Maiwand and Malalai – Afghanistan’s lady liberty destroy the British army on 27 July 1880

By Farrukh Husain

Professor M H Hassan travelled to Pakistan to meet with Colonel Effendi a descendant of the Victor of Maiwand, Sirdar Mohammed Ayub Khan. The Colonel provided the good Professor with a book by his uncle, Sirdar M A K Effendi who was the eldest son of the Victor of Maiwand. The dear Professor then wrote his book entitled ‘A Political and Diplomatic History of Afghanistan, 1863-1901’ and benefitted from the section in Effendi’s book relating to the battle of Maiwand.

Effendi’s book is entitled Royals and Royal Mendicant (circa 1948) based on family archives this extremely rare book is a biographical account of the hero of Maiwand and was published by Lion Press Lahore probably in 1948. When I first spoke with Professor Hassan in relation to my own book on Afghan history, entitled “Afghanistan in the Age of Empires’ the Professor very generously offered to send me the Effendi book should I wish to write on the second Anglo-Afghan war. However I followed the Professor’s sound advice to stick to writing on the first Anglo-Afghan war and thoroughly read Lady Sale’s book. I write this account of Maiwand as a tribute to the brave and generous character of Professor Mohammed Hassan Kakar.

Effendi writes the following in his book, “The want of an Afghan account of the Battle of Maiwand, a classical engagement of the nineteenth century, must have been sorely missed by the students of British Indian military history. Now after a lapse of a long time, we step in to supply the demand, with the confidence of close kinship with the chief actor in the drama”.Britain’s presence in Afghanistan would only end with a defeat of the occupation forces as had been the case in the First Anglo Afghan war.

The coming battle with the British Indian army would enter into Afghan folklore.

“On the 4th July 1880 a brigade of all arms, under Brigadiers Burrows and Nuttal, left Kandahar and reached Helmand on the 11th. On the opposite bank of the river Wali’s contingent with six guns were encamped. Two days later these forces went over to Ayub, while Burrows had divested them of their artillery. On the 22nd July General Primrose received the following telegram from the Government of India, which amply disclose their intentions and plans how to dissolve Ayub:

You will understand that you have full liberty to attack Ayub Khan, if you consider you are strong enough to do so. the government considers it of the highest political importance that his forces should be dispersed and prevented by all possible means from passing on to Ghazni.

Naturally the English felt anxious to frustrate Ayubs’ plans when they had already invited his cousin Abdurrahman from Turkistan and he gave them sufficient cause to resent his Anglophobia. It was inconceivable for the British to allow him time and power to disturb their policy.

At Kishkiakhud, General Burrows was informed that 2,000 cavalry supported by a large body of the Ghazis or holy-warriors, as nucleus to the enemy’s forces had reached Maiwand eleven miles off. There were two alternatives left to the British commander either to take the initiative or let the Afghans do so. After some consultations, Burrows decided to attack in force. At 10 in the morning of the 27th July he was further enlightened that Ayub had joined his advance guard. The Afghans who were held ready for immediate action, marched “into the mouth of hell”.

At 10am on 27th July 1880 battle was fought on an open plain at Maiwand where the Afghan ghazis and elements of Sher Ali’s Afghan army, under Sirdar Ayub Khan advanced upon the British under General Burrows. The British troops felt far from confident about their abilities “we came to two very large hills and there we saw 3 very large columns formed which proved to be Ayub Khan’s army with more thousands than we had hundreds and nearly equal in armour…We stood till we were forced by the point of the bayonet to retire and then we had to march about 50 miles to Kandahar”

Sirdar Ayub Khan, “As a soldier was a strict disciplinarian and as a commander brave and composed, he would endear himself to the rank and file, appreciate and reward their sacrifices, look after their comforts in details.”

Ayub had been well trained by his mentor Colonel Medhi Khan, a Russian who passed himself off as a convert to Islam, but in fact was a Tsarist spy. Briton and Afghan met each other on equal terms, the only difference being in the quality of their leaders and weapons. Burrows was a staff officer and relatively untried in battle.

