The Khyber Pass in the 1930s-photo feature and other rail-related material.

This post is dedicated to a photo album which used to belong to a British soldier named Albert Chalcroft who appears to have been posted in Landi Kotal in the Khyber Pass, (close to the Afghan border) in the late 1930s. As it often happens, the album was discovered by his descendants many years later (maybe c.2010) and was put up on the net.

This album is interesting in that is shows many aspects of life as a British soldier in the Khyber Pass area at that time. There are some pictures of trains on the Khyber Railway as well as a number of crashed light aircraft. Some pictures appear to show the road crossing between India and Afghanistan. However there are hardly any captions.

Many of these pictures have ended up in the results of Google searches for the Khyber Pass.

WARNING: A few pictures may be found to be disturbing as they show dead bodies.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjAkttMW

Explanatory notes:

Landi Kotal was the terminus of the Khyber Railway which was opened in 1925. From 1926 to 1932 it ran a few miles further towards the border up to a station called Landi Khana, though this section was closed in 1932.

A collection of old timetables of the North Western Railway (which covered most of present-day Pakistan and a bit of present-day India) can be seen here:

http://www.irfca.org/gallery/Heritage/timetables/nwrtt/

The line up to Landi Khana can be seen in the folder of the 1930 timetable. Only a few routes are shown here.

The entire NWR timetable as of 1943 can also be seen in another folder, which is from the Indian Bradshaw of that period.

Note the bit about passport checks at Jamrud in the 1943 timetable. As I understood from older persons who had traveled there, tourists from other parts of India could travel up to Jamrud fort in the 1930s but not beyond without special permission. However, they could claim that they had seen the Khyber Pass.

In case you are wondering about the Looswala, this is an old term explained below:

https://books.google.co.in/books?id=7BdxLtC1_ucC&pg=PA296&lpg=PA296&dq=Looswala&source=bl&ots=8tvomBG4uN&sig=KHBW7BZKyjZf2CT5iUY97Yn91n8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibkJ_lnanTAhXDo48KHRLnCrYQ6AEINTAD#v=onepage&q=Looswala&f=false

And the milestone at the border refers to P = Peshawar, J = Jamrud (a cantonment at the lower end of the Khyber pass) and LKL = Landi Kotal (the main cantonment at the top of the pass).

A blast from the past-Francis Gary Powers

The name of Francis Gary Powers may not mean much to the present generation. But in early 1960 he was one of the most well-known (if not infamous) people in the world.

I remembered him while reading this report of the latest atrocity in Pakistan:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34287385

This mentions an attack on the Bedber air force base on the outskirts of Peshawar. While this is not the main airport in Peshawar, it was a centre of CIA surveillance on the USSR in the 50s and 60s.

That was at a time when satellite surveillance was in its infancy, so the next best tool available was the U-2 aircraft which was supposed to fly so high that no Soviet weapon could hit it. Francis Gary Powers was among the American pilots who made regular flights from Peshawar into the Soviet Union. He had started off in the USAF and later became a specialist U-2 spy pilot for the CIA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1960_U-2_incident

Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Gary_Powers

As you can see from the map, it was an ambitious mission stretching all the way from the erstwhile Tadjik Soviet Socialist Republic to Murmansk on the Arctic ocean before it was to land at Bodo in Norway.

He took off from Peshawar on May 1, 1960 while his flight was monitored at the CIA facility at Bedber. His luck ran out at a height of 65,000 feet near Sverdlovsk when a salvo of missiles brought down his plane (besides a Soviet fighter whose pilot was killed). He baled out and was promptly captured. Perhaps he forgot to swallow his suicide pill.

As the US took some time to figure out what exactly happened, the wily Soviet Premier Khruschev had a nice time pulling President Eisenhower’s leg. However Powers did not have to spend much time in prison and was released in February 1962 in a spy exchange.

Ultimately he returned to civilian life and died piloting a helicopter in 1977 while working for a TV news channel in the Los Angeles area.