Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

ORDERS FOR 2nd BRIGADE

We return to HQ Peshawar Division, where CO Major-General Whitsend has decided on orders for his 2nd Brigade and is about to share them with his Political Officer Captain "Teetotaler" Crane and 2nd Brigade CO Brigadier-General "Magpie" McGilligan... 

GENERAL WHITSEND: "Gentlemen, I have reached my decision.  Brigadier McGilligan, you and 2nd Brigade shall top off commissariat and proceed at once to Dargai to support 1st Brigade, and you shall take Hardigan's Royal Horse Artillery battery with you."


BRIGADIER MCGILLIGAN: "Very good, sir!  We'll be ready to march by sun-up."


Captain Crane considers voicing his opposition to this decision... but decides to keep his powder dry, unlike his lips, which he uses to take a long sip of his now rather cold Irish Breakfast tea...


* * * * * 
How was the decision made???

In the 40+ year tradition of TSATF game mechanics a standard card deck was used.  Red and Black JOKERS were added to the deck, which was shuffled, then cut, then the top card was flipped and compared to the following CHART:

RED CARD = 2nd Brigade marches for Dargai

BLACK CARD = 2nd Brigade remains in Peshawar

RED JOKER = En route to Dargai 2nd Brigade UNCOVERS & APPREHENDS Sarban Khan's Peshawar SPY(!!!)

BLACK JOKER = While remaining in Peshawar, members of 2nd Brigade CONTRACT CHOLERA, which may then spread throughout the regt. & rest of garrison (!!!)





So reinforcements are headed to Dargai, or rather, the charred remnants of that village at the foot of the Malakand Pass, burned in punitive retribution for the vile effrontery of a mockery of a sham (AKA: crimes against humanity) committed by Sardar Gul Akbar in the vicinity of Serai.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

DISPATCHES FROM THE ENEMY

PESHAWAR, AUGUST 1890...


Dispatches have reached Captain Crane, Resident Political Officer, and are now being relayed to Major General Whitsend, CO Peshawar Division...


Who has summoned Brigadier Padraic "Magpie" McGilligan, CO of 2nd Brigade...

The contents of the dispatch, dated August 4th, 1890, follows:

"Ghul Akbar, beloved son of TorGhar continues his ride up the Buner Valley towards Malakand. Many of the villages cower in fear, the Mullah Abdullah of Batora stood and found the wrathful hand of righteousness delivered in the words of the One True Rule...

Now he gathers with his Baluchi allies and Bunerwhals from Tangon and Elai poised to strike down vengeance on Ruffhusband Sa'ab for his insolence at desecration of his family and the burning of his brother's village Dargai."


A handy map is included as well:


The Courier proceeds to read the rest of the Dispatch: "Sir I respectfully send to you the summary of the message that the bandit Mulehead sent to Ghul Akbar:


"Noble Ghul Akbar, the Almighty Ruler gave his powerful blessing to me, his faithful and loyal humble servant, me the Mighty El Komiss Mulehead, Light of Waziris, true Khan of all the lands between Delhi and Kabul, protector of widows and orphans, Defensor of True Rule, Light of Faith.

Messengers are just arrived with news of your triumphs. Heretics have been punished to have deviated from the True Path and the dice gave them a heavy message: you’ll never betray TMWWBK.

But now my beloved son let us raise the eyes to where Umra’s infidels and Feringhis will destroy each other and after Swat you will subjugate Tirah.


The renegade jackal of Swat is foxy and smart, do not underestimate his power and his cheating tricks. His connection with Umra is stronger every day, we have to be confident in Ferenghees ability to distract chitralis reinforcements.  My son, The Almighty Ruler is blessing your actions, the trap is working! 

This is the destiny for the one who follows the wrong Ruler, but the Almighty Ruler provided us new rules to kick out Ferenghees and destroy heretics, and He said is only with good Dice that you can succeed. 

I have no news about my son Ghaazi Muletail El Komiss, some voices say he is in Khost, other in Buner, please forward to me any information about him, the Defensor of faithful believers.


When I will be the Khan of all Tirah we will go to Swat where I have some credits to collect, specifically one head of the Guru of Infidels!

Keep high morale and be loyal to your Khan, I got messages that the brothers in faith of Buner and Khost are already marching to join us in the triumphal campaign, I’m still hidden in the shadow , and I will hit sudden like a tiger and all Punjab will be under our wise governance."

