The storming of the fortress of Ghuznee in July 1839 was the last major setpiece battle of the First Afghan War. The war was fought by the army of the Honourable East India Company and by the forces of the British crown to restore the pro-British ruler of Afghanistan, Shah Soojah, who had been deposed by the pro-Russian Dost Mohamed. Dost Mohamed’s forces occupying Ghuznee were the final obstacle on the road to Kabul.
Above: British troops storm Ghuznee, after the Kabul Gate is blown up by the Bengal Sappers & Miners
The attacking force had no heavy artillery with which to subdue Ghuznee, and so it was left with no option but to storm the fortress. After the main gates were blown up with explosives placed by the Bengal Sappers & Miners, two British infantry regiments, HM’s 2nd & 17th, rushed through the smoking gap into the citadel, whose garrison they quickly subdued.
The Ghuznee Medal (left) was originally commissioned by Shah Soojah, but he died before it could be struck. The medal was subsequently awarded to all ranks who took part in the battle by the Honourable East India Company. It was issued unnamed but many were named by the recipient
Above: Soldiers of the 17th Regiment fight their way into Ghuznee
Ensign John Croker (above) was among the officers who took part in the storming of Ghuznee. His father, Lieutenant Colonel Croker, was in command of the regiment at the time. John Croker reached the rank of Captain and went on to serve in the Crimean War with the 17th Regiment. He was killed in action at Sebastopol.