While serving in the British Army in India’s North-West frontier region in the 1890s, Colonel H.C. Wylly found that there was no reliable, up-to-date information on the tribes or on the terrain. His work, first published in 1912, remains a valuable source of reference for the detailed descriptions of the tribes and their way of life, as well as for the regional background and information on the campaigns waged by the British in their attempts at subjugation. Wylly writes: ‘Following the decline of Sikh power…[these tribes] have there become our natural and troublesome inheritance.’
‘It seemed to me,’ he adds, ‘that there was room for a single volume, compiled from official and other sources, describing the more turbulent of the tribes beyond our Border, the countries they inhabit, and the campaigns which the Indian Government has undertaken against them during the last sixty-five years.’
Colonel Wylly, 1858–1932, was born in India and after graduating from Sandhurst went on to command the lst Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment. He was a very successful military historian and author of numerous books, including regional histories, regimental histories, military campaigns, and the Great War of 1914-18. For many years he was also editor of the Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Whitehall.