There’s an interesting article on the BBC News website today about a mountainous region of North West Pakistan called Waziristan. Bordering Afghanistan, Waziristan is known to be occupied by pro-Taleban and al-Qaeda militants and is believed by some to be the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden.
Back in 1919, when a young officer in the British Army, Captain Francis Stockdale, was stationed in the region, Waziristan was no less dangerous. Stockdale wrote a book about his experiences called ‘Walk Warily in Waziristan‘, which was published by his family in the 1980s. Many of the local tribesmen were hostile and regularly attacked British troops and encampments. Unfortunately they were also renowned as excellent shots. The area was remote and inhospitable, a terrain of barren mountains and ravines, where temperatures could rise as high as 55°C (131°F). Not without reason was it known as ‘Hell’s door knocker’.
The British employed modern warfare techniques against the tribesmen, using planes such as this Bristol F2B MkII fighter to drop bombs.
We have a good number of memorials that refer to Waziristan. 17 have been recorded so far, dating between 1894 to 1937, which indicate just how dangerous the region could be.
A plaque in St Giles Church, Wrexham, remembers 18 men of the 1st Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers who lost their lives on active service in Waziristan between 1920 and 1923.
Others, like Captain Stockdale, lived to tell the tale. One such was Major Charles Davies Vaughan DSO, who served in Waziristan in 1894, as well as in South Africa during the Boer War, but died at Gallipoli in April 1915, at the age of 46. A memorial to Major Vaughan can be found St Michaels Church, Ystrad, Wales.