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Former Newham deputy lieutenant publishes siege story after 50 years

PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 May 2017

Michael Dudding, who stood down as the Queen's representative for the borough, has had his book

Michael Dudding, who stood down as the Queen's representative for the borough, has had his book "Challenge in Chitral" published after almost 50 years in his attic.

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A story telling a little known chapter of British history has been published after gathering dust in an attic for almost 50 years.

Completed in 1968 by Michael Dudding - former deputy lieutenant for Newham - Challenge in Chitral explores an effort to counter possible Russian influence in British India by saving a fort under siege by power hungry tribesmen in what was then an independent principality.

But with mainstream publishers declining to publish at the time, Michael consigned his manuscript to the loft where it lay until just before his 80th birthday when the father-of-two decided to take advantage of digital age developments in publishing.

“I thought if I don’t do something with the book my heirs and successors would do the same and put it in the loft,” Michael said.

“I’m just delighted to have got it off the ground. It’s been very well received,” he added.

An ex-army officer who served in the Gulf, Michael was inspired to write his book following a four day visit to Chitral in 1962 with friend and fellow army captain Asif Nawaz who went on to become Pakistan’s chief of the army staff.

“When I was there I wondered what brought the British here. I did some research and wrote the book,” said Michael, who remained in the army until 1974 before later joining the civil service.

With 200 copies printed and 80 already sold since publication in February, Michael explained the story’s appeal by saying a significant number of people from India and Pakistan living in Newham might have had ancestors affected by the siege.

“The story has been told before but I have, I think, put more emphasis on the threat from central Asia and what happened after the British withdrew. It’s a slightly different angle,” he said.

Originally type written on sheets of foolscap paper, Michael devoted time each day for four months retyping the book - dedicated to Asif, a fellow army officer Captain Dick Jones and his sons David and Jonathan - at his home in West Dulwich.

To purchase a copy, email Michael at mjd451@gmail.com.

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