The Assam Regimental history

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by Assam, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    For a number of years now I have been trying to get hold of a copy of " The History of The Assam Regiment" by Peter Styne (think thats correct spelling). It is a rare beasty

    Specifically, references to 1 of the officers Albert Irwin Calistan.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Scout Sniper

    Scout Sniper Senior Member

    Simon, I think this is the book you are looking for:

    Steyn, Peter
    The History of the Assam Regiment, volume 1: 1941-1947
    Calcutta: Orient Longmans, 1959
  3. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    Scout, thats the 1.

    volume 2 is tittled Assam Vikra & covers the regiments goings on from independence up to the late '90's I think.


  4. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Simon, I can't help you with book but in the case you don't have citation for his MC (I believe you already have his medal :)) here it is:

    Capt. T/Major Albert Irwin Calistan
    E.C. 6602
    1st Assam Regiment

    Awarded the Military Cross

    Between 28th March 44 and 2 April at Jessami this Officer's Coy was heavily attacked by the enemy. In spite of wave after wave of Japanese attacks, this officer by his magnificent example of cool courage and confidence and constant inspiration to his men succeeded in maintaining intact his perimeter. On 2nd April 44 when this perimeter was evacuated, this officer succeeded by his skilful leadership and determination in extricating the majority of his company and leading them safely to Kohima.

    During the siege of Kohima this officer continued to display the same cool courage, initiative and cool leadership, especially in defence of the O.C.s Bungalow area, whereby he inflicted much heavier casualties on the enemy than he himself suffered, gained ground and maintained a very important and difficult sector of the defence intact.
  5. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    Hi Sol,

    i am particularly smug about the fact that his recommendation bears the signatures of Stopford & Slim.

    Thanks for your post here is my research on Calistan to date:

    Albert Irwin Calistan was born in 1919 at home in West Ham Middlesex County, England.

    His upbringing was that of any boy from the east end & by the time of war in 1939, he was working as a shop assistant. He like many at his age (20 years), volunteered for army service & he joined 1 of the Regiments of the Brigade of Guards.

    After basic training he was sent overseas as part of the British Expeditionary Force which was sent to France.
    After Calistan’s return to England after the evacuation from Dunkirk, & in March of 1942 he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant & posted to the strength of the newly formed Assam Regiment. The Assam Regiment was formed in 1941 at Shillom, in the North East Frontier of India near the Burma border & was to take part in many actions against the Japanese.

    Calistan started his life as a commissioned Officer at the Regimental HQ & along with Lieut Nigel Stock (who was to later play Dr Watson ina number of Sherlock Holmes stories made for TV) married US Army Nurses, Calistans wife was to receive a Court Marshal, the charge & specification was “Marrying A foreigner whilst on active duty” she was found guilty & sent home, (she lives I believe in Lynn Mass where she is 91 years old.

    Quoting from the Work “Not Ordinary Men” by John Colvin, Calistan is described as slight of build with black hair & a moustache. He was Hard as nails, hot tempered & fastidiously correct & smart, a severe disciplinarian insisting on meticulous performance of duties under no matter what conditions, and of great personal courage. After the war he became a "male war bride" leaving england in 1947 & was to become a very successful insurance executive in the United States, he separated from his first wife & was to marry again in the early 1960’s he had 1 son & 1 daughter from the 1st marriage & 1 daughter from the 2nd, he died in the US in 1979.

    At the beginning of 1944, Calistan was (at the age of 24) the B Company Commander.
    He took B Company to Jessami in Nagaland where they were to fight their 1st real battle against the Japanese. On the 28th & 29th March, the Japanese confined themselves to night attacks but on the 30th, it appeared that this supposed column which the regiment was facing consisted of most of the 138th regiment, all of the 124th Regiment, Lt general Sato’s 31st Division HQ & the 31st Mountain Battery, an order to the defenders was “to the last man & the last round”. This order was rescinded & advised to Col Bruno Brown, the Garrison then retired back to kohima under cover, Calistan brought most of the 280 back, which is where the 1st part of the Recommendation for the Military Cross came from.

    Calistan took his Company to defend the bungalow area of Sir Charles Pawsey, who was the Deputy Commissioner for Nagaland at Kohima.
    He was deployed around the area of the “tennis court”, which was to become the battle considered the greatest in the siege of Kohima, and where the 2nd part of his recommendation was to come from.

    Calistan took over the “Tennis court” area from Winstanley’s Royal West Kents on the 15th April at 15:00hrs.

    The Royal West Kent’s had received a baptism of fire like they had not seen from the attacking Japanese forces, the fighting in this area was so intense that hand to hand fighting was the norm & grenade attacks at point blank range common.

    Calistans composite company of Assam Regiment & Rifles held the ground on the “Tennis court” for 4 days before being relieved by the 1/1 Punjab Regiment

    What wasn’t mentioned is that his gallantry at the “Tennis Court”, consisted in part by leading an attack across the Tennis Court to repel the enemy from their position opposite on April 15, during the days in that position, the command of Calistan repelled over 25 Banzai attacks & incessant shelling from the Japanese Mortar positions.

