Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1879, Lieutenant Herbert Valiant Willis, E battery, 4th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery, died from wounds received six days earlier during the first phase of the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
The son of a commercial merchant and ship owner, Lieutenant Willis was educated at Lancing College in West Sussex. From there he went on to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and in February of 1877 was commissioned as a temporary lieutenant in the Royal Artillery.
In November of 1978, a force of 13,000 men, under Lieutenant General Sir Donald Stewart, assembled in the Punjab and travelled over hostile terrain to Kandahar, a journey of approximately four hundred and fifty miles. They were able to occupy the city two months later without opposition, the enemy garrison having already fled.
Two days after their arrival, on the 10th of January, Lieutenant Willis was attacked in Chaharus, in the centre of Kandahar. A religious fanatic, known as a Ghazi, stabbed him and was himself cut down by two of Lieutenant Willis’ colleagues. Lieutenant Willis was taken to hospital, but his condition deteriorated and he succumbed to his injuries six days later.
Herbert, from Waterloo in Lancashire, was 22 years old.