|2015 Past Presidents Night
Continuing our theme from last month (“When the ‘home’ team doesn’t win and the aftermath”), July 27, 2015 marks the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Maiwand, one of the principal battles of the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
The Afghans with 25,000 regular troops and five artillery batteries defeated two British brigades, comprised of 500 British and 2000 Indian troops, under Brigadier-General George Burrows. The Afghans however paid a high price: about 2,750 Afghans were killed and probably about 1,500 wounded. British and Indian forces suffered 969 soldiers killed and 177 wounded. Maiwand may not be a familiar name, but locations involved in the lead-up and aftermath of this battle 135 years ago are all too familiar to us today: Kandahar, Kabul, Jalalabad, Dakka, Herat and Ghazni. Some things never change.
The British were overwhelmed by sheer numbers at Maiwand. Eighty-four men fought gallantly - and to the last man – to cover the Brigade’s retreat to Kandahar. Lt. Thomas Henn and 14 Royal Engineers (Bombay Sappers and Miners), 23 native grenadiers and 46 men of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot covered the retreat of the Brigade. When only 11 were left, Lt. Henn led his last 10 men in a final charge against the Afghans until they all were cut down. Two Victoria Crosses were award for gallantry on that day. A little more than a month later, on September 1, 1880, the British, having learned their lessons, decisively defeated Ayub Khan and his Afghan Army, thus ending the Second Afghan War. Britain and India enjoyed peace … until the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919.
How else is the Battle of Maiwand related to last month’s program? The loss of the Queen's Colour and Regimental Colour of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot during the Battle of Maiwand, following so soon upon the loss of the Colours of the 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment at the Battle of Isandlwana (22 January 1879) during the Anglo-Zulu War, resulted in colours no longer being taken on active service.
At our July Mess Night, we promise an exciting presentation about a battle that ended up decidedly better for Great Britain than Isandlwana and Maiwand: The Battle of Waterloo, where the “home” team won – decisively. Information about our excellent speaker and his presentation follows this message. Please join us for Past Presidents Night this July 24th as we honor our living past presidents:
• Flt. Lt. Robert Reynolds, RAF (1961)
• Flt. Lt. John Blackburn, RAF (1977)
• Peter M. Candelin, Esq. Royal Air Force (1988)
• Robert B. Edmonds, Esq. MBE, The Queens Royal Surrey Regiment (1989, 1995, 2000, 2009, 2010)
• William L. Dean, Esq. Royal Navy (1999)
• Sqdn. Ldr. Munir A. Azam, TBt., PAF (1997 & 2011)
• Michael J. Gregory, Esq., RAF (2001, 2002 & 2006)
• Capt. Stuart R. Bird-Wilson, Special Air Services Regiment and Royal Hong Kong Regiment (2003, 2004 & 2005)