23rd Sikh Pioneers

The 23rd Sikh Pioneers were a regiment of the British Indian Army. They could trace their origins to 1857, when they were known as the 15th (Pioneer) Regiment of Punjab Infantry. The regiment recruited exclusively from the Mazhabi Sikh community of Punjab province. Despite being "pioneers" by name, the regiment functioned as a Sikh infantry regiment specially trained as assault pioneers.[1]

23rd Sikh Pioneers
Indian pioneers.png
Jemadar 23rd Sikh pioneers standing 4th from right
Country British India
SizeThree battalions
Part ofBengal Army (to 1895)
Bengal Command
Nickname(s)Mazhabi Pioneers
UniformDrab; faced chocolate
Engagements1857 Siege of Delhi
1857 Siege of Lucknow
1857 Capture of Lucknow
1858 Taku Forts
1860 Taku Forts
1860 Palikao
1868 Abyssinia
1878 - 80 Afghanistan
1878 Peiwar Kotal
1879 Charasiah
1897 Kabul
1897 Chitral
1903 Tibet
1914-1918 First World War
1919 Afghanistan
1920 Iraq
Colonel-in-ChiefKing Edward VII (1904)

Brief HistoryEdit

They took part in the Battle of Taku Forts (1858), the Battle of Taku Forts (1860) and the Battle of Palikao in the Second Opium War. This was followed by the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia a punitive expedition carried out by the armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire and Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia.[2] They next took part in the Battle of Peiwar Kotal, the Battle of Charasiab in the Second Afghan War in 1878. In 1903, they took part in the British expedition to Tibet an invasion of Tibet by British Indian forces, seeking to prevent the Russian Empire from interfering in Tibetan affairs.

After World War I, the Indian government reformed the army moving from single battalion regiments to multi battalion regiments.[3] In 1922, the 23rd Sikh Pioneers now became the 1st Battalion, 3rd Sikh Pioneers, they were renamed again in 1929, as the Corps of Sikh Pioneers, which was disbanded in 1933. During the Second World War the regiment was reformed and named the Sikh Light Infantry. This regiment was allocated to the new Indian Army after independence.

Colonels of the regimentEdit

His Majesty King Edward VII became the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment in 1904

Previous namesEdit

  • 23rd Bengal Native Infantry - 1861
  • 23rd (Punjab) Bengal Native Infantry (Pioneers) - 1864
  • 23rd (Punjab) Bengal Infantry (Pioneers) - 1885
  • 23rd Punjab Pioneers - 1901


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/indianinfantry/23rdpioneers.htm
  3. ^ Sumner p.15
  • Barthorp, Michael; Burn, Jeffrey (1979). Indian infantry regiments 1860-1914. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-307-0.
  • Sumner, Ian (2001). The Indian Army 1914-1947. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-196-6.