BRIGADIER MCGILLIGAN: "'All Punjab will be under our wise governance'?!  Bloody cheeky bastard this Mulehead fellow!"


CAPTAIN CRANE: "Bloody cheeky indeed.  But I'm afraid he's got a growing quantity of lead and steel to go with his cheek, Brigadier -- including his new ally, Gul Akbar from the Black Mountains."


GENERAL WHITSEND: "Ruff-Husband and his brigade are at Dargai.  The question is... will they be enough to quash this Gul Akbar and his own growing band of rebels."


BRIGADIER MCGILLIGAN: "This Gul Akbar fellow and his gang have only fought other tribal riff-raff,  General.  While I'd love the chance to lead my men into the field, I'm sure old Ruff-Husband and his lot will make quick work of them."

CAPTAIN CRANE: "There's also the matter of leaving Peshawar itself very thinly garrisoned, Sir.  If you were to order Brigadier McGilligan and his 2nd Brigade to Dargai, we'd have very few troops left to hold down the fort here."

GENERAL WHITSEND: "Hmmm.  Neither of you seem to take this gathering threat from the North very seriously.  Do you realize that 1st Brigade's Cantonment at Dargai lies right at the foot of the Malakand Pass, overlooked by towering heights, from which our foes could snipe away by day and then launch deadly rushes under dark of night, returning each time to the mountain fastness conveniently located right over 1st brigade's shoulders?  No, whether or not to immediately send reinforcements to Ruff-Husband is not so quick and easy a decision as you present, at least not to my mind, and for better or worse I remain the one in command.

MEANWHILE OUT ON THE VERANDA, Captain Hardigan, commander of the recently arrived RHA battery waits with Havildar Major Kunara, both curious to learn if the recently arrived Dispatch will result in their units getting a chance to take the field...

HARDIGAN: "What do you think's up, Kunara?"

KUNARA: "The sky, Sahib. ... And also my regiment's rifles, and your battery's limbers.  I think the blood of heroes is up.  Tho could be just my wishful thinking!"


BACK INSIDE HQ...


GENERAL WHITSEND: "Gentlemen, I have reached my decision.  Brigadier McGilligan, you and your 2nd Brigade shall......"


TO BE CONTINUED!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Rendezvous at Kunar Caravansary & Khairabad Swamp


August 1890, in the Goshta district of Nangarhar Province, just North-West of Afghanistan's border with British India...

And home to the Kunar Caravansaray...

Located along a less-travelled secondary route across the border, Kunar remains well-maintained and well-supplied, as is often the case when an establishment provides valuable service to a powerful interest, even if only on rare occasions.  It is said the owner-operator, Ibn-Kali Kali, aided the Iron Amir, Abdur Rahman Khan, to thwart the plans of his cousin, Ayub Khan, when Ayub returned from exile in 1881, tried to take Kandahar, and failed miserably.

Today a familiar covered ox-cart and spare mule proceed North towards the way station...



A short time ago a larger traveling party made a bookend journey, moving South to Kunar from the Afghan capital of Kabul, but evidence of their arrival is nowhere to be seen -- from the exterior...

The small caravan arrives at its destination, the front gates open & proprietor Ibn-Kali Kali beckons the travelers, enter...


The cart is backed up to a building and its sole passenger -- Lieutenant Hampton Fitzroy of the Yorks & Lancs, prisoner of the Ghazis who overwhelmed his garrison at Chakdara Outpost while he was sick from having foolishly eaten olives he plucked off a tree -- is taken inside.  Having recovered from his illness and also from the severe beating his Ghazi captors delivered, they have prudently taken the precaution of binding his hands behind his back...









With the Subaltern socked away in an empty guest room, Mullah Sadullah -- who's been waiting for this package to arrive since he arrived here himself a few days ago -- knocks on the door of the Caravansary's VIP "Sardar Suite"... 


Where General Wali Surak of the Afghan Army waits smoking his Dokha ("Dizzy") pipe...

MULLAH: "My General, the cargo has arrived safe and sound!"

GENERAL SURAK: "So I am told."


MULLAH: "In accord with the agreement between your Iron Amir Abdur Rahman Khan and my most esteemed Malik, Sarban Khan of the Yusufzais. you will now show me the contents of the stable and transfer them into my possession, as most humble representative of Sarban Khan."


With a show of indifference, the General turns to his adjutant, a Guard Cavalry officer in a shiny brass helmet, and speaks to him in Persian --which he's certain the Mullah knows as well as he knows the Pope's catechism...

