Kabul Airlift

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  • Info The Kabul Airlift was an air evacuation of British and a number of European diplomatic staff and their families conducted by the Royal Air Force from Kabul between December 1928 and February 1929.
  • The operation to rescue them, the Kabul Airlift, was the first evacuation of civilians by air.
  • The Kabul Airlift is notable as the first large-scale air evacuation in history, with a total of 586 people being rescued.
  • This operation was only conducted over a short range and it was not until 1929 that the RAF conducted a long-range non-combat air evacuation of British diplomatic staff from Afghanistan to India using a Vickers Victoria during the Kabul Airlift.
  • Early in 1929 Bray was responsible for the plans for the evacuation by air (a novel method at that time) of the women and children, and then of the Minister, Sir Francis Humphreys, and his staff as part of the Kabul Airlift.
  • Considering the limitations of aircraft at the time, operating amidst a civil war, bitter cold, and mountainous terrain, the Kabul Airlift was a remarkable feat of endurance for both the airmen and the civilians involved.
  • Eight Victorias of 70 Squadron played an important part in the Kabul Airlift of November 1928-February 1929, when in severe winter conditions, RAF aircraft evacuated diplomatic staff and their dependents together with members of the Afghan royal family endangered by a civil war.
  • In November 1928 a rebellion began in Jalalabad and tribal forces marched on Kabul, and in early 1929 Humphrys supervised the evacuation by air of several hundred Europeans in what became known as the Kabul Airlift.
  • In January 1929 Ivelaw-Chapman, then a flight-lieutenant in the RAF, participated in the Kabul Airlift, a successful evacuation of the British Legation in Kabul amidst a civil war and a bitter winter.