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 missing 2 companies

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90th

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PostSubject: missing 2 companies   Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:33 pm

Hi all .
My collegue has sent me some further info which I'm sure we are all thankful.

"There seems to be some confusion creeping in about the actual evidence in this thread, and in particular which artifacts were found where. The story concerning items of British equipment found under a cairn is a different story to the Rev. Johnson's observations, and they were found on a different part of the battlefield, not on the site of St. Vincent's. We don't know by what criteria the Rev. Johnson at first thought the bodies found on the St. Vincent's site were British - if indeed he ever did, since the report of remains being moved does not quote him in specific detail. There is no reference to artifacts being found at this point either way - in fact the tenor of the anecdote strongly suggests that Johnson already knew the story of the 'missing companies' before he arrived on the spot, and jumped to the conclusion these remains were of those men. Yet in fact, after some months on site and having made specific inquiries, he no longer held that opinion and felt confident enough to be able to assure Lt. O'Connell that the story was not true. In the meatime, between arriving and talking to O'Connell, he had presumably removed and buried the remains, and it's reasonable to suppose that if he had found any British artifacts among the dead he would not have held so strongly to the view that the 'missing companies' story was untrue. In fact, as Ken has sad, the remains were probably of Zulu dead since the Zulu 'chest' suffered heavy losses as it descended from the ridge into the hollows at the foot - exactly where St. Vincent's now stands. In addition to that, a great many Zulu dead were removed by the retiring army after the battle and left in the dongas near St. Vincent's - it is their remains which, over the years, have been buried in the 'Tomb of the Unknown Warrior'. The story of artifacts being found in the outlying areas relates to a different incident, and apparently concerns alleged cairns which may have once existed on the ridge where Mostyn and Cavaye were posted. In 1958 - at a time when there was no curatorial presence on the battlefield, and those charged with its care made periodic visits to check on the condition of the graves - a curator, apparently acting with good intentions but 'in ignorance' flattened a number of outlying cairns so that they looked like ordinary graves. They were soon overgrown and the significance of some of them was lost. In the 1960s a Mr George Chadwick was ased on behalf of the Monuments Counil to repair and restore these cairns, and he examined, recorded and rebuilt a number, including some from his own memory. Now here is what he says about a cairn or cairns on the ridge, and his words need to be read carefully - 'these cairns include those out on the ridge where the British companies were stationed and along the route of the fugitives. In view of recent statements that very few British were killed at the advanced positions, it is interesting to note that buttons, boot protectors and bones were found when the neglected cairns were dismantled and documented. This is, of course, not evidence that the casualties at these positions were very heavy.' It should be noted that Mr Chadwick's papers do not appear to have survived, at least in the public domain, and nor does there appear to be any surviving cairn now on the ridge, so it is difficult to be specific about his findings. However, it certainly seems that there may have been some casualties on the ridge - but as Mr Chadwick himself was keen to stress, not many. There is a tendency now to read this evidence as an 'all or nothing' scenario, and Mostyn and Cavaye are either said to have retired with no casualties or to have suffered heavy casualties (in this situation they are the 'missing companies'), with nothing in between. In fact it is highly likely that these companies suffered a small number of casualties, perhaps no more than one or two men, from Zulu rifle-fire while they were on the ridge, and that these were the remains covered by Mr Chadwick's cairns. Such a small number and under such circumstances would not have made much inpression on survivors on either side, although Essex does suggest obliquely that the companies had been under 'erratic' fire while still on the ridge - but only suffered more significant casualties once they had drawn up again at the foot. Although the Zulu amabutho were jealous of the honour of being the first to 'stab' the enemy - to close in hand-to-hand - it is unlikely that one or two casualties caused at long range would have made much impression on them, especially in the light of the mayhem that followed soon afterwards, and this would account for any lack of traditions on their part regarding killings on the ridge. Certainly if they had managed to close in and had overwhelmed even small detachments in the outlying areas one would expect some memory of this to survive (as it did, for example, regarding the destruction of the rocket battery). So in my view the presence of one or two dead soldiers on the ridge need not give rise to speculation that they were Zulus in captured equipment, nor support the whole 'missing companies' legend - it is entirely consistent with the course of the battle outlined in other sources."Cheers 90th.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: missing 2 companies   Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:53 am

