Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From fame to notoriety

Major-Gen Pushpendra Singh (retd)

Capt Sir James Abbott established the cantonment town of Abbottabad

SOON after the British defeated the Sikhs at Sobraon, Capt Sir James Abbott, KCB, an officer of the Bengal Artillery, was appointed the first Deputy Commissioner of Hazara district bordering the Pakhtun lands. He was immediately faced with lawless gangs of soldiers of the Sikh Army, who harried the British and ravaged the land to make a living.

Meanwhile, the Pashtun tribes astride the Hindukush, disciplined and suppressed for decades by the Sikh kingdom, were only too happy to at last resume their plunder of Punjab. Captain Abbott had been greatly impressed with the valour of the Sikh artillerymen during the Anglo-Sikh wars. These gallant soldiers epitomised the finest traditions of the gunners and established the norm of defending their cannon to the very last man — at great cost to the British.

Sir James decided to kill two birds with one stone. Persuading his boss Sir Henry Lawrence to make an exception to the British dictum, ‘no natives in the Gun-Park’, he raised the Hazara Mountain Battery in 1848. Later, this valiant and distinguished officer rose to the top as a General. In 1851 the Punjab Irregular Frontier Force or PIFFERS was also formed there and the cantonment town, which Sir James established, became known as Abbottabad of erstwhile fame and recent notoriety.

The Hazara Mountain Battery was almost continuously in action with various mule-pack guns, which proved to be the undoing of the Pathans. The daring and skill of the Mountain Gunners inspired the immortal lines of ‘Screw Guns’ by Kipling. Thus was born the legend of the ‘big men with their little guns.’ Initially, the Battery helped defend Hazara district and later enabled Sir Sam Browne to take the Khyber. The unit was at the relief of Kabul, remaining there until it joined Lord Roberts on his march on Kandahar.

On Independence, the Hazara Mountain Battery was en route from Nowshera in Pakistan to India and was immediately pressed into the first Kashmir war, 1948. One troop was airlifted into besieged Poonch by the legendary Wing Commander Mehar Singh, even as his aircraft was hit on the landing strip and rendered AOG (aircraft on ground) by machine-gun fire. The Hazaras were instrumental in turning the tide and saving Poonch.

The Troop Commander, late Colonel Gopal Singh, was decorated with the Vir Chakra for his gallantry. It is perhaps the only Battery in our artillery to win two Vir Chakras.

Such is the other legacy of Abbottabad.

Source Link:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Practice Camp Kurram Garhi, near Bannu...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Second Anglo-Afghan War

Hello Rohit, many thanks for your email.

Here's a summary from my research:

No. 4 Hazara Mountain Battery was part of the 1st Division Peshawar Valley Field Force in the Afghan war, taking part on the attack on Ali Masjid as part of the flanking column under General Macpherson. I don't believe any shots were fired by the battery in this action. They spent much of the first campaign at and around Jalalabad. In the the gap between hostilities in 1879 they were stationed at Landi Kotal. In the second campaign they were again at Jalalabad (seeing action there) though 4 guns were sent with General Gough to aid Roberts at Kabul, reaching there on 24 Dec 1879 after the attack on Sherpur had been repulsed. Those guns were sent with General Ross, in April 1880, to hook up with General Stewart's Kandahar-Ghazni force (seeing action at Zaidabad). The battery left Kabul on 4 Aug 1880, returning to India.

I hope that is of interest, and sorry it's a little brief. I really enjoyed your excellent blog - do keep it up.

Thanks again, and best regards -

Garen Ewing
The Second Anglo-Afghan War resource at:

Mountain Battery Lines

Photograph of Mountain Battery Lines in Abbottabad, now in Pakistan, from the Macnabb Collection, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1860s. Abbottabad was founded in 1853 by Major James Abbott, the first Deputy Commissioner of the Hazara District. This district ran from the Himalayas in the north towards Rawalpindi in the south. Abbottabad was a cantonment, or permanent Army base, for the region. The garrison there consisted of four Gurkha battalions and four mountain batteries; this is a view of some of the mountain battery buildings.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Echo Guns"
Bring it into Action!
Spin those trails around!
There's grunts up the sharp end,
screaming out for rounds.

Set the elevation!
Traverse on for line!
Strattons just a'loaded,
there's still a little time.

Me, I'm on the left side!
Bob, he's on the right!
Dingus yells "You ready Subs?"
the methods "Battery Right".

When the mission's over!
"Detachments to the Rear!"
"A little slow that time Subs",
John whispers in my ear.

Blog Copyright - Capt Rohit Saxena. All rights reserved.