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 Shell Impact

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John

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PostSubject: Shell Impact    Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:50 pm

What was the longest range of the cannons used at Isandlwana? Could they have opened fire sooner than they did? At point of shell impact from the 7 Pdr shells what area of killing would be expected. At short range would the impact of the shell be more devastating that a longer range.

I believe Grape shot was only used at close quarters. Doe’s anyone know the distance grape shot becomes ineffective.


Are there any accounts by surgeons of wounds caused by cannon fire? I read a few accounts of wounds by Martini Henry fire and Assegais.

Any replies welcome.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:28 am

John. I will post some information on death caused by the wind of a cannon ball.
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90th

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PostSubject: shell impact   Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:07 am

hi john.
The surgeon Dugald Blair- Brown doesnt mention dealing with any cannon shell wounds. More than likely they were
finished off by assegai and the bayonet . There is mention of brains and limbs ,blood , chunks of flesh etc etc
covering the living zulus as they charged through the shot at Nyezane I think it was on the morning of the 22nd Jan .
For those that mightn't know that is the same day as Isandlwana and R. Drift but earlier in the morning .
cheers 90th.
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garywilson1

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:08 am

How many rounds did the guns actually fire at Ishadlwana and what type of round ? HE or cannister ?

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90th

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PostSubject: shell impact   Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:50 am

hi all.
I think the resident armoury expert Neil will be able to answer this best of all in regard to distances etc etc .
Will search tomorrow for the Isandlwana details of round expenditure regarding the artillery.
cheers 90th.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:56 am

John. It doe’s not answer your question but you might find it interesting “wind of ball”. not sure if the shells used at Isandlwana would have had the same effect. And there’s a bit about a young man being hit with a cannon ball. I think this is related to the battle of Trafalgar.

"A curious phenomenon was also noted by naval surgeons of the time called “wind of ball”. This injury occurred when a cannon ball, in flight, passed close to any part of the body. It was considered most serious when passing close to the stomach, leaving no obvious marks, but often causing almost instantaneous death. Remarkably, it was also noted that “wind of ball” was never fatal when the ball passed close to the head".

"Another remarkable operation was that of an interscapular-thoratic amputation, which involves the total removal of the arm, shoulder blade and collarbone. First performed by Surgeon Ralph Cuming at the naval hospital in Antigua in 1808. A twenty-one year old sailor had been hit by a cannon ball. Cuming subordinated every consideration to that of speed in order to minimise pain and shock. Having nowhere to place the tourniquet and no forceps to hand, he held the great vessels (arteries and large blood vessels) between thumb and forefinger whilst his assistant tied silk ligatures around them. Cuming then held the edges of the wound together by means of adhesive straps and applied a poultice dressing which was also held in place by adhesive plaster. The patient made a complete recovery and on his return home was shown to medical students in Bath".

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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:31 am

The 7pdr RML as used by N5 (and most other RA guns in South Africa at the time) would have three principal types of shot, The former would have little use in any of the battles, the last two being the choice shot.
Firstly Solid shot, explosive core for direct contact. Not much use against infantry but for earthworks and fortiication. Fuse : Contact. Shell has bronze or copper driving lugs to pick up the barrel rifling (These are normally dated).

Shrapnel, air burst, fuse set by a pricker into the base of the shell, The explosion of the main charge ignites the fuse, the more holes in the base the faster the fuse burn and detonation. Ranges beyond 800 yards (the setting of the fuze was hardly a precise science, you didn't want it to go off too close!)

Case, in effect a giant anti personnel shotgun round. Case shot is widely misunderstood, intially the direct flight of the shot , the case (approx 3/4" dia swaged lead balls packed in bone dust) kills, range is low 400-500 yards then the ricocheting balls on contact with the ground is the secondary. The effect is negated somewhat in soft ground.

From the position of the guns (albeit one was moved during the battle), at any time from when the zulu's broke cover they would arguably have been within range of both Solid and Shrapnel shot. However, the initial 1000 yards of a vast proportion of the left horn would have been sheilded by the conical hill.

The RA Marker/memorial on the Battlefield I believe out of place, and it is approx 130 yards further back, why do I think this?, well if you walk foward 130 yards from it, the field of fire is near complete for the whole arc near and far, go back to the marker and the only thing you can see is the ridge, such is the fall of gound, both Curling and Smith were not dumb, they would select the best position to afford maximum impact.

