Why a book about Florentia Sale and the 1st Afghan War? Well, there cannot be many people in the world who have not had the turmoil in Afghanistan over the recent years on their screens and in the newspapers. The bodies of servicemen being repatriated, together with those losing limbs, caused extreme anguish in the population in the United Kingdom and outpouring of sympathy for the bereaved and those affected for the rest of their lives. As a former soldier, I had a particular interest, especially when the 1st Battalion of my former Regiment, the Scots Guards, were deployed there in 2010 with inevitable casualties. Hence the Dedication in the front of the book.
I did some background reading into the wars that have occurred in Afghanistan over the last two centuries. I was struck by the disaster of the first one in 1842 and, in researching came across Lady (Florentia) Sale. Of course, she appears in all the good accounts of that campaign as writers will have leant on her diaries, just as I have done. However, it seemed she only really had a walk-on part in the saga as momentous events took over. It seemed, therefore, that she deserved a book to herself. She was, without doubt, a courageous and indomitable woman. She put up with extreme privations; weather, bad food, lack of proper clothing and with the ever present threat to life. She and her companions endured this for nine months. She kept them together with inspiring leadership and dogged resistance to her captors.
I have enjoyed writing about her because, to me, she seemed one of those women who deserves a better place in history. How I admired her.
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