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 The last survivor at Isandhlwana

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mons14

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PostSubject: The last of the 24th   Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:26 pm

I have been fascinated by this haunting tale for as long as I can remember.- Often wondering if this mans identity can ever be discovered?

Sadly we will probably never know his name - except it is likely he was a member of Younghusband’s ‘C’ Company:


'The Last of The 24th'

This incident concerns the solitary soldier of the 24th who, recalled a warrior of the uVe regiment, was part of a group who ‘retired slowly, and always fighting, up the slopes of Isandlwana…till the Zulus at length, becoming weary, resolved to make an end of them; fresh companies were ordered up from the right horn till finally, but few being left, and when in the act of reloading their guns, the Zulus rushed in and stabbing with their assegais, killed them to the last man.'

The sole survivor of this group struggled up the base of the cliffs of Isandlwana, where he found a cave, he defended this, shooting or bayoneting all who came near, until several Zulus with rifles were gathered. They fired a volley into the cave and killed him. He died ‘when the shadows were long on the hills’ this is thought to have been about 5 pm – an hour after resistance ended in the camp. (Ian Knight)

This lone British soldier was the last white man to die in the camp at Isandlwana.

The incident inspired this Victorian era painting by Richard Thomas Moynan entitled 'The Last of The 24th'


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An engraving of 'The Last of The 24th' from Peril and Patriotism - True Tales of Heroic Deeds and Startling Adventures published by Cassell & Co., Ltd 1901. From the collection of John Young.


Can anyone add any information to this incident?
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:53 pm

Is this not just a dramatisation and only existed in the mind of Richard Thomas Moynan. I cannot recall reading about a Soldiers body being found in the cave.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:30 pm

Has this ever been mentioned by the Zulu's in their own accounts, after all they would be the only ones to know.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:33 pm

S.D Here’s one for you as its based on fiction. Wink
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mons14

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:05 pm

Dave wrote:
Is this not just a dramatisation and only existed in the mind of Richard Thomas Moynan. I cannot recall reading about a Soldiers body being found in the cave.

is it not possible that the body could have been moved by animals etc ?
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:25 pm

Chelmsfordthescapegoat you have a right to your opinion! When you post, expect a reaction, especially when your post is just an attack with no basis apart from a desire to be nasty !

To many threads are spoiled with devious comments. This particular thread posted by mons14 could lead to a good quality discussion, if given the chance!

E.H
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:33 pm

Elizabeth. They have thing going. No harm meant. Don’t be so serious its Christmas.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:42 pm

Found this photo of the cave in question.

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:49 pm

I read somewhere that a friendly native hid in the back of cave during the battle of Rorkes Drift and that he had a lucky escape because some Zulus had entered the cave from where they fired down at the British. I wonder if the artist took part of his inspiration from this story, and come up with the idea for 'The Last of The 24th' at Isandlwana.
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mons14

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:56 am

I dug up this facinating article by Ian Knight - (which I havent seen in years). It was published by the Victorian Military Society.

There is little doubt in my mind that this actually happened,

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PostSubject: the last of the 24th   Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:22 am

hi mons14.
I certainly agree with you , I"m sure it happened . As I.KNIGHT said in the article there were probably many
instances of this sort of thing , indviduals fighting amongst rocks , crevices , etc etc. As stated by the uVe
warrior it certainly happened , as he wouldnt have made it up. He had nothing to gain by doing so.
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:00 am

I'm fairly sure that a body was found under the cliff face close to the cave, although degraded it was apparent that the skull was crushed, as in a fall from a height. So yes the legend is possible, although like many of the issues surrounding the 22nd Jan it will remian in the relms of speculation. From my point of view I love Victorian melodrama so Im happy to believe it happened.
If it was me there at the time I would have curled up in the back of the cave with a good book and waited.
If he had survived think of the mysteries he could have solved having such a wonderful vantage point.
Regards
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90th

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PostSubject: last of the 24th   Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:10 am

hi springbok9.
There certainly was a body found in that area you speak of , which had the shattered skull indicating it had
fallen from somewhere on the mountain. I think the story of finding the body is in the book " THE LAST OF
THE 24TH ". I dont have time at the moment , but if no-one else can post it , I will do it tomorrow.
cheers 90th.
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mons14

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:53 pm

springbok9 wrote:

If he had survived think of the mysteries he could have solved having such a wonderful vantage point.
Regards

What a marvelous point!