Many of the Ghazis sought sanctuary in a dry river bed, which offered cover from the hostile fire of the British Indian army. The Afghan forces only had muzzle loading weapons whilst the British Indian army had the superior breech loading Martini Henry and Snider Rifles. The Afghan version of the battle is detailed by Ayub Khan’s son Sardar Abdul Kadir Khan:

“At 10am sharp, a solitary rider brought the exciting news of the British occupation of the wells, which were the only source of water in that parched arid desert, during that scorching day of the summer. This was too salient a matter to overlook; so Ayub in a most appropriate language announced the news to the 1st Ardal Regiment, which were standing by. The favourite and fanatical Afghan war slogan of “Ya Charyar!” rent the air, when a sharp flash of the British gun brought the business home to the Muslim warriors. The first shell caught the scarlet umbrella, held over the Prince, and the Afghans responded with a general frontal assault. They doubled, while the adversary was searching every corner of the battlefield with perfect impunity. The Afghan passive resistance was all due to their muzzle loading fire-arms which were no match to the Martini Henry and the Snider rifles of the enemy.”

The Afghan war slogan of “Ya Char Yar” alludes to the first four righteous Caliphs referred to as the ‘four friends’ in this Afghan war cry. The British forces had heard this slogan before during the First Anglo-Afghan War.

The Afghans experienced a betrayal, “Their condition was worsened with Loynab’s retreat at the head of 4000 Herati irregular cavalry. The consequence was that, “For a while victory awaited the English with open arms, when the Afghan officers in utter desperation rushed their men with drawn swords against the enemy squares. Though their death rate cost them appalling casualties, yet it nonetheless sealed the fate of the enemy. The attackers tightened the cordon and their smooth bore guns confident of their range, belched out with the perceptible result of British lines swinging to and fro. In spite of the tenacity of the officers, an orderly retreat seemed impossible to perform.”

As a British cavalry Captain explains: “we could see very indistinctly masses and masses of men, we could see them moving about which was the only way we could tell they were men at all owing to the haze, they looked exactly like a jungle …The enemy who had kept perfect silence for more than half an hour suddenly opened fire, battery after battery, till we could count about 30 guns, My squadron was in line on the right flank of Major Blackwoods’ guns, there was not a vestige of cover and the enemy had the advantage of the slope we were firing uphill my horses now soon began to suffer.”

Ayub Khan ordered his Qizilbash artillery men to intensify their fire, “Their artillery was extremely well served. Their guns took us in the flank as well as directly and their fire was concentrated. We were completely outmatched; and although we continued to fire steadily, our guns seemed completely unable to silence theirs. Their Armstrong guns threw heavier shells than ours, and their smooth bore guns had great range and accuracy.”

During the First Anglo-Afghan war the Afghan jezail had out performed in range the British Brown Bess rifle. Now the British to their horror found that the Afghan artillery pieces were much better than theirs. The fruits of the British industrial revolution would not save the British at Maiwand from destruction by the handiwork of Afghan artisans.

By 2.30pm the British artillery had exhausted their supply of shells. Afghan rulers had not been sitting on their laurels after the First Afghan war and under Amir Sher Ali had attempted to industrialise. The evidence of the drive to industrialise is present in photos taken of the Kabul workshops after the British occupation commenced. The British were to be blitzed by 30 Afghan built Armstrong artillery pieces, which now devastated the British and Indians who fell hither and thither. Two Afghan Armstrong artillery pieces were located in the dry river bed on the right flank of the British Indian frontline just some 250 yards blasting away to devastating effect.

“There was a deep nullah directly in front of the 66th Regiment and Jacob’s Rifles. The enemy’s guns moved along it protected perfectly from our fire, and placed their guns in every advantageous position. My reason for knowing that there was a nullah in front is that two of the enemy’s guns suddenly appeared which we did not see before…and opened fire on us”.

The Afghan and the Briton had met in open battle and the British had been found wanting.
The water supplies to the British troops were over a mile away carried by beasties (water carriers). The beasties lost their nerve and became too terrified to fetch water from fear of Afghan cavalry cutting them down. Not enough water was now reaching the British Indian army at the same time their shells were exhausted and the sun bore down upon them relentlessly. Worse still the Indian troops had not been provided with any food that day. An army is said to march on its stomach, but only the British officers had received breakfast. From the Afghan position in the dry riverbed, the British and Indians were silhouetted against the horizon and were picked off by the determined Afghans . The British-Indian troops were ordered to lie down, but the Martini Henry was a weapon the troops were trained to use standing upright. “The attackers tightened the cordon, and their smooth bore guns, confident of their range belched out with the perceptible result of British lines swinging to and fro. In spite of the tenacity of their officers, an orderly retreat seemed impossible to perform.” The Afghans had flanked the British Indian army in a horseshoe shape.

