By Simon Millar
Wellington acknowledged that of all his battles Assaye, fought throughout the moment Mahratta struggle (1803-05) in crucial India, was once 'the bloodiest for the numbers that I ever saw'. A small British strength, less than Major-General the Honourable Arthur Wellesley (as Wellington used to be then known), crossed into Mahratta territory in March 1803 to revive the Peshwa to his throne - via strength if beneficial. On September 23, 1803, Wellesley encountered what grew to become out to be the total Mahratta military in a robust place at the banks of the Kailna River. The conflict, which lasted 4 hours, witnessed expensive infantry and cavalry attacks, yet used to be gained via the soundness of Wellesley's troops and his inspiring leadership.
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Additional resources for Assaye 1803: Wellington's first and ‘bloodiest’ victory (Campaign, Volume 166)
Alan Blades was a young lad from East Dereham in Norfolk, tall and slim with stainless steel-rimmed glasses. Unlike the Welshman, Alan mumbled to himself and escaped from the horrors about him into a world of his own. He had been captured at Dunkirk at the beginning of the war and had suffered severe hardship over a prolonged period. More and more, he had withdrawn into himself. Jim Purdy did everything he could to look after the man’s interests. As the officer in charge of a group of men, Jim was not required to work each day and kept Alan on light duties.
Here new arrivals were deloused and had their heads shaved. They were also photographed and given their POW numbers. For Arthur, that number was 221925, stamped on both halves of a metal disc perforated through the centre. From here, some were sent to the graphite mines in Austria and others to farms and factories. The troublesome 25 of Arthur’s party were sent to a coal-mine in Poznan and as with most units, Arthur’s group contained its ‘barrackroom lawyer’. It was he who had instigated the ill-fated escape bid from the train and he had kept a low profile since their visit to the quarry.
It was like a huge ironmonger’s shop, containing valves, tools, timber and neatly stacked bags of cement. Arthur passed the day in a trance, carrying out the tasks set him in a robotic silence. He had witnessed much in the past three years, but he was not prepared for the events that now began to unfold before him. Even that very first day at I. G. Farben or ‘the factory’ as it was more commonly to be known, the many Jews or ‘Stripees’ as the nicknameloving British were already calling them, collections of skin and bone in filthy striped garb, many in exceedingly advanced stages of malnutrition, rendered the usually vociferous British Tommys silent in disbelief over what they were witnessing.