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Journey to London

By the end of May 1921, the 116th Marathas had arrived in Belgaum from Mesopotamia. After being reorganised and renamed the 4th Battalion, 5th Maratha Light Infantry, they headed to Lahore on 9th November 1921. Soon after their arrival, a detachment of two Indian officers and 50 other ranks left for Pune to take part in the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Maratha War Memorial by Edward VIII, Prince of Wales. In March 1922, Subedar Major Vishram Rao Chowan IOM received news that he was selected as an Indian Orderly Officer to King George V.


Announcement of the Officers' Arrival in the Pall Mall Gazette on April 15, 1922. Source: The British Newspaper Archive 

Subedar Major Vishram Rao Chowan left for London from Bombay port aboard SS China along with the three other King's Indian Orderly officers: Subadar Major Nanjappa, 64th Pioneers; Subadar Major Joseph, 2nd Queen Victoria's Own Sappers and Miners; Subadar Major Krishna Bhosle, 1st Battalion, 128th Pioneers. At age 42, Subedar Major Vishram Rao Chowan was the youngest among the four Orderly Officers. The ship passenger records indicate that they traveled with a crew of domestic staff and batmen. The ship arrived at Tilbury Docks on April 13, 1922.


Maratha War Memorial, Hulshur, Pune

Location: Google Maps, Source: Twitter

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The position of the Indian Orderly Officer was established in 1903 upon the Viceroy of India issuing a General Order. Every year, four officers from the Indian Army were selected by the Commander in Chief to attend the King at Court, and at any reviews or ceremonies that the King attended during the London season. When in London, the Officers were looked after by a British Officer, who would take them to be fitted for their ceremonial uniforms, show them around London, accompany them on their official engagements, and generally see that they had everything they needed during their stay. In 1922, the British Officer in-charge of the Orderly Officers was Major W. G. Strover of the 50th Kumaon Rifles.

Inward Passenger List from SS China on April 14, 1922. Source: The British National Archives

The Officers were quartered at 49 St Georges Road (now 49 St George's Dr) in the neighborhood of Pimlico, London. It is likely that their first days in London were spent being fitted for uniforms and boots, shopping in Oxford Street (Selfridges), and sightseeing (Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, Kew Gardens). For all formal occasions, such as the King's Court and levees, the officers appeared in full dress. For garden parties and similar functions, they are dressed in grey coats of knee-length. Their full-dress uniforms had one particularly distinctive decoration: the aiglets, or gold cord on the

shoulder, chosen by Edward VII in 1903. 


Color image of the King's Indian Orderly Officers from 1913 with distinctive gold aiglets. Source: Empire, Faith & War project


The Officers in front of their residence at 49 St Georges Road, London. From left to right: Hon Lt Joseph, Subadar Major Nanjappa, Major W G Stover, Subedar Major Vishram Rao Chowan, Hon Lt Krishna Bhosle. Source: Smith Archive

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The present-day facade of 49 St George's Dr. Source: Google Maps

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