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 The ammunition question

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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 02, 2012 10:10 pm

Quote :
1. The ammuntion box parts found on this part of the line.
2. F Coy managing to hold a fighting retreat for over 3 miles, if they were short before hand.

We cannot accept ammunition box parts being found, there are numermous ways they could have got there. 90th I believe has already pointed ths out.

We don't really know what kind of fighting retreat it was, did the Zulus just walk towards them forcing them along the 3 miles knowing full well they had know where to go. does it say they maintain fire throughout the retreat. Or was it just the odd shot over the shoulder.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 02, 2012 10:16 pm

LH, we know we they retreated.

They volleyed there way back from the firing line, Meleokazulu saw them massing together and firing at a fearful rate. They passed though the camp, crossed the Saddle

and took up a Position under the cover of the dongas on the right of the road and from that place
kept up such a fire that no Zulu dared show his head over theNek, from here they were dislodged by
the right horn and tried to retire across the road and down the fugitives track,in overwhelming force
and pushed among the dongas of theManzimnyama, where they made their last stand, this body of
soldiers fought well and whenever they faced about to retire they fired over their shoulders at us."


We know ammo boxes made it to the line, and must have replenished F Coy for it to be able to
do the above.



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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 02, 2012 10:19 pm

Essex. Just out of interest.

I rode up to Lieutenant-Colonel Durnford, who was near the right, and pointed this out to him. He requested me to take men to that part of the field and endeavour to hold the enemy in check

What men was he suppose to take to do this. Prior to this he clearly states that all the Compaines were engaged in one way or another.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 02, 2012 10:21 pm

LH

There was no reserve, apart from Krons NNC which soon bolted, so Essex could do nothing.


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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 02, 2012 10:28 pm

Why would he take the NNC they had no rifles, how would they have held them back. Doesn't make sense...
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 02, 2012 10:32 pm

Essex

"He requested me to take men to that part of the field and endeavour to hold the enemy in check; but while he was speaking, those men of the Native Contingent who had remained in action rushed past us in the utmost disorder, thus laying open the right and rear of the companies of 1st Battalion 24th Regiment on the left, and the enemy dashing forward in a most rapid manner poured in at this part of the line"

Again Durnford left it to late....
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 7:59 am

Smith Dorian specifically says in a letter to his father that he TOOK ammunition to the line.

Had another look at Barrys posting about two wagon loads of guns being found in the stream.

The wagon bed was 4.8 m by 1.5 by .7
So assuming an MH occupies a space of 110mm x 1200mm x 50mm there would be 720 rifles per wagon times 2 would = 1440 rifles.
The only deduction to be made would be that every single soldier /armed man ran 3 miles to the stream, threw their rifle in then most of them ran back to the battlefield, another 3 miles and then started a retreat and died. Or a few of the brave, and strong soles, went around the battlefield and collected all the weapons walked the 3 miles and threw them into the water.

Interesting
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barry

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PostSubject: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 9:07 am



Hi springbok9,

Thanks for your post. But now lets all be analytical.

1) At what time was the ammo taken to the line by SD, to which line, how much, and for which weapons?
There is no doubt that quantities were taken to the line, but the issue is, was it timeously?? So, bland
statements such as SD's quoted actually prove nothing at all.

2) You are making your own assumptions about wagon sizes, there were a number in use post the conflict
in Natal all with different load capacities. Nowhere was it said there were ful lloads either. Again your
assumption.

The issue around the ammunition question, in case you have missed it, is not whether there was enough ammo on the field for use. It was been said many times that there was more than enough, but, rather, did it meet the JIT requirement of a fast moving, fluid many segmented front line?.

regards

barry
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 9:49 am

Hi Barry
I responded very much tounge in cheek to a statement that ive never seen supported, in fact a number of unsupported statements. And it was you who said two wagon loads of rifles, not I therefore no assumption.

Julian DB and I have on a number of occasions requested sources, they never appear we therefore, or at least I, have to regard them as speculative thoughts. Nothing wrong in that at all but any such hunches ideas supositions should be clearly marked as such.

And frankly JIT has nothing what so ever to do with it, pre supply chain management would however.

AS far as Im aware the debate has allways raged around weather or not ammunition was sent to the front line. As far as Im concerned the answer is yes.
Did ammunition start to dwindle, yes no doubt.
Did it run out, yes eventually.
Did it run out on the lines? I dont know, neither do you or any one for that matter.

