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 Coghill and Melvill issue

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Dave

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PostSubject: Coghill and Melvill issue   Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:46 pm

I was thinking today about the Coghill and Melvill issue.
What about all the others that left the Battlefield for what ever reason possibly to save their lives. But they are never discussed in the same way Coghill and Melvill are. So what are the thoughts on the others. its odd how only these two were selected for the VC. But none of the others were. Maybe they were hero's and we have chosen to look beyond their brave deed.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:35 am

Hi Dave
The VC was awarded for acts of true bravery.
Samuel Wassall was awarded his for going back into the Buffalo to rescue Westwood, and risking his own life.
Coghill was awarded his for riding back into the water to help Mellvill and Higginson.
Mellvill for attempting to save Coghill after leaving the water.
As far as Im aware the only other recorded case of heroism was Smith Dorean stopping to bind the wounds of a wounded man, at risk to himself. For whatever reason Chelmsford/ Wolsley didnt consider that worth while for recognition, some thing I cant fathom as he is a personal hero of mine.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:14 pm

Quote :
he is a personal hero of mine.

Springbok.
Have you seen the live footage of your hero posted on the forum.
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mons14

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:53 am

There is also the story of the heoric death of Lieutenant Standish William Prendergast VEREKER - 2nd Natal Native Contingent...


An excerpt from “Heroes of modern Africa: True stories of the intrepid bravery and stirring adventures of the pioneers, explorers, and founders of modern Africa” (1911 ) by Edward Gilliat, a former Harrow master.


'...Two of the young officers who died on that day were known to the writer when they were boys at school. One, the Honourable Captain Vereker, was a Westminster boy, famed at school for leading his comrades to charge the London roughs on the way to Vincent Square. The writer gave him his first lessons in the use of the pistol, little thinking of the dire extremity which should so soon find him, revolver in hand, facing a mob of yelling savages, Vereker, we are told, had just caught a stray horse and was in the act of mounting when a trooper came running up : " Beg pardon, sir, but that is my horse you’ve got." " Oh ! is it? Here you are, man! jump up quick; I'll manage." So with Irish generosity and pluck the young officer gave up his only chance of safety, and stayed to meet the foe and die. '

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

(By the way this is the same man that was portrayed in the movie Zulu Dawn as being with Melville and Coghill.)
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:54 am

Mons 14

Quite right I forgot about Vereker.

Admin

Yes I have seen it , thanks Pete.
SD was bitter about not getting any recognition, he mentions it in his memoirs. He does in fact refer to "a few circumstances".

Regards
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:32 pm

Thanks for your replies. But the point I trying to make, is that Coghill and Melvill are discussed in two ways. Hero's or Cowards. Why are the others not discussed in the same way. Were they hero's or were they cowards. I'm not sure what Coghills reasons were, but Melvill was trying or presumed to be saving the colours. He had a reason for leaving. What reasons did the other have.
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rai



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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:35 pm

Hi All,
Coghill is a difficult character, at the time he was on Colonel Glyn's Staff, and therefore even being a regimental officer of the 24th, he was not under anyone's specfic orders, and commanded no troops..
When in a hopeless situation do you decide to call it a day and leave, it was a terrible and horrible situation.
All the Imperial Officers who survived were placed in this situation and all decided to leave.
I have read many books and researched the battle for 35 years, i have read all the reports in the National Archives taken at the Court of Enquiry and in none do [smith-Dorrien, Essex, Gardner, Curling and Cochrane] state they were issued with orders to leave, The only instance i can recall is Simoen Kambula Edendale Horse being told by Durnford to leave, [ i would think he gave this order to all the men around him]
Back to Coghill, his father led the campaign for his son to be recognised with the VC for attempting to save the life of Mellvill, and Melvill for doing the same to Coghill,
I think the question of way they all left was forgotton about, in the resulting Court of Enquiry QUESTION into the LOSS OF THE CAMP?
I think it turned into a free for all, EVERYMAN FOR HIMSELF.
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90th

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PostSubject: coghill and melvill   Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:15 pm

hi Rai.
I certainly agree with your post , Kambula is the only person I have ever read about that said ,
he was told to leave . All the officers that did take flight did so on their own inititive or so it seems.
Maybe Melvill was ordered to save the colours , but quite simply we will never know . I think it was
Kambula that attempted to save the life of a drummer boy , who was put in charge of an ammunition
wagon by an officer , Kambula pleaded with him to double up on his horse , but the boy said he couldnt
leave till ordered to do so .
cheers 90th.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:50 pm

Just out of curiosity. Were there any objections by the War Office when posthumous awards were awarded to Melville & Coghill.

