Cabul 1842, Sutlej Medal, reverse, Moodkee, 2 bars, Ferozeshuhur, Sobraon, 809 Pte John Howitt, 3rd King’s Own Light Dragoons.
Cabul medal contemporarily engraved in style consistently seen to this regiment: “No. 809. John Howitt. 3rd K. O. L. D.”
Sutlej Medal Officially impressed: “John Howitt 3rd Lt Dragns.”
Some slight edge bruising but otherwise an attractive pair, the Cabul medal fitted with well made silver claw and hinged suspension.
Shown on the 1841 Worldwide Army Index as serving with the regiment at Karnaul, Bengal before departing to Afghanistan to fight at the Battle of Kabul in September 1842.
Some extra reading into the campaign of the regiment in Cabul from The entry in Historical Recrd of the King’s Own Light Dragoons:
“The regiment remained at Cawnpore until October, 1840, when it proceeded to Kurnaul. It marched from thence on 28th January, 1842, en route for Ferozepore, having been selected to form part of the force which had been ordered to proceed under Major-General Pollock to relieve the troops under Colonel Sir Robert Sale, who had gallantly defended Jellalabad; and also for the purpose of inflicting retribution upon the Afghans, whose treachery had caused the loss of so many brave officers and soldiers.
The Third Light Dragoons continued their advance on Peshawur, and a squadron of the regiment, under Lieutenant Unett, protected the column of attack under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor, of Her Majesty's Ninth Regiment of Foot, which captured the heights on the right entrance to the Khyber Pass, on the 5th April, 1842. Major-General Pollock, in his despatch announcing the successful advance of the troops into the Khyber Pass, states: 'there were some of the enemy's horse in the vicinity of Ali Musjid, but I regret they did not wait for Brigadier White (Lieutenant-Colonel of the King's Own) and his brigade to make an example of them.'
The regiment arrived at Jellalabad in April, 1842, where it remained until the 14th August following, when it proceeded to Futteabad, detaching one squadron to Mammoo Khail on the 23rd of that month. The Third Light Dragoons left Futteabad on the 2nd September, and on arriving at Jugdulluck, the summits of the hills, which command the road through the pass, were perceived to be occupied by a considerable number of the enemy, who were assembled in bodies under different chieftains, each having a distinguishing standard; their position was one of singular strength and difficulty of approach. The heights occupied by the Ghilzies formed an amphitheatre, inclining towards the left of the road, on which the troops were halted, while the guns opened; and the enemy were thus enabled, on this point, to fire into the column, a deep ravine preventing the troops coming in contact with them.
The British troops, however, on attacking one of their hill-forts, gave an animated and enthusiastic cheer, which so dismayed the enemy, that they fled down the heights without waiting the collision, and were thus enabled to escape chastisement by the nature of the ground, which was so well calculated to favour their retreat. At this moment, Major Lockwood with the Third, King's Own Light Dragoons, galloped up, and nearly succeeded in overtaking the enemy's cavalry, who effected their safety by flight.
The loss of the regiment at the storming of the heights of Jugdulluck on the 8th of September, 1842, was limited to two men wounded.
Major-General Pollock, in his despatch, speaks of the conduct of the troops employed in the following terms:—
'It gratifies me to be enabled to state, that we have thus signally defeated, with one division of the troops, the most powerful tribes, and the most inveterate of our enemies, the original and principal actors in those disturbances which entailed such disasters on our troops last winter.'
