Lieutenant Henry Durand

In 1838 Lord Auckland, impressed by his local knowledge, proposed to appoint him secretary of the sudder board of revenue. However, Durand chose to join the 1839 invasion of Afghanistan. He was with Sir John Keane's column which in July reached the crucial fortress of Ghazni. Keane had left behind his heavy artillery. On 23 July Durand, assisted by Sergeant Robertson and Indian sappers, under fire, blew open the Kabul gate and so enabled the capture of Ghazni. At Kabul in August 1839 he was appointed by the envoy, William Macnaghten, engineer to Shah Shuja's government. He argued unsuccessfully that the troops should be stationed in the Bala Hissar citadel. He disagreed with Sir Alexander Burnes over not being sent on an expedition and resigned, which probably saved his life. He reached British India in January 1840, and spent most of 1840 at Mussooree preparing maps and reports of the recent campaign.

In spring 1841 Durand went on leave to England. According to his son he was always 'rather inclined to look on the dark side of life' (Durand, Life, 1.68). Bitter, resentful, and believing his Afghanistan services had been unjustly ignored, he considered going to Oxford and entering the church, but decided against it. Through Lord Fitzroy Somerset, who had known his father, Durand became acquainted with Lord Ellenborough who, appointed governor-general of India, took Durand as his aide-de-camp then appointed him to his lucrative (about 4000 pounds p.a.) private secretaryship. They arrived in February 1842.

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