The use of case and shrapnel is interesting here, the zulu's report of them going to ground on firing, which suggests case shot at close range, however, in air burst lying down also presents a large target for overhead, hence the adoption of the Brodie helmet in WW1

I will post the range, flight times and load later.
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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:42 pm

The details about the guns are as follows:
7-pr RML: Weight of gun - 200lb (91kg); calibre - 3in (7.62cm); Weight of shell - Shrapnel 7lb 11oz (3.5kg), Common 7lb 5oz (3.3kg), Case 6lb 4oz (2.8kg); Muzzle Velocity - 914 ft/sec (281 m/sec); Range - 3100 yds (2862 metres)

9pr 6cwt RML: Weight of gun - 6 cwt (304 kg); calibre - 3in (7.62cm); Weight of shell - Shrapnel 9lb 13oz (4.5kg), Common 9lb 1oz (4.1kg), Case 9lb 10oz (4.4kg); MV - unknown; Range - +-3000 yds (+-2769m).

9pr 8cwt RML: Weight of gun - 8cwt (406kg); calibre - 3in (7.62cm); Weight of shell - Shrapnel 9lb 13oz (4.5kg), Common 9lb 1oz (4.1kg), Case 9lb 10oz (4.4kg). MV - 1330 ft/sec (409 m/sec); Range - 3500 yards (3231m).

There were other guns as well: two 6pr 3cwt Armstrong RBLs, one 4pr Krupp RBL and of course the rockets but it is quite a task to produce everything here!

Incidentally, I was tasked with erecting the memorial to N/5 Battery at Isandlwana by the Master Gunner of St James's Park, the late Maj Gen Sir Martin Farndale. The then KwaZulu Monuments Council gave me permission on condition that it was placed flat on the ground (as it is). I then arranged for SB Bourquin, George Chadwick and Steve Watt to meet me on site and we unanimously selected the one where it is now positioned. Unfortunately, the fellow who plundered the battlefields (and whose loot is now on display at Mthonjaneni) subsequently told me that the friction tubes that he had unearthed using his metal detector were several metres BEHIND where we erected the memorial, so we were close enough. Regrettably Sir Martin died before the unveiling, but his successor, Field Marshal the Lord Vincent unveiled it in the presence of King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in the presence of a plethora of ministers and other VIPs. It took place on the 120th anniversary of the Battle. I have a photo of us placing the memorial, which I'll e-mail Admin for posting is you are interested. One day I'll write an article about the background to it...!
Regards, Ken
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:38 pm

Thanks for the replies.

Ken. Yes please I would be interested in the photo.


Neil you say its not precise science, but the person setting the fuse, must have under gone some intensive training.

Quote :
"Shrapnel, air burst, fuse set by a pricker into the base of the shell, The explosion of the main charge ignites the fuse, the more holes in the base the faster the fuse burn and detonation. Ranges beyond 800 yards (the setting of the fuze was hardly a precise science, you didn't want it to go off too close!)"

24th I thought you was Joking. "Wind of the Ball" Maybe the deaths were caused by the shockwave.
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:15 pm

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N-5 Bty Memorial

Photo Supplied By Ken. Gillings.
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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:00 pm

By the way, members of the Forum may be interested in seeing who appears in the photo. The first and second people from the left are from Doves, who manufactured the memorial. Third from the left is Steve Watt (author and fellow historian), then my mentor and dear friend 'SB' Bourquin, then a far younger yours truly, another staffmember from Doves, then George Chadwick and another staff member. The two members on their haunches are also from Doves. I have everyone's name written on the back of the photo, for record purposes. It was a helluva task offloading the memorial, hence the number of people.
By the way, what is so interesting about the placing of the memorial is this:
I asked Steve, SB and George to walk the area and then to head for where they thought the guns had been positioned. George had previously positioned a marker there (as had been the case with the markers for the deployment of the Companies), so it was simple for him. After 30 minutes, the three of us ended up at the same spot - independently, of course. We marked it with stones and the rest is history.
Regards, Ken
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:08 pm

Ken. Is that the same Chadwick we discussed in the topic "The Chadwick Papers"

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:43 am

That is correct. Ken
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:24 am

Here's an interesting debate Death by Shockwave

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"I find it hard to believe that Napoleonic era cannons generated that much of a shock wave. Consider that that the usual practice was to "skip" the cannonball across the battle field. The projectile may have bounced off the ground once or twice before reaching the opposing forces. They did this simply because the balls did no good if they were more then 2m off the ground. They had to use a low angle trajectory to keep the ball low.

