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The Third Afghan War (1919)

Photographs showing a row of soldiers aiming rifles standing behind a defensive earthwork wearing uniform with shorts and pith helmetsMohmand Field Force - the perimeter at MattaThe Third Afghan War followed a period of relative stability between Britain and Afghanistan following the disturbances of the 1890s.

The First World War introduced new tensions in the region with Britain and Germany and its ally, Turkey, vying for influence in Afghanistan.

The murder of Afghan ruler, Habibullah Khan, resulted in an internal power struggle, and the consequent Afghan invasion of British India in May 1919.

This sought to take advantage of relative British weakness in the region after the end of the First World War, with many Indian soldiers still in Europe waiting to be demobilised.

Press cutting reporting the Treaty of Rawalpindi, 8 August 1919Cutting reporting Treaty of Rawalpindi, 8 Aug 1919

The invasion was successfully repulsed not least with the decisive application of air power by the British.

Britain and Afghanistan signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi, on 8 August 1919 which brought the conflict to an end and finally agreed the border between Afghanistan and India.

Shown below is a newly accessioned digital archive collection belonging to Lewis Arnott, who was a British officer present at the peace negotiations.Ā 

It provides vivid snapshots of this important event.

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