How much more indeed, would we know about the ghost battle of isandlwana might he have survived!?
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mons14

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:55 pm

90th wrote:
hi springbok9.
There certainly was a body found in that area you speak of , which had the shattered skull indicating it had
fallen from somewhere on the mountain. I think the story of finding the body is in the book " THE LAST OF
THE 24TH ". I dont have time at the moment , but if no-one else can post it , I will do it tomorrow.
cheers 90th.

Please do 90th and thanks in advance! That would be great. I dont think I know this book - is it still available for sale anywhere?

Many thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:20 pm

Would the fall have cracked his skull. Going by the photo of the cave location its not exactly a sheer drop, more of a slope. I'm thinking Knobkerry.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Dec 10, 2009 6:53 pm

The drop from the cave is a couple of metres, not huge. Theres a good photo of the outside, I shall scan it in and get Admin to post it.
Assuming that we accept the story as fact, what becomes interesting then is to speculate which company he was from. Its on the oposite side of the mountian to Younghusbands last stand, probably closer to Shepstones stand, but a dufficult climb from there. Any thoughts?
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:09 pm

Just wanted to show the detail in the picture.

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PostSubject: last of the 24th..( There will be an awful row at home about this )   Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:00 am

hi mons14.
I did a quick search on the net , are you in USA or Canada ?.
Found these couple. It is a 40 page , A4 size publication.

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I paid a bit more for my copy.
cheers 90th

ps. I thought I read about the soldier with the cracked skull in this book , but checked and not there . 😕
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PostSubject: last of the 24th..( There will be an awful row at home about this )   Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:17 am

hi mons14.
Found this page 220 " IN ZULULAND WITH THE BRITISH ARMY THROUGHOUT THE WAR OF 1879.
by CHARLES NORRIS- NEWMAN.
" A soldier of the 24th was found close under the precipice , head downward , with a shattered skull, showing that he had
fallen or been hurled from the top ".
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:12 am

Haggard concludes his account of Isandlwana with the return of British troops to the site in May 1880 to bury the bodies of the slain. "Strange were the scenes that those saw whose task it was to lay them to rest. Here, hidden by the rank grass, in one heap behind the officers' tents, lay the bodies of some seventy men, who had made their last stand at this spot; lower down the hill lay sixty more.

Another band of about the same strength evidently had taken refuge among the rocks of the mountain, and defended themselves there till their ammunition was exhausted, and their ring broken by the assegai. All about the plain lay Englishmen and Zulus, as they had died in the dread struggle: - here side by side, amidst rusted rifles and bent assegais, here the bony arms still locked in the last hug of death, and yonder the soldier with the Zulu's assegai in what had been his heart. One man was found, who, when his cartridges were spent, and his rifle was broken, had defended himself to the end with a tent-hammer that lay among his bones, and another was stretched beneath the precipice, from the crest of which he had been hurled
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:43 am

Its highly likely that Pulleine had a look out on top of Isandlawana, any commander worth his salt would have. So again its possible that he was the last to die, or even, he is responsible for the myth? The top of the mountian by the way is still below the escarpment level so there is no view that way but there is a magnificenr field of view west south and east.
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90th

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PostSubject: last of the 24th   Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:03 pm

hi all.
I contacted Ian Knight about this thread and he kindly sent me this reply and gave his permission to post
it on the forum.

