Map of the area of operations
|RAF aircraft of No. 2 (Indian) Wing||Mahsud tribesmen|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Wing Commander Richard Pink||Not known|
|Three aircraft squadrons||Four tribes|
|Casualties and losses|
|Two personnel killed and one aircraft lost||Not known|
Pink's War was an air to ground bombardment and strafing carried out by the Royal Air Force, under the command of Wing Commander Richard Pink, against the mountain strongholds of Mahsud tribesmen in South Waziristan in March and April 1925.
The defence of the North-West Frontier Province was an important task for British India. In the 1920s, the British were engaged in a continuing effort to pacify militant tribesmen in the province. In July 1924 the British mounted operations against several of the Mahsud tribes in southern Waziristan and by October they had mostly been subdued. Only the Abdur Rahman Khel tribe and three other supporting tribes continued to attack British Indian Army posts.
The fledgling RAF was keen to establish its military credentials and the Air Officer Commanding in India, Sir Edward Ellington, made the unprecedented decision to conduct air operations against the tribesmen without the support of the army.
Bristol Fighters and de Havilland DH.9As from Nos. 5, 27 and 60 squadrons were deployed to the airstrips at Miranshah and Tank. Operations commenced on 9 March 1925 and the RAF squadrons strafed tribal mountain strongholds in a successful attempt to crush the rebellion.
On 1 May 1925, the tribal leaders sought an honourable peace bringing the short campaign to a close. Only two British lives and one aircraft were lost during the campaign. Pink's War was the first air action of the RAF carried out independently of the Army or Navy.
After the campaign was over, the India General Service Medal with the Waziristan 1925 bar was awarded to the 46 officers and 214 men of the Royal Air Force who took part in Pink's War. It was by far the rarest bar given with an India General Service Medal and was only awarded after the then Chief of the Air Staff Sir John Salmond succeeded in overturning the War Office decision not to grant a medal for the campaign. The campaign's commander, Wing Commander Pink, received speedy promotion to group captain "in recognition of his services in the field of Waziristan". For distinguished service during Pink's War, Squadron Leader Arthur John Capel was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded to Flight Lieutenants John Baker and William Cumming, and Flying Officer Reginald Pyne, and the Distinguished Flying Medal was given to Sergeant Pilots George Campbell and Ralph Hawkins, Sergeant Arthur Rutherford, Corporal Reginald Robins, and Leading Aircraftman Alfred Walmsley. A further 14 men were mentioned in despatches, including Flying Officers Edward Dashwood and Noel Hayter-Hames, who both lost their lives in the campaign.
- "Royal Air Force History – RAF History Timeline 1918 to 1929". Royal Air Force. 2003. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
- Smith, Richard. "Pink, Richard Charles Montagu (1888–1932)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
- Delve, Ken (1994). The Source Book of the RAF. Airlife Publishing Ltd. p. 283. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
- Laffin, John (1964). Swifter than Eagles. A biography of Marshal of the RAF Sir John Salmond. William Blackwood & Sons Ltd. pp. 207–208.
- "New Year Honours, Royal Air Force". London Gazette. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 29 December 1925. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 20 November 1925. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Bowyer, Chaz (1988). "Chapter Eight: Pink's War". RAF Operations 1918–1938. London: William Kimber. ISBN 0-7183-0671-6.
- Air Power Review – Volume 13 Number 3 Autumn/Winter 2010 – Pink’s War – Applying the Principles of Air Control to Waziristan – Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Roe