Friday, 27 July 2018

Battle of Maiwand

On July 27, 1880, Mohammad Ayub Khan, fifth son of Amir Sher Ali, decisively defeated a British force under Brigadier G. R. S Burrows in open battle at Maiwand, near Qandahar. Of the 2,476 British and Indian soldiers engaged in the fighting, 971 were killed in action, 168 wounded (Abridged Official Account of the second Anglo-Afghan War, 1908, as quoted by Dupree). But according to Ghubar, out of 12,000 soldiers and officers, only 25 British soldiers dressed as Afghans and Muslims, had reached Kandahar, as helped by Sardar Sher Ali Kandahari, to tell the tale of their defeat at Maiwand. At the battle of Maiwand a legendary Pashtun heroine, Malalai, used her veil as a standard, and encouraged the warriors by shouting the following couplet (landay) in Pashto ;

کہ پہ میوند کے شہید نہ شوے
گرانہ لالیہ بے نگئی تہ دے ساتینہ

Young love, if you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,
By God, someone is saving you for a token of shame.
(Translation Dr 'Taizai')

The disastrous defeat of British arms in Asia could not go unchallenged, so Lt. General Sir Fredrick Roberts was dispatched to Kandahar with a picked mobile force of 9,987 men. The British won a decisive victory, and Ayub Khan returned to Herat.

'The Last Eleven at Maiwand' - after painting by Frank Feller. Battle of Maiwand, Afghanistan, 27 July 1880. Published in 1884. British Museum.


1- Afghanistan by Louis Dupree
2- Afghanistan A Political history by S. Fida Yunas

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