Regiments that marched
With the Kandahar Relief Force August 1880

This page details the regiments that were involved in General Roberts' Kabul Kandahar march. As well as soldiers there were bearers, chaplains, two reporters and many others. The followers alone included 2,192 doolie-bearers, 4,698 involved in transport and 1,244 servants and horse-grooms, not to mention all the ponies, mules, donkeys and camels. The numbers indicated below are not necessarily definitive, as various sources differ slightly.

Summary of Regiments on the march (and numbers)
First Infantry Brigade
Second Infantry Brigade
Third Infantry Brigade
Cavalry Brigade
Artillery Division
General Macpherson
General Baker
General MacGregor
General Gough
Colonel Johnson

92nd Highlanders (670)

23rd Pioneers (709)

24th Punjab Infantry (582)

2nd Gurkhas (508)

72nd Highlanders (810)

2nd Sikh Infantry (619)

3rd Sikh Infantry (577)

5th Gurkhas (569)

60th Rifles, 2nd Battalion (637)

15th Sikhs (660)

25th Punjab Infantry (637)

4th Gurkhas (644)

9th Queen's Royal Lancers (337)

3rd Bengal Cavalry (401)

3rd Punjab Cavalry (417)

Central India Horse (506)

6/8 Royal Artillery (240)

11/9 Royal Artillery (240)

No.2 Mountain Battery (145)

(Total: 18 guns)

Garrison at Kelat-i-Ghilzai (joined march 25 August)
C/2 Royal Artillery
(47 with 2 guns)
66th Foot (145) 3rd Sind Horse (100) 2nd Baluch Regiment (639)
Others
Other regiments were represented on the march through individuals who, for various reasons, found themselves attached to Roberts' relieving column. These included: 6th Dragoon Guards (1), 10th Hussars (3), 6th Foot (1), 8th Foot (2), 9th Foot (6), 51st Foot (1), 59th Foot (9), 65th Foot (4), 67th Foot (5), 81st Foot (1), Rifle Brigade - 4th Battalion (5), chaplains (2), press (2), postmaster (1), Staff (79), Royal Engineers (14 - some included in staff) and Medical Officers (abt. 30).

"To form one of a picked force such as General Roberts has now under his orders is no common fortune, for certainly not in the whole of India could a better lot of fighting men be got together than that now waiting the final order to march."
- Howard Hensman, 6 Aug 1880.
"I wished that the force should be composed, as far as possible, of those who had served with me throughout the campaign."
- Roberts, 1897.
"And now to you I'll introduce each gallant British Corps,
Who shared the hardships, toil and strife, throughout the Afghan war,
And I am sure that when once more they cross the raging main,
They will an hearty welcome find in England once again."
- A Private of the 12th Regiment, c.1880.

The infantry brigades were all overseen by General John Ross.

The First Infantry Brigade
Commanded by General Herbert Taylor Macpherson

92nd Highlanders (2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders)
Regiment commanded by Colonel G. H. Parker. Reached Kohat in January 1879 and joined Roberts at Ali Khel in March. A Company of 92nd Highlanders was involved in a scrape at Karatiga in September, and October saw their first major action at Charasiab. December 1879 saw the regiment heavily involved in the sorties around Kabul, and the eventual defence of the Sherpur cantonment. Further action was seen by the 92nd in April 1880 at Childukhtean. After marching from Kabul to Kandahar in August, the Battle of Kandahar saw them capture the villages of Gandi Mullah Sahibdad and Pir Paimal, before charging the enemy's last stand. They left for Mian Mir on 28th September.