Hard times were ahead for the British who were nearly surrounded with an attack upon their rear guard as well, ‘the mass of the enemies cavalry after falling back from our artillery fire moved round and threatened our left flank. All this time I noticed crowds of white coated Ghazies coming from the direction of Maiwand they streamed into the enclosures and village to our right. The firing became general, The enemy gradually advancing and at the time developing flanking movements to both flanks, until we were, as it were in a sort of horse-shoe and completely out flanked on both sides. Sharp firing from the baggage in our rear told that the baggage guard too were engaged’.
“the enemy who surrounded us and must have numbered 15,000 or more – it was difficult to judge. They covered the entire plain, and they had 34 guns to our eight. Fighting began at 11 by day. Heat and thirst terrible”.

Then the Afghan artillery under the command of Ahmed Gul, had been expertly moved forward gradually to cause maximum damage. “The guns were so concealed that we were ignorant of their approach till we saw the smoke. Major Blackwood was wounded. I saw the hole in his leg, but he went on working his guns. Lieut Fowle was also wounded in the arm and went to the rear owing to the smoke I could not well see what was going on our left, but I could see the 66th who were close on my right, the Ghazis seemed to make several attempts to leave the shelter of the nullah and come on, but the searching fire of the Henry Martinis kept them back, although their mounted leaders repeatedly galloped out and wheeled and circled about in the open to encourage them.”

The British artillery near Jacobs’ Rifles retreated hoping to replenish their shells, which alarmed the young troops of Jacobs’ Rifles who were only recent recruits. The Afghan force prepared to advance and according to Afghan folklore a brave Afghan woman named Malalai whose husband, an Afghan commander, had died in the battle used her veil as a standard to rally her husband’s men, by shouting the following landay (couplet) in Pashto,

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

No self respecting Afghan male would have failed to follow their heroine to victory and they were making their way “to rush upon the British centre and left. At this critical juncture two companies of Jacob’s Rifles on the extreme left fell back in disorder, the men, who had been suffering severely from want of water, being completely cowed by the heavy artillery fire to which they had been subjected, and the casualties which had occurred in their ranks. Unsteadied by the Rifles, the 1st Grenadiers, which had twice checked the advance of the enemy also gave way….the collapse of the left flank was complete, the native infantry rolling up like a wave towards the right, Sepoys, surrounded and mixed up with the Ghazis. “The Jacob’s Rifles actually consisted of Pashtun troops and as these troops fell back upon the 66th foot, Burrows ordered a cavalry charge to cover the retreating troops. However, the Afghan artillery had completely demoralized the British cavalry who charged, but the charge “not being driven home it failed and the troopers retired in disorder.”

According to an Afghan historian for five hours the market place of strife operated at fever pitch and in the end, the flag of victory was raised. The British then turned back from their Afghan adversaries with their faces towards Kandahar in full flight.

The battle continued with the British in a panic, “Thrice I fell exhausted after our line was broken, when we retreated in a panic. My Captain was killed.” Not all the troops were for turning tail. “The enemy now swept in in all directions their guns from the heights poured volleys of shot into the ranks” . The 66th Foot met the Afghan advance, Sardar Abdul Kadir Effendi recognised the bravery of these men who fought in pairs back to back against the encircling Afghans in the following words, “The Afghan account of the battle of Maiwand, will not be complete if we omitted the daring episode of a handful of the British infantrymen, who literally fought to the last man and the last shot, to uphold the honour of the flag, which won them the everlasting appreciation of their adversaries.”

The Colours of the Regiment were lost here, “trampled into gory mud by the fierce rush of thousands of ghazis…The spies say that they were found some days afterwards by the villagers who burnt them for the bullion”.

