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Afghanistan 1879 -1880 
20th November 1878 -27th April 1881
Unit awarded Battle honour Subsequent designation
66th (Berkshire) Regiment 

2nd Bn Berkshire Regiment 

2nd Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment
  Merged 1st Bn 1948
  1st Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment
  1st Bn D.E.R.R.
  Now 1st Bn R.G.B.W.

 

Glengarry Badge the 66th (Berkshire) Regt

The Afghanistan Campaign was hard and brutal. For the 66th of Foot it was a campaign they and their successors would never forget mainly because of the events at a place called 'Maiwand'. This name cannot be displayed on any Regimental Colours as it was in effect a defeat, but the actions of the 66th (Berkshire) Battalion on that day are forever etched in the Regimental memory to such a degree that 'Maiwand Day' has been commemorated by the Regiment since that day every year. This has been continued when operations allow by both the 1st Bn D.E.R.R. and the 1st Bn R.G.B.W. If anybody ever summed up the Afghan Campaign it was Rudyard Kipling. He gives a flavour of the time in his poem 'The young British Soldier' a portion which we list below.

The Last Request 

"THE LAST REQUEST"

By Harry Payne shortly after the battle depicting Soldiers of the 66th (Berkshires) on the retreat from Maiwand

THE YOUNG BRITISH SOLDIER

1) When the 'Arf- made recruity goes out to the east

'E acts like a babe an' e drinks like a ,beast

an' ' e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased

Ere'e's fit for to serve as a soldier

Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,

Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,

Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,

Soldier of the Queen !

 

 

2)When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,

Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,

Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck

And march to your front like a soldier,

Front, front, front like a soldier...

 

 

3)If your officers dead and the sergeants look white,

Remember it's ruin to run from a fight,

So take open order, lie down, and sit tight'

And wait for supports like a soldier'

Wait, wait, wait like a soldier...

 

 

4) When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,

And the women come out to cut up what remains,

Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains

An' go to your Gawd like a soldier,

Go, go, go like a soldier,

Go, go, go like a soldier,

Go, go, go like a soldier,

So-oldier of the Queen !

 

BRIEF BACKGROUND TO THE AFGHAN CAMPAIGN
Ever since the end of the 1st Afghan War in 1842 relationships with the Afghans had been uneasy and they still bore a grudge against Britain in general and the Indian army in particular. The Russians  meanwhile had been steadily expanding eastwards and, having now reached the frontier of Afghanistan, had sent a mission to Kabul which had been amicably received.

To the afghans this was a way of showing that they had powerful allies, and to the Russians it represented another move against the British who had so far bedeviled all their major efforts at expansion, remarkably enough by diplomacy except in the case of the Crimea. To the Indians Afghanistan had always been part of the mogul empire and therefore was regarded still as rightfully a part of their country. To the British it was a threat which could only be removed by establishing a balancing mission in Kabul, the Afghans were not receptive to the idea, the atmosphere was explosive and the government decided to insist by sending an envoy supported by a force of arms late in 1878. The mission was stopped at the fort of Ali Masjid in the Kyber pass and war became inevitable.

The British Army was divided into three wings, called field forces, the KURRAM, the PESHAWAR VALLEY, and the KANDAHAR, commanded respectively by General Roberts (Later Lord Roberts, VC, of Boer War fame), Sam Browne (Originator of the belt) and Stewart. The three forces were scheduled to enter Afghanistan by the Kurram, Kyber and Khojak passes, which were in fact virtually the only entries into the mountainous and rugged country

 

THE 66th ENTER AFGHANISTAN
Brevet Lt Col J GALBRAITH assumed command of the Regiment on the 15th November 1879.

THE REGIMENT DEPLOYS

The Regiment was placed under orders for service in South Afghanistan, and proceeded to Sibi en route to Kandahar, as follows :- The detachment from Hydrabad (Consisting of 15 officers, 12 Sgts, 12 Cpls, 3 Drummers, and 219 privates) under the command of Maj C.F. OLIVER, left that station on the 19th February, 1880, by rail, arriving at Sibi on the 11th February, to await the arrival of the Headquarters. The H.Q. under the command of Col GALBRAITH (Consisting of 15 officers, 26 sgts, 21 cpls, 9 drummers, 388 privates) left Kurrachee by rail on the 10th, arriving at Sibi on the morning of the 13th February 1880. The Regiment (With the exception of D Company) under the command of Col GALBRAITH, marched from Sibi, en route to Kandahar, via Quetta, arriving at its destination on the 25th March 1880.

D Company remained remained at Sibi as an escort for the Royal Artillery. A further detachment, consisting of G and H companies under the command of Capt J QUARRY, was sent to the Citadel of Kandahar on the 29th March 1880. A detachment consisting of A and E companies under the command of Capt McKINNON, left Kandahar en route for Khelat-i-Ghilzai on the 6th April in relief of two companies of the 59th of foot.

Early in July 1880, Wali Shere Ali - who was encamped at Girishk - reported that Sirdar Mahomed Ayoub Khan, Governor of Herat, was marching on Kandahar at the head of a powerful army. In consequence of this report Brigadier General BURROWE'S was ordered to proceed at once to Girishk to check Ayoubs advance and accordingly he left Kandahar on the 5th July, with the 2nd Infantry Brigade, two Regiments of Native cavalry, and a battery of horse artillery. The Headquarters and B C D F G and H companies of the 66th, under command of Col GALBRAITH formed part of BURROWE'S force.

BURROWE'S marched as far as Kokeran on the 5th, where he found supplies scarce, but excellent water. At 6 am on the following day, tents were struck, and the column pushed on towards the Argandab river, and halted at Ashoulkhan, where there was an abundance of fruit and water. Atta Karez was the next halting place, and on the 8th the column encamped at Kushki nakud. From thence it proceeded to Mez Karez (A deserted Village) and on the 10th arrived at Helmund near to Girishk, which was on the opposite side of the river. The Helmund is some thirty leagues from Kandahar.

