The definitive historical record of the Indian Order of Merit and its recipients, many with full details of the gallant deeds for which their decorations were awarded.
More than a book about a medal – a detailed history of the campaigns fought by Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army, deeply researched, much from original primary sources and records in Delhi and London.
The I.O.M. is the oldest decoration granted exclusively for bravery in the British Empire and it was perceived, at least until 1912, as the Indian soldier’s equivalent of the Victoria Cross. This work will encompass the original conception of the Order, its establishment in 1837, and the manner in which it was awarded throughout the 110 years of its existence.
Details of all known awards are provided within a narrative that places them in their historical context. Hitherto it has been difficult to get a reasonable perspective on the services of Indian regiments during a period when despatches and narratives were biased towards extolling the services of British troops. A different and enlightening approach has been taken over previously well trodden ground, resulting in a contextual narrative of particular interest for students of Indian Army campaigning.
In cases where there was a surfeit of reports on the gallant deeds of a particular soldier, perhaps for a relatively obscure action, as much as possible of this has been retained. Rewards for gallantry in the most important actions, such as those at Delhi and Lucknow, were often granted on the basis of ‘general citations.’ In order to address the consequent absence of personal information, services of the decorated soldiers’ regiments have been recounted in detail.
There are two substantial nominal indexes. The first lists 2,700 Indian officers and other ranks of the H.E.I.C. Army, the majority of these being recipients of the I.O.M. The second lists over 900 British officers and other ranks, and civilians, who were somehow or other involved in I.O.M. actions. There are also several appendices including a list of I.O.M. recipients by regiment and corps.
A wide range of sources has been consulted, including primary material in the National Archives at Delhi and the India Office Records in London, dispatches published in General Orders, official histories published by the Government of India and unit histories. Personal narratives published by officers who took part in the events that are described have provided additional anecdotal information.
The ultimate objective is to publish the entire history of the I.O.M., both military and civil divisions, in three volumes covering three distinct periods: 1837-1860; 1860-1912; 1912-1947.