23rd Regiment (Punjab) Bengal Infantry (Pioneers)
Commanded on the march by Lt. Colonel H. Collett. The Pioneers crossed the frontier at Thal on 20th November 1878 during the initial advance of the Kuram Valley Field Force under Roberts, and took part in the successful attack on Afghans at the Peiwar Kotal a week later. After a skirmish at the Mangior Defile in December 1878, most of the following year saw them take up various engineering duties around Ali Khel and the Shank Gorge. On news of the Kabul massacre in September, the regiment was moved to sieze the Shutagardan Pass and next saw action at Charasiab. December saw the regiment split between Lataband and Sherpur, the latter place seeing them joined again on Christmas eve 1879. In April 1880 they accompanied General Ross to meet Stewart's column from Kandahar, and saw action at Zaidabad. The march of August 1880 kept the regiment busy in camp construction and road improvement work before they fought at Kandahar on September 1st. They returned to Mian Mir on 2nd October 1880.

24th Regiment (Punjab) Bengal Infantry
Commanded by Colonel F. B. Norman. In January 1879 part of the regiment followed General Maude into the Bazar Valley with the Jamrud column, saw action there, and were then ordered to garrison and escort duty until the Treaty of Gandamak, when they continued their service as a unit of the Khyber Brigade. December 1879 saw them involved in several small actions around Pezwan and then move into Jagdalak, with a heavy battle against the forces of Azmatallah Khan on 29th December. In March 1880 the regiment marched on to Kabul, and in April they accompanied General Ross to meet Stewart's column from Kandahar and subsequently saw action at Shekabad. In June they took part in various operations in the Koh Daman and fought Afghans on the Ghazni Road. After the march to Kandahar and the battle that defeated Ayub Khan, the regiment proceeded to Multan.

2nd (Prince of Wales' Own) Gurkha Regiment (Sirmoor Rifles)
Commanded on the march by Lt. Colonel A. Battye. The 2nd Gurkhas arrived at Ali Musjid about two weeks after its capture before being involved in two expeditions into the Bazar Valley. March 1879 saw the regiment move on to Basawal and action at Deh Sarak. After the Treaty of Gandamak the 2nd Gurkha's returned to India. When hostilities were renewed in the autumn, the regiment moved through the Khyber Pass to Daka, Jalalabad and Gandamak. After oupost duty and some fighting with Ghilzais, the regiment arrived at Sherpur at the end of December 1879. They saw action on the Chardeh Plain in April 1880. At the Battle of Kandahar they helped capture the villages of Gandi Mullah Sahibdad and Pir Paimal, before charging the position of enemy's final stand. Their return to India eventually saw them arrive at Dehra Dun.

The Second Infantry Brigade
Commanded by General Thomas Durand Baker

72nd Highlanders (1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders)
Commanded by Lt. Colonel Francis Brownlow. While one wing of the Highlanders remained at Kohat in November 1878, the other joined the Kurram Field Force at Thal, and moved on to take part in the attack on the Peiwar Kotal in December. Two weeks later the wing was part of the force attacked by Mangals at the Sapiri Defile near Kurram Fort. The regiment was reunited in January 1879 for operations in the Khost valley and the fighting at Matun. They stayed in Afghanistan for the winter and spring before the massacre at Kabul reignited hostilities, and the 72nd moved forward to the Shutagardan, and then advanced on Kabul, including the action at Charasiab in October. They were heavily involved in the operations around Kabul in December including actions at Deh-Mozang, Takht-i-Shah and the Asmai heights, and the defence of the Sherpur cantonment. After marching to Kandahar in August 1880 the Highlanders were one of the leading battalions in the battle on 1st September where their commander, Lt. Colonel Brownlow, was killed. The regiment left Kandahar on 15th September, eventually reaching Sibi in October, and then moving on to Mian Mir.

2nd Regiment Sikh Infantry
Commanded by Lt. Colonel J. J. Boswell. The 2nd Sikhs began the war as a garrison at Quetta until March 1879, when it moved to the Pishin valley and spent the next eleven months on convoy and garrison duty there. They moved to Kandahar in February 1880 and then accompanied General Stewart to Ghazni in April, including the engagements at Ahmed Khel and Arzu. The regiment remained in the Logar Valley until moving into Kabul in July, and then marching back to Kandahar in August as part of Roberts' relieving column. They fought at Kandahar on 1st September and later in the month were involved in operations against the Achakzais, and then the Marris in October, after which they returned to Dera Ghazi Khan.

