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 The ammunition question

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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:33 pm

Quote :
Higginson says his Coy was kept in reserve in front of the camp the whole battle

So could this not indicate that they had not used their ammunition, and when the retreat took place, they had enough ammunition to help cover the fall back, don't know how many men were with this coy, but if they still had 70 rounds, and those retreating with them used what they had left, would that account for heavy firing. ( Just a thought)
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:35 pm

Smith-Dorrient

"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."
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:17 am

Wasn't part of the failure, to resupply down to the ammunition boxes not being opened quick enought. Why were only packets being sent out and not ammunition boxes as a whole. I know Essex say he put some on a mule cart, but there's arguments to say he didn't.

On another note, I was reading that's Zulus account, can't think of his name. Anyway he says when the horns met in front of the camp, the Soldiers fell back to the camp, he doesn't say the NNC ran away then the soldiers were forced to retreat, they all went together. The reason I mention this is because, he pays attention to detail, so why miss that out as it would have been one of the deciding factors in there victory.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:17 am

The boxes being hard to open is a myth, several sharp blows from a rifle would open the box, also
the 24th had pioneers who would be equipped with tools for such a purpose.

No Zulu says the fire slackened, then they charged, they all recall the soliders firing as they retretaed.
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90th

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PostSubject: The Ammunition Question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:34 am

Hi DB.
There are a few instances of the zulu's saying that the fire slackened ! . Dave quotes Smith - Dorrien two posts back saying the exact thing !. I remember reading on a few occasions that the zulu were on the verge of retreating until the intensity of the firing slackened and they seized at this chance to keep going .
Cheers 90th. Salute
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PostSubject: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:48 pm



Hi 90th,
Correct, Mehlogazulu is also quoted as saying it too, a few posts back. DB must read the posts as he is now wasting everybodies time, and it is tiresome.

regards

barry
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:52 pm

Quote :
DB. Quote:
Higginson says his Coy was kept in reserve in front of the camp the whole battle.

DB, waiting for a reply, can you explain what this coy did. You say they were held in reserve during the whole battle. That tells me they did not engage in any combat. However as they positioned in front of the camp, did they just retreat as the others did. Or had they fallen back earlier.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:33 pm

Dave

They were formed up in front of the camp throughout the battle and broke and fled as the Zulus approached.

Barry

Meleokazulu doesn't say the fire slackened while the men were in the line, he says it slackened when the men were surrounded on the Saddle.

As for wasting time i think inventing accounts, like the one below is becoming tiresome.

"one again there are may reports which say that those men who were at lunch and turned out in a hurry, only had 40 rounds"



90th

Even if it did slacken the men were still well supplied when they were ordered to retire, if they weren't there
was no way they could have got back over the distences they covered to where they died. That is the simple
factor.


Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:40 pm

I know I said I woundn't post again, but I have changed my mind..

DB. What do you quote SD as factual to prove there wasn't a supply problem.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:43 pm

littlehand wrote:
What do you quote SD as factual to prove there wasn't a supply problem.

Sorry can you pharse that better ?

My point still stands, even if there was a problem and supplies weren't getting through, the men were
still well supplied with ammo when they had to retreat, other wise there is no way they could have got back to
were they died, and put up such fire when they got back to where they died.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:44 pm

Why do you believe S-D s account. Idea
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:46 pm

The letter to his Farther was written a day after the battle, not some 40 years later like his biography.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:49 pm

I'm on about his full account. As per court of enquiry, or do you dismiss that.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:52 pm

scratch

I don't dismiss it, just some of it may well be incorrect as his biography account was written more then 40 years later.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:58 pm

Stafford's, accounts were written many year after. So we could say his may be in-correct.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:08 pm

Having volleyed there way back to camp, this would have used alot of ammuntion a native with the British recorded

"Zulus were by this time quite close to the soldiers, who were kneeling or lying and firing very rapidly and
inflicting heavy losses."



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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:11 pm

Quote :
They were formed up in front of the camp throughout the battle and broke and fled as the Zulus approached.

