HC Deb 17 December 1912 vol 45 cc1320-2W
Sir J. D. REES

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give the House any further information regarding the circumstances under which Captain Eckford met his death in the neighbourhood of Shiraz?


A code telegram has been received from His Majesty's Consul at Shiraz, giving the following account of the incident, drawn up by Major Kettlewell:—

"Party consisted of Kettlewell, Eckford, one native officer, twenty-six sowars, seventeen followers, and seventeen baggage mules. They started from Khanehzinian at 7 a.m., 11th December, half an hour after a party of about 150 Persian soldiers, who were marching down road independently. Twelve men were told off as baggage guards, remainder with officers as advance guard. At the bridge over Kazaagach River, Persian officer of the gendarmerie with two mounted gendarmes who had accompanied Kettlewell to the river, galloped on ahead to inspect gendarmerie post at Burjitinuri, on the top of the Sinihsafid Pass. Kettlewell also sent on ahead native officer and two sowars to prepare quarters at Dastarjin. Scouts were also posted on wooded hills on the left flank. After short halt, party proceeded. Road here runs through jungle for about 1¼ miles. Two officers, accompanied by six or seven sowars, had passed beyond jungle, and, just as leading mules were appearing from jungle, hot fire was opened by a party from hills on left. Advance galloped ahead, got under cover, dismounted, and started to climb hill. It was difficult to discover enemy through thick jungle, but shots were exchanged, and it is now that Eckford was shot through heart. A few minutes after, Kettlewell saw from crest of ridge 150 to 200 men rush out from bottom of ravine below, towards river-bank. His men fired on them, but they quickly disappeared into jungle. Meanwhile sowars of baggage guard had crossed to north bank of river and taken up position in low hills. They report that smaller body of robbers joined attack, also from the north. Kettlewell now collected men with him, descended hills and crossed river-bed, taking Eckford's body with him. They joined other party, and native officer and two sowars who had gone ahead also rejoined party here. Meanwhile robbers appear to have made off over hills northwards with the booty. Whole party then returned to Khanehzinian, moving by north bank of river. During this movement some fifteen to twenty horsemen were seen on hills to north, and shots exchanged. Kettlewell states he saw no caravan litter at caravanseri at Khanehzinian or on road. Small party of Persians with three or four mules, who left Serai after sowars had started, were robbed and their mules taken. They returned to Serai on foot, where Kettle- well saw them, but he had not seen them on road.

"Kettlewell also states that, beyond the firing, no attempt was made to attack his small party. Robbers were apparently only out for plunder, and cleared off at once when they had seized mules. As to the gendarmerie, it would appear that Persian officer when he reached Burjitinuri brought his men back along crest of hills, and it was there that they were wounded. Kettlewell only saw them in the distance moving along hills to south when he was returning towards Khanehzinian."