The photo (NOT the painting) of Alan Gardner is in a couple of my books (originally the big silver one - 'Zulu; The Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift'). I suspect the seller has simply copied it out of there. I believe he is in the uniform of the 14th Hussars - David Jackson has also used this picture in his book 'The Hill of the Sphinx'.
To give some background, about a year or eighteen months ago I was approached by a friend in South Africa who had been asked to give an opinion on the painting. At that stage the seller already thought it was Gardner - my friend had her doubts, and frankly I agreed. I think it is an officer in the 11th Hussars who bears a passing resemblance to Gardner. I have not checked the Army lists - but I wonder if there was a different Gardner who served with them in the Boer War (we are back on the confusing Montgomerys again!). But, given that the painting shows the QSA and no SA1879 medal, and is not 14th Hussars, I see no reason why it should be him. I expressed this view at the time and heard no more until the picture turned up now on eBay.
Regarding the cave at Isandlwana, I just want to make my position clearer. The account is from a Zulu source - he doesn't mention which cave. When I visited the area in the 1980s, I considered there were a number of possibilities - hence the picture in 'Awful Row'. Now, twenty years later, I am more inclined to think it was the one above the Younghusband cairn on the south-eastern shoulder of the mountain, simply because it makes more sense for a single individual to have made his way up from there - and there are a number of smaller cairns over that slope suggesting men were killed at various points along the foot of the cliffs. Of course, that is just my judgement - there is nothing in the Zulu account to rule out any other caves. And of course it is possible men tried to hide in more than one - we know a number were winkled out hiding from various places - but that we have no record of it simply because no one left an account of it.
Feel free to post any of this if you want.
All the best,
Ian
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:24 pm

90th
I have posted some info on this painting under another thread.
To Summarise, The uniform in the photo is an 14th hussars uniform, the uniform in the painting is not an 11th Hussars uniform, it is a 10th Hussars ceremonial dress. The medals worn do not reflect Gardeners service. His only medal was won whilst in the 14th Hussars therefore he could not regress and wear them on an 11th Hussars uniform. He left the 11th before the AZW and he never served in the 10th Hussars.The opinion of the regiment, Royal Hussars, and the historian of the 11th Hussars and members of the old comrades association is that the painting is not gardner.
Regards
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mons14

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Dec 11, 2009 2:26 pm

Thanks very much 90th for the book details and link - very helpful indeed!

Thanks also to all who have contributed to this thread, including Ian Knight; I've really enjoyed reading all these posts- great stuff.

Always a pleasure to learn more on this subject.

Regards,

mons
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:54 pm

Could this incident have been that inspired the painting by Richard Thomas Moynan entitled 'The Last of The 24th'

This sketch was done in 1880. Notice the cave at the back. (Just a thought)
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:05 pm

Littlehand. Very Interesting. Could you tell us some more about this image? I take it the two gentlemen defending the rock are Boers, but its there any reference to what was going on in order for these two to defend the rock.

G
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:34 pm

Hi Mr G. Happy New Year.
Good question, the problem is I have no other information, which is annoying to say the least. But I agree with you, going by their dress, I would say Boer. It just struck me a being odd, finding this image and thinking of the last 24th. Hopefully someone may know what the defence of the rock is all about.
.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:48 pm

Hi littlehand & Mr Greaves

The Denfence of the Rock comes from the following book

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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:38 pm

1879Graves. Thanks for the link. I have read the pages 131 to 137 and it appears to be the Matabele War and a fictional story.

G
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:22 pm

Thanks once again 1879Graves. (Theres you answer Mr G)
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:08 pm

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:04 pm

hi
i cant imagine anyone not hiding or fighting in any of the caves.
caves would offer great protection giving no chance of anyone attacking you from behind and just focusing and defending the entrance.
after the retreat and the mad panic to escape i suppose many soldiers would try and hide and not try and run over the terrain-thise who did just managed to get themselves lost and attacked by zulus.

thanks joe
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:10 pm

you may be interested in this.

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From memory Sawubona (top bloke BTW), said that when he visited a name was mentioned of the last remaining man...
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:27 pm

I remember many years ago (possibly around the time of the 100 year anniversary) a tv documentary about the Zulu war that had an account from the Zulu side of this.

It was along the lines of : The soldier was lying at the back the small cave shooting any Zulu that came to the entrance. This happened several times until Zulus with guns were brought up & they shot him.

