The battleground is Tibet. Invading troops massacre poorly armed peasant soldiers standing bravely in their way, doomed to defeat against a much more powerful, modern opponent.
Chinese invasion of 1950?
No - the aggressors in this case were the
British nearly 50 years before the remote, landlocked nation was
taken over by the Communists.
A fascinating album of original photographs
Henry Aldridge of Devizes on August 10 for a mid-estimate
£10,000 to a UK-based specialist sheds light on the little-known
campaign in which a British force bulldozed its way past the
Tibetan forces to seize the capital, Lhasa, in 1904.
The Tibet Expedition was launched from India
because of worries over Russian influence and eventually gained a
number of concessions from Tibet, nominally under Chinese control
at the time, but historians have questioned whether it was really
worth the effort.
Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, was obsessed
with Russia's supposed advance towards the border and sanctioned
the expedition to negotiate. The aim was to advance to the Tibetan
fortress town of Gyantse to gain reparations but the force ended up
going all the way to Lhasa.
This album with over 140 photos came by
direct descent from the family of Captain William Charles Hayman,
ADC to the expedition's leader, Colonel Francis Younghusband of the
Indian Political Service (Younghusband was accompanied by a strong
military escort commanded by Brigadier General James
The vast majority of the pictures are
unpublished and they show various elements of the expedition:
military, monasteries, scenery, towns and locals.
Up to 1904 many explorers had tried to reach
Lhasa, closed to the outside world, but all Westerners failed and
it took modern weapons, discipline and training to blast a way
through - at a horrific cost to the defenders. Hundreds of Tibetans
were shot down at Chumik Shenko and Lieutenant Arthur Hadow,
commander of the Maxim guns detachment, wrote: "I got so sick of
the slaughter that I ceased fire, though the general's order was to
make as big a bag as possible. I hope I shall never again have to
shoot down men walking away."
The sale also contained material brought
back by Captain Hayman from the expedition including religious
A Sino-Tibetan deity, Mahakala standing on a
human figure holding a skull cap and chopper with a garland of
skulls around his shoulders and waist, 8in (20.5cm high), sold for
£65,000 against a £10,000-15,000 estimate to a buyer in the room
against competition from phone bidders in China, Hong Kong and the
A 5in (12.5cm) high deity, Ushnishavijaya
seated in a lotus position, went a Hong Kong phone bidder for
£38,000, nearly five times the top estimate.
The buyer's premium was 15/12.5/10%
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