The Story of the Malakand Field Force


In his first book, the renowned statesman and historian chronicles an 1897 British military campaign on the Northwest Frontier, in the vicinity of modern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Churchill served as a correspondent and cavalry officer in the conflict, and his incisive reportage reflects the energy and vision that re-emerged in his leadership during World War II.

At the time of the clash, Churchill was serving as a subaltern in the 4th Hussars. Weary of regimental life, the ...

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The Story of the Malakand Field Force

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In his first book, the renowned statesman and historian chronicles an 1897 British military campaign on the Northwest Frontier, in the vicinity of modern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Churchill served as a correspondent and cavalry officer in the conflict, and his incisive reportage reflects the energy and vision that re-emerged in his leadership during World War II.

At the time of the clash, Churchill was serving as a subaltern in the 4th Hussars. Weary of regimental life, the young soldier drew upon family connections to find a place among the brigades headed for the frontier. There he participated in his first combat in the Mamund Valley, where British troops suppressed a revolt among the region's Pathan tribes. Churchill's series of letters to the London Daily Telegraph formed the basis for this book, which he declared “the most noteworthy act of my life,” reflecting “the chances of my possible success in the world.” A century later, the towering historical figure's account of military action in this still-volatile region remains powerfully relevant.

Dover (2010) unabridged republication of the edition published by Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd., London, Edinburgh, and New York, 1916, with a selection of images from Sketches On Service During the Indian Frontier Campaigns of 1897, published by James Bowden, London, 1898.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sir Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on two occasions, from 1940-1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Celebrated as one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century, he was also a gifted orator, statesman and historian. The author of more than forty books, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 and in 1963 was made an honorary citizen of the United States.
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Table of Contents

I The Theatre of War 1

The Scenery

The Flora and Fauna

The People

Their Weapons

Their Disposition

The Ambitious Pathan

Quarrels with the British

Their Honour

A Redeeming Feature

The Darker Side

The Other Point of View

The Scale of the Work

Its Scope

Its Objects

II The Malakand Camps 11


The Road to the Malakand

At the Top of the Pass

The Camp

Life on the Frontier

The Swat Valley

The Chitral Road

The Retention of Chitral

III The Outbreak 26

The Causes


The Undercurrent

The Means

The Miracles

Rumours of War


The Movable Column

The Storm Bursts

IV The Attack on the Malakand 35

The Surprise

The Defence of the Defile

“Rattray's Sikhs”

The Central Position

The Fight for the Quarter Guard

Lieutenant Costello, V.C.

Repulse of the Enemy


Evacuation of the North Camp

Approach of Reinforcements

The Night of the 27th

The Serai

Lieutenant Climo's Counter Attack

Merciful Courage

The Night of the 29th

The Repulse of the Enemy


V The Relief of Chakdara 57

The Force of Circumstances

Formation of the Malakand Field Force

Sir Bindon Blood

Chakdara in Danger

First Attempt to Relieve Chakdara

Arrival of the General

His Dispositions

The Key of the Position

The Morning of the 2nd of August

Rout of the Enemy

The Cavalry Pursuit


Chakdara Relieved


VI The Defence of Chakdara 69

The Fort

The Warning

A Gallop Home

The First Attack

The Cavalry Dash

Continued Assaults

The Signal Tower

Exhaustion of the Defenders

Sepoy Prem Singh

Critical Situation

The Urgent Appeal

The Final Attack

The Cavalry to the Rescue

A Finish in Style

The Casualties

VII The Gate of Swat 82

Formation of the 3rd Brigade

The Marks of War

Submission of the Lower Swatis

The Special Force

The Action of Landakai

The Artillery Preparation

The Flank Attack

Capture of the Ridge


A Disastrous Incident

A Gallant Feat of Arms

The Victoria Cross

Knights of the Sword and Pen

Buddhist Remains

The Light of Other Days


Return of the Troops

VIII The Advance against the Mohmands 97

Causes of the Expedition

Summary of the Action of Shabkadr

The Forces Employed

General Plan of the Operations

Advance of the Malakand Field Force

The Passage of the Panjkora

Political Aspect of the Country

IX Reconnaissance 112

The Jandul Valley

The Seven Khans

Frontier Diplomacy


An Afghan Napoleon

Unpractical Reflections

Under the Chenars

The Arms Question

Its Significance

The Utman Khel Passes

A Virgin Valley

A Successful “Bluff”

The Camp at Night

X The March to Nàwagai 124

March to Shumshuk

The First Shot

The Koh-i-Mohr

The Rambat Pass

The Watelai Valley

Night of the 14th of September

The Camp at Inàyat Kila

XI The Action of the Màmund Valley, 16th September 138

The Cavalry Skirmish

The Advance on Shahi-Tangi

The Counter Attack

Retirement down the Spur

Repulse of the Enemy

Second Attack and Capture of Shahi-Tangi


The Guides to the Rescue

The Rearguard

The Night

XII At Inàyat Kila 153

The Relief of Bilot

The Story of the Night

Rest and Recuperation



Negotiations for Peace

The Situation

XIII Nàwagai 170

“The Light of Asia”

The Strategic Situation

Decision of the General

Rival Inducements

Alarums and Excursions

The Night Attack

The Casualties

Dismay of the Tribes

The Mohmand Field Force

Sir Pertab Singh

Polo as an Imperial Factor

Departure of the 3rd Brigade

XIV Back to the Màmund Valley 181

Dulce Domum


The Peace Negotiations

Renewal of Hostilities


Some Misconceptions

The Attack upon Agrah

The Royal West Kent

A Soldier's Fate

The Artillery

The Casualties


Affair of 3rd October

The 10th Field Battery

The Compensations of War

XV The Work of the Cavalry 197

Progress of the Negotiations

Cavalry Skirmish, 6th October

General Résumé of Cavalry Work throughout the Campaign

The Neglect of British Cavalry

Departure of the R.W.K.

Health of British Infantry

Jàr, 9th October


A Typical Night

Across the Panjkora

XVI Submission 208

Negotiations with the Màmunds

Surrender of Rifles

The Durbar

The Political Officers

The Last of Inàyat Kila


Submission of the Salarzais

The Sikh and the Pathan: A Comparison

The Return to Malakand.

XVII Military Observations 219





Employment of Artillery


The Dum-Dum Bullet

The Military Problem

The Young Soldier

Short Service

The Courage of the Soldier

XVIII And Last … The Riddle of the Frontier 234

The Question

The “Forward Policy”

Its Present Results

What might have been


The Responsibility

At Sea

The Course

Silver v. Steel

Looking Backward

The End

Appendix. Extracts from Official Despatches 245

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