Britain and Afghanistan in Popular Culture

Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes

There are several references to the Afghan campaign in Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels, first and foremost to Holmes' sidekick, Dr. Watson's participation in the second Anglo-Afghan war 1878-80. As is told in A Study in Scarlet, Watson was seriously wounded in the battle of Maiwand in 1880, which the British lost with many casualties on both sides.

Watson continues to suffer from being hit by a Pashto Jezai rifle: had taken a sudden turn to rain, with high autumnal winds, and the jezail bullet which I had brought back in one of my limbs as a relic of my Afghan campaign, throbbed with dull persistency. [The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor] Incidentally, old Jezai rifles were still being offered for sale in shops along Kabul's Chicken Street in 2002).

With Britsh understatement Watson remarks when being summoned at the shortest notice to meet Sherlock Holmes at the Paddington Station for the 11.15 train, that My experience with camp life in Afghanistan had at least had the effect of making me a prompt and ready traveller. [The Boscombe Valley Mystery].

Kandahar Ski Binding

The Kandahar ski binding dominated Alpine as well as cross-country skiing from the 1930s to the 1960s, when better and different bindings were introduced both for Alpine skiing and for cross-country. Why were the bindings called Kandahar? The story goes back to the second Anglo-Afghan war and to General Frederick Roberts who led the British to victory in the battle of Kandahar in 1880, after which he was known as Lord of Kandahar.

General Roberts donated a trophy for a ski race in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, known as the Roberts of Kandahar Challenge Cup, and this cup eventually led to the creation of Kandahar Ski Club also in Switzerland. In 1929 engineer Guido Reuge invented and brand-named a ski binding after the Kandahar Ski Club. Subsequently, Holmenkollen Kandahar was introduced as part of the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in 1947, i.e. for downhill and slalom races.