The British troops and officers were in a confused state, “when I got to the left flank I found that a lot of Ghazis and masses of cavalry behind them were pressing very close, they seemed to have the advantage of a nullah on this flank too. There were some of our men and some Scinde Horse in groups and some sowars were dismounted and keeping them back by carbine fire, I received no orders and did the same taking advantage of the cover of a small nullah. I dismounted half my squadron reduced by that time to the strength of a weak troop and commenced firing, the Ghazis weer within about 300 yards but came no closer where I was and we dropped a great many, they were firing too but we were partially concealed. This went on for about ¼ of an hour. I then hear shouts and exclamations behind me and turning round saw a RHA Team thrashing full gallop to the rear without a gun and then one confused mass of gun teams. Infantry and Ghazis all mixed together and our brigade in an utter rout. I mounted my men at once and then saw General Nuttal a little to my right rear pointing his sword behind the retreating Infantry. He shouted to me form a line here. This was the first order I got, I wheeled about and formed as best I could some of the Scinde horse and some more of ours were also being got together in the direction pointed out. This movement placed us with our backs to the Ghazis, we had just been firing at, and they began to close in, as did the masses of cavalry behind them, had the latter then come on they must have overwhelmed our little body of about 150 but their cavalry never do come within striking distance.”

Whilst many of the soldiers acted in a blind panic at least one British officer tried to rally the men to oppose the advancing Afghans, witnessing this disaster and realising he himself and the rest of his men were on the brink of destruction, Colonel St. John cried out to rally his men. As a result of his exhortations and pleas, 200 infantrymen of a Gurkha regiment took cover behind a wall enclosing a garden which ran alongside the road and opened fire on the ghazis. The rest of the British troops continued to flee pell mell in the direction of Kandahar. The ghazis did not back away from the bullets fired by their enemy and despite the numbers of those being felled, overran the enclosing wall, entered the garden, and bravely launched themselves at the Ghurkas. The two sides fought hand-to-hand with bayonet, Kukri and sword. In the end, the Kukri did not avail the Ghurkhas, for not one of the 200 Ghurkhas survived the sword’s keen edge or the bayonet’s piercing fangs and tongue.
“Suffice it to say that about 7 p.m, the struggle ceased, leaving the Afghans to celebrate their unprecedented success. The night veiled the battle-field with its picture of the carnage. For miles the desert was strewn with the limbs and bodies of men and animals, the sacrifice on the altar of Mars to satisfy human vanity.”

Ayub Khan now ordered his cavalry to finish off Burrows’ Girishk column, but his irregular horsemen were not prepared to oblige him. Instead they began looting the abandoned baggage of their enemy. The failure to press home the attack would cost Ayub Khan dearly. The Afghan victory at Maiwand was a crushing defeat for the British losing 962 lives of the British Indian force compared to possibly five times that number of Afghans. More British and Indian lives would have been lost had the Afghan cavalry attacked the force retreating to Kandahar. Under the leadership of Ayub Khan, Afghans had defeated the British in open battle and routed their historic enemy. Ayub had prevailed and so it was that the victor of Maiwand was born and Afghan men could take pride in the heroism of Afghan women.

The surviving British were left to enjoy a desperate retreat on a forty-five mile long journey back to Kandahar. “It was helter skelter for us all and a wild confusion. Only the fact that the Afghans, for some reason, did not follow up their success by pursuing us, made it possible for a soul of us to escape. We were all jumbled up together men, horses, camels, bullocks and camp followers and drivers and we could have been destroyed with ease, helpless as we were through exhaustion of ammunition.”

“In such a flight a man thinks mostly and almost solely of himself…I will give you n illustration…A couple of camels were hurrying past and the native (rifleman) asked the driver to stop. The driver refused whereupon the native raised his rifle and shot him dead, tumbled him off and rode away. I saw no more of him. Maiwand bristled with incidents like that. “

Lieutenant Lonergan of the 66th Regiment of foot was slowed down by a leg wound but he need not have worried since the ever helpful Sepoy would bear the brown man’s burden of bringing his white master to safety. “I hobbled on between two Sepoys at first and then was put by help on a trooper’s horse behind him, and thoroughly exhausted, ultimately on a gun. We were pursued all through the night”.

As Captain Slade recounts in one of the letters : “I never saw such a sight in my life – too awful to describe – I worked hard to save all the wounded men and was rear guard with two guns the whole way.” Slade further writes, “The retreat through the whole night was fearful…We had no water for 32 miles. Men laid down and died of thirst.” Moreover, ”We were fired at all night and all the following morning we had to run the gauntlet through the villages”.