Several factors indicate a low muzzle velocity. The balls themselves were not precise enough, the cannon barrels were not precise enough, the powder was not good enough.

I have read extensively about 17th and 18th century warfare and have never encountered such a claim. I remain very skeptical and would like to know about the source of this story."





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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:09 am

Ken
Interesting that the friction tubes were further back, very intersting, would you agree as to the feild of fire?, or, were they facing toward the Telehane Ridge? hmm.

Futher information, the common woodn fuse for shrapnel shell, was know as the "Fuse common", burn time was <5 seconds, a 10 and 15 second fuse was made, but was declared obsolete for the 7pr by 1877. The bombadier would puncture the fuse with his bit. He would puncure the fuse (10 half second intervals) to allow the quickmatch primer to burn to the alloted position.

The results of tests at Shoeburyness with a 12pr using shrapnel shell in 1877 was as follows, "the practice was carried out at ranges of less than 2000 yards, 9 rounds were fired @ 1670 yards, targets were 54" x 6", 6 rows, rows 14 feet apart. total hits 652, hits per round 72.

In respect to case shot, a report by Capt OC Brown, reporting on the effect of case shot at the Redan 8th Sept 1855. (ground level, hard very dry)

"Each gun fash was followed by puffs of dust commencing 50 yards from the muzzle, and running along the ground in an accumulating shower which dies away some 100's of yards distance, some strap grape even ringing on the stoney ground 1000 yards from the russian works"
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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:39 am

Good morning, Neil.
As you are aware, the guns were not as effective against the Zulus as had been anticipated. I think it was Col Denis Rollo at Woolwich who described them to me as 'pea-shooters'. This is borne out to a certain extent by Zulu accounts which indicate that as they observed the Gunners' drill, they dropped into the long grass to await the arrival of the projectile.An iNgobamakhosi warrior began to chant: "Mbane, mbane weZulu, kuyacwazumula langa, langa lamaZulu, liya shisa konke!' ('Lightning, lightning of Heaven, see its glittering flash, and it was taken up by hundreds of warriors. This in fact led to what was described as a 'counter-attack' wheThis alluded to the White Men’s gun which shines but does not kill whereas the sun of Heaven burns everything up.
As far as the deployment and target identification is concerned, from what I can interpret from Curling's account, the tweo guns directed desultory fire onto the slopes of the Nyoni heights (the Tahelane would have been too far to the left although it is possible that some fire would have been directed there - I don't know). I have read that the guns fired over the heads of the NNC at the centre of the line. Remember, too, that at one stage the right gun was taken across to support Col Durnford and Lt Charlie Pope's Company and scored a direct hit on a hut before being returned to its 'mate'.
I'm about to leave for the Drakensberg to host a Battlefield weekend at the Cavern, so will try to fathomout more information next week.
Regards, Ken
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:15 am

Ken
This provides an interesting scenario, if Curling was not using the guns in the form of direct frontal support, i.e line of sight but indirect fire, why?, If shrapnel was in use, the effect of airburst on a man lying would be as lethal as standing, unless the range was such as the half second increment on the fuse would mean the shot would overshoot once range is go below 400 yards.

If he was firing case...and the zulu's claim he was, it would suppose he WAS line of sight firing, like me you've stood many times on the spot, the field of fire from the position is poor to say the least to utilise the Case/shrapnel capabilities to its full effect

I,m back again in March, might have wander over and take another look

regs
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:43 pm

Ken, Neil Interesting debate. Are we looking towards a new theory.
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:29 pm

Neil, bear in mind that at that stage, observation of fire was from the gun position; there was therefore no indirect fire at Isandlwana (or at any other battle during the Anglo-Zulu War). It was only during the Battle of Spioenkop (24th January 1900) that the Boers experimented with the use of indirect fire. Louis Bothma (Cmdt Hendrik Prinsloo's signaller) used his heliograph to transmit corrections to Major Wolmarans at Gen Louis Botha's HQ on Mt Royal and the 7 or so Boer guns converged fire on the summit of The Kop. The British then began experimenting with it during the Battle of the Thukela (Tugela) Heights (12th to 28th February 1900).
Several accounts confirm the basic ineffectiveness of the role of N/5 Battery at Isandlwana. There was minimal effect and Brevet Major Stuart Smith then resorted to firing case shot, which according to the late Maj Darrell Hall was not normally used at ranges greater than 300 metres. The section (of two guns, of course) was quite incapable of stopping the Zulu masses. When Smith realised that the section was in danger of being overrun, he ordered the guns to be limbered up and to retire. There wasn't even time for the Gunners to take up their seats on the guns and limbers when the guns moved off and apparently the Gunners had to run alongside them, although I have come across an account that stated that several soldiers pleaded with the Gunners 'for a lift' and they were beaten off as the guns moved across the veld in the direction of the nek, where Smith apparently intended taking up a position in the vicinity of the camp.
To summarise, therefore, the two guns were hopelessly inadequate against the overwhelming odds facing them. Would a full battery (all six guns) have been more effective? Possibly, but then the arc of fire would have been far greater than it was with only two guns!
Yours UBIQUE, Ken
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:13 pm