GENERAL: "Captain Mir, show this clucking chicken what's in the stable before he lays an egg in front of us."

CAPTAIN: "By your command, my General!"


The Captain ushers the Mullah over to the Stable, opens the door and bids him enter in the common tongue of Pashto...

CAPTAIN: "After you, oh, Holy One..."

The Mullah steps into the stable...

And gazes upon the contents within...

MULLAH: "Mother of the Prophet, I feast my eyes on the Perpetual Bliss of Paradise..."


TO BE CONTINUED...

* * * * *

Meanwhile, 130 miles to the West,
 South of Kabul & North of Charasiab...




Alongside the Logar River sits
Khairabad Swamp...




After the sun sets
a visitor from Kabul arrives
on one of the swamp's tiny islets...


It is the serving woman  
who listened-in
on the parlay between the Iron Amir and
Mullah Sadullah at the Bag Palace in Kabul...

  

Her name is Maryam Singh and she's here for a 
rendezvous of her own, not with a Mad Mullah or
the ruler of Afghanistan, but with her brother,
Jai Ho Singh, who lives a secluded life nearby
at the foot of Diwaalya Pusht Pahaarh*...

(*Brokeback Mountain)


Maryam tells her brother what was important enough to bring
her to the middle of the swamp in the middle of the night:

MARYAM SINGH: "The Iron Amir has agreed to trade 200 Martin-Henry rifles to Sarban Khan of the Yousufzai in exchange for... ... ..."



JAI HO SINGH: "In exchange for what, sister?"

MARYAM SINGH:     "It's so ridiculous I can barely force myself to say it, yet say it I must..."


MARYAM SINGH (CONT'D): "One British officer.  Some young fool who gave himself the ague by eating raw olives just before Ghazis attacked Chakdara Outpost which had been under his command, and was captured.  One rifle... or ten perhaps.  But 200 HUNDRED?!  It is madness.  Sheer utter madness."


JAI HO SINGH: "Perhaps.  Or perhaps it makes perfect sense to those who know more than you... and I.  Or perhaps it is the workings of the Mad Guru.  Either way... the Colonel's got to know!"


MARYAM SINGH: "I knew you'd say something like that, which is why I had to come tell you."

JAI HO SINGH: "You've done well and upheld our family name as the truest allies of the Raj!"


JAI HO SINGH (Cont'd): "Tell me, where are the rifles to be delivered?"

MARYAM SINGH: "Kunar Caravansary, in Goshta."


JAI HO SINGH: "Bole So Nihal!"*

MARYAM SING: "Sat Sri Aka!"**

(*Shout aloud in ecstasy)
(**God is true & timeless)

Brother Jai Ho & Sister Maryam turn and head
across the swamp water in opposite directions...


The sun is high up in the sky by the time Jai Ho
returns home to the foot of Diwaalya Pusht Pahaarh
to be greeted by his old friend & loyal housemate, Habibi Singh...


HABIBI SINGH: "What news, Jai Ho?"

JAI HO SINGH: "You won't believe it if I tell you.  All that matters is that I deliver it to the Colonel before it's too late. You shall stay and keep watch and be ready to stand in the gap, if needed."


HABIBI SINGH: "You forget yourself, Jai Ho.  It is I who was Risaldar Major of 2nd Punjab Cavalry, PFF*, whilst you were a mere Jemadar!"

(*Punjab Frontier Force)


JAI HO SINGH: "Hate to tell you but we're not in the regiment anymore -- plus I'm the one whose sister works as a clandestine agent for the Political Branch in Simla.  Wait here a moment, Habibi, I'll be right out..."




HABIBI SINGH: "I thought you said we're not in the regiment anymore?!"


JAI HO SINGH: "This way when I reach them, the Sahibs won't mistake me for a foe."

HABIBI SINGH: "But every Afghan will."


JAI HO SINGH: "That, Habibi, will be no mistake!"


JAI HO SINGH (Cont'd): "I must go now, my friend.  Never fear, never inspire fear!"

HABIBI SINGH: "Except in those who deserve it!"




HABIBI SINGH: "Bole So Nihal!"*

JAI HO SING: "Sat Sri Aka!"**

(*Shout aloud in ecstasy)
(**God is true & timeless)




As he watches his friend gallop off to deliver the vital information, Habibi ponders how one other thing is definitely true beyond any shadow of a doubt: somehow their old warhorse looks much more handsome with Jai Ho on his back.

TO BE CONTINUED...