Denis Kane and Gwendoline Walmsley Williams October 1897

The marriage of MR. DENIS C. KANE, 1st Devonshire Regiment, son of John F. Kane, J.P., of Wimbledon, formerly of Saunderscourt, Co. Wexford, with MISS GWENDOLINE WALMSLEY WILLIAMS, daughter of William Williams, of Glanmawddach Dolgelley, and grand daughter of the late Sir Joshua Walmsley, took place at the Catholic church, Wimbledon, on Tuesday. Only the immediate families of the bride and bridegroom were present, the date of the wedding having been hastened owing to Mr. Kane’s being ordered to join his regiment at once in the Tirah Field Force on the Indian frontier.

The above text was found on p.28, 16th October 1897 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

The Tirah Campaign was an Indian frontier war in 1897–1898. Tirah is a mountainous region in what is now the federally administered tribal area of Pakistan, just south of the Khyber Pass  The Afridi tribe had received a subsidy from the British government in  India for safeguarding  the Khyber Pass from 1881; the government also maintained a local regiment entirely composed of Afridis tribesmen, who were stationed in the pass.

The North-West Frontier was notoriously unstable. The British both admired and feared what they characterised as the ‘martial races’ who lived in the unforgiving mountains there. Unfortunately for the British, these hill tribes were highly independent and difficult to subdue. Although their independent spirit often prevented them from combining to form a more sustained threat to British India. However in 1897, a succession of tribal uprisings occurred to create a more sustained threat to the North West Frontier. The uprising started in the Swat valley under the nominal guidance of a holy man who would be referred to by the British as the Mad Mullah.

The British responded to the spreading revolts by sending Field Forces to Malakand, the Swat Valley, the Tochi Valley and another to fight against the Mohmands. Despite this activity, the British lost control of an alarming amount of territory. Worse was to follow with the loss of the Khyber Pass itself on August 25th 1897. Swarms of tribesmen could now move at ease from Afghanistan down into the fertile valleys of the Kurram, Samana, Swat and Tirah. The security of India itself appeared to be threatened. Queen Victoria telegraphed the Secretary for India stating ‘These news from the Indian frontier are most distressing… am most anxious to know the names of those who have fallen. What a fearful number of officers!’

The Tirah Expedition was organised as a response to this threat to British Imperial prestige and the approaches to British India. Their nominal target was the Afridi and Orakzai tribesmen who had moved South of the Khyber Pass. However, the real objective was to reassert British control definitively in the area and to deter tribesmen from probing yet further into Northern India. The government had to be seen to take this issue seriously and so raised an impressively sized Field Force consisting of upto 40,000 soldiers and over 60,000 transport animals. The commanding officer was to be Lt-General Sir William Lockhart.

Denis Kane survived the Tirah campaign, but seems to have died about a year later playing polo.

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