The only other thing I can remember was that the Zulu were impressed with how calm the soldier was as he reloaded ready for the next shot.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:34 pm

Some nice photo's here SirDCC

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:26 pm

littlehand wrote:
Some nice photo's here SirDCC

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Thanks, I also see in the first post the account I remembered ... I must read all posts before posting :lol!:
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PostSubject: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:18 pm

I am sure that this may have been a previous topic of discussion, 3 questions,
Do we know who the soldier inside the cave was?
Did Younghusband/his platoon place him in the cave because he was injured (as I have been told) or did he make his way there?

And one for the pot... I haven't been up to the cave but was it deep enough that if he 'kept quiet' the Zulu may not have realised he was in there and he could have survived?
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:28 pm

Younghusband. I afraid the last survivor in the cave at Isandlwana is nothing more that Victorian Military fantasy. It never happened.

This so called incident probably rode on the back of the cave incident during the Battle Rorkes Drift. (Which did take place fact!!)
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:56 pm

Chelmsfordthescapegoat wrote:
Younghusband. I afraid the last survivor in the cave at Isandlwana is nothing more that Victorian Military fantasy. It never happened.

This so called incident probably rode on the back of the cave incident during the Battle Rorkes Drift. (Which did take place fact!!)

What evidence do you have to say this? :-)

I was told by someone on the "other forum", that when they visited Isandlawana their guide even knew the name of the last survivor, I never did find this out though.

I'm sure that there's Zulu accounts of this happening.

I can't see how you can dismiss this fact, unless there is no hard evidence. Wasn't the body found not far from the cave with a rope around his neck and a knife in his back?
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:59 pm

Excellent reply Cisco. scratch
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:40 pm

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:51 pm

And I supposed this is how it really happen as well.

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:24 pm

Chelmsfordthescapegoat wrote:
And I supposed this is how it really happen as well.

So you're dismissing Ian Knights evidence?

Class...
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:19 am

Quote :
So you're dismissing Ian Knight’s evidence?

On the basis that there were no British survivors, therefore there are no actual accounts to say what actually took place at this stage of the Battle from the British, Yes I am dismissing Ian Knight’s evidence.

You will find that most books written on the Battle of Isandlwana must be partly based on fiction or what author think may have happen, don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with speculation, but one must understand that only the Zulu’s know what really happen and there are very few accounts left by them.

Cisco. Here’s a good exercise for you. Pick three books different authors. Read what they say about the Battle of Isandlwana, you will find much is the same, but then you will see that each author adds the (The what I think happen) And then the versions varies.

Now if someone produced a book on nothing but the Zulu accounts, well then we might get to the truth of the matter.

Read Mike Snooks book "How Can Man Die Better" If we are to believe what may have happened then this is how it did.
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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:55 am

Younghusband
Painful as it is I have to agree with CTSG /AKA Denton VAn Zan. Its a touch of Victorian melodrama woven around a single Zulu account. It is of course possible that it did happen, the cave is situated along the eastern face just above the shale line. Its not that deep but its possible that someone could have concealed themselves but a cursory glance inside would reveal any occupant. There was a body found on the slope below the cave, however there is no evidence to suggest that he fell from the cave. The skeleton had a rope around its neck, possible scenario: A soldier was captured roped and escaped by running up the slope, he was caught and his skull crushed with a knobkerrie.
Any guide that has told you his name is severely missinformed, Im sure Ken Gillings would love to have his name.

Regards
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Umbiki

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:32 pm

I'm confused!

On the one hand CTSG tells me that this cave story is nothing but Victorian military fantasy while on the other, I'm told that IF it did happen, then the true answer lies in Mike Snook's HCMDB. Well, on page 282 of that book, in the first paragraph, Lt. Col. Snook relates the story of how isolated firing was coming from a cave, how the Zulus eventually returned "a ragged volley" and that there was no more firing after that. Indeed, he (Snook) describes it as "appropriate that the last member of the 24th to die at Isandlwana did so in an act of supreme defiance". Pray tell me how this differs in substance from Knight's, or any other author's, version of events?

Those that have not already done so would do well to refer to the link that John has posted above. In there Knight makes clear that this story is from a Zulu source, a member of the UVe (I believe it is quoted in Colenso and Durnford's A History of the Zulu War and its Origin).