90th
Ist innings Aussies not going so well.
However to avoid problems with admin..............back to the war.
Big thankyou to your friend for his comments ( why doesnt he join the site and reply in first person, Im sure we could all benefit).
Couple of minor issues arrising from his responce. The report mentioning the findings of the skeletons was written by Canon Johnson himself. He was then in the company of Hlubi, the Archbishop Usherwood, Rev George Smith The resident Mr Wheelwright and Mr Fynn.
Non of them in subsequent years had cause to dispute Johnsons Report.
The fact that skeletons were found in great quantities is a given fact.
The nationality of those skeletons is the question. As pointed out by your friend the area of the current village and the church was a killing ground for the chest of the zulus so highly likely the skeletons were of zulu origin.
So what caused Johnson to think, and write, otherwise.
Local knowledge.
As he says," from what I can gather from the Zulus...."
So 9 months after the event occupants of the kraal he is camping at tell their version. Were they just telling him stories about the brave British? Possibly.
What intrigues me is the detail within that story, its either been embelished for the purpose of impressing Johnson or hes got it completely wrong.
Either way I do believe that it adds another layer to the enigma of the battle.

Second point is the ridge and the cairns.
I concur that they are in different parts of the battlefield, some 400 yards apart. But in the scale of this area thats an insignificant distance. If Mike Snook can have a company fighting from the front line to the banks of the Manzimyama or to the neck then 400 yards means nothing.
My point in bringing Mostyn Cavaye et al into the equation was to open an avenue of discussion that they could possibly have been in that area. Apart from their action on the ridge they were also facing the uKhandempemvu. Semi proof of Mostyn was found on the battlefield, anecdotal evidence also of Cavaye being further back but what of Porteous? The guns retire, under extreme pressure, Porteous was their support, adjacent to them and also slap bang in front of the uKkandempemvu. I dont recall to much evidence supporting their movements.
So its feasaable there were British troops in that area.
Historians have for a long time maintained there were no casualties on the ridge or the retreat. Chadwicks point on what he collected proves differently. Its highly probable that when the troops retired the zulus charged over the ridge and were met with some pretty hot volley fire. Ergo there would have been certainly a fair number of casualties, that would account for bones being found, and therefore potential cairns.
There was also a cairn around half way down the spur, also no longer visible.
In the early 70s George pointed out two areas to me, the spur and on the ridge. Ive walked both those areas since and found nothing. They were however there.

So like many other aspects of the battle a riddle locked in an enigma etc etc etc.

Looks like rain has stopped play

Regards
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90th

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PostSubject: missing 2 companies   Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:10 am

Hi springbok.
I think I need to get to Isandlwana and look at the area for myself ! . At the risk of upsetting Admin , we were struggling
early until the M. Hussey of 3 -4 yrs ago arrived at the crease . He has batted magnificently today . I hope he gets a ton
as he deserves one .
cheers 90th. Idea
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PostSubject: Re: missing 2 companies   Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:16 am

Rather get to the Gaba. Shapping up to be a classic contest.

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PostSubject: Re: missing 2 companies   Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:28 pm

These discussions a great, but would be better if maps could be included, its hard to visualise what events took place in what areas. (Just a thought)
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PostSubject: missing 2 companies   Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:12 am

hi springbok .

I know its off topic, sorry pete , but congrats to Hussey 102 no and Haddin 52 no . A lead of 20 for the Aussies :lol!:
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: missing 2 companies   Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:50 am

Hi Chard
I will try to download a google earth shot and mark it up for you.

90th
Great partnership, could have turned the course of the battle. Idea

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