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Appendix 10

(Referred to in Chapter LIX, Footnote 2.)

Extract from a Report by LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR FREDERICK ROBERTS, V.C., K.C.B., to the QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL IN INDIA, dated Kabul, 17th April, 1880.

25. I think I have now dealt with all the points of military importance connected with the military position in northern Afghanistan, but there are a few questions of more general interest which I desire to bring to the notice of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief and the Government of India.

26. First with regard to rations. The daily scale of issue to Native troops is given in the margin.

[Sidenote: Daily ration of Native soldiers:

Daily ration of
Native soldiers:
Atta1 - - -
Dall3 - - -
Ghi4 - - -
Salt - - -
Meat - - -
Rum - - -
12 chittacks 2
2 chittacks
1 chittack
13 chittack
1 lb. bi-weekly
1 dram   "


It has been found throughout the campaign, even when the men were employed upon hard work, that '12 chittacks' of 'atta' daily are amply sufficient for the Native troops, supplemented, as of late, through the liberality of Government, by a bi-weekly issue of 1 lb. of meat. In a climate like Afghanistan, where the inhabitants are all meat-eaters, this liberality has been most wise. Every endeavour was made, before this sanction was granted, to supply the Native portion of the force with meat on payment, and I attribute to this in great measure the sound health and excellent stamina which they now exhibit.

With regard to the issue of rum, I would suggest that it should not be issued free to Native troops, except under exceptional circumstances of fatigue and weather, but that the Commissariat Department should be authorized to have in store a sufficiency of rum to admit of a bi-weekly issue to such troops as drink the spirit, on payment, and then only on the recommendation of the Medical Officer, and under the sanction of the General Officer commanding. On all occasions when rum is sanctioned, either free or on payment, those who do not partake of spirits should he allowed a ration of tea and sugar under similar conditions.

27. The scale of rations for Native followers requires no alteration.

[Sidenote: Daily ration of European soldiers:

Daily ration of
European soldiers:
Meat - - -
Bread - -
Vegetables - - -
Rice - - -
Salt - - -
Tea - - -
Sugar - - -
Rum - - -
1¼ lb.
1¼ lb.
1¼ lb.
  4 oz.
 23 oz.
 ¾ oz.
  3 oz.
  1 dr.

28. The European rations now under issue in Kabul are as per margin, and with reference to them I would make the following remarks: The increase of 1/4 lb. in bread and meat is, in my opinion, very desirable, for not only is the meat, as a rule, on service inferior to that served in cantonments, but the extras which can be procured from the coffee-shop are not here forthcoming. When the vegetable ration consists of potatoes, 1 lb. is sufficient, but when it is made of mixed vegetables 1-1/4 lb. is necessary. The substitution of dall for any portion of the vegetable ration I consider undesirable.

Tinned soups and meats and biscuits are most valuable, and should be liberally supplied to every force in the field. They are portable and liked by the men, to whom they furnish a very welcome change of diet. I would very strongly recommend that a much larger issue of these articles than has hitherto been sanctioned should be provided.

[Sidenote: Firewood.]

29. A question which has arisen during this campaign, and which may crop up again, has been the provision of firewood for cooking to Native troops and followers. Throughout the winter firewood could not be purchased at Kabul, and it was absolutely necessary to issue it to these men. This was done at the rate of one seer[5] per man, but this amount is not arbitrary, and might, under certain circumstances, be diminished. Since roads were re-opened and markets re-established the issue of wood has been discontinued. In framing any future rules for the guidance of a force in the field, the question of providing firewood through the Commissariat Department for Native troops and followers, free or on payment, should be vested in the General Officers commanding.

[Sidenote: Shoes.]

