From the spring of the year 1888 to the autumn of 1894 I had my headquarters either at Mussoorie or at Simla on the Himalayas, where the mapping, which had been acquired during the cold weather seasons, that is to say between October and April, was made up for publication. The work in the field during this time was of the most interesting, and sometimes exciting, character. It began on the frontier amongst the wild tribes of Baluchistan, and it was then for the first time that we really discovered what Baluchistan was like. There is much very fine mountain country, especially on the borderlands of India, but the interior is often bleak desert, sand and stony wilderness, with narrow ridges of hard rock intersecting in all directions — a grand country to ride over with the wild Baluch horsemen, but not a country to live in. Quetta, which is now an old and well-known station for a large number of troops, was then in its infancy.
The first Governor of this wild district was Sir Robert Sandeman. We became great friends, and his determination to know all that there was to know about Baluchistan was most useful in promoting expeditions into all the remote and wilder parts of the country so as to get a good geographical knowledge of it. I was with him when he made the first expedition down the Zhob valley. There was not much fighting, but a good deal of skirmishing. Again I was with the Zhob field force under Sir George White, when we fought the tribes people between Quetta and the Indian frontier at Dera Ghazi Khan, and reduced them to order. There was some very stiff mountaineering in that little campaign, and I acquired an attack of fever which lasted me for months, and sent me home to England in the spring of 1891. This gave me my third brevet (Colonel).
I was back again in the autumn, and for the next three years was working through the absolutely unknown country of Makran, which lies between India and Persia. It is a weird, strange land of narrow valleys (sometimes very beautiful with palm groves and cultivation) and rocky, inaccessible hills — a country which once long ago, was the great highway between Arabia, Persia and India. There were great towns and cities in those days in Makran, but the daily stages of the caravans from city to city were certainly long, and it is not easy to tell how they arranged for their supplies. However, we know from the accounts of Arab geographers that the passing of caravans with thousands of camels carrying great loads of merchandise was constant, and the whole country, right down to the shores of the Arabian Sea, was evidently far more highly cultivated and more fully occupied than it ever will be again.
This is because water-springs have dried up, the land has become desiccated and barren where once it was fruitful. It is easy enough now to see how it had been irrigated by means of great reservoirs of water which have long since broken up, leaving the gigantic stones and slabs of rock with which they were built still scattered round about. There are places along the coast where the land has sunk beneath the sea and the tops of the trees of an ancient forest can still be seen beneath the water. There are extraordinary mud volcanoes along that coastline too, and apparently some also beneath the sea, which boil up occasionally and kill the fish for many miles round. There are islands off the coast which were once part of the mainland — one in particular, which for centuries was the haunt of pirates, where they murdered the crews of the ships they captured by throwing them from the cliffs on to the rocks below. I found nothing living on that island except innumerable snakes. There is always, during the still winter months when the surface of the sea is flat and no wind blowing, a wonderful display of electricity. I have seen the whole sea brilliant with phosphoric light and every bit of ironwork on the ship bright and shining. At the end of the yardarms were little flames like those of a lamp. This sailors called St. Elmo’s fire. Sometimes the wake of the ship was illuminated like a golden lane of light in a sea black as ink.
Passing from Makran into Persia, or from the Arabian Sea into the Persian Gulf, we are still in wonderland. When the Persian Gulf is not churned into fury by the strength of the north-west winds which rage down it, or else is shimmering under the summer sun in a haze of intense heat, which makes life a burden, it may, in winter, spread out into a glorious expanse of blue, purple and gold, and every island in it invited exploration. I went up and down many times in a ship called the Patrick Stewart, whose business it was to look after the submarine cables of the Indo-European telegraph. We landed at islands that are seldom visited, hunting for rare seashells or exploring the salt caves and mines which have long been abandoned.