When back in 1879 the thoughts must have been along the lines of what Sir Garnet Wolseley was thinking

"I am sorry that both of these officers were not killed with their men at Isandlwana instead of where they were. I don't like the idea of officers escaping on horseback when their men on foot are killed. Heroes have been made of men like Melvill and Coghill, who, taking advantage of their having horses, bolted from the scene of the action to save their lives, it is monstrous making heroes of those who saved or attempted to save their lives by bolting or of those who, shut up in buildings at Rorke's Drift, could not bolt, and fought like rats for their lives which they could not otherwise save"

Or would this have been a case, it was many years ago, no one’s alive to object so lets give them the VC.award.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:57 am

I think there is very much a case for Melville to have left, the colors were an important symbol, as were the guns. Coghill left later than Melville, there are various reports of them being seen seperate with Coghill bringing up the rear. Im not so sure that in the early part of the flight he should be linked to Melville. However once they reached the Drift we have testimony that puts them together going into the water and of Coghill re entering the water to save Melville. Thats why Coghill was awarded the VC, saving Melville not the colors. Remember that Coghills knee was injured. There is no way that Coghill was going to climb that hill out of the valley on his own. Melville would have had to virtually carry him. Thats why Melville got the VC, not for trying to save the colors.
The rest of the rant from Wolsley was just sour grapes because he missed out on the glory.

Regards
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:51 pm


"...of Coghill re entering the water to save Melville. Thats why Coghill was awarded the VC, saving Melville not the colors..."

Neither Coghill's nor Melville's acts would be considered "an act of the highest valour in the face of the enemy" in my humble opinion. However, VCs and lots of them, were needed to put as positive a spin as possible on that disaster at iSandlwana.

Coghill's and Melville's VCs were soft awards at best, and completely wrong at worst; whichever, pure of spin doctoring. I don't disagree with Wolesley's comments - he was a man who knew, wasn't just sour grapes.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:16 pm

The beauty of forums like this is one can appreciate differing view points.
The VC awards for M and C were awarded long after the battle and its hysteria had passed. The full story had been told ( as much as could have in the 19th century). So no I dont agree that it was a spin. The awards were made for two men that mutually saved each others lives, at different times and space. There was no difference between thier acts and that of say Sam Wassal. He road back into the Buffalo to rescue a comrade, as did Coghill. Melville could have got away, as Higginson, he didnt he tried to save his companion. All individual valor really. Of course the underlying thread would be the victorian melodrama of saving the colors.
If you read through Wolsleys musings he does come across as a bitter man. He had been called on to rescue the empire and found that circumstance was against him, he was to late.
If you accept his rants against M and C then you have to accept the Rats in a Cage comment against the RD defenders, and that I wont accept because in doing so a lot of other valiant defenses would have to be grouped with it. Delville Wood springs to mind. The Glorious Glosters. Many more.
Im on record on this forum of questioning Coghills departure from the battlefield, I still do, Melville's is open to speculation and individual choice. I believe he at least thought he was doing the right thing, and I am happy to believe that looking at the time and space movements of his on the battlefield he was indeed tasked with the safety of the colors.
Maybe Im just an old Victorian romantic at heart.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:52 pm

Some good points there Springbok and well made. I think we are not far off in agreement over most of this.
The long delay between the valiant act and the awarding of a VC (or any other award) is quite usual; however, that doesn't mean that the act can not be discussed and applauded in the meantime, if that is deemed that that is how it is going to be played. (And perhaps, politically and from a national morale point of view, that is not the wrong thing to do). In terms of fulfilling the criteria of a VC, the iSandlwana escapees are quite weak awards. (Compare these awards to those that should have been awarded and never were to heroes such as Paddy Mayne, Talaiasi Labalaba and Anthony Deane-Drummond).
I can think of an incident that occurred on a busy day in Afghanistan, back in 2006. Without going into details, 4 men were in very deep trouble indeed, for going well beyond the limits of what was sensible, out of the operational parameters to which they were constrained and for ultimately endangering the lives of other people. They were going to be court martialled until someone in very high authority figured out that it would be much better publicity to instead make heroes out of them - and this is what occurred - all 4 were decorated instead! Pure spin - much better for the public image of the army!

I too am on record as stating the below:

"Subject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift. Sat 26 Feb - 19:17

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Personally, my opinion is that Wolseley's comments about RD are quite ridiculous. One could apply that screwed up logic to any force of soldiers defending their post, from the past, present or future.

Coghill and Melville bolting from iSandlwana? Debatable."


