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Updated 05/24/2013


With Wellesley's Rifles at Keren
Corporal E. Kearney

The Rajputana Rifles are the senior most rifle regiment of the Indian Army. They were formerly called the 6th Rajputana Rifles when part of the British Indian Army.   The regiment was created in the 17th century when the East India Company recruited Rajputs to protect its operations. The impressive performance of the French local units which were composed of local recruits mixed with French officers helped the company to decide that it needed to do something similar. In January 1775, it raised the first local infantry units; the 5th and 6th battalions of the Bombay Sepoys.

The 5th battalion performed superbly and was re-designated the 4th Regiment Native Infantry (Rifle Corps) in 1841. It thus became the first Rifle Regiment of the Indian Army.  In early 19th century the 4th Regiment Native Infantry was renamed as the 104 Wellesley’s Rifles. In 1921, the battalions finally took its current title, the 1st battalion of the Rajputana Rifles Regiment.

With Wellesley's Rifles at Keren was written by a corporal of the 2nd battalion Cameron Highlanders after they fought alongside the 1st battalion 6th Rajputana rifles in world war two.  The East African campaign culminated (March 1941) with the battles at Keren in Eritrea where 33 Italian battalions (subsequently reinforced by a further 9) were defeated by 19 British and Indian battalions.