Into one of these old mines I groped my way with an officer of the ship, after a long search to discover the entrance. In the centre of these disused workings was a gigantic dome-roofed cave, like the central dome of a cathedral. The roof had fallen in, and allowed light enough for us to see the bands, or strata, of coloured salt beds that built up the sides. There were streaks of black, red, salmon colour, pale yellow, maroon and white, all curving in graceful lines to the roof. Wherever at the sides of this central cave the salt had gradually melted away, it had spread itself in sheets of most extraordinary beauty, like frothing lace falling over altars in lovely folds. We groped our way out again through a long passage where we had to burn blue lights (brought from the ship) to see our way through the maze of twisted salt pillars that reach from roof to floor. The effect of the light on these sparkling pillars was marvellous. Finally we crawled through a hole at the end, to find ourselves on the seashore, a long way from where we had entered the caves.
The Persian Gulf is full of old forts and stations and antiquities, Arab, Persian, Dutch, Portuguese and English, to say nothing of the oldest of all, Phoenician, and it would take a book to tell about them.
My work took me to visit various Arab chiefs who lived near the coast on the Arabian side of the Gulf. They were all alike, courteous, dignified and hospitable, but they did not help me much in my scheme for making a geographical exploration of parts of Arabia. I got very little out of them except a lasting admiration for their courtly manners, some very greasy breakfasts, some excellent coffee, and an invitation to come and see them as often as I pleased.
My work did not really take me beyond the head of the Persian Gulf at Basra, but one Christmas time I took advantage of a fortnight’s holiday to visit Bagdad, Babylon and Kerbela, so as to see something of Mesopotamia.
Basra is a sort of Venice at the head of the Persian Gulf. You can only move about the place in boats, and if you wish to do any shopping you must hire a boat instead of a taxi. From Basra to Bagdad, when I was there, the only way to travel was by steamer up the river Tigris, and the only steamers were flat bottomed boats of a Turkish company. Three or four days were necessary to make the journey then and the steamers were neither sweet nor clean. The chief cargo seemed to consist of the dried corpses of innumerable Persians of the Shiah sect, who, having died in distant lands, were now being conveyed to Kerbala for burial.
Bagdad was then an Arab city governed by the Turks. It was a charming place to stay in during the winter, with lovely gardens and quaint bazaars and market places, but quite Oriental. No European lady could walk about the streets without being veiled just like an Arab lady, and it was amusing to meet one’s lady friends, whose veils were usually very transparent. One could see who they were, but could not, of course, recognise them, as they were supposed to be hidden.
From Bagdad I engaged guides and horses to take us about 70 miles across the desert to Kerbala (the sacred place of all Persians) and we started, a cheery party of three, including two officers from H.M.S. Sphinx, which ship was keeping guard in the Gulf. We had to put up at any native caravanserai that was met with at the end of a day’s ride. The serai was always filthily dirty, and there was no accommodation except the shelter for the horses. One had to sleep in the straw in a manger. The great enclosed yard of the serai was always full of camels with their drivers and leaders, mostly conveying corpses to Kerbala. It was a sight to see a caravan stalking across the desert with these dead and dried Persians slung on either side of the huge camels and wobbling with every stride they took.
At Kerbala we were well entertained by an Arab Priest or Mulla, who took us to view (from outside only) the mosque which held the tombs of the great Shiah martyrs Hassan and Hussein, and who was as good a host as one could wish. He sped us on our way to Babylon — a troublesome way, as we very soon found. Crossing innumerable canals and rivers in the little circular coracles which are common on the Tigris, but never seen anywhere else, was weary, and sometimes very risky, work.
The great plains which stretch out towards Babylon were very full of interest, for here we could trace out the lines of the old Chaldean canals, so many centuries old, and the mounds whereon were once the palaces and temples of that most extraordinary city. But the most astonishing relic was what travellers often call the Tower of Babel. It is not the Tower of Babel, but the remains of the ancient temple of Nebo (Mercury), which stands out in the open plain by itself about 7 miles from Babylon. The temple was built in successive platforms, one upon another, and each platform was dedicated to some heavenly body, the sun, moon, planets, etc.
