Report on the Air Operations in Afghanistan Between December 12th, 1928, and February 25th, 1929


The booklet presented here contains a report on the 1928‒29 air evacuation of the British Legation in Kabul, a Western enclave that was caught up in a tribal revolt against the ruler of Afghanistan, King Amanullah (reigned 1919–29). The events that led to the evacuation were sparked by the king’s desire to modernize his country. After a seven-month tour in Europe in 1928, the king returned to his country to introduce Western-style legislative and social reforms. His proposals—especially the compulsory education of girls, the enforcement of Western-style clothing, and state taxes—proved to be highly controversial, enraging his subjects, and leading the conservative clergy to declare him an infidel. A revolt soon engulfed the country, with the rebels cutting communications, closing passes and roads to India, and finally arriving at the outskirts of the capital. The legation found itself in a perilous situation and had to be evacuated. Operations by the British Air Force lifted about 600 foreigners to safety in India, becoming the first mass air evacuation in history. The report, dated April 21, 1929, is by Air Vice-Marshall Sir Geoffrey Salmond, Air Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force, India. A forwarding letter headed “From His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief in India to the Secretary to the Government of India, Army Department” precedes the five-part report. In Part I, the report outlines the events that triggered the evacuation. Part II shows the strength of the Royal Air Force in India, with available reinforcements. Part III is a chronological survey of the operations in four phases, while Part IV covers the lessons learned from the operations. The final section, Part V, contains general observations and recommendations. Also included are seven appendices containing operational and administrative details pertaining to the evacuation. The booklet was published in London in 1929 by His Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Last updated: December 19, 2017