The regiment was also engaged with the enemy in the Tezeen valley, which is completely encircled by lofty hills; the pass of Tezeen affords great advantages to an enemy occupying the heights, and Mahomed Akbar-Khan neglected nothing to render its natural difficulties as formidable as possible; accordingly on the morning of the 13th September, the Affghans appeared in great force on every height which had not been occupied by the British army. Two squadrons of the Third Light Dragoons, a party of the first light cavalry, and of the third irregular cavalry, with two guns, were left to guard the mouth of the Tezeen pass. The enemy's horse appeared in the valley with the intention of falling upon the baggage; but the Light Dragoons and native cavalry made a most brilliant charge, and completely routed the whole body of the enemy's force, cutting down a great number of them. The fight continued during the greater part of the day, the Affghans appearing resolved to prevent our ascending the Huft Kotul; one spirit, however, pervaded all, and the determination to conquer overcame the obstinate resistance of the foe, who were at length forced from their numerous and strong positions, and the British troops mounted the Huft Kotul,[Pg 92] giving three cheers on reaching the summit. Here Lieutenant Cunningham, with a party of sappers, pressed the enemy so hard, that they left in their precipitation a twenty-four pounder howitzer and limber, carrying off the draught bullocks. Information being received that another gun had been seen, a squadron of cavalry under Captain Tritton, of the Third Light Dragoons, and two horse artillery guns, under Major Delafosse, were detached in pursuit; the gun (a twelve-pounder howitzer) and bullocks sufficient for the two guns, were soon captured. The Light Dragoons again got among the enemy, and succeeded in destroying many of them. Captain Broadfoot, with the sappers, advanced, and with the dragoons happened to fall in with another party of Affghans, of whom upwards of twenty were killed. It was ascertained, that the enemy numbered sixteen thousand, a considerable portion being cavalry; and that Mahomed Akbar-Khan, with several other powerful chiefs, was present.
The British thus gained a complete victory, and the enemy must have suffered severely, several hundreds of them having been killed, and their guns, and three standards, captured from them. A detachment of the Third Light Dragoons formed part of the rear-guard of the army under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Richmond, of the 33rd Native Infantry, and it being resolved to anticipate the evident intention of the Affghans,[Pg 93] by attacking them in the valley of Tezeen, on the 13th September, the guns were moved forward within range of the enemy, supported by the front squadron of the Third Light Dragoons under Captain Unett, with other corps, in order to charge the foe if the ground proved favourable, and an opportunity offered; this soon occurred, the guns having made good impression, and the other squadron of cavalry, under Major Lockwood, was hurried forward as a support, thus ensuring the success achieved by the spirited and gallant charge of their comrades in front, which completely dispersed the enemy, who left about fifty men on the field.
Major-General Pollock, in his despatch of the action at Tezeen, expresses his satisfaction with the exertions of Lt.-Colonel White of the Third Light Dragoons, commanding the cavalry brigade, and also of Major Lockwood, who commanded the regiment. The Third Light Dragoons sustained but trifling loss in the Tezeen valley, and on the Huft Kotul, on the 12th and 13th September, having only one serjeant and four rank and file wounded; two horses killed, and eleven wounded.
After these successes, the army moved on without opposition, and arrived at Cabool on the 15th September, where they encamped on the race course. The Third Light Dragoons, under Major Lockwood, proceeded with other corps to[Pg 94] plant the British colours in the Bala Hissar, on the spot most conspicuous from the city. On the colours being hoisted, the band of Her Majesty's Ninth Regiment of Foot struck up 'God save the Queen,' and a royal salute was fired from the guns of the horse artillery, the whole of the troops present giving three cheers. The colours in the Bala Hissar were hoisted daily as long as the army remained at Cabool.
The head-quarters and two squadrons of the regiment, under Major Lockwood, formed part of the force which was detached under Major-General McCaskill (Lieutenant-Colonel of the Ninth Foot), for the purpose of dispersing the enemy collected in the vicinity of Charekar, and took part in the operations against the strong and populous town of Istalif, which was considered by the Affghans as totally inaccessible, but which was captured on the 29th September 1842; the numerous levies collected for its defence were totally defeated, and property of every description (much of it plundered from the army in 1841) was recovered; two brass field-pieces were captured, one of which was seized with such promptitude, that its captor, Lieutenant Elmhirst, of Her Majesty's Ninth Foot, turned its fire upon the fugitives with some effect.
Among the gratifying results of these successes was the release of several ladies and officers who had been detained prisoners by Akbar-Khan.
The regiment, having been present during the whole of the operations west of the Indus, leading to the occupation of Cabool, has received the Royal permission to bear on its appointments the word 'Cabool 1842.'
The regiment left Cabool on the 12th October, 1842, and arrived at Ferozepore on the 18th December, from whence it marched to Kurnaul, where it arrived on the 27th January 1843; it remained at Kurnaul until November, when it marched for Umballa, and continued at that station during the year 1844, and until the end of the following year.