From: Major L. L.
Gordon, British Battles and Medals:
"It would take too
much space to give a long account of the reasons for this war, so just
sufficient detail is given to … see why the campaign was necessary.
"In 1873 the
boundaries between Afghanistan and India were agreed upon by the British
and Shere Ali the Amir, for the peaceful recognition of which he was to
be paid a substantial subsidy.
"In 1877, Shere Ali
refused to have a British :resident at Kabul, raised an army and did all
he could to promote bad feeling between the border tribes and the
"In August, 1878, he
signed a treaty with Russia giving her the guardianship of himself and
the right to protect Afghanistan. He refused to receive a Mission sent
by the Viceroy and threatened the advance party of another led by Sir
Nevil Chamberlain which left Peshawur on 21st September, 1877.
"Finally an ultimatum
was sent to Shere Ali on 28th October, 1878, to which a reply was
demanded by 20th November.
"In the meanwhile
troops had been concentrated at Peshawur, Kohat and Quetta. As no answer
was received by 20th November, the Army, which had been organized into
three columns, began to cross the frontier on 21st November, 1878. The
three columns were as follows: The first, the Peshawur Valley Field
Force under Lieutenant-General Sir Samuel Browne, V.C., K.C.S.I., C.B.;
the second, the Karram Valley Field Force under Major-General Frederick
Roberts, V.C., C.B.; the third, the Kandahar Field Force under
Lieutenant-General Donald Stewart.
"The Peshawur Force
crossed the border at Jamrud on 21st November and captured the hill-
fortress of Ali Musjid on the same day.
"The Kurram Force
crossed the border and defeated the Afghans in the Peiwar Kotal, at the
entrance to the Kurram Valley route to Kabul, on 2nd December. After
these two actions Shere Ali fled from Kabul and his son Yakoob Khan
assumed command. General Roberts annexed the Kurram Valley and after a
little more desultory fighting Yakoob Khan, on 30th May, 1879, concluded
peace. By this peace he
agreed to a British Resident being in
Kabul. The Khyber Pass, the Kurram and Pisheen Valleys were to be
occupied by the British. The Amir was to be paid an annual subsidy of
£60,000 to be on his good behaviour.
"Sir Louis Cavagnari,
K.C.S.I., was appointed Resident at Kabul, where he arrived on 24th
July, 1879. On 3rd September, Sir Louis, and other British residents,
together with the bodyguard of the Corps of Guides, was murdered.
"General Roberts was
ordered to march to Kabul with the Kabul Field Force. He started on 27th
September and on the way defeated the Afghans at Charasia on 6th
October. He entered Kabul on the 8th, where he was practically
surrounded. He concentrated his troops in the cantonments at Sherpur,
where they were severely attacked on 23rd December, 1879, Reinforcements
under General Gough arrived on the 24th and Kabul was reoccupied.
".… In April, 1880,
General Stewart moved out of Kandahar with a view to clearing the lines
of communication to Kabul. When nearing Ghuznee he encountered the
Afghans at Ahmed Khel on 19th April and defeated them. He reached Kabul
on 2nd May,
"On 22nd July, 1880;
Abdur Rahman, nephew of Shere Ali, was proclaimed Amir thus causing
Yakoob Khan's brother, Ayoub Khan, a great deal of resentment which he
showed by getting all the tribes in Herat to revolt. General Burrows
was sent from Kandahar to oppose him, but was badly defeated at Maiwand
where the 66th Foot lost 62% of their strength, the Sappers and Miners
60% and E Bty, B. Brigade R.A. 23%, the latter gained two V.C.'s, one
C.B, and eight D.C.M's.
The remnants of his force retired to Kandahar closely followed by
Ayoub Khan, who promptly surrounded the city and besieged it, together
with the forces under General Primrose.
"General Roberts, who
was then in Kabul, offered to relieve Kandahar, which he did on 1st
"For this memorable
feat the star which follows was awarded (the Kabul to Kandahar Star).
"It is interesting to
note that five generals who were holders of the Victoria Cross took part
in this campaign. They were Generals Browne, Gough, Macpherson, Tytler
"What finer tribute
was ever paid to the magnificent Gurkhas than that Lord Roberts should
have chosen a member of this regiment and one of the Seaforth
Highlanders as the supporters of his armorial bearings? This was done to
perpetuate his esteem for the gallantry and comradeship of these two
regiments during the attack on the Peiwar Kotal.
"The 1st King George
V Own Gurka Rifles were originally raised by Lieutenant R. Ross in 1815,
and designated the 1st Nasiri Battalion. A very apt title—Nasiri means