There simply is no proof either way.

DB makes a fair comment that hasnt been answered to any degree.......... if there was no ammunition how did the companies make it back to the saddle?

Why do Zulu accounts, Zulu mind you, speak of the volunteers last stand ( wasnt only the volunteers there were 30 soldiers there ) as a man, Durnford potentially, shouting fire?

Why is there a zulu account describing soldiers on there knees firing volleys ( not independant fire ) from the centre of the camp, and "another lower down".

Why is there a Zulu account describing Younghusbands band of warriors "eventually running out of ammunition on the saddle plateau.

Why is there a Zulu account of not being able to aproach the nek because of the heat of the firing.

Why is there a Zulu account of the troops on the fugitives trail firing over there shoulders as they ran.

Why are there accounts of a Zulu being shot on a the trail when he grabbed a rifle

Why is there a Zulu account of the smoke generated over the nek from the firing.

All of those point to troops having suficent ammunition to fight a retreat, not possible if they ran out on the firing line.

Why has nobody taken cognisance of the experience and longevity of war experience of these troops and there officers. They werent 'rooi neks', they were battle hardened experienced companies. Described as such by Chelmsford.

Battle hardened officers do not go into a fight knowing there is no supply chain.Likewise they need to know that there is medical assistance. There is a description of medical staions being staffed behind the companies. If that degree of preperation was taken surely the more obvious one of ammunition supply would be taken care of. So why do we treat these officers like idiots?

The battle was undoubtably a shock, suprise in its true meaning no. The troops had ample time to prepare and form.

The suvivors accounts concerning the supply of ammunition revolve mainly around Essex and SD. There is nothing what so ever to say that they were only two of a miriad of supply points.

Its a common misconception that the ammunition wagons were on the saddle, they werent. With the possible exception of Durnfords. The 1st and 2nd battalions ammo was in there own wagons behind the respective tent lines. The 2 nd battalions was therefore minutes away from the firing line, not the mile so often refered to. When Younghusbands band and A company retired they retiredstraight into those waggons. Paymaster Whites body was found in that area.

Both companies therefore could replenish at will.

G company was probably the worst of hence there inability to get back to the saddle en mass. there is certain evidence to say that elements actually did do so.

Take another scenario, supply points had been set up behind each company, manned and ready to issue. Is there any proof this didnt happen? Essex et al see those supplies dwindling and replenish. Can we prove that didnt happen?

G company made the most radical movements to protect Durnfords flank, highly possible that they did so and left there replenishment store behind. Hence there earlier demise.

Sure most of what ive said is speculation, and I clearly label it as such.

Cheers

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barry

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PostSubject: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 11:38 am



Hi springbok9,

Thanks for your exhaustive reply.
I sense from the line of your reply that the question being raised here on this thread "THE AMMUNITION QUESTION" might be missed.
The question is this : did not a problem ," hiccup, delay, loss, misdirection, slow supply, rationing, etc etc" of ammunition cause the defence line/s to periodically lose momentum in the fire , leading to one or more of the lines to collapse, thus resulting in retreats, albeit fighting ones, and the eventual loss of the camp.
I think the answer here is in the affirmative as nearly every good AZW publication I pick up, mentions this in some way or another and sometimes in many sections of the same work.
The finall outcome of the battle too, begs the same question.
Unfortunately, all those who could give the replies we need, very bravely gave their lives up there that day, and are not around to provide evidence, ie dead men tell no tales.
I have a bit of a problem with the dearth of quantitive imformation given in the much offered quotes, ie "fired volleys" ( ie 3 riflemen x 20 shots), or ( 120 x 40 shots) : or "took ammunition to the lines" (time, how much, which lines etc?), however,...... that is all we have and it must be added to the scant knowledge base, but be treated with large measures of circumspection and not taken as automatic proof of anything.

regards

barry
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 2:51 pm

Quote :
Smith Dorian specifically says in a letter to his father that he TOOK ammunition to the line
I have not heard of this, do you have a link to the letter to his farther. As far as I'm aware SD only broke open the ammunition boxes.

This from SD 48 Years Service.

