Military Medal (GV) Crowned Head, (4687194 Cpl. 2. D.W.R.)I.G.S. 1908, 2 clasps, N.W.F. 1930-31, N.W.F. 1935 North West Frontier 1935. (468194, Pte. K.O.Y.L.I.) (later D.W.R. for 1935) second clasp loose on ribbon.
William Stone originally served as a Private (No.4687194) with the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, before transferring as a Lance Corporal to the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, and seeing service out in India on the North West Frontier, initially with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Stone was present during the operations on the Mohmand Frontier during the period from 23rd April 1930 to 22nd March 1931, and was then present with the Nowshera Brigade during the operations on the North West Frontier during the period 23rd February to 16th October 1935, in which campaign he performed the act of bravery which led to the award of his Military Medal.
Some fifty miles north of Nowshera lies the village of Looe Agra in an angle of the River Swat. The surrounding country, including the villages of Kalangai and Kot, comprise the Looe Agra salient, which had been a source of considerable trouble to the authorities for many years. The country is a tangled mass of narrow valleys and precipitous mountains and especially difficult from a military point of view. Motor roads had been built in recent years in Kalangai and Kot, but no European had entered the salient since the Political Agent’s visit to Looe Agra in 1907.
In August 1934 the Fakir of Aligner, a holy man of great influence with the tribes beyond the Swat and for many years a thorn in the side of the Government, crossed into British territory near Kot. The sanction of the Government was therefore given for measures to be taken for the punishment of the Utman Khels of Bara Totai and Khanori, who allowed the Fakir to make this incursion into the restricted area, and for the re-absorption of the Looe Agra salient within the “protected area”. These measures were to include the construction of a levy post in the area and the building of a road connecting the post with Malakand.
Preliminary negotiations by the political authorities with the Looe Agra jirga showed that the latter were willing to return to the protected area in accordance with their original agreement with the Government, but they were still too nervous of the Fakir to make any move on their own initiative. The Nowshera Brigade was detailed to carry out the operation. On 17th February 1935, therefore, the 2/15th Punjab Regiment left by motor transport for Kot to support the morale of the local inhabitants and to prevent incursions which the Fakir might make into British territory whilst the column was operating further north. Two days later the Brigade left Nowshera by route march via Mardan, Jalala, Dargai, and Khar, reaching Kalangai on the morning of the 23rd. Here the enemy resisted the establishment of a picquet on one of the hills overlooking the camp site which had been attempted by a detachment of the 1/4th Gurkha Rifles. Supported by the 4th (Hazara) Mountain Battery and later by two companies of the Guides (5/12th F.F.R) the objective was still obtained and B and C Companies of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment were sent forward to support the attack. Under this cover the Guides advanced and captured their objective without further loss. This was assisted by a CL/R aircraft carrying bombs, four of which fell on an enemy hangar, causing severe casualties. The effect was excellent and the enemy crossed to the west of the River Swat and the lashkar broke up. On 25th February the Brigade marched to Looe Agra over exceedingly difficult country, being the first British or Indian troops ever to have cross these five passes, all of which were over 4,000 feet in height. On 26th February the Political Agent for Malakand held a full Looe Agra jirga. The 1907 agreement was reaffirmed and in addition the jirga agreed to the establishment of a permanent levy post. On 27th February the Brigade marched to Bargholai. There was some firing en route and sniping into the camp during the night, but no casualties were incurred. On 28th February the Brigade marched to Kot without incident and on the following day started the return march to Nowshera, the distance of 56 miles being completed in three days.
The 2nd Battalion had only been back in Nowshera for two days when it was learned that the Fakir of Aligner had reorganised his lashkar and appeared about to cross the Swat once more. On the night of 5/6th March he did so with a lashkar at about 600 strong and captured the levy post, the levies having been evacuated previously to Kalangai. By arrangement the Looe Agra people had offered no resistance. On 5th March therefore 3/2nd Punjab left by motor transport to set up an advanced base at Bargholai, while the rest of the Brigade set out on foot for Kot, arriving there on 8th March. During the night the 3/2nd Punjab successfully ambushed a part of some 80 of the enemy and inflicted heavy casualties. On 10th March the Battalion marched to Bargholai and took over from the 3/2nd Punjab, whilst the remainder of the Brigade concentrated at Looe Agra without opposition. The villages of Bargholai and Looe Agra lie in deep valleys separated by a ridge rising to nearly 5,000 feet. Communications between the two were therefore bad, necessitating much picketing. As the situation remained quiet for the next week the opportunity was taken to improve the existing tracks and shorten the distance between the two villages. The 2nd Battalion was thus fully occupied on this and other tasks during the period. On 16th March the Brigade returned to Kot, leaving the 2nd Battalion at Bargholai for three days until it rejoined the Brigade, having handed over to 3/2nd Punjab.
