Saving The Guns

"Saving the Guns" by RC Woodville 1882 depicts a famous incident during the battle of Maiwand when, with the infantry broken and a horde of fanatical Afghan tribesmen charging down on the 9 pounder guns of E/B Battery RHA, the gunners succeeded in extricating all but two of them, gallantly fighting the enemy off "with handspikes and sponge-rods". Among many acts of bravery, one by Sergeant Patrick Mullane earned him the Victoria Cross when he ran back under fire to pick up a wounded driver, place him on the limber and then smash his galloping horses through the enemy ranks. Despite heavy losses to both its men and horses, the Battery remained the one formed and disciplined fighting unit of the defeated force and became its backbone during the long thirsty retreat to Kandahar. In November Lord Rippon, the Viceroy of India, himself came to thank the Battery on parade, telling them: "you officers and men may be proud to remember in future years that many of the survivors of the 27th July owe their lives to your exertions on that day." The discipline and courage of E/B Battery and the crucial role it played in the battle were also acknowledged by the granting of the Honour Title "Maiwand" to the unit and the award of two VCs and eight Distinguished Conduct Medals.

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by Stephen Luscombe