There were seven of them, and each built of material of the same colour as that dedicated to the special planet it represented. Thus the sun was yellow, the moon white, Jupiter black, Mars red, and so on, till the topmost platform, devoted especially to Mercury, was blue. Of course it was all in utter ruins, but it was quite possible to distinguish the colours as one crawled up the tumbled sides. The top was broken up into huge blocks of masonry, (every brick of which had the name and titles of Nebuchadnezzar on it) and looked as if it had been disrupted by lightening. Here I sat on Christmas Day and sketched the wide sweep of swamp and plain which stretched away from the foot of the temple to the Babylonian mounds.
AFGHAN BOUNDARY — CHITRAL
My next adventure on the Frontier, in the winter of 1894-95, was the settlement of a boundary between Kashmir and Afghanistan, which took me back again into Afghanistan and to a part of that country (Kafiristan) into which no European has yet really penetrated. One or two have been on the edges of it, but no one has really seen the heart of Kafiristan.
In order to reach this out-of-the-way country, it was necessary to travel through a part of Afghanistan, entering by the Khaibar Pass and following the route to Kabul as far as Jalalabad. From Jalalabad the route passed into the northern hills by the Kunar river valley, a really lovely valley with picturesque villages and towers surrounded by orchards, all belonging to past ages, when that valley was one of the gardens of Afghanistan, and the Buddhists made it their home and planted their monasteries about it.
The upper course of the river where it still ran amongst the gigantic spurs of the Hindu Kush, was called the Chitral; Chitral being a province of Kashmir, and the new boundary being fixed between it and Kafiristan. It was at the time when the unruly tribes of the mountain districts east of the river had declared war against the British and had driven our little garrison into the fort at Chitral. Here they were holding their own with difficulty against the tribal swarms, who seemed likely to overwhelm them and massacre the lot.
So that we were actually working in the same valley at some distance below the fort where our friends were besieged, and of course we tried to assist them if possible. But we had no British or Indian force with us whatever. We had an escort of very irregular Afghans who were bound to look after our safety whilst we were doing their work for them, but who did not in the least care what became of the garrison at Chitral (or of us, for that matter), and who did (as we found out afterwards) secretly assist the tribespeople who were besieging the fort. It was an unpleasant position.
The Kafirs of Kafiristan are a strange people. Many centuries before the Christian era, quite in the dark ages of history, it is clear that the Greeks (or the people who then inhabited Greece and Macedonia) had pushed out colonies to the east in Asia, some of which had reached the very borders of India. When the great conqueror, Alexander the Great, passed through Asia for the invasion of India in the third century B.C., he found people who claimed to be Greeks like himself, living in some of these valleys north of the Khaibar and he not only spared them from destruction but sacrificed to their gods. It is a very pretty story, which you should read.
That was 2300 years ago, and still the Kafirs claim a Greek origin, and still have customs which distinguish them from all the other tribes around. But we know very little really about them, even now. I only succeeded once in reaching a Kafir village. It was almost inaccessible, being perched on the top of a rugged hill where there was hardly any standing room. My little tent was pitched on the flat roof of a dwelling house, and we had to keep a sharp lookout all night, as between our doubtful friends the Afghan escort, and the Kafirs, there was no telling what might happen.
However their country was most interesting. We climbed up a snow-covered mountain to get a view of it for mapping purposes. We camped in the forests and beside the streams, finding lovely spots well away from the villages, which were too filthy for description. Sometimes on the lower slopes of the hills, amidst wild vines and ivy-covered rocks, sometimes under oaks and cedars, the oaks shedding acorns of such gigantic size that I have never seen anything like them anywhere else.
