Friday, December 03, 2004

Churchill On The Frontier - Mamund Valley

September 1897 - our hero has joined Sir Bindon Blood's Malakand Field Force just in time for a scrap.

Churchill (behind the scorer) on the polo field 1897

Our march to the Mohmand country led us past the mouth of the Mamund Valley. This valley is a pan-shaped plain nearly ten miles broad. No dispute existed between us and the Mamunds. Their reputation was pestilential, and the greatest care was taken to leave them alone. But the spectacle of the camp with its beautifully-ruled lines of shelters against the sun, with its cluster of hospital tents and multitudes of horses, camels, mules and donkeys, was too much for the Mamunds. Our fires twinkling in a wide quadrilateral through the night offered a target too tempting for human nature as developed on the Indian frontier. Sniping by individuals was inevitable and began after dark upon the camp of our leading brigade. No great harm was done. A few men were wounded. Sir Bindon Blood continued his dinner impassively, although at one moment we were obliged to put out the candles.

In the morning, overlooking Mamund impudence, we marched on to Nawagai. But the tribesmen were now excited, and when our second Brigade which was following at two days' interval arrived, hundreds of men, armed with every kind of weapon from the oldest flintlock to the latest rifle, spent three exhilarating hours in firing continuously into the crowded array of men and animals. The great bulk of the troops had already dug themselves shallow pits, and the whole camp bad been surrounded with a shelter trench. Nevertheless this night's sport cost them about forty officers and men, and many horses and animals besides.

On this being reported, Sir Bindon Blood sent orders to retaliate. General Jeffreys commanding the second Brigade was told to enter the Mamund Valley on the following day and chastise the truculent assailants. The chastisement was to take the form of marching up their valley, which is a cul de sac, to its extreme point, destroying all the crops, breaking the reservoirs of water, blowing up as many castles as time permitted, and shooting anyone who obstructed the process. “If you want to see a fight," said Sir Bindon to me, " you may ride back and join Jeffreys”. So availing myself of an escort of Bengal Lancers which was returning to the second Brigade, I picked my way gingerly through the ten miles of broken ground which divided the two camps, and arrived at Jeffreys' Headquarters before nightfall.

All night long the bullets flew across the camp; but everyone now had good holes to lie in, and the horses and mules were protected to a large extent. At earliest dawn on September 16 our whole Brigade, preceded by a squadron of Bengal Lancers, marched in warlike formation into the Mamund Valley and was soon widely spread over its extensive area. There were three separate detachments, each of which had its own punitive mission to fulfil. As these diverged fanwise, and as our total number did not exceed twelve hundred fighting men, we were all soon reduced to quite small parties. I attached myself to the centre column whose mission it was to proceed to the farthest end of the valley. I began by riding with the cavalry.

We got to the head of the valley without a shot being fired. The villages and the plain were equally deserted. As we approached the mountain wall our field-glasses showed us clusters of tiny figures gathered on a conical hill. From these little blobs the sun threw back at intervals bright flashes of steel as the tribesmen waved their swords. This sight gave everyone the greatest pleasure, and our leading troop trotted and cantered forward to a small grove of trees which stood within rifle shot of the conical hill. Here we dismounted - perhaps fifteen carbines in all - and opened fire at seven hundred yards' range. Instantly the whole hill became spotted with white puffs of smoke, and bullets began to whistle through our little grove. This enjoyable skirmish crackled away for nearly an hour, and meanwhile the infantry toiled nearer and nearer to us across the plain.

When they arrived it was settled that the leading company of the 35th Sikhs should attack the conical hill and two more companies should proceed up a long spur to the left of it towards a village whose roofs could be seen amid the boulders and waving Indian corn of the mountain-side. The cavalry meanwhile would guard the plain, and keep connection with the reserve of our force under the Brigadier, which consisted mainly of the Buffs (the East Kent Regiment). I decided to go with the second party up the long spur towards the village. I gave my pony to a native and began to toil up the hillside with the infantry. It was frightfully hot. The sun, nearing the meridian, beat upon one's shoulders. We plodded and stumbled upwards for nearly an hour - now through high patches of Indian corn, now over boulders, now along stony tracks or over bare slopes - but always mounting. A few shots were fired from higher up the mountain; but otherwise complete peace seemed to reign. As we ascended, the whole oval pan of the Mamund Valley spread out behind us, and pausing to mop my brow, I sat on a rock and surveyed it. It was already nearly eleven o'clock.

The first thing that struck me was that there were no troops to be seen. About half a mile from the foot of the spur a few of the Lancers were dismounted. Far off against the distant mountain wall a thin column of smoke rose from a burning castle. Where was our Army? They had marched twelve hundred strong only a few hours ago, and now the valley had swallowed them all up. I took out my glasses and searched the plain. Mud villages and castles here and there, the deep-cut water-courses, the gleam of reservoirs, occasional belts of cultivation, isolated groves of trees - all in a sparkling atmosphere backed by serrated cliffs - but of a British-Indian brigade, no sign. It occurred to me for the first time that we were a very small party: five British officers including myself, and probably eighty-five Sikhs. That was absolutely all; and here were at the very head of the redoubtable Mamund Valley, scrambling up to punish its farthest village. I was fresh enough from Sandhurst to remember the warnings about “dispersion of forces," and certainly it seemed that the contrast between the precautions which our strong force had taken moving out of camp in the morning and the present position of our handful of men, was remarkable. However, like most young fools I was looking for trouble, and only hoped that something exciting would happen. It did!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

How To Improve Behaviour

Worried about kids behaving badly north of the Border ?

