War Diary of WALTER ERNEST MOUNT' ‘AN ACCOUNT OF A PUNITIVE EXPEDITION ON, THE N.W. FRONTIER OF INDIA.’

4 The spectacular episode of the storming of the heights at Dargai by the Gordon Highlanders in the Chitral campaign of -97 is recalled by the death of Piper John Kidd as reported in a recent issue of the "Advertiser" .With the recollection one is made conscious of the fact that much of the glamour that hangs about the half forgotten battles of the pastis lacking in the conflicts of today. The tossing plumes and the sabres flash play a rapidly diminishing pat of modern warfare. Even on the outskirts of the Empire where war cries still sound and the old robust hand to hand encounters are to be met with, the armoured car is gaining ground and the savage tribes are subdued with the utmost efficiency –war is no longer picturesque, Nowhere is this more apparent than on the N.W. Frontier of India wherein the past a Punitive Expedition into the hills meant the assembling of horse foot guns and all the pageantry of war with months of hard fighting and millions of rupees to foot the bill. Nowadays should the tribesmen become fractious a squadron of aeroplanes is sent over their villages and a gigantic voice warns them through a megaphone of the consequence of their misdeeds, a few bombs are dropped and the war is finished before they have time to even put a good edge on their knives. For this reason the story of what was probably one of the last of the expeditions to be conducted under the old methods maybe of some interest. On the N.W. border of India is an area of wild mountainous country occupied by numerous warlike tribes living under conditions that are somewhat akin to those prevailing in the Highlands of Scotland centuries ago, The island unproductive and life is hard –so hard that the prosperous villages on the Indian plains nearby are a constant temptation and it has been the hillsman's way to take what he wanted by force. Wild forays across the Border and a swift return to his inaccessible mountains with cattle women and loot. In between while they till such fertile land as can be found in their valleys and fight between themselves. Blood feuds of which the origin is lost in time are waged bitterly between clan and clan. Every village is strongly fortified and no tribesman would dream of leaving the security of his own walls without being fully armed with rifle and knife. These conditions have evolved a race of fierce warriors treacherous cunning and brave. Born thieves and outlaws by nature with a code of ethics reduced to the simplest form –loyalty to the salt. For centuries they have exercised a reign of terror in the N.W. until the advent of the British who defined a borderline over which they were forbidden to cross .After many years of sanguinary warfare the Frontier was established and the tribesmen found that their activities were curtailed to a great extent. But the maintenance of law and order is still a full time job and punitive measures have to betaken occasionally which in the past necessitated the employment of a large force to garrison the area. A state of tension existed all the time and unimportant happenings often had far reaching results.
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