So in theory if this unit, retreated at the same time, each man would have been carrying his allocation of ammuntion. 70 rounds. So is it safe to say, at that stage of the battle, they just run away with out firing a shot. Or would have used there ammuntion. Helping to hold the Zulu back.


Last edited by Dave on Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:12 pm

Dave it was Coy of NNC not 24th, they only had around 20 guns per Coy.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:16 pm

Im not asking how many rifles they had, I asked would they have used their ammuntion on the fall back.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:18 pm

They broke and fled throught the Saddle.

Higginson

"When my company saw them coming nothing could stop them, they all jumped up and ran. "
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:20 pm

Ok so we can take it they never took part in the battle. They was there, but played no part in its defence.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:28 pm

"Extract from: Regulations for Field Forces in South Africa, 1878.

I draw your attention to artical (38)

"37. Too much care cannot be taken in impressing upon all officers and N. C. officers the importance of restraining their men when in action from too lavish an expenditure of ammunition. Seventy rounds are carried by each soldier, but these are quickly expended, if he is carried away by excitement, and does not fire with coolness and precision. There is obvious danger should men run short of ammunition when at any distance from the reserves. Whenever, therefore, there appears any likelihood of troops becoming hotly engaged, thirty rounds extra had better be carried by the soldier.
38. The means of transport for further reserves must always be at hand at each outpost, and a commanding officer would incur a heavy responsibility should required supplies fail to arrive in time, through any want of foresight and arrangement on his part."
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:34 pm

There may well have been an ammuntion problem were a lot of the supplies weren't getting through to
the line, but the soliders must still had a considerable ammount of ammuntion left when they were ordered to
retreat, the only groups of men found on the line was Wolfe's detchment that was most likely acting as a
rear gaurd, and around 60 or so men from Pope's Coy who were caught when Durnford left the donga, and
some men from the RA. Other then that Black makes it clear that most of the bodies were found either in the camp
or down the trail, the only way they could have got back over the distences, H Coy alone had to retreat 1,300 yards,
was by a fighting retreat, there are numours refrences from the Zulus to the soliders firing as they retreated, and several from the Britsh who comment on a slow and steady withdrawl. Once they had got back to camp they were still firing, there are again numours refrences to them doing this, for example the solider who took cover behind 2 trees and fired untill he was killed by zulu who dashed him, or the account i have posted above of them laying down heavy fire and inflicting heavy losses, then the Zulu right horn came over the Saddle from behind and the Coys became isolated, even at this point they still had ammuntion, allowing Anstey to break out and Younghusband to retreat up from the Saddle. At this point, isolated and cut off they did run out of ammuntion, but not before.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:50 pm

They had no ammuntion left when they got to the camp, if supplies had been getting thorough, they would have had ammuntion when they entered the camp.

Here another issue. ( There may very well be one, but I haven't seen it)

We are told that, packets of ammuntion were be run out to the firing lines, why is there no mention of empty ammuntion packets being found in the locations of the firing lines. or anywhere else for that matter.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:54 pm

littlehand wrote:
They had no ammuntion left when they got to the camp, .

Fact is though they did, all the accounts make this clear.


The packets were made of paper, the feild was revisted until over 4 months had passed !
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:57 pm

[quote="Drummer Boy 14"]There may well have been an ammuntion problem were a lot of the supplies weren't getting through to
the line,


There we go, DB14 has said it. "There may well have been an ammumiton problem"
The End.

GR8 debate all.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:58 pm

Sorry DB you were obviously typing to fast, please re-phrase.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:59 pm

Tasker

What i ment was even if the supplies weren't getting through, it didn't make a diffrence to the
overall outcome, as they still had a resonable supply on them.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:01 pm

LH

All the accounts mention soliders and volunteers firing in the camp and down the trail, i've already posted
one.

This is from a native who recalls when the 24th reached the tents

"Zulus were by this time quite close to the soldiers, who were kneeling or lying and firing very rapidly and
inflicting heavy losses."


So simply they still had ammo when they got back to camp.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:20 pm

Mehlogozulu Kasihayo Extract

Q: Were the soldiers in the camp ?
A: They were out in the country at all time, returning from the front, all apart from two companies that climbed up the hill and weren't seen again until they were killed. They shot at the horns of the Zulu army, while the chest pushed forward. the horns were also successful and before the soldiers knew it, they were all killed, not a single one escaped trying to leave the camp. They were met with the Zulu army that was to large and they couldn't manage it: it was impossible.

