India General Service Medal, EVII, bar Waziristan 1901-02, Sepoy Mirza Khan, North Waziristan Militia, aka Tochi Scouts.
One of the original members of the unit later known as the Tochi Scouts.
Officially engraved in running script: “975 Sepoy Mirza Khan N. Waz. Militia”
Scarce to his unusual fledgling unit, and in very well preserved condition, one slight edge bruise.
At the time, Waziristan was split into 2 administrative Areas, the North and the South.
During 1900, Paramilitary Militias were raised to maintain law and order in both regions, allowing the British Forces to withdraw to more settled areas.
The North Waziristan Militia was raised at Idak on 1st June 1900 by Captain Arthur Francis Fergusson-Davie, the founding father of the Tochi Scouts, “A tough officer, excellent shot and exceptional rider.”
The enigmatic Commanding Officer was a big fan of his .30 Smith and Wesson Revolver over any other weapon, and could land all 6 rounds on target with an inch.
He was additionally fluent in Punjabi and mastered his command over Pashto before raising the Militia.
Overall he was a fine commander and a good man, letter survive of his pleas to his fellow British Officers in the district administration to help the welfare of his loyal troops.
His loyalty would be his undoing, he was 48 and commanding the 51st Sikhs during WW1 when he died of wounds in Iraq on 12th April 1916.
The Militia was a mobile unit, well suited for the fighting against Waziri Tribes and bands of Bandits, tasked with protecting the strategically important Tochi Pass.
In 1922, the unit was renamed as the “Tochi Scouts”.
The members of the Militia were an eclectic mix of the locals, By the end of 1901, they had 736 soldiers with 357 belonging to Local Tribesmen and 379 to others.
It compriesed of 192 Utmanzais Wazirs, 81 Ahmadzai Wazirs, 81 Daurs, 3 Mahsuds and 95 Afridies. These were regarded as the local tribes, along with 59 Marwats, 57 Bannuchies, 137 Khattaks, 3 Yousafzais and 28 other Pathans considered as part of British Subjects.
THE FIRST MILITARY EXPEDITION, KABUL KHEL WAZIRS
The first action undertaken by the North Waziristan Militia occured during 1902 when they were deployed against the Kabul Khel Wazirs.
This was successful for the reason that during the campaign the NWM was able to provide protection for the retreating regular army troops from their forward posts and ensured that the lines of communication remained safe.
The very fact that the Militia was lightly equipped allowed them to move at a far faster pace than the regular army units.
Pigeons were also employed for passing back the information to Idak, they had 8 pigeon carriers at the time.
The Militia remained steadfast on its pledge of loyalty however they had 4 desertions in which the sepoys took the rifles with them, but they were later recovered by the British Political Agent.
This expedition would bring forward a key lesson in Frontier Warfare that the Military and Policitcal Wing need to keep in close contact, so before it the expedition was over, the Militia was ordered to move forward from Idak to MiranShah.