Soldiers in Helmand unearth British rifles lost in 1880 mass

#1
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...tish-rifles-lost-in-1880-massacre-842497.html


Soldiers in Helmand unearth British rifles lost in 1880 massacre

Weapons taken after a Victorian defeat in Afghanistan have been recovered – and repatriated as antiques

By Keith Howitt
Sunday, 8 June 2008


British soldiers serving in Afghanistan have recovered weapons looted from the bodies of their Victorian forebears.


Rare Martini-Henry rifles lost in the bloody defeat at Maiwand in July 1880 have been retrieved 128 years later by troops fighting the Taliban and al-Qa'ida in Helmand province.

Two of the rifles, dated 1874 and 1878, are currently on sale in a Sussex antique shop for £1,100 apiece.

Mark Hawkins, co-owner of The Lanes Armoury, Brighton, said: "When we first fought the Afghans, we kept sending out armies who lost. The Afghans killed our chaps and took their weapons.

"Now British officers are finding these guns, recognise them for what they are, and are getting permission to bring them back. We've had a few through. I think a soldier might pick up a couple, keep one as a souvenir of his time in Afghanistan, and bring the other to us."

Peter Smithurst, senior curator of historic firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, said: "The Martini-Henry was the first purpose-made breech-loading rifle introduced into British service. It is an iconic rifle."

The Martini is particularly popular with collectors, he said, because of both its place in the development of firearms technology and for the role it played in the famous battles of Britain's colonial campaigns.

Mr Smithurst said Afghanistan was increasingly a source of antique firearms. "I have been getting quite a few email inquiries from British servicemen and the American forces as well."

Mr Hawkins said: "The Martini-Henry is a very, very collectable gun – almost entirely down to Michael Caine and the film Zulu. Everyone who has seen that film has seen the Martini-Henry and knows it is the rifle used by the British in that era."

Unlike the successful defence of Rorke's Drift in 1879, as featured in Zulu, the battle of Maiwand a year later was one of the worst British defeats of Queen Victoria's 63-year reign. A 2,500-strong Anglo/Indian force was routed by an Afghan army of about 12,000 men.

Among the 1,000 British and Indian dead were 286 men of the Martini-armed 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, who made a last stand in a walled garden in the village of Khig. When only two officers and nine men of the 66th remained alive, they charged the hordes of tribesmen surrounding them.

An Afghan witness described the end: "These men charged from the shelter of a garden and died with their faces to the enemy. So fierce was their charge, and so brave their actions, no Afghan dared approach to cut them down. Standing in the open, back to back, firing steadily, every shot counting, surrounded by thousands, these British soldiers died. It was not until the last man was shot down that the Afghans dared to advance. The behaviour of those last 11 was the wonder of all who saw it."

The weapons they wielded so gallantly could finally be returning home.
 
#3
I seem to recall Maiwand Barracks being a very popular posting, as well.
 
#4
#5
They sell loads of old rifles at the tuesday market in Bastion, they were going for about $300 I think. A good investment if you know what your looking for.
 
#7
Same rifle used at Ishlandwanha and Maiwand; bit of a lesson here? You can also pick 'em up in Souks East of Suez, complete with ammo if you ask nicely. Heaven knows what an ATO would say about the state of either although the marble-sized ball would probably still stop Zulu/Fuzzy-Wuzzy or Afghan. Maiwand is also where Dr Watson, of Sherlock Holmes fame, claimed to have been wounded.
 
#9
Kipling said:
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
 
#10
Meanwhile in Darra production of "genuine" Maiwand rifles has gone into overdrive:
 

Attachments

#11
EX_STAB said:
Kipling said:
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Or alternatively:

A scrimmage in a Border Station
A canter down some dark defile
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail.
 
#12
Unfortunately (according to a recently returned informant) the powers that be have stopped the export to the UK of these antique weapons as (get this) they are damaging the existing market for these weapons!
 
#13
Or alternatively:

A scrimmage in a Border Station
A canter down some dark defile
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail.[/quote]
then your subordinates go bat-shit slaughter everyone they can find and pile there heads up neatly by your grave stone :twisted:
think phil shiner might have a problem with that approach just had him to the pile sorted :twisted:
maybe a different poem
 

asr1

War Hero
#14
I saw 60 odd rifles and many pistols. Every one of them were fakes, some good, most bad. I doubt that any soldiers deployed will get their hands on a genuine Martini-Henry.

Real ones are extremely few and far between. Buyer beware!
 
#15
stab-bloke said:
Unfortunately (according to a recently returned informant) the powers that be have stopped the export to the UK of these antique weapons as (get this) they are damaging the existing market for these weapons!
I did the RSOI package in Khandahar today and we were told that we could no longer take back the rifles, The reason was that many of them are fake and therefor not that old (they are supposed to be over 100 years old if you want to send them back), I do find it a bit suspicious especially as when I was here last year we were told we could only take back 2 then some senior officer cornered the market by sending back 20+. Maybe hes the reason for damaging the market.
 

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