The obvious thing to do is to criminalise parents who smack their children. After all, violence breeds violence.

It seems to be a really successful policy.

A police spokesman said: "A 47-year-old woman was injured following an incident at Pinewood Primary in Drumchapel on Wednesday, 24 November.

"An eight-year-old boy will be the subject of a report to the Children's Panel in connection with the incident."

A Scottish Executive report into teachers' perceptions of indiscipline showed an increase on the last study carried out in 1996.

It also found that 56% of teachers said pupils had been physically aggressive to other children, which was a 50% rise on eight years ago.

About 11% said pupils racially abused others which was almost double the 1996 figure and 33% said they had witnessed sexual abuse or harassment, which was an increase of 16%.

Teachers also said they had been the subject of abuse, with 2% of secondary school teachers reporting racist abuse, which was up from 0.5%.

The study found 8% reported physical aggression - up from 1% - and verbal abuse was reported by 45% of teachers, up from 27%.

Further to that, 39% of teachers said pupils had been physically destructive, compared to 18% in 1996, while 84% said children persistently broke class rules, as opposed to 72% eight years earlier.


As long as I can remember the Left in Britain has assumed moral equivalence between Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein/IRA and the Rev. Ian Paisley of the DUP.

But this morning's Independent front page has no difficulty distinguishing between the good guys and the bad guys.

Two large photographs - one of Adams and an unflattering one of Paisley.

Adams' caption describes him as a 'champion of the republican cause'. No mention of the people murdered by his organisation. If you have a strong stomach you can see a few of them here.

Paisley, on the other hand, who has consistently condemned violence from both sides in the 'troubles', is a 'hard-liner'.

The Indie gets more sickening every day.

Rasputin Lashes Out

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a fatwa against those Churchmen who "words that could make it easier for someone to attack or abuse a homosexual person".

"As I write these words, I have in mind the recent brutal and unprovoked murder of a homosexual man in London by a group of violent and ignorant youths."

He is so right. Christian extremists must be the prime suspects here. Almost certainly the six young people arrested for this crime will turn out to be regular churchgoers, inflamed by the rampant homophobia preached weekly from what loose Canon Slee has called 'The Taleban wing of the Church'.

Only one of David Morley's alleged attackers, a nineteen year old market trader, has been named. He is said to have regularly attended sermons at the notorious St Michael Cornhill in London, where fanatical Christian the Rev. Peter Mullen preaches.

Three of the other accused attend black Evangelical churches, while the two girls accused of watching and photographing the attack on mobiles regularly attend Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

We can reveal that these homophobic extremists justify their sick hatred with a book which they claim contains instructions on how to live. This book has been banned in more aware, gay-friendly countries, such as Saudi Arabia. And you can see why. It's only a matter of time before the Archbishop condemns this hateful text.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination - Leviticus 18:22

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them - Leviticus 20:13

For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error - Romans 1 26:27.

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers-none of these will inherit the kingdom of God - 1 Corinthians 6 9:10.

Monday, November 29, 2004

"Children do not belong to their parents"

Commissar Hattersley speaks.

"The State is no more than the collective will of the people".

Margaret Hodge possesses "admirable common-sense".

And the clinching moral argument.

"Failed families add to the tax bills".

On the subject of Ms Hodge, I was interested (but not surprised) to read on the weekend that she is
a) a millionairess who inherited £8 million from her family
b) privately educated
c) married to a high court judge
A true daughter of the people, just like the privately-educated diplomat's daughter Harriet Harman. I wonder if the third Weird Sister, Tessa Jowell, is also privately educated ?

Time to bring back this bloke, methinks.

English Departments Against The War

Graffiti in Cheltenham, Glos, February 2002.

Happy Birthday

C.S. Lewis.

The barbarians come, Lewis told us, not over the parapet, not carrying their clubs and wielding their weapons, but they come with polished fingernails and blue pin-striped suits, gathering in well-lighted conference rooms. They are the good people who say that they know how to make life better for all of us.

Justice For James

When the website closed I assumed James Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus, had given up the fight for justice for her son, defeated by a criminal justice system institutionally biased in favour of the offender and against the victim. The boys who abducted the toddler, sexually tortured him (batteries had been inserted in his anus) and beat him to death with bricks served less than eight years in youth custody before being released, during which time they were given one-to-one schooling, a better education than poor James could ever have had.

On their release Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss granted an injunction guaranteeing the killers anonymity for life, and a fortune was spent on resettling them under assumed names.

James' mother hasn't given up.

From the News Of The World story.

In a long-running battle with the Home Office, distraught Denise has asked for pictures of the killers and a meeting with them.
"Jack Straw, (the then Home Secretary) the probation service, the social workers and the judges have all kept me in the dark. But the system does not really care about victims and their families," said Denise.
"They refused me point blank—so when I got the letter I decided to take action myself."

Denise hit out at the lifetime injunction that bans publication of anything that might identify the killers.
"I think it is disgusting newspapers cannot report about them now," she said. "There are families out there with young kids who are probably playing close by them and they don't know who they are."

She admitted she once wondered whether she could forgive her son's killers if she ever met them.
"Before I saw Thompson, I did think that if I ever saw his face then maybe I could in some way forgive him, but now that I have I still can't," said Denise.
"I still have the hate inside me from the day they murdered my James. There will be no closure for me. And I am only telling what I am doing now because I want people to know that I haven't given up.