Loss of 5 men at Darunta Ford on the Kabul River

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Loss of 5 men at Darunta Ford on the Kabul River

Postby kenripper » 06 Oct 2014 07:57

I've been looking into the death of my wife's gt gt gt grandfather. He was one of 5 men drowned at Darunta Ford on the Kabul River on 5 Jan 1880. His name was James Eves. His story may make an interesting addition to the forum and I wondered if anybody here can add to the story. I wondered if his body was ever found and if so what happened to it. I'm also uncertain if my regimental history of his service and that of his wife's second husband, William Penny (see below) is correct.

My notes on him and the event can be seen in pdf format by clicking on this link.http://www.kenripper.co.uk/JasEves.pdf

In summary:
2 Aug 1862 - enlisted in Dublin (Newbridge) into the 3rd Hussars aged 18 years.
19 Dec 1868 - awarded 36 pence shipboard allowance whilst en route to Mhow, India.
1 Nov 1879 - transferred from the 3rd Hussars stationed at Umballa (Amballa) to the 6th Dragoon Guards stationed at Jallalabad. Were they the 6th Inniskillings as James appears in the medal roll of the 6th Inniskillings? It seems that he may have volunteered to change regiment so that he could stay in India, as the 3rd Hussars returned to Colchester by December 1879.
5 Jan 1880 - recorded as drowned at Jallalabad (transcript of newspaper reports of this event are shown below) and as a carabineer. Why would he be so described? I think Darunta Ford was here https://goo.gl/maps/6utPQ, can anybody help me locate it more closely if this is incorrect?
1 Jul 1880 - Margaret Eves, his widow, remarried at Umballa to William Penney of the 70th Foot.
21 May 1888 - William Penney was discharged from the army in Guernsey in consequence of the termination of his second period of limited engagement. His army record is amended on this day to show that his wife Sarah, stepdaughter Sarah and stepdaughter Margaret are no longer with the Connaught Rangers (= 6th Inniskillings = 6th Dragoon Guards?) in India.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

** Newspaper Transcripts **
7 Jan 1880 - Report in The Times "From Viceroy, January 6, 1880. Bright reports, five men, Carabineers, returning from reconnaissance, Lughman Valley, drowned yesterday crossing Kabul river at usual ford near Derchuta Gorge (sic should be Darunta)".

12 Jan 1880 - The Times "A reconnoitering party, consisting of the Carabineers and the 3rd Bengal Cavalry, went out from Jallalabad, crossing a ford over the Cabul river near Fort Sale, for the purpose of examining the entrance to the Lughman Valley. After a successful reconnaissance, Captain the Hon. C. Dutton, Assistant Quartermaster-General, and Major W. J. Boyes, Assistant-Adjutant-General, being with the party, they returned by a ford at the foot of the Dorunta Gorge, a very narrow and difficult gorge round which the Lughman Valley commences. Here some Carabineers lost the line of crossing, and five men were drowned. No bodies were recovered, but four horses were saved. Asmatullah Khan is supposed to be in the Lughman Valley."

13 Jan 1880 - The Times "The news of the death by drowning of five troopers of the Carabineers will be received with marked regret. It will be remembered that last winter an officer and nearly 50 men of the 10th Hussars lost their lives by a similar accident. A Court of Inquiry was then held, but as far as the public are concerned, no further notice was taken of the matter. Then, as now, a Staff officer was present. Native cavalry preceded the British troopers, yet the latter in
some unaccountable way swerved from the right track, and within reach of help, which, it may be, it was impossible to hold on to them, were lost. The accident calls for the most searching investigation. we surely ought to be able to cross well-known fords without losing valuable lives."

1908 -The Second Afghan War 1878-80 Official Account, produced in the Intelligence Branch Army HQ, India - publisher, John Murray London 1908. " ... on the 5th January an accident, somewhat similar to that which happened to the 10th Hussars on the 31st March 1879, occurred to the Carabiniers. A reconnoitering party under Major Carcrift, 3rd Bengal Cavalry, consisting of 75 men of that regiment with 75 of the Carabiniers, left Jalalabad in the morning, by a ford close to the town, to examine the country towards the Laghman Valley. On its return the party proceeded to cross the Darunta ford about 7 miles west of Jalalabad, which seemed perfectly easy, as natives were at the time passing over on foot. Two branches of the river had to be crossed, the northern one leading slighly down-stream to an island in in the middle of the river lying about 70 yards above a rapid, the line of which is quite apparent, and below which is deep water. The 3rd Bengal Cavalry led, headed by Captain G. H. Elliott of that regiment, followed at a short interval by Major B. Cracroft with his own squadron, Major W. I. Boyes, Captain the Hon. C. Dutton, and Captain R. Warburton, all of whom had accompanied the expedition on staff and political duties. The Carabiniers followed under Captain Porter, the first troop reaching the island in safety; in the second troop, however, five men lost the line of the ford, and, inclining down-stream towards the rapid, fell over into deep water, where they sank; four of the horses reached the bank, but all the five troopers were drowned."
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Re: Loss of 5 men at Darunta Ford on the Kabul River

Postby Maureene » 06 Oct 2014 10:35

Regarding regimental names, there were the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons who were different to the 6th Dragoon Guards.It was the latter regiment which was known as the Carabiniers
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/6th_(Inniskilling)_Dragoons This shows the 6th Dragoons were in Scotland /England in 1880.
These were Cavalry Regiments

When men transferred between regiments, they officially lost any promotions they had gained, which would explain why he transferred as a private to the the 6th Dragoon Guards. In practice, men usually seem to have been promoted again reasonably quickly.

I'm not sure where the Connaught Rangers fits into your story. The 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers was previously the 88th Regiment of Foot, the 2nd Battalion was previously the 94th Regiment of Foot.

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Re: Loss of 5 men at Darunta Ford on the Kabul River

Postby kenripper » 07 Oct 2014 20:39

I'm very grateful to you Maureen. I've updated my notes and republished a revised pdf file http://www.kenripper.co.uk/JasEves.pdf reflecting your advice. (If you've opened the pdf before you'll need to refresh your cache by pressing F5 after downloading it).

Many thanks.

Can anybody else spot anything else I have missed or need to change?
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