25th County of London Cyclist Battalion
The London Regiment

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The Territorial Army & the London 25th.
Armistice - The Boozy Londoner's


The men of the 25th (Cyclist) Battalion, The London Regiment, cut a most unmilitary figure as they boozily wend their way to the railway station at Simla and the train that would return them to their garrison headquarters at Jullundur. The four-abreast column of heavy-legged soldiers led by their Colonel, erect and apart in his sobriety, and followed by the C.S.M. leading the 1st Company, straggled like a crippled centipede for almost a mile behind.

This drunken conduct, which normally would have resulted in the men being severely punished, was condoned because the circumstances were exceptional. It was 12 November 1918, and that morning the men of the 25th had been given the honour of furnishing the Guard of Honour for Lord Chelmsford, the Viceroy, while he publicly read out the terms of the Armistice that was formally to end the World War. Afterwards the officers of the Headquarters Staff had invited the rankers to partake of unlimited drinks - a most unusual occurrence and a rare departure from the strict protocol that governed everything in India.

The men, to use their own barrack-room jargon, `didn't give a sod' if one or two people frowned disapprovingly at them for making fools of themselves and committing the unforgivable sin of providing an object of mirth for the watching Indians. They had done their duty. The war was over and they had played their part in saving the Empire, and for a brief time the drawbridge had been lowered over that normally unbridgeable moat of social aloofness. The soldiers themselves couldn't get out of India quickly enough; their horizon was bounded by thoughts of the troopship that would take them back to Blighty.

The Indian community also shared in the Victory jubilations, for they had made a generous contribution in men, money and materials towards the defeat of the common enemy and were looking forward to the long-promised reforms which would give them a greater share in the running of their own country. Both were soon to be bitterly disappointed. The men of the London Cyclist Battalion were among many B.O.Rs soon to be asked to `volunteer' to remain in India and help defend the Raj against the mounting discontent of the Indians who felt they had been betrayed by unfulfilled promises of political advancement.

None of that was known to the entraining Londoners, and when they returned to Jullundur they good-humouredly accepted the, to them, pointless field training, in the knowledge that it would all soon come to an end. The weather was still cool and the soldiers played a lot of sports, created their own evening entertainment and ticked off the days on the calendar.

In early April 1919, several regiments including 107 men from the 1/25th London were sent to Amritsar to help quell the uprising.

Source :- 'The Amritsar Massacre' by Alfred Draper, 1985.