    He went on to serve in the various campaigns that the Regiment was engaged in until the Burma campaign was concluded.

    i have had contact with his daughter (from the 2nd marriage), regrettably she was too young when he died to be able to provide any info on him, but she was very pleased that someone has taken an interest in her father.

    There is a picture of him in Fergal Keans latest offering "Road of Bones" & will upload when i can get the image scanned.

    I would be interested in finding out about his wifes court marshall & continue to persue this aspect. I beliebe that he had a Brother/Cousin who was DMN MM in the North African campaign.

    Attached Files:

  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I believe that he had a Brother/Cousin who was DCM MM in the North African campaign.

    This would be him, but I don't know the relationship:

    Initials: C V
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Regiment/Service: Rifle Brigade
    Unit Text: 7th (1st Bn. The London Rifle Brigade) Bn
    Age: 26
    Date of Death: 30/07/1944
    Service No: 308590
    Awards: DCM, MM
    Additional information: Son of Stanley Edward Calistan, and of Martha Calistan (nee Irwin), of Forest Gate, Essex.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: V. C. 6.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 4, 2021
  7. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    Thank you Idler, with the mothers maiden name present in Alberts full name that seals it for me that Charles was his older brother.

    Interestingly, when discussing Albert with Fergal Keane (during the research for "Road of Bones"), he thought there may be an Anglo Indian connection.

    I just had a look at the web site for the Oak Grove School which is still in existance. It appears it was started & endowed by the British East India Railway Company. I will make contact with them but it would now appear that the school was (in the main) for the British Children of emlpoyees of the Railway & it is possible that their father was a railway employee for a period.

    Thanks again


  8. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    There was a copy of the Steyn's history at the old Ministry of Defence library in London. The library has since been broken up to other locations. You might try following up on this lead to see where it ended up.
  9. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    If you are still chasing the Assam Regiment book, I would be happy to check out the Prince Consort's Library in Aldershot for you. They seem to have most regimental histories.


  10. Motokiume

    Motokiume New Member

    I know it has been a long time since this thread was last looked at, however I do actually have a copy of this book.
    It is volume 1 and it was printed in India in 1959.
    Just to be clear - it is NOT for sale, however I am happy to look up any information from it that you may require.
  11. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Just seen this thread. I have some info about Oak Grove School- my mother was brought up there! Yes it was set up as a boarding school for mainly Anglo Indian children of railway employees, and became later open to all Indians. The school suffered hardships during the war with food in short supply and deaths from diseases. It is outside Mussoorie in what was then United Provinces, and looks down onto Dehra Dun.
  12. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    I came across this catalogue reference Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge (when looking for something else) which seems to be a good source for anyone researching the Assam Regiment
    “Handlist of Papers – L” . Scroll down to the LLOYD JONES (D.E.) Papers

  13. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    I have come across various papers relating to the Assam Rifles . There was an argument between the various higher ups in SOE about their use in the Indian Field Broadcasting Units at the end of 1944. In the end I don't think they were allowed to be used by the Governor/ ruler of Assam. I think Drew now has a copy of the relevant file!
  14. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    Zahonado, the Assam Rifles is a different Regiment, which has its basis in variously named Military Police Forces, going back as far as 1835.

    The Assam Regiment was established in 1941.

    Because of the similarities in name, I have recently written two short FIBIS Fibiwiki pages:
    Assam Regiment:
    Assam Rifles:

    There was also the Assam Valley Light Horse, which was a Volunteer or Auxiliary Regiment which also had different previous names

    Aixman and bamboo43 like this.
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Maureen,

    Thank you for adding such interesting material to this thread.

  16. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Thanks for putting me right Maureene
  17. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    I have really been enjoying this thread . You guys and ladies never fail to amaze me Elsie
  18. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    I have now found that there is a copy of the book "The History of The Assam Regiment" Volume 1 by Peter Styne available to read online on the Digital Library of India website

    For those not familiar with this website, there is some information on the FIBIS Fibiwiki page "Online books". The books are in TIFF format, and you will need a plug-in unless you already have something that reads this format.

    For those with technical expertise, there are discussions on the Internet of programs which will allow the individual TiFF images from the Digital Library of India website to be downloaded as one pdf, but how successful this is, I don't know.

    Additionally, I have been told there is a a typescript history of the First Battalion of the Assam Regiment in the India Office Records at the British Library catalogue reference Mss Eur F274/87

    bamboo43 likes this.
  19. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Thanks for the link. I found it is possible to download each individual image from the website. I just right-clicked on the image once it was complete and selected to download. This was on a Mac, but I am sure a right click on Windows would yield the same results.
  20. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Thanks for this link Maureen, yet another valuable information source that you have highlighted for us. :)

Share This Page