Aim of this guide
The table below contains a list of Indian Army ranks and their British Army equivalents. However, care should be taken when comparing Viceroy's Commissioned Officers (jemadar and above), with their British counterparts (who held their commission from the British Crown) as even the most senior VCO was subordinate to the lowest ranked British officer.
|Indian Infantry||Indian Cavalry||British Infantry Rank|
|Lance Naik||Acting Lance Duffadar||Lance Corporal|
|Havildar Major||Kot Duffadar||Sergeant Major|
|Subedar Major||Risaldar Major||Major|
Bhisti A follower in the Indian Army who served as a water carrier,transporting it in a large goatskin slung over his back. They were known for their bravery on the battlefield in supplying water to wounded soldiers at grave personal risk.
Coolie / Cooly An unskilled labourer.
Dhobi A follower who served as a washerman.
Daffadar A rank in the Indian cavalry equivalent to a sergeant in the British Army.
Follower Indian units had a complement of non-combatants that would follow the unit around the cantonment towns of India, and on campaign.
Havildar A non-commissioned officer rank equivalent to a sergeant in the British Army.
Jemadar The most junior VCO rank. In 1914, each infantry regiment had eight jemadars, and it would typically take a sepoy over ten years to rise to this rank. Promotion was on merit.
Khalasi Dock worker / Lascar.
Lance Daffadar A non-commissioned officer rank in the Indian cavalry equivalent to a corporal in the British Army.
Lance Naik A non-commissioned officer rank equivalent to a lance corporal in the British Army.
Langri A cook.
Mutsuddy Accountant / Clerk.
Naik A non-commissioned officer rank equivalent to a corporal in the British Army.
Pakhali A man who fills a pakhal (water container) and distributes the water.
Private followers These followers were men whose services were deemed non-essential to running the unit and were paid for by the officers and men. When the 47th Sikhs embarked for France in September 1914, they took 28 private followers with them.
Public followers These were followers whose services were deemed essential to the running of the unit and were paid for by the government. When the 14th King George's Own Ferozepore Sikhs left India in November 1914, they took 27 public followers with them.
Sarwan A camel driver.
Sepoy The lowest enlisted rank in the Indian infantry with its equivalent being a private in the British Army. Though the majority of Indian infantry regiments used the rank of sepoy, the Gurkha Rifles, 104th Wellesley's Rifles, and others used rifleman. Meanwhile, infantry regiments from southern India tended to use the rank of private.
Sowar The lowest enlisted rank in the Indian cavalry and equivalent to a trooper in the British cavalry.
Subedar The second-highest VCO rank, which would usually take a sepoy at least twenty years to reach, with promotion based on merit. In 1914, there were seven subadars for each infantry regiment.
Subedar Major The senior VCO in an Indian infantry regiment and the right hand man of the commanding officer. These were long-serving soldiers who had been promoted through the ranks on merit, and would have been aged into their forties on appointment.
Syce A groom. Syces weren't limited to cavalry regiments in the Indian Army, as infantry regiments used syces to look after the officers' horses.
(Courtesy of Rob Clark / www.researchingww1.co.uk)