Mark wrote:Hi All
Can anyone tell me what the 2/60th were up to during the Second Anglo-Afghan War? Did they play a particulary active role in the campaign?
Info courtesy of member 'Garen's excellent site:2nd Battalion 60th Rifles (King's Royal Rifle Corps)
Commanded by Lt. Colonel Joseph James Collins. The 60th Rifles joined the South Afghanistan Field Force, Reserve Division, at Multan in October 1878. November saw some companies of the regiment on escort duty to General Stewart and various Royal Artillery divisions, before they arrivied via the Bolan Pass at Quetta towards the end of December.
On 8th January 1879 the 60th Rifles marched through Kandahar, which had surrendered on the previous day. They had an expedition to Kelat-i-Ghilzai before returning and camping at the old 1839 British barracks at Kandahar (where Collins joined and took command of his regiment), until the end of March 1880, when they marched with Stewart to Ghazni, taking part in the action at Ahmed Khel (see map below).
After some time in the Logar valley, the regiment eventually moved to Kabul at the end of July. After the march to Kandahar in August the Rifles were engaged with the enemy during the reconnaisance of Baba-Wali, and during the following day in the Battle of Kandahar (in the 3rd Inf Bde, see below) that defeated Ayub Khan. The Bde was in reserve and so suffered few casualties.
They reached Quetta again on 19th September, and then on to Sibi, where Lt. Colonel Collins died of dysentery. With the Comd of 3rd Inf Bde, General Charles Metcalfe MacGregor, they went out against the Marri tribes and then finally returned to Mirat on 24th November 1880.
Member Garen made this interesting observation in a post here (to you!) on 13 Sep 2008:"The 60th had a very interesting time of it... they're one of the few 'there and back again' regiments (as I call them ) - they marched with Stewart from Kandahar to Kabul, and then with Roberts from Kabul to Kandahar.
Actions included Kushab (one company), Ahmed Khel (clasp), Urzu, and Kandahar - both 31 Aug reconnaissance and 1 Sep battle (clasp). They were also involved in the Marri expedition after leaving Kandahar.
G Company had the thickest action at Ahmed Khel, and were also the company involved in Kushab en-route to Kandahar in Jan 1879, as well as being the first of the 60th to Kabul, accompanying Stewart there, while the rest stayed temporarily in the Logar Valley."
The picture of a soldier and officer below does not show 60th Rifles, but is representative of the type of uniform that was worn.
Below is the script of a letter written by a young soldier who was there and which I hope will serve to capture the atmosphere of the time:“In regards to this particular campaign in Afghanistan, I was a raw recruit, in fact the rawest of recruits when the war
commenced in 1878. I was the mature age of eighteen years and learning my drill in the beautiful, but muddy City of Dublin. In 1879 I went to India to join the 2nd Battalion of my Regiment, then the 7th. Royal Fusiliers, where I joined the Headquarters Company at Colaba, Bombay, the rest of the Regiment being stationed at Ahmednager.
About September 1879 we were ordered to Southern Afghanistan to join the Kandahar field force. We marched into Kandahar in early April 1880. Sir Donald Stewart was then on the march to relieve General Sir F.Roberts who was hemmed in at Sherpur near Kabul. Afghanistan is a county larger than France, without roads, bridges or railways. It is a mountainous country with nowhere less than 3,000 feet above sea level. It is all mountains and plateaus and inhabited by a fierce and bigoted race that go armed to the teeth. Thieving and cruelty are their delight, so you see marching through that country was not at all a picnic; besides drinking water was scarce and so was food sometimes. The weather from May to August is very hot, reaching 108F in the shade, and on the other hand the winter is rather cold with frost and snow being fairly common. There is no spring or autumn, just the summer and winter, and when one leaves off the other begins, which eases the worry of a change of climate.
To resume the campaign. In June 1880 Ayub Khan marched out of Herat with about 20,000 Afghans to try and drive our little force left at Kandahar back into India. In July a small column of about half of our force consisting of the 66th Regiment, the 3rd Native Regiment with 13 Battery RHA under General Burrows marched out of Kandahar to keep observation on Ayub Khan’s force which was rapidly approaching. The Afghan force swelling greater and greater; On the 27th July General Burrows engaged the Afghans at Maiwand, about 50 miles north-west of Kandahar. The result was disastrous to our small force as it was cut to pieces with over 1,100 out of 2,700 in the fighting line being killed. What was left safely reached Kandahar, and General Primrose who was in command decided to concentrate in Kandahar itself. This we did and after turning out all the inhabitants except a few descendants of a former military force which had occupied the City years before, we made preparations for defence.
Early in August we were closely invested, but at no time did the Afghans take the initiative. They simply contented themselves by constantly shelling us from early morning until sunset. On the other hand we were constantly attacking and worrying them. In the morning of 16th August we attacked and took the fortified village of Deh Koja about 900 yards from the walls of Kandahar, but we did not remain in the village. Our force lost 380 men out if 1,100, so you see that it was a very expensive affair to us, but must have been more so for the Afghans because after that they never worried us, and in fact the siege was practically over. But we were weak in numbers, and whilst General Sir F Roberts was marching down to our relief it was best to keep the enemy near to us so that General Sir F Roberts could give then a good sound thrashing when he did arrive.
The end of August came and the relief force with it, and on the morning of the 1st September 1880, we marched out and joined General Sir F Roberts, and by 2 o’clock that afternoon we had defeated the Afghans. Captured all 35 of their guns and taken their camp, and that ended the war. There is just one more thing to add on 8th September my Regiment, 3rd Native Regiment and 1 Field Battery marched to Maiwand and buried the poor fellows who fell on 27th July previously. We spent the winter at Kandahar and in April 1881 we evacuated the country