3rd Regiment Sikh Infantry
Commanded by Lt. Colonel G. Noel Money. The 3rd Sikhs were not called into the war until the massacre at Kabul reignited hostilities, upon which they were sent from Edwardesabad to the Shutagardan to join Roberts' forces there. When Roberts proceeded to Kushi, the regiment was left to garrison the Shutagardan where, along with the 21st P.N.I and No.1 Mountain Battery, they survived and defeated repeated overwhelming Afghan attacks. At the end of October the 3rd Sikhs left the Shutagardan for Kabul. In December 1879 they saw action at the Surkh Kotal, the Chardeh Valley, Takht-i-Shah and the defence of Sherpur. After operations in the Logar Valley in June and the march to Kandahar in August 1880, the regiment was the first to penetrate Ayub Khan's camp in the battle on 1st September. After operations against the Marris in October, they reached Dera Ghazi Khan on 17th November.

5th Gurkha Regiment (Hazara Gurkha Battalion)
Commanded by Lt. Colonel A. Fitz-Hugh. The 5th Gurkhas joined Roberts' Kuram Field Force at Thal from Abbottabad in October 1878. They were involved in the attack on the Peiwar Kotal and the reconnaissance of the Shutagardan. The regiment was part of the force attacked by the Mangals at the Sapiri Defile. Wintering in the Kuram Valley, the Gurkhas formed part of Sir Cavagnari's escort as far as the Shutagardan in July 1879. When his murder initiated the second campaign the Gurkhas marched to Kushi and then on to Kabul, fighting at Charasiab on the way. The 5th Gurkhas were stationed at the Bala Hissar when the Amir's armoury exploded there on 16th October. During December they were involved in readying Sherpur for the winter, as well as fighting actions at Karez Mir, the Chardeh Valley, Takht-i-Shah and the defence of the cantonment. May and June 1880 saw them in the Logar and Wardak valleys and then the march to Kandahar in August and the crowning victory against Ayub Khan on 1st September. In October it was involved in MacGregor's operations against the Marri before it returned to Abbottabad on 7th December.

The Third Infantry Brigade
Commanded by General Charles Metcalfe MacGregor

2nd Battalion 60th Rifles (King's Royal Rifle Corps)
Commanded by Lt. Colonel Joseph James Collins. The 60th Rifles joined the South Afghanistan Field Force, Reserve Division, at Multan in October 1878. November saw some companies of the regiment on escort duty to General Stewart and various Royal Artillery divisions, before they arrivied via the Bolan Pass at Quetta towards the end of December. On 8th January 1879 the 60th Rifles marched through Kandahar, which had surrendered on the previous day. They had an expedition to Kelat-i-Ghilzai before returning and camping at the old 1839 British barracks at Kandahar (where Collins joined and took command of his regiment), until the end of March 1880 when they marched with Stewart to Ghazni, taking part in the action at Ahmed Khel. After some time in the Logar valley, the regiment eventually moved to Kabul at the end of July. After the march to Kandahar in August the Rifles were engaged with the enemy during the reconnaisance of Baba-Wali, and during the following day in the Battle of Kandahar that defeated Ayub Khan. They reached Quetta again on 19th September, and then onto Sibi, where Lt. Colonel Collins died of dysentry. With Macgregor they went out against the Marri tribes and then finally returned to Mirat on 24th November 1880.