I think we are in agreement in Wolseley's comments re RD, but a little off in M and C's case - but as you say - we will never know for sure one way or the other. And if my gut instinct were right, about M and C's awards being spin, if it were indeed for the greater good, is this wrong?

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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:40 pm

Springbok is this your own personal opinion.
Quote :
Melville would have had to virtually carry him. Thats why Melville got the VC, not for trying to save the colors.

Melville was posthumously awarded the VC for attempting to save the regimental colours.

Coghill was posthumously awarded the VC for attempting to save a brother officer.

Coghill had crossed the river totally unaware that Melville was behind him. Melville was clinging to a rock (Coffin Rock) along with Higginson. They were both swept in to the fast flowing river, Melville was struggling and Coghill went back into to assist.

Melville’s action in attempting to save the colours is debatable. And the real reasons for his actions are also debateable. (Don’t’ let the film Zulu Dawn cloud your judgement)
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90th

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PostSubject: Coghill and Melvill   Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:01 am

Hi all .
Not sure if this has any bearing but as some of us know Coghill and Melvill weren't awarded their V.C's till from memory 1907 ?.
I think the first to be posthumously awarded the V.C.
This from the London Gazette 2nd May 1879 , '' On account of the gallant efforts made LT Melvill to save the Queens colour
of his regiment , he would have been recommended for the Victoria Cross had he survived '' .
In 1906 His wife Sara became one of several people to petition King Edward V11 to revise the Victoria Cross Warrant to include
posthumous awards . As a result , the London Gazette for Jan 15th 1907 carried notification of V.C awards to both Melvill and
Coghill . Sara recieved the medal 5 months later .
In regard to Coghill it was also stated in the London Gazette of 2nd may 79 that he also would have been reccomended for the V.C
due to his attempt to save the life of a brother officer . In 1902 a plea from Sir John Coghill was made to the king in respect of a
posthumous V.C to his son . Sara Melvill also decided to add her weight to the plea in 1906 . It was awarded after the warrant was
changed but to late for Sir John who passed away in 1905 .
cheers 90th. Idea
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:22 am

So a lot of in-put from friends and familey, before it was agreed. Wonder what Horace Smith-Dorrien thought about it ?????


The bodies of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were found together with the Colour, although they were so far apart in the retreat, and the explanation I would offer is as follows.

"Below Fugitives' Drift the river flows into a deep gorge and the right bank is inaccessible. The river was in flood, and a lot of fugitives, men and horses, must have been swept away through this gorge, or only have succeeded in effecting a landing well below the path leading from Fugitives' Drift up the right bank. I surmise that Melvill and Coghill may both have been swept down-stream towards X (see sketch, p. 12), and there have met, and in endeavouring to get back together to the path of the fugitives were killed by Zulus who had crossed higher up. As far as I can make out, their bodies were found near Z. The official account, published in 1881, is quite incorrect as to the movements of these two officers. I may say that I was never consulted."
Extract 48 year service
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:41 am

CTSG
As to why the award was given to Melville, yes a personal opinion. As to him assisting Coghill up the slope, no a matter of record. Unless you have actually done that climb you cant experience the effort needed. Today there is a track leading up from the drift. Then it was more virgin territory. The flood plain is pretty wide, this would have been under water, then the steep, and I do meen steep climb. Imagine having done that 6 kilometer ride, a task in it self, being pursued and harrassed, swimming a flooded river, and then helping/ carrying a brother officer that distance? Yes its a personal opinion that he deserved the VC for that effort.
Its erroneous that Coghill was unaware of Melville, its recorded that they were together on the Zulu bank, a conversation between them was overheard relating to them agreeing to stick together. Having studied this mater for over 30 years I can assure you the last thing that would influence me is Zulu Dawn.

Littlehand
On another past thread I gave an insight into a time and space study that I have been working on for a long long time, it has been centered on the Fugitives trail and placing the fugitives in relative positions and time frames. Frankly it doesnt tie up. That is untill you remove Smith Dorean from the equation. Ignore his statement of seeing Coghill a half mile ahead and the rest of the narratives fit. There are very good reasons for discounting that statement. First the length of time after the event for it to have been made, second could SD have identified Coghill at that distance and in those circumstances, third it does not tie in with at least 4 other statements. Forth he 'sumises', guesses where they entered the water and where they ended up. The concept of a 'coffin shaped rock' started with Donald Morris in TWOTS, as did a lot of other Myths, but thats a whole new topic. Read the suvivors statements carefully and its pretty obvious that Melville was virtually across when he stumbled. That places him a long way from the 'coffin rock', which is metres away from the Zulu bank. The river was in flood, at least 50 to 80 metres wider than its norm, its debatable that with that sort of distance Coghill could have even seen or heard Melville?
Smith Dorean is a personal hero of mine, that doesnt stop me questioning his memory or his thoughts.

