JAMES, Lionel.

The Indian Frontier War.

Being an Account of the Mohmund and Tirah Expeditions 1897.

London: William Heinemann, 1898 Stock Code: 142653
£750.00

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Notes

First edition of this detailed correspondent's account of Sir William Lockhart's campaign against the Orakzai and Tirah Afridis in 1897. This copy extensively annotated by a participant in the events described, with over two and half thousand words of correction, comment and commentary.

"In 1897 Lockhart was placed in command of the 40,000 strong Tirah expeditionary force, after Afridis attacked British outposts along the north-west frontier during the most serious outbreak of resistance to British rule in India since the mutiny. During the difficult extended fighting in the inaccessible mountains of Tirah, he skilfully conducted punitive operations against elusive Afridi and Orakzai fighters, armed with modern rifles. Though for the most part consisting of guerrilla warfare, the campaign also included such bitterly contested engagements as the attack at Dargai and the withdrawal of the 2nd division down the Bara valley. For his services he received the thanks of the government of India, was made a GCB, and succeeded Sir George White as commander-in-chief in India in 1898" (ODNB). Lionel James (1871-1955) was Reuter's special correspondent on the campaign his narrative "catches such telling details as the dry water bottle and the Maxim's effectiveness, and is effectively complemented by a series of maps, etchings and photographs" (Riddick).. This copy with extensive marginal annotations and corrections by an unknown participant in events, evidently an officer serving with the 1st Bn. Devon Regiment, but, regrettably, the endpapers having been renewed, any contemporary ownership details have been been lost. His marginalia, amounting to some 2600 words in all, ranging from minor corrections of errors of fact to quite extensive descriptions of various events, including several minor operations not addressed by James, provide much of interest for a student of the campaign.

The author of the annotations was evidently well connected, so in addition to his observations and descriptions of events in which he was personally involved, he also received details from several other participants including Col. Haughton of the 36th Sikhs (killed towards the conclusion of the operations), Robert Warburton and others, helping him to correct the text in relation to actions in other parts of the field. Minor corrections include the spelling of names of places and individuals, and the identifications of regiments and other units, as well as which many small points are elucidated. For example, during the action at Shahi Tangi on 16th Sept., where James states:"that enemy were firing at ranges from five to twenty-five yards" the owner of the book adds: "Ryder i.e. Capt. W.I. Ryder, 2nd Bn. 1st Gurkhas attd. 35th Sikhs told me that the guns were firing case and the Enemy Martinis at 5 yards distance from each other." Regarding tribal arms he informs us that: "Ten years ago the most arms, and the best, were to be found in villages near Peshawar; now they are not found there but are to be found amongst the Afridi tribes who formerly possessed only Jezails and swords. These possess the very latest inventions. Akbar Khan said to me 'As soon as any new thing comes out from England, it is across the border at once' - bought from thieves by the Afridis." His own experiences include events during the advance to the Sampagha Pass, such as: "As an example of how well the enemy fired the following is interesting. B Co. Devons was the picquet on the extreme right of the line, overlooking the deep nullah running up to the Sampagha and down which it was thought the enemy might attack at night. On the right of this picquet was a small conical hill - which I thought should be held at night. It was impossible to get on to it in the daylight as it was commanded. At dark I took a Sergt. and 10 men down on to it. We crawled down on our stomachs and arranged the stones which Cr. Sergt. Baker rolled down to us from the top. We had just started to make a little Sangar when 2 shots were heard and 2 bullets actually grazed the ground between the Sergt. and myself. The Afridis then set fire to the jungle grass which so lit up the knoll that it was impossible again to go near it." There are also one or two amusing asides at the author's expense, for example when James inaccurately describes an early morning sortie, in which the Devons captured a village, the annotator says "I am afraid James was in bed." All the 60-70 marginal notes, from minor corrections to quite extensive notes on events, have been fully transcribed, a digital version of this transcription can be sent on request.

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Description

Octavo. Original red cloth, gilt-lettered spine, title in black to front cover with gilt pictorial block reproducing the plate at p. 70 (General Westmacott conducting the retirement from Jarobi), publisher's device in blind to back cover, untrimmed, black surface-paper endpapers renewed.

Illustrations

Frontispiece (with tissue guard) and 29 similar plates of which one double-page, from photographs and sketches, area map, 9 further maps and plans to the text.

Condition

Somewhat rubbed and soiled, spine a touch sunned and bubbled, corners knocked, pale toning and the occasional spot of foxing, overall about very good.

Bibliography

Bruce 4365; Riddick, Glimpses of India, 364.

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