Inside the Afghan airlift of 1928-’29

The recent extensive evacuation from Afghanistan was not the first such event from Kabul. As Vic Flintham explains, the earlier airlift by the RAF alone took place some 93 years ago...

In 1927 Amanullah Khan, King of Afghanistan, toured Europe and later made a state visit to India. He was much impressed with certain characteristics of western life and determined to implement reforms within his country, but perhaps too speedily. Intended changes included the emancipation of women, the separation of religion and state, and indeed the wearing of western clothes. Through his ideas he outraged tribal and religious leaders so much that, on 14 November 1928, the Shinwaris in eastern Afghanistan rebelled openly, tearing through Dakka and blocking the road between Kabul and the Khyber pass. They cut telegraphic communications and occupied Jalalabad, and sent emissaries to other tribes. Thus southern tribes cut the road from Kabul to Quetta via Kandahar, so the foreign legations in Kabul were now effectively cut off with civil war looming. 

At the outbreak o

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