anglo afghan war

Afghan tribesmen ambush a British column in the Hindu Kush mountains during the “Retreat from Kabul” in 1842.  First Anglo Afghan War.

The retreat involved 4,500 British and Indian soldiers of the British East India Company, as well as 12,000 civilian camp followers, who were retreating from Kabul to the safety of Jalalabad. Only 1 man of the 16,500 person column would arrive safely in Jalalabad. The rest were either killed in ambushes, died of exposure or exhaustion, or were taken prisoner and later sold as slaves.

Afghan Jezail rifled flintlock musket

Manufactured in Afghanistan around the late 18th or early 19th century.
.60 ball, probably made from a captured flintlock, some Damascus pattern on the barrel, decorated stock.

The Jezails were long muskets or rifles manufactured in various parts Western and Central Asia. Their long reach and their accuracy made them feared weapons during the Anglo-Afghan wars, as they far outranged the Brown Bess muskets fielded by the British Empire.

Afghan snipers were expert marksmen and their juzzails fired roughened bullets, long iron nails or even pebbles over a range of some 250 metres. The Afghans could fling the large rifles across their shoulders as if they were feathers and spring nimbly from rock to rock. They loved to decorate their rifles.

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Three British Pattern 1821 Officers’ Swords

Left: Pattern 1821 Artillery Officer’s Sword retailed by Phillips & Sons, complete with original sword knot and blade with bright original polish.

Center: Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword made by Henry Wilkinson for an officer of the 15th Hussars,, with service sharpened blade for use in the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80).

Right: Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword made by Henry Wilkinson for an officer of the East India Company, with service sharpened blade that saw action in the Indian Mutiny (1857-58)

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I was very sad to hear of the passing of Sir Christopher Lee, who starred in many of my favorite films including Wicker Man, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Man with the Golden Gun, and of course, The Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf. 

Sir Christopher had several connections to the British Army, including his own service during World War Two. One of his other military connections was his grandfather, Frank James Carandini (Francesco Giacomo Carandini, b.1847, d.1920) 11th Marquess of Sarzano (Italy), son of Jerome (Girolamo) Carandini and Maria nee Burgess (aka Madame Carandini, the singer). FJ Carandini began his military career as an enlisted man, but he was raised from the ranks (likely by virtue of his noble birth) to be a commissioned officer.  Carandini served with the 8th Hussars in the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War. He attained his final rank of Major in 1893 at which time he transferred to the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers, and he retired in 1895. Carandini’s sword is the British Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword.

Note that Sir Christopher Lee’s full name is Christopher Frank Carandini Lee!