Battle of Maiwand


Battle of Maiwand

On July 27, 1880, Mohammad Ayub Khan, fifth son of Amir Sher Ali, decisively defeated a British force under Brigadier G. R. S Burrows in open battle at Maiwand, near Qandahar. It was one of the few instances in the 19th century of an Asian power defeating a Western one.

Of the 2,476 British and Indian soldiers engaged in the fighting, 971 were killed in action, 168 wounded (Abridged Official Account of the second Anglo-Afghan War, 1908, as quoted by Dupree). But according to Ghubar, out of 12,000 soldiers and officers, only 25 British soldiers dressed as Afghans and Muslims, had reached Kandahar, as helped by Sardar Sher Ali Kandahari, to tell the tale of their defeat at Maiwand. At the battle of Maiwand a legendary Pashtun heroine, Malalai, is said to have used her veil as a standard, and encouraged the warriors by shouting the following couplet in Pashto

کہ پہ میوند کے شہید نہ شوے
گرانہ لالیہ بے نگئی تہ دے ساتینہ

Young love, if you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,
By God, someone is saving you for a token of shame.

The disastrous defeat of British arms in Asia could not go unchallenged, so Lt. General Sir Fredrick Roberts was dispatched to Kandahar with a picked mobile force of 9,987 men. The British won a decisive victory, and Ayub Khan returned to Herat.

The Last Eleven at Maiwand
‘The Last Eleven at Maiwand’ – after painting by Frank Feller. Battle of Maiwand, Afghanistan, 27 July 1880. Published in 1884. British Museum.


Malalai of Maiwand
The graves of the martyrs of the Battle of Maiwand. Photo taken by Anthony Fitzherbert. Via Farrukh Husain

Malalai of Maiwand
Kabul 1918/19: Arpad Farago, a Hungarian sculptor, working on the clay model of the statue of an Afghan woman holding a flag over her shoulders.This statue could represent the legendary Pashtun girl Malalay who led the Afghans to victory over the British troops at Maiwand. Source


Portrait of Malalai of Maiwand.
An imaginative portrait of Malalai of Maiwand. Artist unknown, c. 1950. Published by the Kabul Magazine. Via Nafees Ur Rehman


The Battlefield of Maiwand, Afghanistan, 1880. From British Battles on Land and Sea, Vol. IV, by James Grant.


Graves of battle of Maiwand
The graves of the martyrs of the Battle of Maiwand. Photo taken by Anthony Fitzherbert. Via Farrukh Husain



Battlefield of battle of Maiwand
Collecting stones to place on Malalai’s grave. Photo taken by Anthony Fitzherbert. Via Farrukh Husain



1- Afghanistan by Louis Dupree
2- Afghanistan A Political history by S. Fida Yunas


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