Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1878-1880

In 1878 the 10th Hussars were part of a force sent to Kabul in Afghanistan from Rawalpindi in India (now Pakistan) to restore British influence. Following the Battle of Ali Masjid, there was a disaster whilst crossing the Kabul River.

The 10th Hussars were the first troops to enter Afghanistan. They took part in the Battle at Ali Masjid on 21st November 1878 where a fort in the Khyber Pass, which was blocking the British advance to the Afghan capital, Kabul, was successfully captured .

Having spent the winter around the nearby town of Jellalabad, on the night of 31st March 1879, a squadron of the 10th Hussars was ordered to cross the Kabul River in preparation for an attack on enemy tribesmen the following day. The river crossing was at an S bend with a treacherous current running at six miles an hour (about 10 km/hour). The night was pitch black, and stakes in the ground identifying the ford where the crossing was to be made could not be found. The 11th Bengal Lancers went first, followed by the two mules carrying supplies and equipment, and then the 10th Hussars. The current slowly edged the men and the horses of the 10th downstream and off the safe crossing place, and they were forced even further off the ford. Suddenly the two mules lost their footing and very quickly the entire squadron of the 10th was swept away, losing Sub Lt Harford, 46 men and 13 horses.

Returning to India after the war was temporarily ended, the 10th Hussars lost a further 38 men to a virulent outbreak of cholera. This is a water-borne sickness and diarrhoea infection which can cause death within a matter of a few hours.

Francis Hervey Harford, 10H
Sub Lieutenant Francis Hervey Harford drowned during the Ford of Kabul River. His lost sword would be found 15 years later in the roof of a hut during th Chitral Expedition!