Historic Dulmial Cannon Celebrates 200 years
In 1816 at Carron Company Ironworks, Falkirk, Scotland a particular 12 pounder Blomefield design artillery cannon was constructed. Now commonly known as the ‘Dulmial Village Cannon’, this year it celebrates its bicentenary.
On the side of the barrel, the cannon has its unique serial number 84049 and also the year of manufacture 1816 carved out. After researching the journey of the cannon from Scotland for several years, we have found that it was used by the British Naval fleet before arriving in the Punjab.
Dulmial Village sits in the Kahoon Valley, the Salt Range region of Punjab on the road between Kallar Kahar and Choa Saidan Shah. The area is easily accessible these days via the M2 motorway.
In the First World War Dulmial Village set the record for sending the most soldiers from any village in South Asia. 460 out of 879 males participated in the Great War 1914-18, in theatres of war all around the world. These included two of my great grandfathers, Captain Ghulam Mohammad and Subedar Mohammad Khan.
Field Marshal William Birdwood, the Commander in Chief of India rewarded Dulmial for its World War One services with the cannon in 1925. Hence in the early days the cannon was referred to as the ‘Birdwood Gun’.
The stand for the cannon was made in Cossipore Gun Foundry, Kolkata, India in 1847, the ordnance factory was under the leadership of Captain A. Broome. These details are in scripted on the side of the stand.
The gifted cannon was initially collected from the First Punjab Regimental Centre in Jhelum, from where it was carried by train to Chakwal. There the cannon was dismounted and loaded in a cart to be pulled by three pairs of oxen for the remaining journey of 28 kms to Dulmial Village. The dusty roads were semi mountainous and the passage was difficult. It would take the ox carts two weeks to cover the distance. From 5kms out, at Choa Saidan Shah the route became more difficult and five more pairs of oxen were dispatched to relieve the initial six to safely complete the journey.
The cannon was placed in the centre of Dulmial Village and a photograph taken with the local commissioned officers. The mounted cannon remains at the same location to this very day, a reminder of the contribution that Dulmial made in the First World War.
The impressive history went on to inspire many soldiers from the village in World War 2 and also in the Pakistan Army to this day, producing many high ranking distinguished officers.
Along with the cannon, Dulmial Village also has a military museum with collections ranging from over one hundred years. Riaz Malik, President of the Salt Range Archaeological and Heritage Society is the resident local historian and author.
Since the centenary of the First World War last year, Dulmial Village has attracted the interest of many historians and media channels from all around the world.
The village is now firmly on the tourist map for many visitors. Also close by is the tourist attraction of Katas, with its ancient temples.
Over the last year I have presented my lecture on the history of the Dulmial Village and cannon in numerous places in the UK. It is indeed a fascinating story of the cannon’s 4500 mile journey from Scotland to present day Pakistan. The two very different cultures and societies are bonded by the 200 year old cannon and the First World War.
Here is the link; https://vimeo.com/128793583