Archive | February, 2013

The Indian Mutiny 1857-58

13 Feb

Hello everybody I thought this might interest you about an incident that happened during the Indian mutiny
Early in the spring of 1857 there was discontent among many of the Indian troops that were in the Bengal army. The ring leaders of these troops believed the time had come to drive the British out of India and to set up their own leadership. Rumours spread rapidly amongst the troops exciting them to mutiny. One of the main stories being circulated to upset the troops was that the cartridges issued out to them, had been greased with pig and cows fat. The pig, being an unclean animal to both Hindus and Muslims and the cow being sacred to the Hindus. For the reader when a rifle was loaded in the years of 1857. The rifleman had to bite the end of the cartridge before putting it in the breech. This is why the rumour was circulated. The first mutinous action started at Meerut on the 10th May 1857. The Indian troops murdered their officers and many Europeans they could find, including women and children. Gathering in momentum and numbers the mutineers marched on the undefended Delhi and murdered the whole of the European population in absolute cruelty. Hearing the news from Meerut, the troops in the Bengal army also rose up and murdered their officers and all the European men, women and children they could find from the Punjab down to Calcutta. This can only be termed as complete mayhem and was spreading fast. The garrisons at Cawnpore and Lucknow were now heavily under siege.
At Cawnpore, the officer in command was Sir Hugh Wheeler who had 240 officers, soldiers and civilians many who had sought safety at Cawnpore along with 870 women and children. At the time they hoped they would be free from danger, because of the British friendship with the local Prince Nana Sahib. How wrong they were Nan Sahib joined the rebel forces and combining with his army of men it totalled 12000. During the course of the battle, the small British force repulsed everything the Mutineers could throw at them. After 21 days of fighting Nana Sahib offered free passage to the defenders if they would surrender. Sir Hugh Wheeler knew it was futile to carry on and the terms were accepted. The Nana and his Hindu followers taking the Hindu oath and the Muslims swearing on the Koran, that the conditions be observed. As soon as the Defenders of Cawnpore embarked on the boats down the Ganges. The mutineers opened up with terrific barrage of musket fire and cannon from the river bank. All the boats were sunk and all the men barring four, who escaped to tell the tale, were shot. The women and children, some with bad injuries were taken prisoner and marched back into Cawnpore.
On hearing the dreadful news a British force of 1400 men under General Havelock fought their way up from Allahabad defeating all opposition, including Nana Sahib’s force. The relieving force retook Cawnpore and rejoiced that the women and children would be free. When they entered the town they were too late. Everything was quiet, with scattered dresses and shoes were all around. The British troops knew something terrible had happened and it didn’t take long before their suspicions were realised. The great well near to the house where the women and children were imprisoned was choked to the brim with bodies, all had been massacred. The very tough soldiers, who had fought their way up, enduring heat and exhaustion to reach Cawnpore, broke down and cried at the terrible sight before their eyes.
There were many more battles before the final defeat of the mutineers at Lucknow in 1858, which brought the rebellion to an end. India at the time was run by the East Indian Company; this was now transferred from them, to the British Crown and India became a British Dominion.
In 1876 Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. Seventy one years later, India and Pakistan became Independent of Great Britain in August 1947.

No doubt you the reader will understand that they were turbulent years in the history of India. The seeds for independence for the Hindu and Muslim religion were sown over those turbulent years. During the war against the Japanese both Hindu and Muslims bravely fought side by side with the British forces in Burma, to eventual victory. At this present time both India and Pakistan are strong Independent nations. For the future of both cultures, let’s hope they can live together in peace
Alan

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Kingsman Dave Shaw Duke of Lancaster’s Regt

8 Feb

Kingsman Dave Shaw 23 years of age of the 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment was laid to rest on Tuesday 6th February 2013 at Barrow Cemetery with full military honours.
Kingsman Dave Shaw the eldest son of David and Jenny Shaw, from a very early age wanted to join the army. A Barrow-in-Furness born lad, he attended local schools and joined the local army cadets. He later joined the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and successfully completing his infantry training served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. On Kingsman Dave Shaw’s second tour of duty while on a patrol near Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, he was shot by insurgents. He was rushed to Camp Bastion where surgeons worked hard on him before transferring him to the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in Birmingham, but sadly surrounded by his parents and family Kingsman Dave Shaw passed away. Lieutenant Colonel Wood the commanding officer of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment spoke very highly of him and turning to Kingsman Shaw’s family said “I hope the memory of a true warrior, a lion of England, a friend and marra, who died doing something he believed in and that he was so good at may offer you some comfort.”
I personally did not know Kingsman Dave Shaw, but I feel the sadness of the passing of this very brave Barrow lad along with his family, friends and fellow servicemen. On behalf of you the reader I wish all our men and women serving in Afghanistan a safe return home.
Alan

Tragedy in Afghanistan 1842

6 Feb

The present conflict in Afghanistan is one of the many conflicts that have plagued Afghanistan for hundreds of years. Here is just one of them.
During the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1883 trouble arose on the borders of India. The British army had entered Afghanistan to restore an Afghan prince to his throne from which he had been driven by a rival. The British Army achieved this task after some heavy fighting especially at the town of Ghuznee, which the Afghans thought it to be impregnable. It was taken after a few hours of fighting. The British soon put down all the resistance. A strong British force remained at Kabul for the protection of the prince.
Towards the end of 1841 a great misfortune happened to this British force. On the 22nd November the inhabitants of Kabul rose up in rebellion and were joined by tribesmen from all parts of the country. All supplies etc. were cut off and the position became very serious. General Elphinstone getting on in years was in command and he was not up to the situation and responsibilities. He decided to leave Afghanistan with his army of 4500 men and some 12000 camp followers. The movement began on the 6th January 1842. As one can imagine the weather was extremely cold with snow very deep on the ground and ravines through which the force had to travel. Not only to contend with the weather. The area was swarming with the enemy and was being attacked from all sides. Numbed with cold the passage blocked by fallen horses and overturned carts, the British soldiers fought to the last man. Of the 17000 who set out from Kabul only one man a Dr. Brydon made it back to Jelalabad in safety. All the rest barring about 100 men and women, who had been taken prisoner, had died by the sword or the cold weather. Quite unbelievable but true.
Sir Robert Sale was in command of a brigade in the area between Kabul and Jelalabad when the news reached him of the massacre. It wasn’t long before his force was attacked but they fought their way down to Jelalabad. Although he was far away from support the prospect was gloomy. The walls of the town were in ruins, but defend it they did. After a few months they took the action to the enemy and attacked them whenever they approached and taking in their cattle. As the siege came into its fifth month the garrison boldly marched out attacking the besieging army in their camp completely routed them and capturing all their cannons. Shortly afterwards, General Pollock with a relieving army, fought his way up the Khyber Pass and reached Jelalabad.
With absolute confidence the united forces marched onto Kabul annihilating any opposition who ventured against them. On reaching Kabul, the great bazaar was burnt as a punishment to the town for the part the inhabitants taken in the massacre. The British force then marched back to India.
Britain is only a small nation, but in this small nation we breed men of steel. Not only just then also in this present day

Alan

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