15th Bengal Infantry (Loodianah Sikhs)
Commanded by Lt. Colonel G. R. Hennessy. The 15th Sikhs joined General Stewart's invasion force on 24th October 1878 at Multan. At Sukkur the regiment was split into half-battalions, with one proceeding to Kandahar and Kelat-i-Ghilzai, and the other escorting a large convoy to Kandahar - the regiment was reunited at Kandahar in February 1879, where it garrisoned the citadel. At the end of March 1880 the Sikhs marched through the valley of Khushk-i-Nakhud, and it joined Stewart's column on its way to Kabul at Karez-i-Oba. Four days later they saw action at Ahmed Khel, and then again at Arzu on 23rd April. Operations in and around the Logar Valley included fighting at Jabar Kila in May. After marching with Roberts' column to Kandahar in August, the 15th Sikhs were heavily involved in fighting Ghazis during the reconnaisance of Ayub Khan's position, and it was engaged again on the following day at the Battle of Kandahar. They returned to India in October, reopening the Hurnai route to Sibi.

25th Regiment (Punjab) Bengal Infantry
Commanded by Colonel John William Hoggan. After marching through the Bolan Pass from Multan to Quetta, the 25th P.N.I. joined part of Stewart's advanced troops at Gulistan Karez in November 1878. In January the regiment marched on Kandahar, being involved in the action at Takht-i-Pul on the 8th, and a week later they advanved to Kelat-i-Ghilzai and the Argandab Valley, returning to the southern city in March and remaining there for the summer. Returning to India in September, the 25th only got as far as Chaman before it was recalled to Kandahar on the news of the British envoy's murder at Kabul. At the end of March they were part of the advance party on Stewart's march to Ghazni and Kabul, and saw action at Ahmed Khel and Arzu en route. The next three months saw them on operations in and around the Logar Valley, including the action at Jabar Kila in May. On September 1st, after the August 1880 march of Roberts' relieving column, they were part of the Battle of Kandahar that defeated Ayub Khan's army. They returned to India in October, reopening the Hurnai route to Sibi.

4th Gurkha Regiment
Commanded from June 1879 by Lt. Colonel F. F. Rowcroft. Joined the Peshawar Field Force in October 1878 and was present at the attack on Ali Musjid, the advance through the Khyber Pass, and the successive occupations of Daka, Jalalabad and Gandamak. Part of the regiment was further involved in engagements at the Bokhar Pass in January 1879, and another company were part of the pursuit of Azmatallah Khan into the Lughman Valley in March. The end of the first campaign saw them in Bukloh, before the initiation of the second campaign forced their return to Gandamak in November. The 4th Gurkhas marched to Jagdalak in December and saw action in the area before continuing on to help relieve Sherpur. They arrived on 24th December and camped at the Bala Hissar. In April they went with General Ross to co-operate with Stewart's force moving on from Ghazni, and were then involved in operations around the Maidan district including actions at Shekabad and Zaidabad. June saw the Gurkhas around Koh Daman and engaged with the enemy at Sofian. They marched from Kabul to Kandahar in August and were in action at Absabad on the day of the reconnaissance of Ayub Khan's forces, and further engaged in the Battle of Kandahar the following day. They left Kandahar on 8th September, operating for a while in Panizai and later Marri country, eventually arriving at Bukloh on 9th december 1880.

The Cavalry Brigade
Commanded by General Hugh Henry Gough

9th (Queen's Royal) Lancers
Commanded on the march by Lt. Colonel H. A. Bushman. The 9th Lancers moved through the Khyber Pass on 13th March 1879 where one squadron was detailed to hold the Pass from Jamrud to Basawai. After the Treaty of Gandamak they returned to India, suffering an attack by hill tribes in the Khyber Pass in June. The other squadron had been at Kohat and later joined General Roberts in the Kuram Valley. The massacre at the Kabul Embassy saw them stationed at Ali Khel, and then marching to Kushi, the journey being interrupted by an engagement with the Mangals at Jagi Thana. Their next action was the battle at Charasiab in October before they continued on to Kabul. The Lancer squadrons were reunited at Kabul on 4th November, and later in the month a detatchment took part in an operation in the Maidan district. December's fighting around Kabul saw the regiment involved at Killa Kazi, the Siah Sang Heights and the defence of the Sherpur cantonment. The Lancers were split again in 1880 for various assignments at Zaidabad and around Charasiab, and at the end of July a squadron accompanied the chief Political Officer to Zimma for a meeting with Amir Abdul Rahman. The regiment was brought together again for the march to Kandahar and the defeat of Ayub Khan on 1st September 1880. They returned to India in December, and to Umballa.

