www.angloafghanwar.info is an
online resource for anyone interested in knowing more about the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-1880. It is also the home of the Second Afghan War database project, a collection of names, family histories and stories concerning those who participated in this lesser-known campaign from the days Queen Victoria’s British Empire.
The website has this 1895 War Office map, which, interestingly, shows the never-built railway from the Indian (now Pakistani) border at Chaman to Kandahar.
British reconnaissance parties looking for a route for the proposed railway had reached Kandahar by December 1879, but they were in enemy country and so it was difficult to identify an optimal route. The British authorities realised it would not be possible for the railway to reach even as far as Quetta before the end of the war, and so the work was given a lower priority. When a new cabinet was formed under Gladstone in April 1880 they put the planned extension to Kandahar on hold.
Pakistan Railways still runs to Chaman, and plans for an extension as far as Spin Boldak resurface every so often – it even appears on some more recent maps, though it has never existed.
Are you there Moriarty?
And finally… while Sherlock Holmes’s sidekick Dr Watson may not really have been in the Second Afghan War, it seems a Moriarty was…