Personal info

  • Name: Edmond William COSTELLO
  • D.O.B: 7th Aug, 1873
  • D.O.A: 26th Jul, 1897
  • D.O.D: 7th Jun, 1949
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant, 22nd (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry, attached to 24th (Punjab) Regiment, Indian Army
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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The Malakand, North West Frontier, India 26 July 1897

26 July 1897

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INDIA and BURMA 1889-97 

Following their intervention in Chitral in 1895, the British had decided, after some hesitation, to maintain a force in the state and this necessitated stationing garrisons along the route north from Peshawar and Nowshera through the Malakand Pass. The Pathan tribes along the North West Frontier were fiercely independent and resented all British attempts to impose order on their territories. In 1897 they rose in revolt, their opposition fanned by the teachings of various religious leaders, of whom the best-known, the ‘Mad Mullah of Swat’, preached Jihad against the infidel and even harboured grandiose ambitions of restoring the Mogul Empire. The local tribes also believed they enjoyed the support of the Amir of Afghanistan. In 1893 the Amir had negotiated with Sir Mortimer Durand what has become the permanent Eastern boundary of Afghanistan. In so doing he renounced his claims to all lands south-east of the Durand Line, including Chitral, Swat and Waziristan, a concession he subsequently regretted. The revolt broke out on 26 July 1897. That day the British position at the Malakand itself was attacked by Swati tribesmen who had rallied to the standard of the ‘Mad Mullah’. The fighting was ferocious and the Malakand was not relieved until 31 July. It was on the first night of the siege that Lieutenant E W Costello, who commanded a company of the 24th Punjabis, carried out his gallant rescue of a Lance-Havildar, assisted by two sepoys. He was awarded the VC for his gallantry and the sepoys the (Indian) Order of Merit. Costello was wounded twice in the subsequent fighting which preceded the relief of the garrison on 31 July. The nearby outpost at Chakdara was relieved on 2 August.


 On the night of the 26th July, 1897, at the Malakand, Lieutenant Costello went out from the hospital enclosure, and, with the assistance of two sepoys, brought in a wounded Lance-Halvidar who was lying 60 yards away in the open on the football ground. This ground was at the time overrun with swordsmen and swept by a heavy fire both from the enemy and our own men who were holding the sapper lines. 

The London Gazette of 9 November 1897, Numb. 26908, p. 6143

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