“The piteous cries of the wounded for water was awful on one of my guns, I had Colonel Anderson…shot in the stomach in agonies. Major Oliver 66th completely exhausted, unable to stand or speak”.

The only British prisoner of war captured by the Afghans was interestingly enough detained by Afghan women. A British Lieutenant, named Maclaine, asked some Afghan women at a well for water. He was struck from behind by a well-aimed water pot in the hands of one of the Afghan damsels and they all pounced upon him and took him prisoner. It is noteworthy that while the role of Malalai leading the men into combat is hailed in Afghanistan, the role of other women such as the courageous ladies who took Maclaine prisoner does not have much, if any exposure. What the capture of Maclaine shows is that women at Maiwand would not hesitate to attack the occupation forces. Today some cast doubt on whether Malalai actually led men into battle against the British. I would point out that in this same region during the first Afghan war a woman led men into battle against British forces. Therefore it is quite probable that the Malalai incident happened as detailed according to what is seen by some as a historic legend or nationalistic tale.

Another incident occurred probably at about the same time narrated to Frank A Martin some years after the battle by one of his workers concerning the actions of a Kandahari relative
“there were many stragglers following the main army back towards Kandahar….an Englishman was outside the walls shouting, and on going to the roof, whence he could look over the wall, he saw a Highlander carrying a rifle, who called out to give him some food. The cousin ran back to his room and brought out a rifle, and climbing up to the roof again, knelt behind the wall, and aiming carefully at the soldier, fired. The man dropped but was not killed, as a movement could now and then be observed, and the cousin feared to go out to get the rifle, for which he had shot him; so they kept watch for two days before it was decided that life must be extinct, and during that time the soldier called often and piteously for water, but no one went near, fearing vengeance as there was life left in him.”

It was after the British defeat upon the plain of Maiwand, that the following landey was composed to honour Ayub,

“The wives of the British are crying in India
We’ll all be widows if this Ayub lives long.”

The next day the Afghans were alarmed to see British cavalry advancing towards them, “Next morning, while the Afghans were engaged in burying their dead and succouring their wounded news came of a fresh British advance. This was too disconcerting. A detachment of the Herati forces with two mountain guns, decamped, before and led back, with severe warnings for the future. The alarm subsided immediately it was discovered, that Walis body-guard, had come to surrender. The excitement was caused by their newly issued uniforms, which were the same as that of the British cavalry.

Soon the British were invested in Kandahar. Sirdar Ayub Khan establishing his headquarters at Chihilzina, while his guns were trying their hardest to bring about the surrender of the enemy. The British artillery fire forced the Afghans to shift to Koh-i-Nigar, a safer position. Sirdar Mohammed Hussain Khan, one of Ayub’s cousin commanders, resorted to clever tactics of opening up with a mountain gun and retiring to safety, just to draw the enemy’s fire and exhaust their limited stock of ammunition.

…After a fortnight’s tenacious actions, Ayub had practically relinquished all hopes of reducing Kandahar by force. But on the 16th August 1880, the English gave battle, which they calculated would be decisive. But nothing of that sort happened. .. Great excitement prevailed on the morning of the above-mentioned date, with rumours that the English were about to retire to India. Ayub grasped the clever ruse, and thus kept his reinforcements in trim to join their comrades near the walls of Kandahar. But the Afghans in a delirium rushed on the wall manned by the British forces. This was occasioned by the appearance of the Qazilbashees on the parapets with the tiding that the British were on the go. This led to a stampede, which gave the British ample time to mature their plan. When the besiegers rushed forward, they were received with a withering fire, while simultaneously a British infantry battalion emerged from Kabul gate and a cavalry regiment issued from Hazrutji one, to envelop the enemy. The Afghans were soon caught between cross fires, from the rampart and the field. Ayub rushed his reinforcements to turn the table which they did. Thus soon after Maiwand, he scored yet another great triumph in the Battle of Dekhowaja, as the Afghans call it, and the “sortie of the 16th of August 1880” as the English would like to remember the contest. The English were not only beaten back, but the Afghans recovered the guns they had lost in the early stages of the battle, and the carnage inflicted on the enemy included Brigadier-General Brooke, who bravely fell in action. Nevertheless the Afghans could not bring the British to their knees and having suffered appalling losses the parties slept till Roberts arrived on the scene to stir the embers.”