"After the War the Zulus, who were delightfully naive and truthful people, told us that the fire was too hot for them and they were on the verge of retreat, when suddenly the fire slackened and on they came again. The reader will ask why the fire slackened, and the answer is, alas! because, with thousands of rounds in the wagons 400 yards in rear, there was none in the firing line ; all those had been used up"

Now I feel we are all picking at indivuals accounts. He said she said ect.
We need to get an understanding of where these indivuals were on the Battlefield at the time of making their statements.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 3:37 pm

The question is this : did not a problem ," hiccup, delay, loss, misdirection, slow supply, rationing, etc etc" of ammunition cause the defence line/s to periodically lose momentum in the fire , leading to one or more of the lines to collapse, thus resulting in retreats, albeit fighting ones, and the eventual loss of the camp.

Barry you know full well the retreat was because of Durnfords withdrawl from the Donga, and this was
because he was outflanked and considered the posistion to extended.

No evidence of ammo being the reason for the retreat, If it was, for once provide a source. Most Zulus mention
how the soldiers were firing furiously or so heavy they couldn't approach, this was at late stages.

Springbok, i totaly agree.

LH

His letter is in most books on Isandlwana, Knight,Greaves, ect.



Cheers



Cheers

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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 3:50 pm

Quote :
Barry you know full well the retreat was because of Durnfords withdrawl from the Donga, and this was because he was outflanked and considered the posistion to extended.

See my earlier post. Durnford left it to late, the Zulus were already in the camp.

Quote :
how the soldiers were firing furiously or so heavy they couldn't approach, this was at late stages.
This may well have been in the 1.5 hours that the many accounts referr to. There probably was a constant sustained fire, that's when they had ammuntion. Read SD account in my recent post. Even he says the ammuntion was not getting to the firing line. It was left in the waggons.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 3:51 pm

Barry

Also there was only 2 firing line.

The 7 Coys of the 24th surported by two 7-pounder Guns, NNC and 3 troops of NNH

The Donga held by 2 troops of NNH and around 60 NMP,NC,BBG .ect

No source records them running out of ammo, or this being the reason for withdrawl.

Surly Curling would have mentioned it, but he said he last saw the 24th retreating steadily.



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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 3:53 pm

The Zulu accounts refer to the much later stages when the 24th had volleyed there way back from the firing line and
were on the saddle, moutain or the FT.


Cheers

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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 3:57 pm

Quote :
We don't really know what kind of fighting retreat it was, did the Zulus just walk towards them forcing them along the 3 miles knowing full well they had know where to go. does it say they maintain fire throughout the retreat. Or was it just the odd shot over the shoulder.

As I posted yesterday.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 5:55 pm

And i posted the answer from Zulu accounts.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 6:14 pm

Quote :
The Zulu accounts refer to the much later stages when the 24th had volleyed there way back from the firing line and were on the saddle, moutain or the FT. Cheers.

How many volleys were fired 1,2,3, more?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 6:23 pm

This is what Melokazulu said

"Then at the sound of a bugle the soldiers massed together and fired at a fearful rate."

Given that the main bodies of all the 1/24th made it back then they must have been able to keep the
Zulus in check with fire.



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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 6:26 pm

Quote :
"Then at the sound of a bugle the soldiers massed together and fired at a fearful rate."

But for how long was this fearful rate maintained.
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 6:55 pm

No one knows Littlehand. By the time this took place both sides were exhausted one volley would have slowed them down.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 6:57 pm

Long enough to get back to camp, then they continued to fire heavily, read the zulu accounts
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 7:22 pm

DB can you post this source.


Quote :
Long enough to get back to camp, then they continued to fire heavily, read the zulu accounts
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 03, 2012 10:05 pm

Look back at the previous pages, there all there.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri May 04, 2012 7:42 am

Barry
This was the original question that started the thread, Ive answered it and the subsequent spin ofs.

LITTLE HANDs original post ( in fact his very first post )
Hi all.
Was the Battle Isandlwana lost due to the lack of ammunition getting to the firing lines.
how far was the firing line from the ammunition store, which I would presume was in the tented area. And would there have been small out posts of ammunition stations formed on the out skirts of the camp.
As this is my first post on this forum, I will understand if I get a frosty reply or no replies as this subject has probably been done to death.


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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri May 04, 2012 7:54 am

Chard
In my responce to Barry I posted a number of Zulu accounts. Every one of them mentions the high firing rate. Just to avoid a suggestion that some interpreter has "fiddled the books" they are all from different documented sources and are recorde from diverse interviewers. They are all a matter of public record and a lot of them are on this forum, all it requires from yourself is a search.