Tasker
Your quite right, so Wolsleys comments would tend to substantiate my statement of a bitter man.

Regards to all
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90th

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PostSubject: Coghill and Melvill   Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:09 am

Hi all / littlehand.
Melvill and Coghill weren't found with the colour . Harford found the colour later and Lt Harbor waded out to get it if I'm not
mistaken . This has been covered in detail previously on the forum . Smith - Dorrien was nominated for the V.C but his commanding
officer failed to act on it , due to Smith - Dorrien going over his head to go to Sth Africa after his CO had turned down his initial request. He was a little disappointed not to have been awarded the VC but he is on record saying he witnessed many more
incidents during WW1 where there was no VC awarded and they were far better than his efforts at Isandlwana .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:02 am

The issue that has always interested me was whether Melville was acting under orders, as mentioned by 90th in the earlier post, or whether by taking the colours it was a convenient excuse for leaving the battlefield. Presumably it would be the decision of the senior officer in charge at the time ( Pulleine? ) or would there be some sort of standing order for officers to use their initiative to save the colours if all was lost?


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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:08 pm

Fascinating debate everyone...I feel myself blowing one way then another, like a candle in the wind!

My gripe is, did C and M's actions merit a VC? Well, by Victorian standards, probably Yes.

Would not "attempting to save the life of a brother officer" be expected though, as part of one's duty? What kind of officer would NOT attempt to save the life of a brother officer?

During WW1 and 2, VCs were much harder earned. The criteria for the award of the ultimate honour, certainly did toughen up as decades passed into the 20th C.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:01 pm

Quote :
Personally, my opinion is that Wolseley's comments about RD are quite ridiculous. One could apply that screwed up logic to any force of soldiers defending their post, from the past, present or future.

Absolutely. Pathetic comments !

Yes the men at RD were fighting for their lives etc (just like any other man in a battle !) As an example - The fact that Hook, the Jones' and Williams didn't bolt from the hospital without the patients is bravery of the highest order. I fail to see what fighting for their lives has to do with that fact !



Neil
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:12 am

B-Company were left at Rorke’s Drift for a purpose, not because they wasn't needed elsewhere. They were there to protect the Drift, the Ponts and the stores. They also knew that the enemy were quite near, and knew the possibly of action. It’s really of no consequence, as to who should be credited with the decision to stay and fortify the possibility of leaving would have been the first thought in anyone’s mind regardless of rank. The fact of the matter is, they stayed, fortified and fended of 3000-5000 Zulu Warriors for nearly 15 hrs. They accomplished this, and 132 years on we and many like us remember them all. But the icing on the cake for me relating to comments made by Wolseley, it’s that he “Wolseley” is not really discussed that much.

Quote:
Personally, my opinion is that Wolseley's comments about RD are quite ridiculous. One could apply that screwed up logic to any force of soldiers defending their post, from the past, present or future.

Echo. nthornton comments. Absolutely. Pathetic comments!
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:13 am

Never having won a VC ( probably because of my inherent cowadice) I am open to correction but doesnt the citation say something to the order of: Above and Beyond the call of Duty.
So it all really depends on that doesnt it?
What is above and beyond?
Probably defined as an act that could result in your own life being taken.
So Sam Wassall rescued a fellow soldier, putting his own life at risk.
Wasnt that what both M and C did?
Did Smith Dorean deserve one for binding the wounds of a trooper?

For those three example , yes yes and no.

All about perception and the circumstance really.

I cant believe the level of spin ( more a mdern invention ) was sufficiently practised above societal norms that such a venerable and honarable institution as the VC would be prostituted or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
Sorry thats probably a long way of saying I believe they all, Rorkes Drift included, earned there moment of Glory

Nice discussion
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amberwitch



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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:17 pm

According to Smith-Dorrien's biographer,

"For two separate acts on the 22nd January he was recommended for the Victoria Cross but he did not receive it as the proper channels of communication were not employed. Mr. Hamer, the civilian commissary whose life he had saved, wtote copious letters to the Horse Guards and to Horace's family but to no avail. When this became apparent Hamer did his best to obtain for him the Royal Humane Society's medal but was told that it was too late. "

The Man who Disobeyed (A. J. Smithers) 1970

I wonder if any of those letters survive? They would make most in
teresting reading. Hamer's own account of his escape from the battlefield has no mention of SD but I wonder if he would have known him (and vice versa). SD's own account, written shortly after the battle, doesn't mention Hamer by name.