On 21st March there were signs that an enemy lashkar would cross the Swat and attack the village of Khanori. Certain dispositions were made to counteract this, including the movement of the 2nd Battalion less two companies back to Bargholai. The crossing never materialised and on the 24th March, the Battalion less one company, returned to Kot. That night very heavy rain fell and much equipment was immersed. On 5th April an enemy force about 300 strong was reported to be advancing on Looe Agra and a picquet, which had been taken over from the Battalion by 3/2nd Punjab, was attacked. The attack was heavily pressed and hand-to-hand fighting occurred, resulting in 2 Punjabis being killed and 6 wounded, whilst the enemy suffered 23 killed and many more wounded. Next morning B Company of the 2nd Battalion marched to Bargholai and relieved the picquet, Stone being amongst these men.
On 7th April warning orders were sent to the lashkars to disperse, but uncompromising replies were received and it appeared that the enemy were now some 1000 strong, On the night of 8/9th April the Brigade once again concentrated at Bargholai. The Brigade Commander now decided to use the whole Brigade to drive the enemy out of Looe Agram but bad weather prevented the operation being staged until 11th April. The 2nd Battalion moved camp at 6.45 am and by 8.25 am secured the ridge north of Bargholai without opposition. At 10 am the Guides went through this position, whilst the 2/15th Punjab, supported by the 2nd Battalion’s machine guns, attacked the enemy positions on the hills to the east of the main track to Looe Agra. This had the effect of causing the enemy to retire and by 12.30 pm our forces were in possession of all the heights south and east of Looe Agra. It now remained to clear the village and make good the heights to the north. This further advance was made by the 3/2nd Punjab and the 2/15th Punjab, supported by four machine guns, and was successfully completed before dark in the face of heavy opposition. It was here that the Political Officer for Malakand, Mr Best, was killed, being ambushed in the outskirts of the village, having accompanied the leading troops. As a result of this attack the lashkar was driven across the river and dispersed, but it was decided that the Brigade should remain concentrated in the area until the road was through to Bargholai, which was reached on 6th May, when, for the first time in history, a wheeled vehicle, in the shape of a contractors car, was seen in Bargholai. On 10th May the 2nd Battalion marched to Kot and left in motor transport for Nowshera later the same day. In eighteen days the 2nd Battalion marked over 200 miles, and of this period six days were spent clearing the Looe Agra salient and two in camp. The column had crossed eight passes, two of over 4000 feet, and the remainder averaging 3000 feet. On each of the first four days the Battalion sent picquets up 2000 feet or more above the line of march. Some 2000 mules were required to move the column from Kalangai to Kot.
This last few paragraphs give some idea of the arduous nature of the service which Stone and the other men of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment experienced during this period of operations in 1935, however it was for the Mohmand operations which lasted from 15th August to 16th October 1935 that Stone would perform the actions which led to the award of the Military Medal for his bravery in action.
After the end of the operations in the Looe Agra salient, the next few months passed without an important events, but on 14th August a lashkar, some 400 strong, of the Burham Khel and Isa Khel, was reported to have taken up positions on the Gandab road between Dand and the Karappa Landau. In consequence the Peshawar Brigade was ordered out on the 15th, whilst the Nowshera Brigade moved up and was concentrated at 5 M.S on the Peshawar-Shabkadr road by 1400 hours on 19th August. By this time the lashkar was reported to be about 1500 strong and to be damaging the road. On 20th August the Nowshera Brigade marched to Subhan Khwar and on the 23rd advanced to Dand. Except for B Company, 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment or which Stone was a part.
B Company, formed part of the main body, the Battalion was detailed as rearguard and was subjected to continuous long range sniping. The advance guard encountered considerable oppostion all day through country admirably suited to the tactics of the tribesmen, who had selected excellent positions, well stocked with food and obviously intended for protracted defence. Dand was reached by 1800 hours, and B Company was ordered to capture a ridge overlooking the selected camp site. In gaining their objective they suffered four casualties, one of these men being Lance Corporal Stone, who was later awarded the Military Medal for his bravery in storming the ridge overlooking the camp site. On 25th August the Peshawar Brigade moved through the Nowshera Brigade and secured Karappa Landau and Ghalanai Camp against slight opposition, the lashkar having almost entirely dispersed into Upper Mohmand country. Consequent on this the Battalion moved back to Kilagai to take over road protection duties until 1st September, being joined there by A Company, which had been left behind at Cherat.