Just how many Canons’ were available during the Zulu War? Would Gatling guns have made any difference if they had been deployed at Isandlwana, Not sure on killing ranges with regards to the Gatling gun? They certainly would have cut a big hole in the advancing Zulu Forces.

Battle Inyezane.
“This position allowed the British to move the Gatling gun onto the crest where its rapid fire soon drove the Zulus off the centre and left end of the ridge, as the British mounted troops came up the right-hand spur to complete the action. The successful counter-attack resulted in 10 British killed and 16 wounded. The Zulu impi withdrew with 350 killed”
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:46 pm

These are the details requested by Chelmsford the Scapegoat:
No 1 Column:
Two 7-prs (11/7 Bty), one 9-pr rocket trough, two 7-prs (with the naval bde), two 24-pr rocket tubes (also naval bde), one Gatling (also naval bde).

No 2 Column:
Three 9-pr rocket troughs.

No 3 Column:
Six 7-prs (N/5 Bty), two 9-pr rocket troughs.

No 4 Column:
Four 7-prs (11/7 Bty), two 9-pr rocket troughs, two 7-prs (not too certain which battery; will check).

No 5 Column:
One 4-pr Krupp, two 6-pr Armstrongs.

After Isandlwana, the following were despatched to SA:
From Britain: Six 7-pr 200lb RMLs (M/6 Bty), six 9-pr 8-cwt RMLs (N/6 Bty), O/6 Bty Ammunition Column (without guns).
From Mauritius: Half of 10/7 Bty (ie, three 7-pr 200-lb RMLs). This half battery was re-equipped on its arrival with four Gatlings that were mounted for the first time.
From St Helena: Two 7-pr 200-lb RMLs (8/7 Bty).
From HMS Shah, HMS Tenedos and HMS Boadicea: Two 9-pr 6-cwt RML Experimental guns; four 24-pr rocket tubes; two Gatlings.
These guns were, of course, deployed with the two Divisions.

Regards, Ken
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:52 pm

No 3 Column:
Six 7-prs (N/5 Bty), two 9-pr rocket troughs.

Wasn't Durnford not in command of No. 3 Column?
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:00 pm

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Source: Zulu War 1879: twilight of a warrior nation. By Ian Knight, Ian Castle
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:08 pm

Littlehand. Chelmsford divided his force into columns.

Number 1 Column under Col Charles Pearson.- Chelmsford really. Rolling Eyes
Number 2 Column under Col Anthony Durnford.
Number 3 Column was under Col Glyn.
Number 4 Column under Col Evelyn Wood.



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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:16 pm

The Column Commanders were:
No 1 (Coastal) Column: Col Charles Pearson;
No 2 Column: Col Anthony Durnford;
No 3 (Central) Column: Col Richard Glyn
No 4 Column: Col H Evelyn Wood VC
No 5 Column: Col Hugh Rowland VC.

The commanders during the second invasion of Zululand in May 1879 were Maj Gen Henry Hope Crealock and Maj Gen Edward Newdigate.
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:20 pm

Thanks Ken forgot about No 5 Column: Col Hugh Rowland VC.

Quote :
The commanders during the second invasion of Zululand in May 1879 were Maj Gen Henry Hope Crealock.
Not sure this was a good idea. Just out of curosity, who put him in Command.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:33 pm

Quote :
who put him in Command.
I'm guessing Gentleman Lord Chelmsford. For services render. Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Shell Impact    Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:20 am

Ken

In reality, I tend to think it made no difference at all, the four guns at Khambula, is a classic case of point., however, the siting of the guns at Khambula, offered something N5 could not, direct enfilade across the direct front of the defences.


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