James Hamer was not the grizzled old colonial some imagine. In fact he was only twenty years old at Isandlwana, and just under five months younger than SD!
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:40 pm

Quote :
SD's own account, written shortly after the battle, doesn't mention Hamer by name.


Extract from "Memories of Forty-Eight Years Service"

"With help of my revolver and a wild jump down the rocks I found myself in the Buffalo River, which was in flood and eighty yards broad. I was carried away, but luckily got hold of the tail of a loose horse, which towed me across to the other bank, but I was too exhausted to stick to him. Up this bank were swarming friendly natives, but I only saw one European, a Colonial and Acting Commissariat Officer named Hamer, lying there unable to move. I managed to catch a loose horse, and put him on it, and he escaped. The Zulus were pouring in a very heavy fire from the opposite bank and dropped several friendly natives as we climbed to the top. No sooner had I achieved this than I saw that a lot of Zulus had crossed higher up and were running to cut me off. This drove me off to my left, but twenty of them still pursued for about three miles, and I managed to keep them off with my revolver."
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:39 am

No VC'S should have been awarded for the disastrous action at Isandlwana. It was Zulu Victory. The regimental colours should have remained on the Battlefield. They are used to rally the troops. Hardly fair expecting the troops to rally when some on horseback is carrying them off the Battlefield. And stopping to help someone after you have just left lots of men to died, would only be a self comfort factor. (I didn't stay but I did help someone escape)
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:05 pm

"... most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."

This is the only criteria I can find for the award of the VC, although I have heard it mentioned that the act also needs to "make a difference" to the situation.

I have to agree completely with CTSG above. RD VC's were richly deserved. The ones for iSandlwana went to the wrong men. Perhaps men such as Captain Younghusband would have been more desrving. I am sure members of this fourum could nominate many more deserving cases from the actual battlefield of iSandlwana.

There have been VCs awarded in the past based on recommendations of enemy commanders when no British men or their allies lived to tell the tale.
Perhaps the powers that were should have listened to what the Zulu commanders had to say. I don't have the knowledge some people on this forum have about the battle, but I understand that the Zulus certainly noticed Younghusband and his men.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:26 pm

"Perhaps men such as Captain Younghusband would have been more desrving."

How do we know Captain Younghusband's last actions really took place. (Just food for thought)
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:02 pm

SD's own account, written shortly after the battle, doesn't mention Hamer by name.

I was thinking of an account by Smith Dorrien (I think a letter home) quoted by Smithers in his biography of SD. Sadly (foolishly) I didn't make a copy of this when I consulted the book. Would any member of the group have a copy to hand?

SD would have known Hamer's name by the time he wrote his memoirs many years later.

Pete

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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:55 pm

Isn't some of what we know of iSandlwana from Zulu witness accounts? A quick look on the internet and I found:

Another, Captain Younghusband’s company, tried to defend a shoulder of Isandlwana itself, until lack of ammunition forced them to try and join the others on the saddle below. Here, the Zulus gradually broke up the British formations, throwing spears at them until gaps appeared, then rushing in with their stabbing spears. In the last moment of the battle, the killing achieved levels of primeval savagery, as soldiers, unable to escape, fought on with clubbed rifles, fists, knives, and even stones. “Those red soldiers”, recalled one warrior, “how few they were, and how they fought; they fell like stones, each man in his place”.

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:03 pm

It’s all speculation. It was also said that the Zulu’s allowed Younghusband to shake hands with his men before launching his famous charge toward the Zulu lines. I think your find that the Zulu’s mentioned many things and it was the British who linked it to a certain officer of a group of men. “ A tall man charging down whirling his sword a round his head”
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:48 pm

CTSG
Quote :
No VC'S should have been awarded for the disastrous action at Isandlwana.

Perhaps you should elaborate on this.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:16 pm

Quote :
No VC'S should have been awarded for the disastrous action at Isandlwana
CTSG. I to would be interested in how you came to this conclusion. (In Your own time) scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:33 pm

Chartd1879. No time like the present...

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration which is, or has been, awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories.

In the face of the enemy. In the case of Isandlwana.The enemy were on the Battlefield or chasing those that were trying to escape.

The meaning of Escape.
Flee.
Run Away.
Get Away.
Break Out.
Run Off.

I don't have to remind you, But most of those that ecsape from the Battlefield, did so on horseback. Leaving those on foot to their fate. The truth is i'm saying what most of you are thinking. You just haven't got the bottle to say it.


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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:48 pm

The men that left the Battlefield did so, because there was no more they could do, but to save themselves. They were totally out numbered, and took whatever means necessary to stay alive. The fact that some did stop to help others and in some case's gave up their own horses to allow weaken soldiers to escape.