DEPLOYED AGAINST WALIS MUTINOUS TROOPS

On the 14th, BURROWE'S received intelligence that the Walis troops had mutinied, whereupon he marched against them with five companies of the 66th, three companies of the 30th Native Infantry, 400 cavalry, and the horse artillery.

The mutineers numbered between four and five thousand men and had with them the smooth bore battery, which the Indian government had presented to the wali. Towards 10 am they opened fire on BURROWE'S force, but the horse artillery returned fire with such good effect that in about an hours time the mutineers had, had enough of it, and retired from their position, leaving two guns behind them. BURROWE'S returned to camp about 4 pm, with the captured guns escorted by a party of the 66th. In this affair the Regiment had four men wounded, one of whom later died. On the 21st the column went into laager at Kushki Nakud, where there was an enclosure in which the field hospital and commissariat stores were placed.

THE ROAD TO MAIWAND

On the 27th July the Brigade marched to Maiwand, where the Regiment took massive casualties.

THE ACTION AT MAIWAND ON THE 27th JULY 1880 WILL BE COVERED IN DETAIL. ALTHOUGH IT IS NOT A BATTLE HONOUR THE EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE THERE ARE SO IMPORTANT IN TERMS OF OUR REGIMENTS HISTORY WE INTEND TO ADD A SPECIAL LINK TO THIS PAGE IN THE NEAR FUTURE

THE AFTERMATH

After the return of the survivors of Brigadier General BURROWE'S ill fated column to Kandahar, the whole of the troops in cantonments were moved into the Citidal, where they were besieged by the Afghans until the 31st August 1880 (See Battle honour Kandahar 1880 link) After relief by ROBERT'S on the 1st September a detail from the Regiment went to the Battle field at Maiwand where they buried the dead of the Regiment.

The 66th marched from Kandahar on the 1st October 1880, en route for india, and arrived at Quetta on the 13th. After a fortnights rest  at Quetta, the march was resumed, Pir Chowki was reached on the 3rd November and from there the regiment proceeded by rail to Kurrachee, where it arrived on the 7th November.

On the 19th January 1881, the 66th under command of Lt Col S.G.C. HOGGE, proceeded to Bombay, and sailed for England next day in H.M. troopship MALABAR. The ship reached Porstmouth on the 19th February where they disembarked and proceeded to the isle of wight, to be stationed at Parkhurst

 

OTHER BRITISH UNITS AWARDED CAMPAIGN HONOUR

Carabiniers 8th Hussars
9th Lancers 10th Hussars
11th Hussars 15th Hussars
Northumberland Fusiliers Royal Fusiliers
Kings Liverpool Regt Norfolk Regt
Devonshire Regt Suffolk Regt
West Yorkshire Regt East Yorkshire Regt
Leicestershire Regt Royal Irish Regt
Kings Own Scottish Borderers East Lancashire Regt
East Surrey Regt Hampshire Regt
North Lancashire Regt Shropshire Light Infantry
Kings Royal Rifle Corps Manchester Regt
Seaforth Highlanders Gordon Highlanders
Rifle Brigade

 

 

INDIAN ARMY UNITS AWARDED CAMPAGAIN HONOUR
3rd Skinners Horse 1st Skinners Horse
5th Cavalry 4th Cavalry
10th Hodsons horse 8th Cavalry
12th Cavalry 11th Probyn's Lancers
14th Murray's Lancers 13th Watson's Horse
17th Cavalry 15th Cureton's Lancers
19th Fanes Lancers 18th Tiwana Lancers
22nd Sam Browne's Horse 21st Daly's Horse
25th Cavalry 23rd Cavalry
32nd Lancers 26th Light Cavalry
34th Poona Horse 33rd Light Cavalry
36th Jacobs Horse 35th Scinde Horse
39th Central India Horse 38th Central India Horse
1st P.W.O. Sappers and Miners Q.O. Corps of guides
2nd Q.O. Light Infantry 2nd Q.O. Sappers and Miners
4th Rajputs 3rd Brahmins
6th Light Infantry 5th Light Infantry
9th Bhopal Infantry 8th Rajputs
12th Pioneers 11th Rajputs
14th Sikhs 13th Rajputs
16th Rajputs 15th Sikhs
19th Punjabis 17th Loyal Regiment
21st Punjabis 20th Brownlow Punjabis
23rd Pioneers 22nd Punjabis
25th Punjabis 24th Punjabis
27th Punjabis 26th Punjabis
29th Punjabis 28th Punjabis
31st Punjabis 30th Punjabis
42nd Deoli Infantry 32nd Pioneers
45th Sikhs 51st Sikhs
52nd Sikhs 53rd Sikhs
55th Cokes Rifles 56th Punjab Rifles
57th Wilde's Rifles 58th Vaughan's Rifles
61st Pioneers 64th Pioneers
75th Carnatic Infantry 81st Pioneers
90th Punjabs 101st Grenadiers 
104th Wellesley's Rifles 105th Maratta L.I.
108th Infantry 109th Infantry
110th Mahratta L.I. 113th Infantry
115th Mahrattas 119th Multan
124th Baluchistan 127th Baluch L.I.
128th Pioneers 130th Baluchis
1st Gurkhas 2nd Sirmoor Rifles
3rd Gurkhas 4th Gurkhas
5th Gurkhas
 

 

Suggested further reading
History of the Royal Berkshire Regiment by PETRE Vol 1

The 66th Berkshire Regiment 1758 - 1881, by J Percy GROVES

 

 
                             
 
                        
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                            Revised: 24 July 2002.