Heavy' units in India was the 90th 'Company' (terminology as used by RGA). In 1914 the others were 71, 72, 86, 91 and 104.

I 'imagine' that the original four were 71 and 72 and 90 and 91, but that will need to be checked and verified.

This comes from a magazine article of 1897:

"The Elephant is used as a draught animal in conjunction with our heavy batteries in India, particularly those of the siege train. Elephant batteries are of modern origin, though the animal has been used in war from the earliest times, and can be managed by his mahout with as little difficulty as a well trained collie. It is, indeed, astonishing to see the apparently clumsy animal wheeling to the right or left when ordered, as though he, like the gunners who accompany him, had passed a considerable time under the care of the drill sergeant. Each animal can carry with ease a load of 1,000-lb. Its food is usually from 15-lb to 30-lb of flour mixed with sugar or, or molasses, and 400-lb of green food. It requires at least 25 gallons of water per diem, but works well on only five hours' sleep. Each heavy gun is drawn (or in some cases borne) by two animals."

And this from an American periodical of the same year:

"They make a great deal of use of elephants in India.

You know, of course, that India belongs to England.

The title of Queen Victoria is Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India.

England is obliged to keep a great many soldiers in India, and the elephant has gradually become one of the most important factors in the Indian army.

When the British first occupied India, the soldiers used the elephants to work on fortifications, to haul timber, and to do any work that required great strength.

After a while, as they began to understand the creatures better, the army officers gave them more important tasks, until at last an elephant artillery corps was formed.

It is said of the animals in this company that they know as well what to do as the best artillerymen, and will bring their guns in line with the precision of old soldiers.

Their duty is to drag the heavy batteries and the guns of the siege-train, which are extremely large and exceedingly heavy.

The elephants draw them as if they weighed nothing, and march along, keeping steady pace with the soldiers.

These big beasts trample down and demolish any barriers that are in their way, and pull their loads through heavy mire without the slightest effort.

Before the plan of using elephants was adopted, the guns were drawn by bullocks; but one elephant can easily draw a load which it would take thirty bullocks to move. The elephants are very tractable and clever, while the oxen are stupid, ill tempered, and hard to manage.

The elephants, despite their great strength, will not allow themselves to be overloaded.

If they are worked too hard, or made to draw heavier weights than is pleasant to them, they become sulky and will not obey orders. Their drivers, therefore, have to treat them very kindly; and then they will do all that is asked of them.

As soon as they have learned the work that is required of them, they will do it at the word of command.

The British soldiers do not attempt to manage these big beasts themselves. Natives are employed for this task, each elephant having his own special attendant.

These Mahouts, as they are called, feed and care for the elephants, who become very much attached to them, and pine terribly if their keepers are changed."
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Re: Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

Postby Maureene » 30 Oct 2011 05:55

Thanks Frogsmile for sharing more of your wonderful research sources.

Cheers
Maureen
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Re: Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

Postby Frogsmile » 30 Oct 2011 12:35

Maureene wrote:Thanks Frogsmile for sharing more of your wonderful research sources.

Cheers
Maureen


It's only using a popular search engine Maureen, but the secret is knowing the terminology to use. I am happy to be of help.
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Re: Identify details: photos of artillery elephants, India

Postby Peter » 28 Apr 2014 10:07

Notes on Elephant Carriage employed in Abyssinia. Communicated by Lieut Chapman, RHA

Royal Artillery Institution, Minutes of Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, Volume 6, Woolwich, London, England, 1870, pp 191- 193. Google eBook
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=rncDAAAAYAAJ
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