Well, it was one or two of these Kafirs with whom we managed to make friends that we made use of to convey messages to the little garrison shut up inside Chitral fort. They were to do it by tying notes (which we wrote in Greek) to their arrows and shooting them over the walls of the fort after crawling through the besieging forces. They never succeeded. When they stole out of our camp quietly at night on their risky errand, we would listen intently. Invariably we heard shots fired in the distance, and we knew that our messengers had been killed. Then in the morning their bodies would be brought in, riddled with bullets, and we would be told officially how they had been discovered and shot by the enemy. But we knew quite well that it was our own Afghan escort who had shot them. They had to look after our safety by order of the Amir, but they took great care that we should not help the Chitral garrison.
That garrison was eventually relieved by a force from India and it will interest you to know that the gallant officer who made such a splendid defence was Townshend, who led our armies in Mesopotamia afterwards and fought his way as far as Ctesiphon (near Bagdad) where your Uncle Harold was wounded while fighting under him. In spite of all this, the boundary surveys were carried out and the boundary itself finally fixed up.
The Afghan chief who commanded our escort was no less a personage than the Commander-in-Chief of all the Afghan armies. He was a gigantic warrior with a big black beard, and he rode a gigantic black horse. I always felt rather small when riding out with him. He was an expert engineer at irrigation, and he wanted (or said he wanted) my opinion on some of his public works in the Kunar valley. On these occasions we had some very interesting rides together.
Our Chief Commissioner was Sir Richard Udny (we had been neighbours when we were boys) who could talk every dialect known on the frontier and it was a sort of unending discussion between him and his Afghan Sirdar (Chulam Haidar) whether the Afghan ruling tribes, to which Sirdar belonged, were veritable descendants of those Israelites who were taken captive from Samaria or not. They call themselves Beni Israel (not Afghan) and there is a good deal to support their tradition. I believe myself that they do, to a certain extent, represent those captive Israelites who were taken away to countries east of the Euphrates and probably employed as slaves in the Persian dominions, which extended quite as far as Afghanistan.
When the Kafiristan boundary was fixed, there immediately arose another to be settled, in the far-away districts beyond Kashmir between the head of the Oxus River and the Chinese border. That is to say that it extended across the Pamirs on the “Roof of the World”, the most uplifted highlands north of India.
It was between Russia and Afghanistan again, and it was to be extended so as to meet the Chinese frontier. To get there and back again and fix up a boundary during the few short months that it would be possible to work amongst those ice and snow covered mountains was the difficulty. To which was added the difficulty of connecting the surveys of the Pamirs with those of India (all the width of the Himalayas intervening) so as to give the Russians (who are very good surveyors themselves) no chance of disputing our position. We did it, thanks chiefly to the mountaineering capabilities of Colonel Wauhope, R.E., who was a most exceptional Alpine climber.
The way up through Kashmir was rough and rocky, but very beautiful in many parts of it. There was a huge snow-capped mountain called Nanga Parbat, almost under the shadow of which we passed on our way. From the foot of the mountain where runs the river Indus, to the top of it, is one huge series of snow-covered slopes. The summit of it is 24,000 feet high. No man, so far as I know, has ever reached the top, but it happened that on that very day that I was examining this amazing mass of snow and ice, a celebrated Alpine climber with a few Gurkha sepoys who had been specially trained by Bruce (then a Captain in the 5th Gurkha Regiment – Harold’s regiment) was struggling upwards somewhere near the summit. None of them ever returned. Mr Mummery and his gallant followers were overwhelmed by an avalanche, and not even their bodies were recovered.
To reach the Pamirs we had to cross a high, snow-covered pass called the Darkot. Crossing in the summer time was difficult but not very dangerous, and the only misadventure which befell us was that many of our company were struck with snow-blindness from the glare of the summer sun on the white sheets of snow. As I had suffered in the same way when in the Oxus valley years before, I knew how to avoid it by blackening my face under the eyes, but it was a sorry sight to see all the long string of blinded men hanging on to each other’s coat tails as they were led to the doctor’s tent for treatment. The blindness — which is a sort of eye inflammation — lasted about a week, and we were much delayed thereby.