30. The scale of clothing authorized by Government for Native troops and followers was found, even in the rigorous climate of Afghanistan, to be most liberal, except that during the very coldest weather a second blanket was required. This want I was able to meet from stock in hand, and as the weather became milder these extra blankets were withdrawn and returned into store. Warm stockings, too, are very necessary in a climate where frostbite is not uncommon; fortunately, some thousands were procured locally and issued to followers. The ordinary Native shoe of India, as provided by the Commissariat Department, is utterly unfitted for a country such as Afghanistan. Major Badcock will send to Peshawar (where they can easily be made up) a pattern Kabali shoe, which I am convinced would be found admirably suited for Native troops and followers crossing the frontier. We are now almost entirely dependent on the local market for our shoes.

[Sidenote: Ammunition boots.]

A large supply of English-made ammunition boots should always accompany a force in the field, in order to allow those Natives who use them, and who are often crippled by wearing other descriptions of shoe, to obtain them on payment at the moderate rate now fixed, viz., Rs. 4 per pair.

[Sidenote: Waterproof sheets.]

The country-made waterproof sheets, though slightly heavier, have proved themselves quite as serviceable, if not more so, than the English-made ones.

At the close of the campaign, I would very strongly recommend that an intelligent committee should be required to go thoroughly into these questions of clothing for troops, British and Native, and for followers. I would also suggest that when a decision is arrived at, sealed patterns of every article approved should be deposited at all manufacturing centres and in all the large jails, so that when certain articles are required they need only be called for, and precious time (often wasted in reference and correspondence) saved.

[Sidenote: Doolie-bearers.]

31. The number of doolie-bearers with the two divisions of the Kabul Field Force now at Kabul is 3,536, with the very moderate sick report of 35, or 1 per cent. of strength.

Doolies and dandies are distributed as follows:

British troops {doolies, 3 per cent. {dandies, 2 per cent.

Native troops {doolies, 2 per cent. {dandies, 3 per cent.

--a percentage which I consider sufficient for field-service, as, in the event of any unusual number of casualties, transport animals could and would be made use of, and it is most undesirable to increase the number of followers.

[Sidenote: The Lushai dandy.]

The Lushai dandy for this sort of warfare is much preferable to the carpet or dhurrie dandy, as it can be made into a bed, and men are not so liable to fall out of it.

[Sidenote: Bourke's doolie.]

Bourke's doolie is very good, but liable to get out of order, and difficult to repair when broken; the ordinary kind is fairly good and serviceable.

[Sidenote: Field-service tents.]

32. I would urge that in future all field-service tents should be made after the pattern of the Mountain Battery tent, single fly for Natives, double for Europeans, and that the poles should be constructed on the telescopic principle: that is, that no thinning of the wood where it enters the socket should be allowed either on uprights or ridge-pole, and that the old system of paring away should be abandoned. Instead, the upper section should sit flat on the lower. Doubtless the sockets will have to be longer and stronger than those now in use, but this is the only means by which tents can be adapted to mule and pony carriage, which will no doubt in future wars be our chief means of transport.

[Sidenote: Waler horses.]

33. The Waler horses of the Cavalry and Artillery have stood the strain remarkably well, considering the hard work and great exposure they have had to bear, and also that for a considerable time they were entirely deprived of green food. I feel sure this information will be most satisfactory, seeing that, for the future, the Artillery and Cavalry in India must mainly depend upon the Australian market for their remounts.

[Sidenote: Committee to record suggestions on equipment.]

34. As there are some minor points of detail which might advantageously be considered by those who have had the experience of recent service, I have convened a committee, with Colonel MacGregor, C.B., as President, which will take suggestions and record opinions regarding packing transport animals, equipment, kit, dress, etc., of both officers and men of the several branches of the service. From the constitution of the committee, I feel certain that their recommendations cannot but be valuable, and I hope to have the honour of submitting them shortly for the consideration of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief.

[Footnote 1: Flour.]

[Footnote 2: A chittack = 2 ounces.]

[Footnote 3: A kind of pea.]

[Footnote 4: Clarified butter.]

[Footnote 5: A seer = 2 lb.]