Sold with an important archive of official correspondence dating from May to September 1919, with exchanges between Barrett and the C.-in-C. India, G. Roos-Keppel, the Chief Commissioner of the North West Frontier Province, and members of the General Staff at Simla, India, often being of a contentious or secretive nature, whether discussing the overall political and military climate, or the performance of individual Officers and Regiments, as illustrated by the following extracts:
Taking the initiative: to Barrett from Roos-Keppel, dated at Peshawar on 10.5.1919:
'...There is however in some villages, especially in the Charsadda Sub-division, a good deal of dangerous talk and the villagers in their present mood are inclined to help the Afghans if they get a chance; they have little or no fear of us as they think that they are beyond reach. I think however that a sharp lesson inflicted on one village would be enough to bring all the others to their senses. I should like therefore, if you could spare the troops, to surround the village of Utmanzai before dawn, to arrest the leading agitators and about a hundred of the leading men. When this is done I propose to fine the village two years' revenue and to keep the hundred leading men until the fine is paid in cash and deport the agitators ... Would you kindly let me know whether you can spare the troops for his and if so when?'
Reaping the benefits but the Cavalry under scrutiny from the first R.A.F. aircraft to be employed in an Indian Campaign: to Barrett from General Staff, H.Q., dated at Simla on 22.5.1919:
'... My best congratulations on the success of your operations at Dakka, particularly the fight on the 17th which appears to have been a considerable blow. The Chief and myself were already discussing the Cavalry and from what we can make out it did not cover itself with glory, and from what we have since heard from the Air Force there seems no reason why the Cavalry should not have worked round the southern flank of the Afghan position, but of course these remarks are made with the greatest diffidence and with all deference to the opinions and actions of the men on the spot ...'
Too busy for red tape: to Barrett from the C.-in-C. himself, also dated at Simla 22.5.1919:
'... At present we are somewhat in the dark regarding your situation both from a General Staff and Administrative point of view. Now that the Branches must be gradually settling down, I hope that we may get a more ample description of the engagements fought. So far we are told practically nothing of Afghan tactics, the calibre of their artillery and its value, are the guns fought from behind cover or over the sights, their method of holding a position, their infantry disposition, the character of the terrain over which a fight has occurred, their use of ground and entrenchments ...'
Hopeful of peace: to Barrett from the Chief Political Officer of the N.-W.F.F., marked 'Private and Secret' and dated 31.5.1919:
'There is a letter from H.E. the Amir regretting the mistakes on both sides which have led to a breach of friendship, re-affirming old friendship and a sincere desire to maintain it, stating that orders have been issued to commanders in the field to stop hostilities and movement of troops and finally suggesting that persons from both sides meet at Landi Kitch or Peshawur and discuss a settlement honourable to all concerned. In tone the letter is a satisfactory climbdown'.
Experience dictates caution: to Barrett from General Staff, H.Q., dated at Simla on 20.6.1919:
'... We should desire nothing better than for Afghanistan to give us the chance of fighting a big decisive action, after which we should be in a position to dictate our terms; but our difficulty is that Afghanistan will gradually relapse into a state of anarchy. There are signs of it now - Ningrahar on your front, and in Kandahar on the Chaman front. Such a state of affairs would be very difficult to handle, and would tend to draw us further into the country for the sake of restoring order, all of which means employment of larger and larger forces ...'
Also sold with a quantity of family correspondence, the majority being exchanges between Barrett and his sister-in-law, Miss Lafone, for the period 1917 to 1921, including commentary on the Afghanistan situation (From Northern Command Camp dated 22.20.1919 ... ' I don't think the Afghanistans are likely to cause trouble in the future. They have had too good a lesson for that. But of course they continue their mysterious intrigues with the frontier tribes ...'), and, more poignantly, on the tragic death of his daughter in March 1921; and a leather bound volume with a mass of newspaper obituaries for the Field Marshal.
Field Marshal Sir Arthur Arnold Barrett, [G.C.B.], [G.C.S.I.], [K.C.V.O.], an Officer who held 'radical political and general views' and placed little value on his contemporaries' obsession with sport, entered the Army in September 1875 as a Sub-Lieutenant in the 44th Foot and was admitted to the Indian Staff Corps at the beginning of 1879. Posted to the 3rd Sikhs, Punjab Frontier Force, he had his first taste of frontier fighting with the renewal of the Second Afghan War, taking part in the operations around Kabul and in the Summer of 1880 making Lord Roberts' celebrated march to the relief of Kandahar. In 1882 he transferred to the 5th Gurkhas and on promotion to Captain in 1886 was appointed Adjutant of the Calcutta Volunteers until 1891, but was temporarily released for service with the Hazara Field Force on the Black Mountain in 1888, having gained close quarter experience four years earlier. On 12.9.1884, a successful skirmish took place between a Detachment of 150 Sikhs and Gurkhas, assisted by 25 Police, under Lieutenant A.A. Barrett, 5th Gurkhas, and the tribesmen, in which the latter received a decided check; but the raids continued at varying intervals, until matters were brought to a head in 1888 by the murder of two British Officers [Battye of his own Regiment and Urmiston, 6th B.I.].
In 1891 Barrett served on the second Miranzai Expedition and the Hunza-Naga Expedition, suffering severe frostbite during an urgent crossing of the Burzil Pass when in command of a Detachment of Gurkhas and Mountain Gunners. On his advancement to Major in 1895 he was appointed A.A.G. of the P.F.F., and when 'the great frontier blaze of 1897-98' erupted he was made D.A.Q.M.G. of the largest force that had ever been mobilised in India for operations against tribesmen. Success here guaranteed him the appointment of A.Q.M.G., and, having taken part in many of the operations himself, he was recognised in Despatches and was rewarded with a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonelcy. In 1905 he became D.A.G. Northern Command, and two years later was promoted Major-General in command of the Nowshera Brigade. In 1908 he commanded a Brigade of the Mohmand Field Force, and on 18 May of that year made a particularly sanguine sortie into the Bohai Dag which for a cost of 33 casualties broke the spirit of the Khawazais.
In 1901 he became Adjutant-General in India but suffered under the 'hampering conditions' of Sir O'Moore Creagh's tenure as Commander-in-Chief, and was positively relieved in 1912 to get the Poona Division. With Turkey's entry into the Great War, General Barrett was given command of two Brigades to reinforce the troops already landed in Mesopotamia (Iraq), and having taken possession of Fao at the mouth of the Shat-el-Arab, was responsible for the capture of Basra by the 6th Division: 'Before the end of the year he had pushed forward and established British authority over the whole river tract between Kurma and the sea'. He complained, however, that due to supply difficulties it was impossible to move anything larger than a Brigade across the desert, and having been refused the construction of a light railway, resigned his command on medical grounds. He was succeeded by Townsend of Kut.
On his return to India Barrett was made G.O.C. Northern Army and took charge of operations against the Mahsuds in 1915 and 1917. Under his hawk like gaze the Frontier remained unusually quiet until 1919 when Amanullah Khan expecting an easy victory over war weary opponents proclaimed a jihad. To overcome this threat Barrett was given the command of the large but inefficient North Western Frontier Force and its inadequate transport, but nonetheless secured his victory at Dakka which put an end to the participation of the Afghan Regular Army, and repulsed the numerous tribal incursions. General Barratt retired in 1920 and in the following year received one of the two Batons reserved for the Indian Army.