4 August 1930
On 4 August 1930, the R.A.F. commenced a nine day bombing campaign, deploying over 70 aircraft on 1,835 hours of sorties against Afridi villages, deemed to be unfriendly. Most of the settlements were located in the Bara Valley in the remote North West Frontier region of British India, although the surrounding valleys were also targeted. In just one day some 6,000 bombs were dropped.1 A report in the Daily Herald noted that, because the Afridis had removed their dead and wounded it was not possible to give figures of casualties, but somehow Britain’s Chief Commissioner, based many miles away in the city of Peshawar, still managed to come up with an estimate of 50 killed and 100 injured. There was no comment on how many of these were likely to have been women, children and peasant farmers.2
Despite the high casualty figures of even the official estimate, or possibly because of them, there was great satisfaction in the press at the result. Typically, the Scotsman lauded ‘the splendid work accomplished by the Air Force,’ while the Daily Herald noted that ‘the damage inflicted by the Royal Air Force along the valley has been very impressive’ and the Birmingham Gazette under the headline ‘Bombing Planes Teach a Lesson,’ reported that the ‘air reprisals against the villages of Chamkani and Mozai are felt to have had a salutary effect’ and that the ‘heavy punishment inflicted undoubtedly had a sobering effect on the tribes concerned.’3
- ‘R.A.F. planes check the Afridis,’ The Hull Daily Mail, 12 August 1930, p. 1.
- Afridis Bombed for Nine Days,’ The Daily Herald, 22 August 1930, p. 4.
- ‘1835 Hours Flying’, The Scotsman, 22 August 1930, p. 10, ‘Planes Beat Tribes,’ The Daily Herald, 18 August 1930, p. 9 and ‘Bombing Planes Teach a Lesson’, The Birmingham Gazette, 19 August 1930, p. 5.
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