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Afghanistan 1878-80

Afghanistan 1878-80, no bar, Private Thomas O’Neil, 66th Foot, the Berkshire Regiment, Killed in action at the Battle of Maiwand on the 27th of July 1880. He enlisted for service…

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Afghanistan 1878-80, no bar, Private Thomas O’Neil, 66th Foot, the Berkshire Regiment, Killed in action at the Battle of Maiwand on the 27th of July 1880.

 

He enlisted for service in 1869. During the Campaign he was part of a 2700 strong column of British and Indian Troops with 6 RHA Guns and 6 Smooth Bore Guns, commanded by Brigadier George Burrows.

 

Brigadier Burrows had engaged them in an unwinabble battle, they were outnumbered 10 to 1 and were away from safety out in the open.
The British were confident in their State of the Art weaponry, with the newly designed Martini-Henry Rifle, they far out ranged their enemy with devastating accuracy causing heavy casualties, but were soon driven back with casualties of their own, the two native regiments, with the 1st Grenadiers & 30th Jacob’s Rifles being scattered and forced to retreat.

 

The British Cavalry were held in reserve, leaving the 66th to fend for rhtemselves, the Afghan’s advanced shattering the Indian line ahead of the 66th, the 66th were forced to fight in small compact squares, beggining a long retreat across the watercourse. They had no choice but to abandon the wounded to save themselves.

 

It is most known for one of the battles along with Isandlwana when they decided to stop bringing the Regimental Colours into battle, the 66th desperately passed the colours along as each holder fell wounded or killed, the last remaining men died protecting them.

 

The formidable Drummer of the regiment, instead chose to stay the wounded Adjutant, he thought the Afghans off until he was overrun.

 

There were only about 100 men left who retreated to a walled garden, they were immediately surrounded and fought around the Regiment Colours placed in the middle.

 

The last gallant 11 Survivors, knowing they could not win, advanced out of the garden, fighting back to back surrounded by thousands, the Afghans would not advance on them until they finally fell from hours of intense fighting and wounds, fighting to the last man.

 

The battle was regarded as one of the most glorious battles of the British Empire, even if it was a defeat, it was one of the few brave battles where there were no Victoria Crosses awarded, simply because there were no Officers left alive to recommend them.