both Russia and the British East India Company (BEIC) competed for control of territories far past their then-current borders; the BEIC sent an army to enforce the seating of the Amir of Kabul of their choice, Shah Shujah, and to dethrone the recently installed Amir Dost Mohammed. The BEIC Afghanistan Expeditionary Force consisted of 16,500 military and 30,000 support personnel, who occupied Khandahar on 25 April 1839, and further proceeded until reaching Kabul on 30 June, where they were garrisoned; Amir Dost Mohammed surrendered 3 November, and was exiled to India. The mood against the British occupation escalated for the worse; British Envoy hacked to death by mob 1 November; British army unit attacked sustaining over 300 dead. Dost Mohammed's son, Mohammed Akbar, returns to lead 30,000-strong rebel army in December 1840; British retreat January 1842; retreating British troops ambushed at Khoord-Cabool Pass 8 January, and within a week are annihilated to a man. Punitive second BEIC Afghanistan Expeditionary Force sent to Afghanistan, successfully dethroning the Amir and releasing hostages; the mission deemed completed, the BEIC forces were removed from Kabul 11 October 1842. In the course of the war, mails from the active British forces included various manuscript notations indicating ‘On Active Service’, a red ‘AFGHANISTAN PAID’ handstamp, and other postal markings, such as the red ‘MADRAS SOLDIER’S LETTER’ .

Go To Top