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Extracts from the Diary of John S. Fowler, R. E.: Chitral 1895.

Dublin: [Privately printed], 1897 Stock Code: 144711
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Superbly provenanced first and sole edition of this rare eye-witness account by Lieutenant-General Sir John Sharman Fowler (1864-1939), then a lieutenant with the Royal Engineers, who played a notable role in the Chitral campaign, an incident of the Great Game that became a considerable cause célèbre. This copy bearing the ownership inscription of Lieutenant S. M. Edwardes, Fowler's "staunch companion" during the privations of captivity.

This slim little volume of some 103 pages, was privately printed in what can only have been a very small edition intended for a close circle of family and friends, this copy is inscribed on the title page, "S. M. Edwardes, Sept. 1897"; Brigadier-General Stanley Malcolm Edwardes (1863-1937), then a lieutenant with the 2nd Bombay Grenadiers, served side-by-side with Fowler during the action at Reshun, where the two were the only British officers leading a small force with a convoy of ammunition and engineering stores. Finding their route blocked by a large body of Chitralis, a week-long siege ensued. Fowler led a sortie for water and attacked two sangars, "with such resolution that the enemy had no time to defend themselves" (Nevill, p. 168). However, in an incident worthy of a Flashman novel, both were captured while observing a polo game put on by the Chitralis, and roughly handled. After being escorted to the leader of the uprising, Umra Khan, known as the "Napoleon of the Pathans," they were treated well and Fowler notes at the end of his book that "Edwardes and I owe him a debt of deep gratitude for his behavior to us, and I should be very sorry, indeed, if he ever came to any harm". Following a crossing of the precipitous Lowari Pass in deep snow, they were eventually released. Fowler and Edwardes went on to serve with distinction in the campaign and both men received the DSO for their actions on the same day.

This is all relayed in Fowler's brisk and colourful journal extracts, entitled at the head of page one, "Diary of Our Captivity in Chitral," which he concludes phlegmatically by remarking, "I had a trying time of it in Chitral, but it would have been infinitely worse if I had been alone instead of having a staunch companion in Edwardes. It was an experience not to be willingly repeated, but which one is now glad enough to have had, as it gives one something to think about".

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Octavo. Original red fine oblique-grain cloth, border of paired blind fillets to covers, gilt-lettered front cover with fleuron device, black coated endpapers.


Binding skilfully refurbished, extremities of spine and corners consolidated, some mottling and a few old marks to covers. A very good copy, clean, sound and bright.


Not in Bruce; Captain H. L. Nevill, Campaigns on the North-West Frontier (1912). Library Hub cites British Library only and WorldCat adds Nebraska, Wisconsin, National Library of Ireland, and Hamburg.


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