Private Samuel Wassall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his conduct at the battle. He had a horse because he was attached to the Mounted Infantry, He escaped on his horse from the battle and crossed the Tugela. He saw a comrade from the Mounted Infantry struggling in the water. Samuel Wassall recrossed the river, tethered his horse, swam over to the soldier and dragged him ashore on the Zulu side. The two men plunged back into the Tugela and swam to safety on Wassall’s horse as the Zulus came up.


In that case there was valour in the face of the enemy.

Quote :
The truth is I’m saying what most of you are thinking. You just haven't got the bottle to say it.


No the truth is we are not disrespectful. Idea
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Saul David 1879



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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:04 pm

CTSG. And there was me thinking you had found an un-tapped source of information. scratch
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:47 pm

CTSG. Doe's have a point... If Private Samuel Wassal hadn't seen his comrade from the Mounted Infantry struggling in the water. He would have just been another survivor. It was just luck that two men from the same unit happened to be travelling in the same direction at the same time.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:05 am

Why Younghusband? Brave man for sure but he fought and he died. If you want to give him a VC then you would have to award another 1315. Including Durnford for his last stand, Ansteys, Shepstone, CS Wolff etc. becomes ridiculous.
Its worth a reminder that no VC,s were awarded for any incident on the field of battle. If you discount the medal to Sam Wasall then your going to have to, by definition, ignore any bravery on the retreat/escape/running away/tactical withdrawl of the BEF and subsequent Dunkirk evacuation.
What about the magnificent escape and evasion of Chris Ryan, he technically was running away!
Another definition of escape.........to avoid.
"In all the field of war no feat is nobler than than a brave withdrawl".....S Butler.
I dont believe you can apply 21st Century thinking to a 19th Century frame of mind. As posted earlier the Victorian mentality placed great emphasis on Queen Country and regiment, and the honor of those entities. The colors were presented by the monarch and technically were only on loan to a regiment it was therefore a source of great dishonor to lose them.
At the risk of repeating myself, take a careful look at Melvills movements around the field, look at the timing, look at the man himself. He COULD have been instructed to save the colors. There is absolutly no evidence whatsoever to suggest the opposite, therefore I would say we have to accept he was acting under orders.
In terms of Coghill for whatever reason, he left the battlefield, the only 24th officer apart from Melville. Theres no evidentury history to say why he left, so his departure is in question. But again look at the code of honor for the time, if he had suvived what would his life have been like, the only 24th officer to flee a live battlefield? Remember the phrase prevalent at the time, Death before Dishonor.
The other officer/escapees were not of the 24th and could hang the futures on that fine thread, Coghill couldnt.

Dont mistake 'Bottle; for ignorance'.

Regards

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:29 am

Chard, I am with CTSG on this. You say,
"The men that left the Battlefield did so, because there was no more they could do, but to save themselves".
I am not criticising them for that, but does this qualify them for the highest honour the Queen can possibly bestow? Sure, they, attempted to save a life of another, but who wouldn't? They should perhaps have been awarded an appropriate life saving medal - these too can be awarded posthumously, whether the attempt was successful or not.

Springbok
"Why Younghusband?" You also mention , "Ansteys, Shepstone, CS Wolff etc." - perhaps all better candidates for the VC than C and M, thanks for those names.

You also say to "ignore any bravery on the retreat/escape/running away/tactical withdrawl of the BEF and subsequent Dunkirk evacuation.
What about the magnificent escape and evasion of Chris Ryan, he technically was running away!"

Firstly, those who were decorated for bravery at Dunkirk etc etc were men and units FIGHTING hard (not fleeing) to hold up the German advance in order to help their colleagues to withdraw safely, I think you will invariably find.

Secondly, "Chris Ryan" was part of a unit who were escaping a hopeless situation TOGETHER - he did not LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND. Also, he was awarded the Military Medal, the lowest gallantry decoration available, for his escape, not the blooming VC!
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:01 am