On 1st September the Battalion returned to Dand, remaining there on similar tasks until 8th September. This was a most trying period, as the temperature averaged 104 degrees, there was no breeze and flies swarmed. The task of opening the road was most monotonous, but no relaxation could be allowed with armed tribesmen in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile the Peshawar Brigade from Ghalanai, which was much healthier than Dand. Unfortunately damage had been done by fever and by the 18th the effective strength of the 2nd Battalion had dropped to 310 men. On the 11th the Brigade moved on to Katsai. Lieutenant Colonel Cox had meanwhile taken over command of the Peshawar Brigade and Captain Sayers, the Battalion. Katsai Camp was continually sniped for four nights, but the 2nd Battalion were fortunate to avoid casualties. Eventually the 66th Field Battery put a stop to this.
On the 14th two battalions of the Peshawar Brigade carried out a difficult night climb over precipitous country and completely surprised the tribesmen, meanwhile the Nowshera Brigade searched the valley. The next operation was to cross the Nahakki Kandau, which entailed three infantry brigades moving simultaneously at night and six battalions climbing precipitous heights of 1,200 to 2,500 feet on either side of the Kandau. The lashkar had, however, slipped away, disliking our habits of climbing hills at night. By 19th September all three Brigades were safely back in camp at Nahakki (Peshawar), Wucha Jawar (Nowshera) and Ghalanai (Jhelum). Although our presence at the two former places was resented, most of the Upper Mohmand maliks were in favour of peace. Camps were still, however, sniped regularly at night, but peace overtures continued and a fully representative jirga was held at Ghalanai on the 22nd. The tribes were prepared to accept the Government’s terms unconditionally and agreement was reached next day and the tribes told to return to their homes.
It would appear from the foregoing that the operations would have been completed, but this was not the case. One minor operation was carried out by the Battalion, now under command of Major O. Price, and sniping of the camps continued. On the night of 28th to 29th September the three brigades were deployed on a mopping-up operation, and the following day saw a severe hand-to-hand action in which some good shooting by the six inch and light batteries foiled a number of enemy attacks. The total enemy casualties were given as 46 killed, 73 wounded, and 25 missing, as against our 29 killed and 49 wounded. This lashkar was believed to be between 1,500 and 1,800 strong.
On 2nd October a fully representative jirga was seen by the Force Commander and the Deput Commissioner, Peshawar. They were told that the road would be completed as far as Nahakki but no further, they were required to disperse their lashkars and cease hostilities and to be responsible for all actions within their own tribes. No fines were imposed or hostages taken and the jirga accepted there conditions. Work now went on to complete the road, and on 15th October His Excellent the Governor and the Force Commander, for the first time in history, saw a full representative jirga of all the Mohmands, over 700 strong, near Wucha Jawar Camp. The terms of the 2nd October were ratified and the attitude of the jirga was very satisfactory and submissive. The withdrawal commenced on 31st October and was completed without incident and the Battalion reached Nowshera on 5th November.
The 2nd Battalion had done splendidly throughout, but it was perhaps somewhat unfortunate that it was so frequently held in Force reserve and had more than its share of labour duties. As a result of the Looe Agra operations all those taking part were awarded the Indian General Service Medal, whilst L/Sgt A.A. Slater was awarded the Military Medal.
For the Mohmand operations the Military Medal was also awarded to Lance Corporal Britten and Lance Corporal Stone. Stone, whose award was published in the London Gazette for 8th May 1936, was not presented with his Military Medal until he received it from the District Commander at Nowshera, Lieutenant General Muspratt, on 20th October 1937. The Regimental Journal for ’The Iron Duke’ for February 1936, page 13, details more specifically the action and incident which led to Stone being awarded the Military Medal. It was for the incident when B Company was ordered to capture a ridge overlooking the selected camp site at Dand Banda on 23rd August after a day’s hard fighting. In gaining their objective they suffered four casualties. These four casualties happened to be Lance Corporal’s Stone and Britten – both later awarded the Military Medal, and Private’s Clarke and Ward. In all only three Military Medal’s were awarded during 1935, all for the North West Frontier operations, and all to the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
Couple of edge bruises to the reverse rim of IGS otherwise GVF