August 22nd 1939 – Razani

We were playing a game of Ice Hockey with the C.I.M.H. when at about half time the referee blew the whistle to halt play and a police corporal came and saluted and said “All Leicesters to return to barracks, sir!” That starts another night show from which half a dozen chaps do not return. We are on the right flank, guarding the Green Dome area, 2/1 G.R. are left flank guard, and 5/11 and 3/10 are going via Bare Patch to surround a gang at Bandiza, together with the Scouts. I hop into bed from 10 to 11pm and then we set out at 12pm. I am to piquet Conical, the rest of Coy to piquet Cliff. We pass a drunken gunner in the cells shouting “I want to see a medical officer – I want to see etc etc” like a gramophone record that has stuck on one groove.

I am in front with Callander and Lonsdale for the night march and it’s damn funny. Callender with stick out, searching for wire or nullahs and I hop gaily down the nullahs, which I can see, and get warned off for going too fast. I lead off and we go up by the butts, hoping to strike a path for the M.G. mules. We do, and lose it twice, but arrive under the tower at 1.30pm. We halt there until dawn and then take up positions on the ridge. Bloody cold till dawn, the sweat of climbing the hill freezing in my shirt. I manage to get a groundsheet, but it’s still bloody! We get tea from the tower and a charpoy, on which some good Sikh brings out some bedding. There we stay until 7pm.

A lot of shooting, Bare Patch way, and I see a hut go up on Horseshoe. The main body gets up OK but Callender is told by villagers below Prospect Corner to be careful, as the place is crawling with enemy. He has to lead the whole Battalion expecting a volley at any minute.

“C” Coy have a piquet to the right of Postman’s Daughter. It’s on a forward slope, with a ridge in front of it so I understand. A party of 12 armed men is seen on the road. It’s not an R.P. day so cannot be fired on. The Khassadars shout “who are you?” and they nip off the road into the bushes. They could have been wiped out. C Coy’s piquet is then fired on, the forward section being obliterated, and the remainder of the section running back. Then, under cover from the overlooking ridge, a knife party comes up and two bodies and rifles are lost. What happens then I don’t know, but eventually Nick goes forward with three men to look for the bodies. He sees 8 dushmen at 50 yards running off, and after some trouble gets out his revolver and gets off three rounds at them without success. The bodies are not found, though several attempts are made.

Machine Gun Unit, 'D' Coy

A lot of gallant deeds are done in rescuing chaps lying out in the open, and Walsh R.A. is hit in the arm at 2pm. He carries on directing the guns until 7pm so I expect he will collect an M.C. Six men are killed and six wounded, and from C Coy and the M.G. section. Hundreds of guns open up from camp and a short one lands on Postman’s Daughter. A couple of snipers are under here on my side, but they don’t do much damage. An aeroplane arrives and bombs and machine guns enemy as C Coy put out a ‘T’ – Flight Lt Gilbert gets a DFC for this. Two companies from 2/8 G.R. arrives on Conical from camp and send two piquets onto Prospect Corner Ridge. An ambulance arrives for the bodies, goes round the bottom corner by Prospect Corner and is fired on from Skyline Ridge. I open up with M.G.s but it seems pretty useless so we knock off. The bodies can be seen coming down the hill on stretchers, the dead covered with a groundsheet, and the living with their heads left out. The aeroplane covers the Battalion down, ridge by ridge. I get R.T.R. about seven and we are back by 7.30. Everyone lines the road to see us come in – a funny sight.

Khassadars later find the equipment of one body, less rifle, bayonet and ammunition, on Green Dome, and send it home.

Thirteen enemy are killed, including Khan Gul, one of Ipi’s commissioned officers. The Brigade must have had 20 casualties. It seems the scheme was a balls-up. The Scouts were two hours late, and only half the village was surrounded. The Brigadier must have been so elated by his first night operation, and has taken a backhander from the enemy on this one. I wish I had been up on Postman’s Daughter. I never smelt a bullet even. That makes the score eight killed and ten wounded. The retreat is followed up with shooting all night long, near Rifleman’s Tower. A raid is expected in Bannu just now. Officers go about in pairs, after dark, and armed.


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One response to “August 22nd 1939 – Razani”

  1. I have been amused and interested to see that he uses the very Scottish words ‘just now’ fairly often. I think it’s charming.

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