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, July 19, 2010

Afghan regular artillery at Mundabad Ravine

The British and Anglo-Indian troops on the field at Maiwand were faced with several times their own number of regular troops as well as swarms of Ghazi fanatics. They were fighting across under-reconnoitered terrain and most of them had not eaten a hot meal since the night before. They fought in the devastating heat for several hours without water, running low on ammunition, under a Commanding Officer with no experience leading a brigade-size formation in the field and little if any tactical acumen or vision.

But even when faced with all these handicaps, the Anglo-Indian army on the field at Maiwand might still have emerged victorious -- or at least undefeated -- were it not for the fact that they were outnumbered and outclassed by overwhelming numbers of enemy artillery.

In the aftermath of the defeat, some British officers who were present spoke and wrote of how the Afghan guns had been so well served, their artillery fire so accurate, that they were convinced it was commanded by Europeans. In this context, "European" was clearly a euphemism for Russian. But in the 130 years since the battle occured there has never appeared -- be it in Afghanistan, the UK or Russia -- one hint of evidence to point to the presence of a single Imperial Czarist Russian officer serving with the army of Ayub Khan.

In fact, most of the Afghan artillery corps came from the Qizilbash or Kizilbash minority population, a Shiite community with roots in Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan, most of whose ancestors had settled in Afghanistan after arriving with the army of Nadir Shah Afshar (Shah of Iran from 1736-47) in 1738, when he besieged and conquered Kandahar.

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