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'Our friends the enemy Bhittanni khassadars', North West Frontier, 1937

Photograph, North West Frontier, India, 1937.

Bhittani paramilitary forces. The caption suggests that the British and Indian forces deployed to the Bhittani region did not trust these auxiliaries.

In September 1937 the construction of a road terminating at the main Bhittani settlement of Kot was initiated to help suppress unrest and end raiding into British controlled areas. The effect was to provoke more organised resistance from local tribes until peace terms were settled in late October 1937.

In late 1936 there was growing agitation against British rule in Waziristan, led by the Waziri leader Ghazi Mirzali Khan Wazir, 'the Fakir of Ipi'. In response the British launched a military operation into the Khaisora Valley, hoping that a show of strength alone would suffice to reduce unrest. However, the two main columns of troops met stiff resistance and their supply lines were disrupted, forcing them to retire. The operation's failure triggered a wider insurrection and the ensuing guerrilla war drew in more British and Indian forces. Over 30,000 troops, together with aircraft and armoured cars, were deployed to the region. Violence subsided in late 1937 and after brief flare-ups in 1938 and 1939 the North West Frontier was relatively quiet until India became independent in 1947.

From an album of 347 photographs compiled by Captain (later Major) Wynne Howes-Roberts, 1st Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles, India and UK, 1936-1937.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1997-12-12-280


National Army Museum, Out of Copyright


National Army Museum, Study collection

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