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3585 Sapper Hazara Singh
No. 4 Company, Bengal Sappers and Miner

MEDAL: India General Service, 1854-1895 CLASP: Hazara 1891

NAMING: 3585 Sapper Hazara Singh, Bl Sappers & Miners

ENTITLEMENT: The clasp [HAZARA 1891] was awarded for the operations of the Hazara Field Force under Major General W.K. Elles, C.B., against the Hassanzais and Akazais in the Black Mountain during the period 12 March to 16 May 1891.

The objectives of the British operations were to assert their right to move along the crest of Black Mountain; to inflict punishment on the clans that had recently shown hostility to a force under Sir John McQueen; and to occupy the country until complete submission had been made. In consequence of the experience gained in 1888 it was decided that Oghi, Tilli and Pabal Gali would be occupied. The advance would be made by the Indus line, whence the Hassanzai and Akazai villages and lands could most easily be reached and where the conditions of warfare would be more favorable to the British troops.


Left or River Column (Brigadier R.F. Williamson) Right or Tilli Column Brigadier A.G. Hammond, V.C.
No. 1 Mountain Battery Royal Artillery (3 guns) No. 9 Mountain Battery Royal Artillery
Derajat Mountain Battery (3 guns) 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers
2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders 11th Bengal Infantry
Headquarters Wing 32nd Pioneers Wing 32nd Pioneers
37th Dogras 2nd Battalion 5th Gurkhas
Guides Infantry Khyber Rifles
4th Sikhs  
Divisional Troops at Darband Divisional Troops at Oghi
Squadron, 11th Bengal Lancers Squadron, 11th Bengal Lancers
No. 4 Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners Derajat Mountain Battery (3 guns)
Pontoon Section, "A" Company, Bengal S. & M. 28th Bengal Infantry
Telegraph Detachment, Madras Sappers & Miners  
Cooly Corps (200 men)  

In Reserve at Rawal Pindi
Squadron, 11th Bengal Lancers
1st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps
19th Bengal Infantry
27th Bengal Infantry


Commander Royal Engineers
Lieutenant Colonel W.L. Greenstreet, R.E.

Captain A.H. Mason, R.E. (Intelligence Officer) Captain R.A. Wahab, R.E. (Survey Officer)
Captain A.W. Sandbach, R.E. (A.D.C.) Captain F.G. Bond, R.E. (Field Engineer, 1st Brigade)
Captain H.E.S. Abbott, R.E. (Field Engineer, 2nd Brigade) Lieutenant C.S. Rose, R.E. (Assistant Field Engineer)
Lieutenant G.F.H. Le Breton-Simmon, R.E. (Assistant Field Engineer)
No. 4 Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners Pontoon Section, "A" Company, Bengal Sappers & Miners
Captain F.J. Aylmer, R.E. Captain P.T. Buston, R.E.
Lieutenant T. Fraser, R.E. CSM T. Crofton, Bengal Sappers & Miners
Lieutenant H.R. Stockley, R.E. Telegraph Detachment, Madras S. & M.
Lieutenant F.F.N. Rees, R.E. Lieutenant G.D. Close, R.E.
Cooly Corps  
Lieutenant H.C.I. Birdwood  
H.Q. and Left Wing, 32nd Pioneers Right Wing, 32nd Pioneers
Colonel Sir Benjamin Bromhead, Bart., C.B., Cmdg. Captain W.H. Jameson, Commanding
Captain DeBrath Captain Brander
Captain McKenzie Lieutenant Baird, 24th Punjab Infantry (attached)
Lieutenant Peterson Lieutenant Garden
Lieutenant Bell  


Tactical Operations

Sapper Hazara Singh and the men of No. 4 Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners joined the Divisional Troops at Darband early in March 1891. The advance northward to the Black Mountain along the Indus River from Darband commenced on the 12th of March 1891 for the purpose of attacking the more important Hassanzai and Akazai villages. Singh's company began almost immediately to construct roads and telegraph lines in support of the advance of the column.

Kotkai was occupied on the evening of the 12th of March and little opposition was experienced until the 19th when a British outpost a short distance upstream was attacked violently by the tribesmen. Small engagements occurred near Palosai (Palosi) on the right bank and later at Kanhar, Diliarai (near Bakrai) and Darbanai on the left bank during a methodical advance up the Indus. In April the operations were extended eastwards from Bakrai into the heart of the Black Mountain, the base being shifted to Oghi and the river line of communication abandoned. The brief campaign came to an end on the 17th of April 1891 and within the next fortnight the tribesmen made their submission and accepted the terms imposed on them.

Engineering Work

Prior to the start of the expedition, a detachment of Bengal Sappers and Miners (the Pontoon Section of "A" Company) was sent to Attock to get sufficient boats up the Indus to make a bridge above Darband. As there was no road suitable for the transport of pontoons, it was considered that native boats would be employed. Boats were engaged at Attock and coolies hired to tow them up the river. Several boats were lost in the river, and when the detachment arrived at Kotkai on the 12th of March and the troops came over the mountains and wished to cross the river, the Sappers had just enough boats for a bridge. The Kotkai bridge, 110 yards in length, was completed on the 16th of March and on the 23rd a flying bridge was established with two boats at Bakrai, some 3 miles upstream. This resulted in a large gathering of tribesmen at Diliarai on a hill overlooking the bridge. Some sharp fighting ensued to gain and retain possession of the hill, but the bridge was well covered and remained in constant use. The Kotkai bridge was dismantled on the 9th of April and the Bakrai flying bridge a few days later.

While the main body of the expedition was entrenched on the Palosi plains on the right bank of the Indus, the Right Column occupied the heights on the left bank. No. 4 Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners was working on a road between these heights and the river. One night the company was ordered to camp in a village half way up the heights in a very isolated situation without signalling communication. Captain Aylmer with his Pathan Jemadar, was considering the best dispositions for the night when the Jemadar suddenly observed some tribesmen on the move a long way off and said: "They will attack us tonight, Sahib." At dawn a runner arrived with a message from Captain A.H. Mason, the Division Intelligence Officer, saying that he hoped that all was well with the company and that a small lashkar had set out to attack them. The attack did not eventuate, possibly owing to Captain Aylmer's skilful dispositions.

Most of the expeditionary force was withdrawn from the Black Mountain before the middle of June 1891, but Sapper Singh and No. 4 Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners remained there until November with four battalions of infantry and a battery of artillery. The attached Pontoon Section had returned to Roorkee on the 22nd of April.


GORDON, L.L. British Battles and Medals. Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1971.

MacMUNN, G. The History of the Sikh Pioneers (23rd, 32nd, 34th). Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd., London.

PARRITT, B.A.H. Red with Two Blue Stripes: The Story of the India General Service Medal 1854. Charles A. Lusted, Tunbridge Wells, 1974.

SANDES, E.W.C. The Indian Sappers and Miners. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1948.