tasker 224
Your getting confused, nobody was awarded a medal for leaving the battlefield, or for staying come to that. Three medals were proposed for three seperate acts. Its far from the point to discuss how the various figures got to their moments with destiny, if so where does one stop, 1 day later, week, year?
Do we have a situation that says for instance that a medal couldnt be awarded for a later battle because he wouldnt have been there if he hadnt escaped from isandlwana?
I will stay with my viewpoint on Melvilles leaving the battlefield untill someone, anyone, can give me conclusive evidence that he ran away. Coghills actions in saving Melville and Higginson are documented and witnessed, removed from the battlefield and nothing at all to do with the main battle. Again if your saying no to his award then give me a time frame after the battle when he would have been eligble for any award, if he had suvived that is. The same with Wassall. By extention your going to deny him a medal because he had a horse and others didnt? Rather ludicrous in the extreme.
So again by extention the same man cant have a medal because he escaped, and was lucky to be in that time and space? Lucky? To cross the river, head back, tie up his horse, dive into the raging river, rescue a comrade, put him on the horse and then swim back over the river with him, lucky?
Lucky is winning the jackpot not putting your life at risk.
......sure they would attempt to save the life of another, who wouldnt?
A lot of people wouldnt, Brickhill didnt when he passed the Bandmaster. A lot more didnt when they passed the walking/running soldiers..
Cochran didnt stop to help the drivers and gunners.

The award to Melville can only be questioned if it can be shown that he didnt leave the battlefield under orders. Coghills if it can be shown that he didnt save his two companions. Wassall the same..
It cant be questioned because of earlier scenarios. Or, as I pointed out 21st century thinking.

Regards

PS. Chris Ryan was parted from Mcnab and made his escape on his own, he was awarded the medal for his heroics in that escape, he wouldnt have got it if the Definitions of escape from CTSG had been applied, he was also only saving his own skin, hence the lower award.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:50 pm

Spingbok, there are 2 possibilities as far as I can see.
1. Melville left the battlefield on the premise of saving the Colours, on his own initiative.
2. Meliville was ordered to leave the battlefield in order to save the Colours by a more senior officer.
Either way, he failed and did not save the Colours, due to being distracted in life saving attempts which he should NOT have been way laid by, if in fact he was actually trying to save the Colours.

"Mellvill for attempting to save Coghill after leaving the water"

Saving the Colours should have been his ONLY goal, if this was such an important task.
That he deviated from this task and failed in his primary objective as a result, it should be a Court Martial, not a VC.

I think we have now gone full circle on the points I made earlier on this thread.
A Court Martial or Decoration?
Decoration - pure spin! (Oh, and spin is not a modern invention).
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:09 pm

Tasker.

I struggle to see your logic here, you do like comparing modern ethic to the past. As I have stated in the past I tend not to get involved in unsubstantiated debates on here-say, so I will not get involved in the rights or wrongs.

How many times have you been to the spot?, or indeed how many times have you clambered up the path that Melvill assisted NJAC?, I can assure you on Thursday afternoon last I did it for the umpteenth time, I was not under fire, I was not literally carrying a fellow officer unable to walk, . It took 21 gruelling minutes from the riverbank to the grave site, I was knackered, had water and i can assure you am fit. Testimony to the fact that the other graves around them prove that others died in the close environ to TM & NJAC be it NNC, Colonial or imperial, there was a a heck of a struggle, even on the way to point they died.
Melvill
Irrespective, is the reason for why Melvill had the colours, if he was ordered to, I he had them as a rally point, he did his duty to the best of his ability to carry this out, even to attempting to cross the torrent, I can assure you a Buffalo river in spate is a very angry animal indeed, I have only seen it 4 feet up in my nine visits, in 8 feet of 1879 it was was a raging, roaring torrent, boiling with concealed boulders, if he left of his own accord he could have dumped the colours to get a fighting chance of life, halfway on the fugitives route, the fact he chose to not do it is not even a cause of debate. The fact that his battalions colours WERE recovered, when the 2nd Bttn's were not , meant his cause, whatever his logic was not folly.

Coghill? I need not tell you a recipient of the VC has always had to be gazetted for it, and requires documentary evidence to permit it, L/Cpl JJ Farmer was awarded the VC at Majuba, I suggest you read up on him, worthy recipient? doubtful, but who are we to argue, however his acts were seen, and the observer survived, Likewise the VC for E S Browne at Khambula for saving the unhorsed Russell, (not forgetting Learda,) for saving a fellow soldier from the jaws of a violent death, as Gunner Smith did saving Lt Guthrie at Abu Klea, was high praise in the high victorian age, Ok, he wasn't charging a machine gun nest with a lewis gun, or climbing on the wing of a crippled wellington to extinguish a fire, but times changed, and attitudes to it also. The fact Coghill chose to go back, a testimony that can be compared with the best of them.








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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:21 pm

There is nothing to verify that Melvill was ordered to carry the colours to safety, apart from the reference made in the film Zulu Dawn. (Fiction) Coghill had left the Battlefield before Melvill that’s why he was across the other side of the river before Melvill arrived.