The British under Roberts fought with Sirdar Muhammad Ayub’s army, which was beaten and retreated. Colonel Shayr Muhammad Khan was a Hazarah who with one hundred men from his infantry regiment held off eight English regular infantry regiments for an hour with great bravery, allowing the forces of Sirdar Muhammed Ayub to safely escape the clutches of General Roberts. Two of the Colonel’s horses were shot out from under him and most of his one hundred infantrymen became martyrs. Finally he and his surviving companions journeyed to link up again with Sirdar Muhammad Ayub’s army.”

The defeated lover who battled bravely would receive a warm welcome at home,
“May you (my lover) come home all torn up with black bullets,
And I’ll mend your wounds and cover you with kisses”.

Muhammad Ayub Khan had failed to press home his advantage and should not have bothered to continue besieging Kandahar. Instead he could have moved rapidly to the Ghilzai territory and inspired the Ghilzai tribesmen to harass Roberts and stop his advance through guerrilla warfare. Amir Abdur Rahman aided in Roberts’ uncontested advance to Kandahar by advising the Ghilzai that “the Amir was sending this party of the infidels out of the country by the way of Kandahar and that if they stirred from their homes to disturb them by so much as even throwing a stone they did so at their peril.” The lesson of rapid moves to take territory and increase the support base of his forces was not practised by Ayub Khan.

While the Afghan heroine Malalai emerged from the war as a tribute to the formidable character of Afghan women, Britain indulged in a spot of fictional hero making. The Character of Watson companion to Sherlock Holmes was based on the 66th Foot Regiments Medical Officer Surgeon Major J F Preston, who was wounded at the battle. Today many in Britain will be familiar with Watson but few if any recall the great cast iron lion erected at Forbury Park, Reading bearing around the base the names of those who died on a foreign battlefield never again to see the green and pleasant land of England.

British writers are of course free to indulge in flights of fantasy and create the character of Watson. However, the Afghan Government was confused as to how to respond when some British admirers of Watson requested the erection of a monument at Maiwand to Watson.

Today as a fresh generation of British troops have experienced the gruelling demands of warfare in Afghanistan, two British medical officers recalled Watson and wrote an interesting article entitled ‘You Have Been In Afghanistan, I Perceive’ comparing the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictitious character Dr John Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ colleague, with the real life Doctor Alexander Francis Preston, said to be the inspiration for Watson.


In summary, the fact that no written account of Malalai has emerged from the British side does not negate the Afghan oral folklore in favour of Malalai’s role in this battle. It remains the case that even in respect of the first Anglo-Afghan war when an Afghan lady led men into battle at Zamindawar, there was only one British narrator of this incident . The battle at Maiwand was intensely contested by both sides and it is far from certain that those British troops who may have seen Malalai survived to tell the tale, let alone write about this episode. It is indeed ironic that part of the rationale of the post 9/11 foreign invasion of Afghanistan was to liberate the women of Afghanistan. The old lessons of the Anglo-Afghan wars have not been learned by Britain’s’ military chiefs whose vanity was greater than their historic knowledge or the capabilities of their troops. As Dr Mike Martin a Pashto speaking British Captain who served in Helmand “said the Army was oblivious to the historical animosity felt by the local population towards their former colonial masters who assumed that the British wanted payback for the Anglo-Afghan wars of the 1840s. He said this view was encouraged by the aggressive tactics which left areas decimated.” When Ashraf Ghani learned of the fact that the Karzai regime was sending British troops to Afghanistan, Ghani was shocked predicting a bloodbath because the people had long memories of the first and second Anglo-Afghan war occupations by the British and stated that Britain was the one country that should not be involved in Southern Afghanistan. The tragedy of stationing British forces in Helmand on the old battlegrounds of the first and second Anglo-Afghan wars was a post-imperial folly. Indeed one can go further than Ghani and make the argument that Britain is one of those nations that should never have been allowed to send combat troops to Afghanistan let alone to Helmand.

Book by the same author:






The graves of the martyrs of the Battle of Maiwand. Photo courtesy: Farrukh Husain



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




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



The graves of the martyrs of the Battle of Maiwand. Photo courtesy: Farrukh Husain



Collecting stones to place on Malalai’s grave. Photo courtesy: Farrukh Husain



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




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