The Kumaon Regiment is the Indian Army’s oldest infantry regiment. The regiment dates back to the 18th century (previously known as Hyderabad Regiment) and has participated in every major campaign of the British Indian Army and the Indian Army, including both world wars. It is one of India’s most decorated regiments.
The Kumaon Regimental Centre, established at Ranikhet, recruits Kumaonis from the Kumaon region, and Ahirs from the plains.
Soldiering has been an important profession of the Kumaonis and the region has a long history of warfare with neighbours, including the Nepal and Garhwal.
The Kumaon Regiment has its roots in the contingent of Nizams of Hyderabad and its history dates back to 1788. The regiment, thus, has over two centuries of distinguished service in which eight generations of Indians had served. Before Independence, the units of the regiment fought under the British in Palestine, Egypt, Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Europe. In the post Independence period, the battalions took part in operations in Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Siachen. Sir Henry Russel, a British resident in the province of Nizams, is credited to be the founder of the regiment
The senior battalions of the regiment were drawn from the Nizams’ contingent and the present fourth and the fifth battalions proudly trace their lineage back to 1788, when they were first raised as the first and second regiments of the then Subedar of Berar, Muhamad Salabat Khan’s Ellichpur Brigade. The present second battalion (Berar) too has a proud history of nearly 206 years. It was raised as the 1st Berar Infantry of the Nizams contingent.
Between 1826 and 1903, the Indian Army was reorganised thrice. The Nizams’ contingent was renamed as the Hyderabad Contingent. In 1922, the Indian Army was reorganised again and Hyderabad Contingent was renamed as the 19
th Hyderabad Regiment. More importantly, the class composition of battalions was altered. The Deccan Muslims in each battalion were replaced by a company each of Kumaonis, Jats, Ahirs and others. Thus, the active links with the Deccan were supplanted by those of the Kumaon region. The year 1923 marked the affiliation of the newly raised 1st Kumaon Rifles which was drawn from the Royal Garhwal Rifles with the 19th Hyderabad Regiment. Thus, the 1st Kumaon Rifles was composed solely of Kumaoni troops.
During the Battalion Commanders’ Conference held on February 12, 1935, a unanimous decision was taken to request the Army Headquarters for changing the name of the regiment from “19th Hyderabad Regiment” to “19th Kumaon Regiment.” The proposal was, however, rejected by Army Headquarters for two reasons. First, the case was not projected properly and second, the redesignation of various units and regiments of the Army was finalised only 13 years back in 1922. A change so soon was not favoured by Army Headquarters.
By the Second World War, the process of Indianisation of the Armed Forces gained momentum. The Kumaon regiment was no exception. Gradually, the heroic deeds of its battalions in Burma and Malaya earned the regiment many battle honours like North Africa, North Malaya, Slim River, Burma, Kangaw, Shweli, Magwe, Kama, and Sittang.
As the links with Hyderabad and Deccan began to diminish slowly, the demand to rename the regiment grew. Keeping this in view, on October 27, 1945, the name of the regiment was changed to ’19 Kumaon Regiment’. Later, ‘19’ was dropped from the name. Similarly, 1 Kumaon Rifles, having been completely amalgamated, was redesignated as the third battalion of the regiment, with Kumaon Rifles in brackets. Thus, October 27 is observed as Kumaon Day.
With a modest beginning, the regiment has grown manifold over the years. It has in its fold Naga and Rashtriya Rifles battalions, Kumaon Scouts, Territorial Army units, a Parachute and Mechanised Infantry unit each, a Naval ship and a tank Regiment.
The Kumaon regiment is one of the highest decorated regiment in Indian Army.The regiment has won 2 Param Vir Chakras, 4 Ashoka Chakras, 15 Maha Vir Chakras, 6 Kirti Chakras, 2 Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, 78 Vir Chakras, 1 Vir Chakra &
Bar, 23 Shaurya Chakras, 1 Yudh Seva Medal, 127 Sena Medals, 2 Sena Medals and Bar, 8 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 24 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 1 PV, 2 PB, 1 PS, 1 AW and 36 Vishisht Seva Medals.
” PARAKARMO VIJAYATE”