Maiwand, The Last Stand of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment in Afghanistan 1880.

Richard J Stacpoole-Ryding in association with The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum (History Press, 2008) 7.8in x 9.8in (170 x 250mm), 224pp, ISBN 978-0-7524-4537-3

In July 1880 the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment was involved in a disastrous battle in Afghanistan which almost wiped them out. This was the last time in which their regimental colours were carried into battle. Their valiant fighting inspired many, including Conan Doyle, who based Dr Watson on the 66th’s medical officer, and Queen Victoria, who presented gallantry medals to the survivors at Osborne, Isle of Wight. This book is well researched and well presented. It will almost certainly become the classic source of information about the history of the 66th in India and Afghanistan, and the regiment’s return to England in 1881. One of the appendices contains a list of men who served between 1870 and 1881, Indian camp followers, memorials, selected bibliographies and much else. Among the memorials in Berkshire to this terrible campaign is the statue in the Forbury,Reading, of an angry lion standing on a plinthengraved with the names of the 11 officers and 317 men who died during the campaign. Also in Reading there is a memorial window in St Mary’s church, and the pub sign of the Bugle in Friar Street is a bugler of the 66th. Maiwand Gardens in Tilehurst was named in 1990. A list of names on the plinth of the Maiwand lion was published in Berkshire Family History Society Magazine, Spring 1981 (v6, pt1, pp58-60).

Jean Debney

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