As Springbok9 says, yes it is a story woven around a single Zulu account but, in my view, that in itself is not sufficient a reason to so readily dismiss it as Victorian fantasy or melodrama (although the subsequent painting may well be!).

Perhaps it happened, perhaps it didn't, but one thing is for sure, if it did happen we won't ever know the name of the poor blighter involved.

U
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:39 pm

Hi Umbiki
Ok the questions asked, was it real? Nobody will ever know. The only witness account was from a zulu. We had this discusion some time back, my comment then was that I would hope it to be true as I love Melodrama.
However this whole thing smacks of just that, Punch or one of the other Penny Dreadfuls.
Second question was could the soldier have hidden in the cave, the answer is simply it is to shallow. I would think that if I where that soldier I would be tempted to lie low and wait for rescue rather than blast away in some futile act of retribution. But perhaps he was seen and had to defend himself, dont forget after the battle the uDibi umfaan were let loose to kill any wounded. I have no doubt that this was done with lots of enthusiasm and dedication. So possibly our hero was cornered and had to fight out of circumstance.
In terms of 'proof ' the only absolutes we have is of a brief statement by a warrior and the discovery of a body, rope around neck and skull crushed below the cave on the slopes. ( Again maybe the uDibi boys having some fun?)
As we can only do with other issues resulting from this battle, make up your own mind and enjoy it.
CTSG tends to put Mike Snook on a pedestal and believe every thing he wrote. ( That very very selectivly)
For Mike as a serving officer and Col of the regiment ( with all the pride that entails ) it suits him to have this last glorious defense by a soldier of his regiment, so be it.
For other authors a tad more pragmatic, it doesnt exist, again so be it.
For tour guides, they are paid as entertainers not historians, David Ratray called himself a story teller.
For me a few weeks back sitting in the mouth of that cave at around 5 in the evening it was magic................I believed in the tail.

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Umbiki

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:31 pm

Hi Springbok9

Yes, I have read the earlier discussion and fully understand your position. Moreover, I don't think I necessarily disagree with anything you have written above although I do remain to be entirely convinced that this story is solely a piece of Victorian melodrama. In a way it is a pity that R T Moynan's subsequent painting gave the story that sort of air.

But what I can't quite get my head around is why should a warrior of the Uve regiment fabricate such a story if it didn't happen? It is not as though there is any great kudos or glory for any individual in the final outcome; no hand to hand combat or heroic fight to the death. Rather, a bunch of Zulu's got together, fired a volley into the cave and finished the matter.

Of course, there is the possibility that Colenso & Durnford (from whence, as I understand it, the source came) could have made the whole thing up. But again, why would they? Given their known stance on the AZW and their efforts to vindicate Anthony Durnford, I would have thought the last thing they would have wanted would be to make some sort of hero out a member of the 24th regiment? As you say, we will never really know.

I have been to the cave too - at least the cave that appears to be the popular choice - and again, as you say, it is shallow and certainly a tad uncomfortable for me (6' 1" - 12st 10lbs). But there are some rocks around the frontage as I recall and who knows what the vegetation was like around the cave's mouth back in 1879? The popular theory is that the guy was so tightly squeezed in he proved difficult to hit while at the same time having the advantage of the slope. That is why he (allegedly) was able to hold out for so long.

If the story is true - and I sort of like to think that it is too - the thing that chills me is the thought that, in the run up to his final moments on this earth, the guy in question was able to see possible salvation in the shape of Chelmsford's return perhaps only some 5 - 10 miles away across the plain (which some might argue is 5 - 10 miles further away than he should have been at the time :lol:). I'll let it rest there.

Regards

U

PS. First home game of the season tomorrow, hope my team do better than last week's farce Rolling Eyes!
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: The last survivor at Isandhlwana   Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:00 pm

Quote :
But what I can't quite get my head around is why should a warrior of the Uve regiment fabricate such a story if it didn't happen?


The Zulu warrior in-question probably didn't say it. More like he was told to say it.
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