The March 2012 issue of Military History Monthly, the British military history magazine, is on sale today.
The Battle of Maiwand — 27 July 1880
Patrick Mercer analyses what went wrong at Britain’s shocking defeat in Afghanistan in 1880, just a year after the similarly disastrous Battle of Isandlwana.
History of the British Army — Tourcoing 17-18 May 1794
After a string of defeats in the opening campaigns of the French Revolutionary War, it was at Tourcoing that the need for drastic British military reform became clear.
Jutland — the combat experience
Oral historian Peter Hart reconstructs the chaotic human experience of the Battle of Jutland.
Apocalypse — the fall of Jerusalem
MHM Editor Neil Faulkner revisits one of the most bitterly contested struggles in ancient military history.
Killing ‘The Beast’ — the struggle to destroy the Tirpitz
Naval historian Patrick Boniface charts the campaign to destroy the maritime menace posed by Europe’s largest ever battleship.
Also in this issue: War Culture, Book Reviews, and Battlefield guides.
From the editor
Is Afghanistan always a military disaster waiting to happen? Patrick Mercer’s lead feature this issue implies the answer may be yes.
The British defeat by the Zulus at Isandlwana in 1879 is more famous, but the defeat at Maiwand the following year was equally calamitous.
In the historic killing-fields of Helmand, General Burrows’ little army of 2,700 found itself up against some 20,000 Afghans – regulars, tribesmen, cavalry, and skilled artillerymen with 30 guns. Raked by fire, taken in flank, facing fearless charges by thousands of jihadists, the thin line of British regulars and Indian sepoys disintegrated.
The British, under General Roberts, who made an epic relief march from Kabul to Kandahar, recovered. But the lesson was clear: if you invade Afghanistan, you will not be welcome, and you cannot afford to linger.
Patrick quotes an old Afghan saying: ‘Our enemies may have the watches, but we have the time.’ So it has always been. The Afghans have defeated every foreign invader since Alexander the Great. Eventually.
All the signs are that the lesson has not been leaned. The guns of Maiwand still echo in the hills of Helmand.