Littlehand

SD wrote a lengthy letter to his father, copies are held in most museums. the sentence is : " I was out with the front compnies of the 24th handing them spare ammunition ".

My source is Frank Emery, The Red Soldier.

On my shopping list for the Talana Museum visit is a copy of the original letter.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri May 04, 2012 8:00 am

Lilltehand

Let me just add a comment to that quote from SD.

I spent far to many years in the army as Im sure did a large percentage of the forum members. And from that length of service I learned one salient fact: when an officer says 'I' what he means is ' i had a group of men do it'. As in ' By gad, absolutly fagged out, cleaned the whole bladdy parade ground.' In fact I and three troops bloody well did.

So to interpret Sds sentence one can assume that he had a few men doing his work for him.

Cheers Mate
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri May 04, 2012 4:53 pm

littlehand wrote:

"The companies 1st Battalion 24th Regiment first engaged were now becoming short of ammunition, and at the request of the officer in charge I went to procure a fresh supply, with the assistance of Quartermaster 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment and some men of the Royal Artillery. I had some boxes placed on a mule cart and sent it off to the companies engaged, and sent more by hand, employing any men without arms. I then went back to the line, telling the men that plenty of ammunition was coming".

"During the course of the battle there were, in fact, three distinct firing lines scattered over the battlefield.
a) That of the two troops NNH, commanded by Durnford. It ran out of ammunition and was refused, or was unable to obtain further supplies. There is indisputable evidence to this effect.
b) The two companies of the 24th commaded respectively by Lts. Cavaye and Mostyn, and later supported by the two troops of the NNH commanded by Capt. W. Barton with a further coompany of the 24th commanded by Capt. Younghusband. The evidence of Capt. Essex, who attempted to replenish their ammunition supply is specific: He was unable to do so.

c) The firing line comprising the remaining companies of the 24th, those of Wardell, Porteous and Pope, suported to some extent by poorly armed units of the NNC. The evidence of survivors, Lt. Smith -Dorrien and Privates Williams, Bickley and Wilson, all mention attempts to re-supply the firing line.

In addition, Capt. Penn Symons of the 2/24th, who, at the time of the battle, was with Chelmsford's column, took it upon himself, immediately after the battle, whilst at Rorkes Drift, to interview and collate evidence. His report was later passed on to Horse Guards and Queen Victoria. He wrote "Whatever demarits this account may possess, however inaccurate it may be in detail ... it has the great advantage of having been written from notes and conversations made on the spot. In all cases it contains the first statements of survivors". With regard to the ammunition supply he wrote:
"Our men now began running backwards and forwards by twos and threes for ammunition. Officers in the camp were serving it out and carrying it to the front ... It was hopeless to expect troops, even with an unlimited supply of ammunition to stop the determined advance and rush of vast numbers." Later in his report he refers to the ammunition supply again: "The reserve was in the wagons, at the nearest point 5oo yards to the rear. Every available man was in the ranks and there were absolutely no arrangements whatsoever for bringing up ammunition."

LH

Out of intrest were did this come from ? , as most of it is complete rubbish.



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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri May 04, 2012 9:13 pm

Quote :
as most of it is complete rubbish.
Why?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri May 04, 2012 9:25 pm

The evidence of Capt. Essex, who attempted to replenish their ammunition supply is specific: He was unable to do so.

No where does he say this, he says the exact oposite.

During the course of the battle there were, in fact, three distinct firing lines scattered over the battlefield

There were 2, the one on the spur was withdrawn soon after A,H,G, and C marched out. Then the men
on the spur joined the other Coys to form a battalion firing line, the stand on the spur lasted around 20 mins,
before the main fight had begun, firing on the right horn some 800 yards away.

it says

absolutely no arrangements whatsoever for bringing up ammunition."[i]

Then it also says

][i]Officers in the camp were serving it out and carrying it to the front




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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon May 07, 2012 8:46 pm

I saw Ron Lock post that the ammuntion boxes were impossible to open without a screwdriver, and others
have also believed this, but does it not seem strange that not a single Zulu mentions screwdrivers being
used, they say they smashed into the boxes, if the Zulus can do it then surly the British could.




Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon May 07, 2012 8:48 pm

Would they know what a screwdriver was let alone how to use one.
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90th

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PostSubject: The Ammunition Question   Tue May 08, 2012 5:46 am

Hi DB.
I think Ron Lock may be talking figuratively not literally ; There is much discussion on this subject on here somewhere - and quite possibly a youtube clip showing them being opened with rifle butt etc etc . Unless you break them open - you CANT OPEN them without a screwdriver !. Hope this makes sense . Shocked
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue May 08, 2012 8:09 am

I believe SD says they were breaking open ammo boxes, Ian Knight proved that the soldiers were probably using the butts of their rifles to smash open the sliding hatch, which also accounted for the screws they found being bent at right angles. Using this method proved quicker than using a screwdriver.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue May 08, 2012 8:13 am

Dave
As has been pointed out, these were very experienced soldiers, to believe they couldnt open an ammo box doesnt do them justice. A sharp kick against the slider would break it.

regards
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue May 08, 2012 11:18 am

But only if you had a requisition for the quarter master.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue May 08, 2012 11:24 am

The MkV Ammunition box of the AZW were noted to have a weak spot at the hole and countersink for the wood screw, it was adapted in an LOC of 1880 to have a steel bush, lining the hole to strengthen it.





Last edited by Neil Aspinshaw on Wed May 09, 2012 6:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: The ammunition question   Tue May 08, 2012 6:38 pm



Hi Neil,

Have you any idea which versions of the Mh. brass ammunition case was used at Isandlwana, ie the rolled or drawn brass versions.


regards,

barry
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 09, 2012 6:23 am

Barry
Mk111 rolled brass rifle, There is a possibility of Mk1 & Mk2 Carbine ammunition being available too as these were introduced 1-12-77 & 1-5-78 respectively.

Drawn ammunition was trialled for range practice as early as 1871, as these could be re-filled, however the solid drawn round was not adopted until 9-6-85, primarily for Egypt and the Sudan.
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barry

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PostSubject: Rolled or drawn brass?   Wed May 09, 2012 6:45 am



Hi Neil,

Thanks.

regards

barry
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 09, 2012 3:36 pm

Ive been searching for this quote, eventually found it.
From Major Black: Rorkes Drift 28th June 1879

...when these two lines of skirmishers, outflanked on both sides ammunition well nigh expended, retired almost at the same time to rally in the camp, form square around the ammunition wagons, and there refill their pouches, some of these men present tell me that the attention of all being fixed on their own front, none had realised how it fared behind them.

Couple of things come out of that, firstly the two lines of skirmishers refered to are infantry and Mounted Volunteers.
Secondly they had enough ammunition to fight their way across the battlefield ( well nigh expended ) and they managed to replenish at the ammunition wagons.

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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed May 09, 2012 9:00 pm

Quote :
form square around the ammunition wagons, and there refill their pouches,

And Black was there was he. :lol:
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 10, 2012 7:12 am

As the quotation says, " some of these men present tell me."
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 10, 2012 8:09 pm

No names then. Not a primary source.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu May 10, 2012 8:10 pm

No names then. Not a primary source.
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John

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon May 14, 2012 9:01 pm

Save me going through all the posts. It there a mention that Captain Barton had problems with ammuntion.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon May 14, 2012 9:07 pm

He seems to have got a resupply from somewhere, as his men were on the line along with Raw's troop.



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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon May 14, 2012 9:18 pm

This from Norris-Newman, regarding Bartons conversation with him.

"Captain Barton subsequently told me that his mounted men really fought well at first their first charge, and until all their ammunition was exhausted; they were compelled to fall back to the camp on to the camp,where they sought for a fresh supply of ammunition. Unfortunately, this was refused them by the officer in charge, who said it would all be required by the infantry themselves."

This was assuredly a fatal error of judgement, inasmuch as a large quantity of ammunition un-used fell into the hand of the enemy,together with more than 1000 Martini- Henry rifles and carbines. Perhaps, however though the defence might have been prolonged, the disastrous issue could not have been averted."

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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon May 14, 2012 9:24 pm

One troop of NNH would not have made a diffrence to the outcome of the battle, the moment things started to
go bad the NNH legged it, so even if they did get ammo, Durnford would still have retreated, this would still
have caused the rest of the line to retire, this would still have caused the natives to run.



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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon May 14, 2012 9:36 pm

I did say that.

Quote :
Perhaps, however though the defence might have been prolonged, the disastrous issue could not have been averted."

But it still shows an ammuntion problem did exsist.
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