Springbok
Quote :
“In terms of Coghill for whatever reason, he left the battlefield, the only 24th officer apart from Melvill. There’s no evidentiary history to say why he left,”

Come on now, say it how it is. (To save his own skin just like the rest of them that saw a chance to leave.) Don’t get me wrong; I don’t blame them. But lets cut the VC awards out.

Sir Garnet Worsley summed it up when he refers to Melvill and Coghill

"I am sorry that both of these officers were not killed with their men at Isandlwana instead of where they were. I don't like the idea of officers escaping on horseback when their men on foot are killed. Heroes have been made of men like Melvill and Coghill, who, taking advantage of their having horses, bolted from the scene of the action to save their lives, it is monstrous making heroes of those who saved or attempted to save their lives by bolting or of those who, shut up in buildings at Rorke's Drift, could not bolt, and fought like rats for their lives which they could not otherwise save"

Neil say’s
Quote :
“if he left of his own accord he could have dumped the colours to get a fighting chance of life”
But he needed the colours to justify his escape.

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:35 pm

Great discussion everyone, some excellent points all round.
The only thing missing is the fact we are not all sat around a table in a pub with a few beers!
I am not sure any of us are going to change our minds as to our opinions of the intent of Melville and Coghill or whether or not they deserved the VC. I am still reading up on the topic and probably always will be from now on, but as to this issue, I am with CTSG. I would love to be convinced otherwise.
If Wolseley was a bitter man, or just stating what a lot of other contemporary soldiers thought, it demonstrates that even all those years ago, different people had different opinions on the issue and they still do today.
At the end of the day, we will never know for sure whether M and C were heroes or not. But most people seem to side quite strongly on one side or the other.
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:27 am

Sorry guys, Im firmly entrenched alongside Neil. Ive walked/climbed/staggered that hill after walking the trail and swimming the river. Its a bitch. Anyone that can do that whilst supporting another man, dressed in soaking wet serge, deserves my admiration.
All that came AFTER M had attempted to save the colors.

Im not getting into the fine detail so you will have to do the research yourselves, look at the proven movements around the time of departure and the minutes before. Put together a trail and a time track for Melvill. It can be easily sumised that he was an a task. Logic applied says it was the colors.

CTSG
You cant cut out the VCs, your a tad to late.

Again as Ive pointed out and has been re affirmed by Neil. Dont apply 21st Century morality to a 19th century situation.

Unlike Neil, I love hyperthetical discussions, go for it guys.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:36 am

Quote :
hyperthetical
That's all will ever be unless something new come's to light. However take in to account M & C Would not have know what the country landscape had instore for the, i'm sure if they had known that there was steep hills and fast flowing rivers if they had they may well have found another way. But when its a matter of life and death its amazing what the human body will allow you to do..
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:53 pm

springbok9 wrote:
Never having won a VC ( probably because of my inherent cowadice) I am open to correction but doesnt the citation say something to the order of: Above and Beyond the call of Duty.
So it all really depends on that doesnt it?
What is above and beyond?
Probably defined as an act that could result in your own life being taken.
So Sam Wassall rescued a fellow soldier, putting his own life at risk.
Wasnt that what both M and C did?
Did Smith Dorean deserve one for binding the wounds of a trooper?

For those three example , yes yes and no.

All about perception and the circumstance really.

I cant believe the level of spin ( more a mdern invention ) was sufficiently practised above societal norms that such a venerable and honarable institution as the VC would be prostituted or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
Sorry thats probably a long way of saying I believe they all, Rorkes Drift included, earned there moment of Glory

Nice discussion



Hello,

I don't forget the last eyewitness was Walter Higginson...
Higginson is not realiable (see Trooper Barker -Natal Carbineer -statement).

regard




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impi

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:56 pm

Quote :
However take in to account M & C Would not have know what the country landscape had instore for the, i'm sure if they had known that there was steep hills and fast flowing rivers if they had they may well have found another way

Did Wassall VC Take the same route as M & C
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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:12 pm

ymob wrote:

"I cant believe the level of spin ( more a mdern invention ) was sufficiently practised above societal norms that such a venerable and honarable institution as the VC would be prostituted or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency"

Sorry ymob, but if you have read some of my earlier posts, I think you will find that in my opinion, a not insignificant number of decorations - including the VC - have been awarded exactly for political expediency - I have personally seen it done. (I do admire your faith in the politicians and the powers that be!!!)

And no, spin is not a modern invention - the term "spin" may be, but it has always happened.
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Coghill and Melvill issue   Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:24 pm

[quote="tasker224"]ymob wrote:

""

Sorry ymob, ..

Sorry, but i don't write that.
Regard]
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