Sunday, March 6, 2016

Khyber Rifles, 1900 (c)

Photograph by Frederick Bremner, India, North West Frontier, 1900 (c).

The Khyber Rifles were one of several paramilitary police units recruited from the tribesmen of the North West Frontier. They served as auxiliaries to the regular Indian Army. Raised in the early 1880s and recruited from Afridi Pathan tribesmen, the Rifles were commanded by British officers on secondment from regular Indian regiments. The headquarters of the Khyber Rifles was at Landi Kotal and their main task was to guard the strategically vital Khyber Pass. The soldiers depicted here are all Afridi Pathans. From the left they are: sepoy in Review Order, a native officer in Review Order, a sepoy in Winter Review Order and a sepoy in Summer Review Order.

Until 1919 units like the Khyber Rifles provided a useful link between the British and the local tribes and helped keep the peace, but following the Afghan incursion into British-India and the outbreak of revolt on the North West Frontier there were many desertions as men threw in their lot with their tribal cousins.

From album of 60 photographs by Frederick Bremner.

Copyright/Ownership :National Army Museum, London