However we reached the Pamirs at last, and found the officers of the Russian Commission awaiting us. The Pamirs consist of long, sloping valleys divided by snow-covered ridges, scooped out by ancient glaciers, intensely cold, with an infernal wind sweeping down them continuously. Mostly grass covered in summer and deep snow in winter. No trees, no bushes, and nothing but the roots of a scrubby little wormwood plant and the droppings of wild animals. We lived, like the natives (who are a wild race of fine-looking people, quite fair and often very handsome, called Kirghiz) in Kibitkas or Yurts, made of felt stretched on a latticework of wood.
They are comfortable enough, but have no means of letting out the smoke of the fire that burns in the middle of the floor, except by a hole at the top. So one lives in smoke, and everything gets gradually black with it.
While the grass lasts, the Kirghiz run their flocks of sheep and yaks over the Pamirs and the wild creatures that live there retire into the higher valleys for the summer. When the winter snow covers the flats of the Pamirs (which are from 13,000 to 15,000 feet high), the wild sheep (Ovis Poli) come down from the hills to get what feeding they can where the snow lies thin. These sheep are the biggest in the world. They are shaped more like deer than sheep and carry gigantic horns. It is then that they get hunted by packs of wolves, who drive them into deep snow drifts, where they kill them easily enough. Of course it is the oldest, with the biggest horns, who get caught first, and the result is that in summer, when the snow has melted away, the ground is littered with the bones and heads of those killed in the winter. The horns found on the ground are invariably much heavier and bigger than any that can be shot. The biggest pair of horns ever found was sent to Lord Roberts, and the pair that I brought home (now in the Natural History Museum) is about the third biggest ever known. We shot a few, but were too busy with the work of the boundary to go far after them.
The Russians were most convivial (as usual) and we had great entertainments. They drank vast quantities of tea, but very little alcohol. What they liked best was a nip of whisky and ginger wine! This was really good in the intense cold, and they thought ginger wine was the finest liquor ever invented!
Of course we couldn’t agree about the boundary, and I was sent with an escort to find out exactly where the Chinese border lay, whilst our dispute was referred to Headquarters in India. Naturally I went far over the border into Chinese territory, and there I got taken prisoner.
We were pushing along gaily on one side of a river when we saw in the distance a little cloud of cavalry hustling along to meet us on the other side. I didn’t think much of it, as we had the river, wide and deep, between us, but to my astonishment the whole body of Chinese horsemen went headlong into the river and crossed it, and before we could turn we were surrounded. They were small and well turned out with a barbarous but handsome uniform, and well mounted. Luckily I had with me the British Consul at Kashgar (Sir George Macartney), who is half a Chinaman himself, and after a long pow-wow, when we all sat in a circle on a stony platform, they agreed to escort us back to our own frontier. So that was the end of my venture into Western China, but it showed that the Chinese, though they never attended a Conference, had been watching us closely.
Finally, when we had collected from afar a huge quantity of wood and stuff to keep us going through the winter, our disputes were settled up, and we received our orders to return to India. I was placed in command then, as Sir Montagu Gerard (my old friend of the Central India Horse) was to return through Russian territory. It was a risky business getting back. Winter snows were beginning to fall and the question was whether we could cross that terrible Darkot pass, which was our only way out. When we reached the foot of the pass and camped for the night, I was very anxious, for snow was falling heavily, and to cross in a blizzard would mean death to a good many. I had no trustworthy guide, and none of our Pamir friends who came that far with us would go a yard farther. By strange good luck, during the night a traveller from the other side of the pass was found in an old hut near the river, and he said that he must recross that pass in the morning or die where he was. He had come over to collect the bones of his sister, who had died in crossing.
Looking upwards in the early morning, I could see that the snow clouds were thin, so the order to start at once was given. At first we tried the effect of driving yaks ahead of us to plough a way through the snow for us to follow, but it was soon clear that we couldn’t possibly afford time for their slow movements. So I went ahead myself (the snow was not yet so deep that one couldn’t ride through it), closely following the guide with his sister’s bones slung in a bag and a goat driven in front of him to show if beneath the snow there was any hidden crevasse or split in the glacier.
