lunes, 1 de julio de 2013

Skirmishes on the Frontier, 1901-1908

Another of my books, with interesting information about Afghanistan and other small wars of the first years of XX Century. When "Small Wars and Skirmishes 1902-1918", from Edwin Herbert, was announced by Foundry, I was one of the first subscribers, and I was really pleased when the book arrived at home. It is a really solid (and big) book with a great quality.
It is full of wonderful small colonial campaings around the globe, and one of them has been very useful for me in this moment, "The Zakha Khel and Mohmand Expeditions on the North West Frontier 1908".
In this moment, I´m painting some Afghan figures from Foundry, and waiting for more models from Empress Miniatures and Gripping Beast. Thinking about how to begin the gaming of this project, I finally took this book thinking about to begin the project with a previous campaing also centered in Afghanistan. And this particular chapter of the book is perfect!
Between 1901 and 1908, "the seven years of peace", there was only a military campaing in the North West Frontier, the Zakha Khel Expedition of 1908, but there was also a police action in November 1902, when the Deputy Commissioner for the NWFP, Captain J.S. Donald, went to attack a bandit stronghold at Gumatti, in tribal territory, with a colum consisted of the III/4th Sikhs, 80 men from the 21th Punjab Cavalry and two guns under the military command of Colonel Tonnochy. The leader of the outlaws was a Pathan called Sailgi who had murdered several people in the Bannu district (Gumatti was eight miles from Bannu).

The outlaws´ fort was soon encircled, but they refused to surrender, so the guns were emplaced to fire, with little effect, against the mud-brick walls. In fact, the outlaws were able to shot dead one Sikh gunner and wounded another. Colonel Tonnochy went froward to see if the guns had created a breach but also fell mortally wounded. A party of sappers then went forward and laid time fuses from a ditch to explote guncotton packs against a bastion of the fort. Then, an storming party under Lt. White rushed forward to exploit the new breach. White and his subadar were shot dead, but the rest of the forlorn hope pressed on, assaulted the fort and killed all the outlaws, including Sailgi.
A perfect, really perfect small police action in the Frontier that I´m going to use to write my first scenario to test the period and the ruleset.
This small campaing shows also the new problem found by the British Indian Army in the Frontier, created by the advent on a large scale of modern, breech-loading, magazine rifles firing smokeless powder. Now, it was not possible to send only a handful of men to deal with an hostile stronghold; it was necessary to send a full inter-arms column and then, the result of the fighting depended upon discipline and individual training and initiative.
Interesting from an Afghan player point ov view...

These are the first Afghan tribesmen I have painted. They are 28mm miniatures from Foundry, wonderful old Perry figures:

10 comentarios:

  1. Nicely painted figures. Nice colours, though not sure about the bright red of the turban. The only definite reference I have is from The Osprey book - north West Frontier 1837-1947 where reference is made to Wazirs favouring either a dark red or indigo turban. I use Foundry paint -Musket stock brown B or C, use black washes and highlight by adding small amounts of pink to the original base colour. The result is a very dark crimson turban.
    I've seen photos of these mixed with the empress Jazz Age afghans and they work well together. IMO I think you will need to limit the number you use as I believe the older muskets will not be very prevalent in the third Afghan War. I'm not even sure how many of the Jazz Age figures with Martini's to use, as my understanding is that by then the local workshops were so efficient it was hard to tell a local made Lee-Enfield from a stolen Lee-Enfield

  2. Wow. Those look great! I can't wait to see what you put together.

  3. @Moonshadow: Thanks, sir. I agree totally with you; that red colour is too bright, but I like a lot these GW paints and also the effect. But the next ones will be darker.

    The problem I have with the jezzail is that I have not other Foundry models, so I need to use these ones. I´m sure some Afghan tribesmen used this weapons during this war because not all of them were able to buy a "new" Martini-Henry or Lee- Enfield. (And the jezzail is in the ruleset I expect to use with this scenario).

    About the Martini-Henry, I can say you that our security team in the Kabul International Airport took an operational Martini-Henry from a "friendly" Afghan bodyguard in 2009...

    @Fran and Chris: Thank you a lot. Next one is a Punjab Lancers Officer also from Foundry.

  4. Great stuff! And a very nice paint job as well

  5. Amazing to think there is still the odd Martini Henry in use out in Afghanistan. I dug out my copy of Risings and Rebellions(1919 to 1939)by Edwin Herbert to see if that had anything to say regards firearms used by the Afghans in the Third Afghan War. For the regulars "about half the infantry had modern rifles, of German, Turkish or British make, while the rest were armed with obsolete Martinis and sniders:" of the militia "every rifle was of 'obsolete pattern'" of the Pathan tribesmen "the weapon most used was a breech loading rifle of one form or another, obtained from Afghan or Russian agents, unscrupulous British traders, or as condemned weapons from Frontier stations". Looking forward to seeing that Lancer officer.

  6. Thank you a lot, sir! "Rising and Rebellions"... interesting and deserving a look in Amazon.
    I would like that this blog be something as a "sourcebox" for this period and your comment about the weapons of Afghan regulars and irregulars is very useful for me. Fortunatly, the Empress figures have a variety of weapons...

  7. It is annoying that such a relatively modern conflict has so few readily available sources.
    I would recommend, mainly for the atmosphere of frontier operations in the early part of the last century The Frontier Scouts by Charles Chenevix Trench ISBN 0-224-02321-7, original publication 1985.
    T.A.Heathcote's The Afghan Wars, ISBN 0-85045-354-2, has two chapters(50 pages) devoted to the Third Afghan War, which give a fairly good overview.

  8. Awesome!! I'm enjoying following this blog!


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