Tibet Expedition

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Tibet Expedition
Dec 1903 – Sept 1904
Chronological list of Wars and Campaigns
Location: Tibet
British Field Force Tibetan Armed Forces
Result: Anglo-Tibetan Agreement of 1904
Medals: Tibet Medal
Category: Tibet Expedition
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
Tibet Expedition 1903-04
locations and routes on Google Maps

The Expedition to Tibet in 1903-04, also known as the Anglo-Tibet War.


At the beginning of the 20th century Britain and Russia were competing for influence in Central Asia. To counter the perceived threat, the British sent an expedition under Francis Younghusband to negotiate with the Tibetans. The first excursion with Claude White, the Political Officer for Sikkim, to Khamba Jong was rebuffed and a field force was dispatched through the Jelep Pass. The Tibetans were defeated at two major battles and the expedition reached Lhasa in August 1904. The Dalai Lama had fled but Younghusband forced a one-sided treaty on the regent which gave Britain trading rights in Tibet. This was later repudiated by the Tibetans.

Field Forces

First Excursion
British Commissioner to Tibet: Major Francis Younghusband
Political Officer for Sikkim: J Claude White

Tibet Mission
British Commissioner to Tibet: Major Francis Younghusband
Escort Commander: Brig-Gen James Macdonald CB

  • Six Coys 8th Gurkhas Lt-Col Kerr
  • Eight Coys 23rd Pioneers Lt-Col Hogge
  • Half Coy 2nd Sappers Maj Haycock
  • Maxim gun detachment of Norfolk Regiment Lt Hadow
  • Two 7-pounder guns of 8th Gurkhas Capt Leeke
  • Two 10 pounder guns of No 7 Mountain Battery Royal Garrison Artillery Maj Fuller
  • Field Hospital
  • Engineer Field Park
  • Ammunition Column
  • Telegraph, postal and survey detachments

Later Reinforcements

  • One Wing Royal Fusiliers Col Cooper DSO
  • 40th Pathans Lt-Col Campbell DSO
  • 19th Punjabis Maj Herbert
  • Three Coys Mounted Infantry Capts Otterley & Peterson, Maj Rowlandson
  • Maxim gun detachment of Royal Irish Rifles Lt Bowen Colthurst
  • Two 7-pounder RML guns of No 30 Mountain Battery Lt Marindin
  • Two 10-pounder RML guns of No 27 Mountain Battery Lt Field


  • 10,000 transport drivers
  • 8,000 supply and transport coolies
  • 10,500 mules and ponies
  • 400 donkeys
  • 9,225 bullocks and yaks


First Excursion

19 June 1903 Mission left Darjeeling
21 June Reached Gangtok
26 June Arrived at Tangu
4 July Claude White (Sikkim Political Officer) left Tangu
5 July Mr White reached Diagong
7 July Mr White reached Khamba Dzong
18 July Younghusband reached Khamba Dzong
11 October Younghusband left Khamba Dzong for Simla

Mission to Lhasa

5 December 1903 Mission left Darjeeling
12 December Crossed the border at Jelep Jelep La 4267m
14 December Arrived at Yadong
20 December Reached Pagri
7 January 1904 Crossed the Tang La 4,521 m
8 January Made camp at Tuna
31 March Battle at Guru
9 April Action at Tsamdang Gorge
11 April Reached Gyantse
5 May Tibetan attack at Gyantse
7 May Battle of Karo La
26 May Battle of Palla
6 June Action at Kangma
6 July Gyantse Dzong stormed
14 July Mission left Gyantse for Lhasa
19 July Reached Nagartse
24 July Crossed the Kampa La 4,794 m
31 July Crossed the Bramaputra at Chaksam Ferry
4 August Reached Lhasa

External links

Historical books online

"With the Tibet Mission Force" by Major A. R. Aldridge J R Army Med Corps 1905;4:2 235-240
Captain Mainprise also wrote many letters which have been transcribed online as Field Force To Lhasa 1903-04. 50 Letters from Captain Cecil Mainprise.[1]


  1. Field Force To Lhasa 1903-04. 50 Letters from Captain Cecil Mainprise. intotibet1903-04.blogspot.com.