Slowly we struggled up that glacier, keeping our company together as much as possible and then, just as we were nearing the top, came the first icy blasts of a real blizzard. In five minutes our faces were frozen and one’s moustache became solid ice. The cold was intense and the darkness made it difficult to see even a few yards ahead. Luckily this was only a forerunner of the real blizzard. It lifted again suddenly, for an hour, and in that hour we got the whole pack over the top and on to the downward slope of the Indian side. Behind us the thick black clouds closed up again, and it is safe to say that no living soul crossed that pass after us. It was a great escape, and we cheered as we stumbled rapidly down the rocky trail into the valley of the Gilgit River. Our homeward march was thence over certain minor passes through the loveliest valleys of Kashmir.
We were out of Kashmir in October 1895 and by January 1896 I was appointed Chief Commissioner to settle another boundary in a different country.
This was between Persia and Baluchistan. The Persians had been raiding and robbing the Baluch date groves (of which there are not many, and the few there are are very valuable) on the borderland, and it was on the western side of that same country, Makran, which I have already described, that a boundary had to be fixed up. January was very late to begin, for by April the heat in that country is so intense that further work in the field is impossible. However, early in January I was there on the ground and ready to start work.
The Persian Commissioner from Tehran had arrived with an imposing camp and apparently a big escort, but we very soon found out that all his military array was borrowed from the local governor (called the Asad-u-Dowla) and that the Itisham (Commissioner) himself was under the Mad’s thumb in consequence. With the commissioner from Tehran came Major Percy Sykes and his sister Miss Ella Sykes, who had ridden across Persia with her brother and wrote a very good book about it. She proved to be most useful, for she could talk Persian and entertain Persian guests, and looked after our supplies in camp, and took photographs besides.
The old Itisham was a dignified old fool who was quite easy to deal with, but the Mad (as we called him) who really commanded the situation, and wanted no boundary to interfere with his raids, was horrid. The only man who could deal with him was Sykes. We disagreed about who was to call on the other first. This was most important. If I had called on the Persians first, I should have been regarded as taking up an inferior position from the start, so I flatly refused. Finally the Persian magnates made the first call on me. I dressed in full uniform of course, and received them on the edge of the carpet of the Durbar tent. To see them advancing in pompous array, with a huge lantern carried in front (in broad daylight) was amusing, and the whole proceedings, out in that forsaken desert country, were carried on with the pompous ceremony of a comic opera. I had my old assistant, Colonel Wauhope, with me and he did all the hard work, map-making and defining the position of the boundary pillars. The Persians did nothing, but as “doing nothing” with Persians always means hatching mischief and trouble, I kept my camp near theirs and obliged them to be constantly on the move, inspecting one thing or another, so that they had no time for mischief.
Until the hot weather really set in, when it was so hot that an egg could have been cooked by putting it on the ground in the sun, this system answered well enough. We found one or two really delightful groves of palms to camp in, and we used to interchange visits and listen to the Persian band. On one occasion we got up an afternoon for sports — racing, tent pegging, etc. -which was nearly disastrous. All went well till the Persian wrestling champion met the Baluch champion, who happened to be in my escort. The wrestling no sooner began than sticks and stones began to fly about, the Mad was pulled from his horse and severely beaten by his own men, and finally Persians on one side and Baluchis on the other rushed off in a body to their respective camps to get their arms and fight it out! This would have been the end of the Commission; but luckily the sports were held a good mile from the camps, which were far apart. This gave opportunity to restore order (the Baluch escort was never out of hand) and get things straight.
