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Operations in Waziristan 1919-1920 (1924)

Operations in Waziristan 1919-1920

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OPERATIONS
IN WAZIRISTAN
1919-1920

General Staff,
Army Headquarters, India

H.M.S.O., London, 1924
Printed by Government Central Press, Delhi


A very rare official General Staff account of the British and Indian forces campaign in Waziristan, along the border between Afghanistan and British India, from 1919-1920. This is the 2nd edition, published in April 1924, which does not include the illustrations and maps that were present in the 1921 1st edition. Operations in Waziristan is a detailed account of warfare on the passes and borders of the North West Frontier during and after WW1, and the actions fought there by the British and Indian armies, suported by the BE2c's, Bristol Fighters, and DH9 bombers of RAF. Although there was much heavy fighting on the ground, it was the RAF bombing of Wazir and Mahsud villages that finally brought the conflict to an end in 1920. Over 10,000 troops from the Indian Army had taken part in the campaign to re-establish British control of the border areas, and more than 1,300 men were killed in action or died from their wounds and sickness.

Waziristan Campaign 1919–1920 was conducted in Waziristan by British and Indian forces against the fiercely independent tribesmen that inhabited this region. These operations were conducted following the unrest that arose in the aftermath of the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The prelude to the 1919–1920 campaign was an incursion by the Mahsud Tribe in the summer of 1917 while British forces were otherwise engaged. The British Forces eventually restored calm, however, in 1919 the Waziris took advantage of unrest in British India to launch more raids against British garrisons. One of the reasons for these raids may have been a rumour that had spread amongst the Wazirs and the Mahsuds, that Britain was going to give control of Waziristan to Afghanistan as part of the peace settlement following the Third Anglo-Afghan War. Hoping to exploit British weakness, the tribes were encouraged to launch a series of large scale raids in the administered areas. By November 1919, they had killed over 200 people and wounded a further 200. The first attempt to subdue them began in November 1919, when Major-General Sir Andrew Skeen launched a series of operations against the Tochi Wazirs. These operations were largely successful and in December Skeen turned his attention to the Mahsuds. As the 43rd and 67th Brigades were grouped together as the Derajet Column and committed to the fighting, they met heavy resistance as the largely inexperienced Indian units came up against determined, well-armed tribesmen. Due to the denuding of the Indian Army caused by commitments overseas during the First World War, many of the battalions employed in this campaign were second-line units with disproportionately large numbers of very young soldiers with inexperienced officers.

The fighting continued for about 12 months, and the British had to resort to using RAF aircraft on a number of occasions to suppress the tribesmen. There were a number of successes - notably the 2nd/5th Gurkhas stand during the eight-day battle in January 1920 at Ahnai Tangi, and the efforts of the 2nd/76th Punjabis who fought their way through to support them. Equally notable was the counter-attack launched against the Mahsuds by just 10 men of the 4th/39th Garhwal Rifles, led by Lieutenant W. D. Kenny, who received a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions.

The Mahsuds took heavy casualties during the fighting at Ahnai Tangi and it was these casualties, as well as the destruction of their villages a month later by bombers of the RAF, that temporarily subdued the Mahsuds. When the Wana Wazirs rose up in November 1920, they appealed for help from the Mahsuds, but still recovering from their earlier defeat, no support was forthcoming and the Wazir opposition faded away. On 22 December 1920, Wana was re-occupied.

Minor raids by the Wazirs and operations by British forces continued into 1921, before  the British decided upon a change of strategy in Waziristan. It was determined that a permanent garrison of regular troops would be maintained in the region to work much more closely with the militia units that were being reconstituted following the troubles that occurred during the 1919 war with Afghanistan. During this conflict, a large number of men from the irregular militia units from Waziristan deserted and turned against the British. As part of this policy, it was decided that a garrison would be maintained at Razmak. Throughout 1921–1924, the British undertook a road construction effort in the region that led to further conflict from 1921-24. An aerial strafing and bombardment campaign was carried out by the Royal Air Force in 1925. Conflict flared up again in Waziristan in 1936, resulting in yet another campaign that lasted until 1939.


Condition:

In good condition. The boards are in good condition, with general signs of wear and use, wear to the spine, and some marks. The binding and hinges are good and secure. The text is in very good condition, with a few creased corners. There should be three maps in a pocket at the rear, but these are missing.

Published: 1924
Grey boards with black titling
Dimensions: 160mm x 245mm
Pages: 194