3rd Regiment Bengal Cavalry
Commanded by Lt. Colonel A. R. D. Mackenzie. The 3rd Bengal Cavalry were moved into Afghanistan after the Kabul massacre in September 1879, where they held posts from Jamrud to Gandamak, including communication lines, convoy escort duty and taking part in expeditions throughout the territory. In February 1880 they moved onto Kabul, and in April they followed General Ross to meet with Stewart's column that had marched up from Kandahar, subsequently operating in the Logar and Maidan districts, seeing action at Shekabad, and in June at Kotal-i-Takht. In August they marched to Kandahar and were involved in action at Pir Paimal during the reconnaissance of Ayub Khan's position, and the following day helped defeat the Afghans at the battle of Kandahar, including pursuing their retreat into the evening. After an operation against the Achakzai tribe, the regiment returned to India and Mian Mir.

3rd Regiment Punjab Cavalry
Commanded by Lt. Colonel A. Vivian. The 3rd Punjabs arrived in Afghanistan from Edwardesabad in April 1880 where its first duty from Kabul was into the Logar and Maidan districts after joining with General Stewart's force from Kandahar. Part of the regiment was involved in the second action at Charasiab, and later the cavalry operated in and around the Logar, Maidan and Pughman districts into July. After the march to Kandahar in August they fought Ayub Khan's forces on 1st September, and were involved in the pursuit of their foe towards Khakrez. They were involved in the expedition against the Marris before returning to India.

Central India Horse
Commanded by Lt. Colonel C. Martin. The men of the Central India Horse (a wing each of the 1st and 2nd Regiments) crossed the frontier at Jamrud in February 1880 where they were then employed on the Khyber line of communications. In May a portion of the force was involved with the expedition against Mullah Khalil in the Besud Valley, before they were called to Kabul to join General Roberts' force that was to march on Kandahar. They fought at the battle of Kandahar, including the pursuit of the retreating Afghans, and then returned to India in October.

The Artillery Division
Commanded by Colonel Alured Clarke Johnson

No. 6 Battery 8th Brigade Royal Artillery
Commanded by Major J. C. Robinson. The 6/8 R. A., serving as a mountain battery, arrived in Kabul at the beginning of April 1880 and saw action at Zaidabad later that month. In May they were involved in expeditions into the Logar and Maidan Valleys before taking part in the march to Kandahar in August. They helped to defeat the Afghans on 1st September, and then garrisoned at Kandahar until April 1881.

No. 11 Battery 9th Brigade Royal Artillery
Commanded on the march by Major J. M. Douglas. The 11/9 R. A. saw the first action of the Afghan campaign at Ali Musjid in November 1878 from where it then moved on to Landi Khotal and then back to the Shagai Heights. It was included in an expedition against the Zaka Khel Afrides as part of three separate columns. In early 1879 the guns of 11/9 were employed at Deh Sarak and Kam Daka. On the resuming of hostilities the battery took part in numerous expedtions from the Khyber line including into the Lughman and Hissarak Valleys and against the Wazir Kugianias. At the beginning of August 1880 they moved to Kabul to join the march to Kandahar, seeing action on the 31st and the following day with the defeat of Ayub Khan. The battery returned to India after an expedition into the Marri country.

No. 2 (Derajat) Mountain Battery
Commanded by Bt. Lt. Colonel G. Swinley. The battery was present in the operations in the Khost Valley, seeing action at Mutan, and also at Charasiab in October 1879, and the defence of Sherpur in December. After the march from Kabul to Kandahar it was involved in the defeat of Ayub Khan at Kandahar. They returned to India in April 1881.