There is an institution called Bast in Persia, which means sanctuary. Any criminal who can reach a city wherein there is Bast is safe from pursuit and beyond the law. He claims sanctuary, just as any slave who escapes from his owners on the African or Arabian coasts and can reach a British ship, is safe under the British flag. On shore he need only touch a British flagstaff or gun to be safe. But in Persia, when any city reckoned as Bast is too far away for use, people have the power to select a Bast of their own; and in this case when the Asad-u-Dowla decreed that the whole Persian escort should be bastinadoed for pulling him off his horse and beating him, the Persian soldiers immediately looked around for a suitable Bast.
They chose a most extraordinary one. It was an Australian mare belonging to Major Sykes. She was ill-tempered and vicious, but she seemed to take quite an interest in the matter. The Persian soldiers swarmed around to touch her, and as Major Sykes himself solemnly maintained that she was a real live Bast, the old chieftain had nothing left to do but forgive his whole army!
After that, things went quite peacefully, but it began to get frightfully hot and nothing would induce the Persian Commission to move their camp from a shady and well-watered place. So the work in the field was finished without their assistance, and having got the Persian Envoy (with great difficulty, for he went in deadly fear of the old Mad) to sign the necessary documents, the two Commissions broke up and started homewards. We had ‘a long march to Quetta, and we marched mostly at night, but we got home to India all right and were royally received.
The Government made me a K.C.I.E. (Knight Commander of the Indian Empire) for my trouble. I had to go to Calcutta to be invested with the Order, and it was then that I joined a scientific party for the observation of a total eclipse of the sun. The astronomical party, which consisted of observers from England as well as India, cut out for themselves a field of observation on a very jungly spot in Lower Bengal. It was a queer experience. As the moon approached the sun and gradually hid it, till a sort of brown twilight settled over the land, all the assembled crowds of natives went down on their faces, crying Ram, Ram, for they believed (many of them) that a great dragon was swallowing the sun. The birds went to roost, and one could hear in the jungle the voice of a leopard on the prowl.
During the winter of 1896-97 I was in Ceylon on Survey duty. It was a delightful experience, for Ceylon is one of the most beautiful islands in the world, and my work took me all over it. Then, in 1898, another frontier war was sprung upon us.
It was with the Afridis this time, who are perhaps after the Wazirs the most ancient of all tribes of the North West Frontier and the most truculent and troublesome. This was a long business, and involved some difficult mountain fighting against a people who were splendid mountaineers and good shots. Many of them had served in the Indian Army. Their worst trick was sniping. They would sit on the hillside at night and fire into our camp, just chancing hitting something or someone. They very often did hit and we lost many officers that way. One officer (Capt. F. R. Badcock D.S.O. 5th Gurkhas) was taking the cork out of a bottle, standing close by my side. A bullet from an invisible Afridi sniper hit him in the arm. He dropped the bottle and found his arm smashed at the elbow. It had to be cut off. It was lucky for me that his arm stopped the bullet, as he was holding it out in front of me, or I should probably not have been here to write this story. We lost almost as many by this persistent shooting into camp as we did in the actual hill fighting.
It was a very picturesque country, with the hillsides terraced for cultivation, with splendid groups of walnut trees and orchards surrounding the villages on the slopes. It ended like most of our frontier expeditions, by the surrender of the Afridis and a promise of better behaviour in future, which promise they have kept for quite a long time; but it took 40,000 troops to convince them.
I was busy all the time with our surveying instruments as far away from the camp as I dared to go with a Gurkha escort and we made a number of maps of quite new country never mapped before. Harold was one of my assistants and he worked splendidly, but he was too venturesome, as the Afridis were always lurking about and hiding in odd corners on the chance of catching a stray officer or man unawares. I think on one occasion Harold would have been stabbed in the back by an Afridi who stalked him from behind, but for a young R.E. officer who was too quick for the Afridi, got him by the throat and seized the knife.
That was my last frontier campaign. As soon as my Survey reports were finished and the maps sent in, I had to pack up finally and leave India (February 1898). I was then 55 years of age, and at that age officers of my rank had to retire from the Indian service, although they remained on the active list of the Army until they were 66.