I.O.M. 'In recognition of conspicuous gallantry displayed in the action against the Khugiani Tribes near Futtehabad on 2 April 1879' (Order No. 533 of 1879 refers).
The Action at Futtehabad, 2 April 1879
'Towards the end of the month Lieutenant-General Sir Sam Browne learnt that a Ghilzai Chief with 1500 followers was urging the Khugianis to rise and he sent out Brigadier-General C.J.S. Gough, V.C., with a Column that included Lieutenant Walter Hamilton and two Squadrons of Guides Cavalry under Major Wigram Battye, to disperse them a few miles South-West of Futtehabad. The Column left Jellalabad at 1 a.m. on 2 April and formed a camp near Futtehabad before dawn. At 1 p.m. it was reported by Cavalry Patrols of the Guides, which had been thrown out towards Gandamak, that large bodies of men were advancing with flags flying from Khoja Khel. Gough immediately ordered Battye's Guides to advance along the Gandamak road and, leaving 300 Infantry and two Troops of Cavalry for the protection of the camp, followed with three Troops of the 10th Hussars, four Royal Horse Artillery guns, and the remainder of the Infantry numbering some 700 men. The 5000-strong enemy force was soon located on a mile long front behind breastworks sited on the crest of a steeply rising slope. Gough's Cavalry and guns advanced to within 1200 yards, and later opened fire. The enemy responded by throwing out lines of skirmishers, whereupon Gough ordered the Cavalry and Horse Gunners to retire in the hope of drawing more of the enemy out of their very strong position. As was expected the tribesmen came streaming out of their breastworks to clash with the advance of the 1/17th Foot now coming into action, and at the first signs of the Afghans beginning to give way, Gough sent out an order to the Cavalry to charge at the first favourable opportunity. But before the order was received both the Guides and the 10th Hussars made independent charges, the former going straight to the front and the latter to the right front.
The charges completely shattered the enemy, but with the loss of Wigram Battye, who fell at the head of the Guides, shot through the chest, having previously received a wound through the thigh. Walter Hamilton, the remaining British Guides Officer, at once assumed command and called upon the men to avenge Battye's death, though they scarcely needed encouragement. Their 'intense pride in the Regiment and its honour' and the 'devotion to the Officers who were part of that honour', were renowned. Hamilton and his Guides, notwithstanding casualties of 34 men and 44 horses killed and wounded, burst into the breastworks and drove out the enemy who fled in the direction of the numerous forts and villages dotting the valleys beyond.
The Cavalry was then 'forthwith sent in pursuit' with the Horse Artillery guns firing on any closed bodies of the enemy, and the 'three Troops of the 10th Hussars under Lord Ralph Kerr, and the Guides under Lieutenant Hamilton', going close up to the walls of the Khoja Khel, cutting down numbers of the fleeing foe. When afterwards retiring the Guides famously refused to let the ambulance men carry Battye's corpse from the field: 'Only his own comrades, Troopers of his own Regiment, could do that'. For outstanding leadership in this affair after Battye's death, and for his personal gallantry in saving the life of Sowar Dowlut Ram, Hamilton was duly awarded the Victoria Cross' (Spink catalogue, May 1997, p. 97 refers).
Six men of the Guides, Yakute among them, received the Indian Order of Merit.