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10 OCTOBER

BRITISH BLOW UP THE GREAT BAZAR OF KABUL – “AN INEXCUSABLE ACT OF VANDALISM”

[ 10 October 1842 ]

On this day in 1842 British troops under the command of Major-General Sir George Pollock, following the instructions of India’s Governor General, Lord Ellenborough, to leave “some lasting mark of the just retribution of an outraged nation,” blew up the Great Bazar of Kabul which occupied the area around the city’s central square, as well as two mosques. General Roberts, who was to order the execution of dozens of Afghans in Kabul thirty seven years later, called it “an inexcusable act of vandalism.”[1]

The looting and destruction, didn’t stop there. As the Reverend Isaac Allen noted in his diary. “Every kind of disgraceful outrage was suffered to go on in the town,” adding that “the shops were broken into and rifled; every sort of plunder was displayed and offered for sale in the lines of both camps.”[2]

FOOTNOTES

  1. Lord Ellenborough quoted in Saul David (2007), “Victoria’s Wars: The Rise of Empire,” Penguin Books, London p71 and General Roberts quoted in G.S. Chhabra, (2005) “Advanced Study in the History of Modern India: Volume II 1813-1920,” Lotus Press, New Delhi, p103
  2. The Reverend Isaac Allen quoted in Margaret Kekewich, “Retreat and Retribution in Afghanistan 1842: Two Journals of the First Afghan War,” Pen and Sword Military, Barnsley, p146.

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