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The Tirah Expedition and Malakand Field Force 1897

Portrait photograph of Major General Sir Bindon Blood in uniform showing a greying man in three-quarter length with added colour, notably his bright red military jacket with gold braid and a large group of military medals, wearing a sword at his sidePortrait of Bindon Blood, 1902 The British faced fresh challenges in the region following the boundary commission in 1893/4 led by the diplomat, Sir Mortimer Durand, which delineated the border between Afghanistan and British India (and later Pakistan): the eponymous ‘Durand Line’.

The Line became the source of ongoing tension between Britain and Afghanistan, arbitrarily dividing Pashtun (or Pathan) tribal populations, many of whom had come under direct British rule for the first time.

British forces consequently encountered a series of serious tribal uprisings during the 1890s, in Waziristan in 1894/5, Chitral in 1895 and later among the Afridi tribe of the Tirah region, which was put down by a force led by the experienced Sir William Lockhart.

Map 'illustrating the operations of the Malakand Field Force showing Afghanistan on the upper left and Punjab on the lower right, with a thin red line demarking the old frontier of India and a thicker red line showing the advanced frontierMap of Malakand, 1899 In 1897, the Mohmand tribe rose in rebellion and besieged the British garrison in their fortified encampments in the Malakand region.

A relief force was despatched under the command of Sir Bindon Blood (1842-1940).

The young second lieutenant Winston Churchill accompanied the expedition as a war correspondent, inspiring the publication of his first non-fiction book: The story of the Malakand Field Force.

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