The Anglo-Afghan Wars 1839-1919
During the 19th century Britain entered into three brutal wars with Afghanistan, each one saw the British trying and failing to gain control of a warlike and impenetrable territory. The first two wars (1839-42 and 1878-81) were wars of the Great Game; the British Empire’s attempts to combat growing Russian influence near India’s borders. The third, fought in 1919, was an Afghan-declared holy war against British India – in which over 100,000 Afghans answered the call, and raised a force that would prove too great for the British Imperial army. Each of the three wars were plagued by military disasters, lengthy sieges and costly engagements for the British, and history has proved the Afghans a formidable foe and their country unconquerable. This book reveals the history of these three Anglo-Afghan wars, the imperial power struggles that led to conflict and the torturous experiences of the men on the ground. The book concludes with a brief overview of the background to today’s conflict in Afghanistan, and sketches the historical parallels.