The Kelat-i-Ghilzai Regiments
Commanded by Colonel Oriel Viveash Tanner

C Battery 2nd Brigade Royal Artillery
C/2 R. A. arrived at Kandahar in the spring of 1880, where two of the guns proceeded to Kelat-i-Ghilzai to reinforce the garrison there. Those guns still at Kandahar helped to cover soldiers returning from the disaster at Maiwand at the end of July, and defended the citadal while it was besieged by Ayub Khan's forces. On 16th August the battery was employed in the shelling of Deh Khoja. The guns at Kelat-i-Ghilzai joined Roberts' relieving column on the 24th and the battery was reunited on the 31st at Kandahar. On the next day's battle they were involved in shelling the village of Gandi Mullah, and they returned to India in October.

66th (Berkshire) Regiment (2nd Battalion Princess Charlotte of Wales' Regiment)
Commanded at Kelat-i-Ghelzai by Captain W. A. D. Mackinnon. The 66th Berkshires reached Kandahar from Karachi via Quetta in March 1880 where two companies were then sent to help garrison Kelat-i-Ghilzai. These saw action at Kaj Baz and Shahbolan at the beginning of May. In July the Kandahar garrison was sent out as part of General Burrows' force to support the Wali Shere Ali Khan and fought his mutineers at Girishk, recapturing guns that the 66th had given as gifts four months previously. On 27th July the regiment was involved in the fateful disaster at Maiwand, where they lost 285 men, but won 'imperishable renown'. After the survivors had been joined at Kandahar by the Kelat-i-Ghilzai garrison marching with Roberts' relieving force, the majority of the regiment fought at the Battle of Kandahar, with the remainder on duty in the citadel. They left the city on 1st October, finally reaching Bombay on 28th November 1880.

3rd Regiment Sind Horse
The 3rd Sind Horse entered Afghanistan in December 1878 via the Bolan Pass, and in January 1879 they advanced through different routes to Kandahar. One of the detachments was engaged against the enemy at Takht-i-Pul, whilst another garrisoned at Chaman and were engaged against a band of Afghan marauders. At the end of February a portion of the 3rd Sind saw action at Khushk-i-Nakhud. In March 1879 the regiment saw a year's service on convoy and garrison duty in the Pishin Valley after which the headquarters returned to Kandahar, with other squadrons posted at Khushdil Khan, Chaman, Mundi Hissar and Abdul Rahman. May 1880 saw one squadron of the Sind Horse take up garrison duty at Kelat-i-Ghilzai, and in July 207 sabres of the 3rd regiment saw action at Girishk and the Battle of Maiwand. A squadron was part of the failed attack on Deh Khoja in August, before Roberts' relief column arrived, complete with the Kelat-i-Ghilzai Sinds, at the end of the month. The following day the cavalry was involved in the defeat and pursuit of Ayub Khan. After a return expedition to Maiwand later that month and a short time on Kandahar communications duty, the regiment returned to India.

29th (2nd Baluch) Regiment Bombay Infantry
Commanded by Colonel Oriel Viveash Tanner. The 2nd Baluch infantry crossed into Afghanistan on 21st November 1878 where they were put to work making roads across the Khojak and Gwaja passes. In January they fought at Takht-i-Pul before marching into Kandahar with General Stewart. Later in the month a portion of the regiment was engaged at Khushk-i-Nakhud and was then garrisoned at Kokaran. Returning to India in September, the regiment got as far as Chaman and was then recalled to Kandahar upon receipt of the news of the British envoy's murder at Kabul. They reoccupied Kelat-i-Ghizai in September 1879 and saw action at Shah Jui. The Baluchs joined Roberts' Kabul-Kandahar relief column after it had rested at their post, and went on to fight at the Battle of Kandahar on 1st September. In October they marched to Sibi and were involved in the Marri country expedition, eventually returning to India after a spell with the Pishin Moveable Column in March 1881.


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