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.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Frontier Rules

The night of August 17th, 1890, somewhere on the road between Nowshera and Dargai...



Earlier tonight on the road with E/B Battery Royal Horse Artillery, Neville Crisp, late of the London-based magazine "Horse and Hound," experienced his first shots fired in anger, as well as his time as the target of a charge...


In the aftermath he was assigned to look after WIA Lance Bombardier Gorman for the remainder of the ride to Dargai Cantonments...



Riding along in the improvised ambulance cart, Crisp realized he was less worried about a second ambush, or the fate of the unconscious artilleryman...


And more worried about how he would do his recent experience justice...


In his dual roles as "Correspondent-at-Large" for the Peshawar Tribune, and lifelong aspiring poet...


Crisp turned his eyes from the unconscious Lance Bombardier and looked off into the dark mountains silhouetted against the slightly less dark sky... 




As he did so his mind's eye filled with short sharp recollections of the ambush...


The crash of the Lancers into the rocks laid across the road...


The crack and flash of incoming fire the next moment...


The cry of Gorman as he fell from the saddle of his limber horse...


The charge up at the head of the column...


The desperate melee that followed, which might have gone either way...


The rifle duel across the river...


And the last glimpse of the enemy before they slipped back into the darkness...


How was it all decided?  Determined?  9 Pathans wounded, 1 killed, another 4 run away, 5 British and Indian wounded... the Battery emerged intact and "victorious"... by what mechanism did it occur?  And what if, by some mad twist of fate or evil design... the participants no longer all agreed to abide by the same?  Would that not be a far worse fate than simply  Routing away, or falling WIA... or even KIA?  For down that path would surely lie anarchy... and chaos!

With these thoughts in mind, Crisp pulled out his handy reporter's notebook and went to work, hopeful that when E/B and their 3rd Skinner's Horse escort reached Dargai at sunrise, he could send it with the next dispatch rider back to Peshawar from whence he had just came...


* * * * * *


FRONTIER RULES


by Neville Crisp

(with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien)


Three Rules for the Raj-Presidencies under the sky,                    

Seven for the Frontier-Tribes in their Sangars of stone,                        

Nine for Cavagnari’s Guides who in '79 were doomed to die,             

One for the Widow of Windsor alone on her throne                              

In the Land of Minis where the Colonials vie.                              

One Rule to play them all, One Rule to find them,                     

One Rule to bring them all and around the table bind them                

In the Land of Minis where the Colonials vie.           


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