Q: Did you examine the mens cartridge holders ?

A: Yes, we did look. Some had one cartridge, but most of them were empty. We didn't find many (he was talking about the paper packets each contained 10 rifle bullets). Other cartridges bags and belts were all empty; we only found a few bags.


With regards to the packaging, it was waxed paper so would have survive the elements. It's odd how Mehlogozulu mentions the packets but only when he's in the camp area.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:34 pm

LH

Not sure what your point is ?

The firing line was visted for nearly half a year after the battle, also the camp was completly destroyed, tents, waggons, stores, hunreds of bodies, cloths et. were strewn all over the place.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:38 pm

And of all the items, the only item to disappear completely were the tell, tell signs of ammuntion packets on the battlefield. :lol:

Extract from Hlubi's account.

,After this we had to fall back upon the Camp, the Zulus following us. We reached a “donga” (watercourse) where we stood and kept the Zulus in check. While here our ammunition ran low and we asked for more, and an order was given that some of the men should go to the Camp for some. Before this could be done we saw that the Camp was being taken. Colonel Durnford rode off to the Camp with one man leaving us with Mr Henderson. We left the donga and followed Colonel Durnford. By this time we had to fight the Zulus on all sides of us. On nearing the camp, we saw the Native Contingent break and run towards the Buffalo followed by the Drivers and leaders of the Camp Wagons. The Zulus on seeing this shouted “It is beaten.” “They are running.” This emboldened the Zulus and the Camp was soon full of them. Seeing that it was useless to attempt anything beyond saving my men, having very little ammunition left, I made my way to Rorke’s drift forcing my way through be belt of Zulus on that side. I reached Rorke’s drift and crossed it, off-saddling this side. After a while I saddled up and made for Helpmakaar. On ascending the Biggarsberg, I saw a force of Zulus marching from Sandhlwana to Rorke’s drift "
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:09 pm

There is very few mentions of problems with the Martinti Henry rifle during the Battle of Isandlwana, ie Jamming, misfiring, cartridges cooked in barrel.
Why has this been dismissed, because there are no reports of such. Most of those that escaped, we're officer's who were probably armed with a pistol and sword, and Coloinal units. Those that were actually handling the Martinti Henry and possibly exprienced problems were not able to report problems because they were dead.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:18 pm

One last thing, before I go, there seemed to have been a problem, with ammuntion carrier "ball bag" where the weight of the cartridges caused the bag to open, maybe not a major factor, but it could be a contributing one.
The men at Isandlwana, would have been walking, running over bad terrain.
Un-doubtly ammuntion was lost. Further information would be appricated.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:38 pm

I think the empty ammuntion packets, question is a very valid point. There are reports on the visits to the Battlefield after the event, where it was stated many times that bodies were found, surrounded by hundreds of cartridges, but not mention of ammuntion packaging. Surly this would have provided evidence that ammuntion was getting through to the firing line. As LH pointed out, they were waxed, so it would take along time for the packaging to disintegrate.


Here's an example from Neil.. Scroll down to images.

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

Neil also mentions these packets are not easy to open.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:18 pm

The distance from the ammuntion waggon to the various firing lines is the major contributing factor with regards to re-supply. It would have been near impossible to get 80Lb ammuntion boxes to them by hand. I don't believe carts of any description were used to deploy ammuntion, Any cart would have had problems negotiating their way through the tents and the natural terrain was totally unsuitable.

I have read the various accounts that state ammuntion was sent or see going, but only one to say it was received. It makes more sense for SD to have stayed near the waggon trying to organise ammuntion supplies, why he say's in his letter to his father, that he went to the front will never be known, but I think most agree he stayed near the waggon and escaped from the same area.

Quote :
DB. The boxes being hard to open is a myth
Your source please.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:40 pm

Brickhill extract.

"Our mounted men now turned to their horses. The Zulus took advantage of this slight break, and pushed across the gulley sharply, whilst the Zulu left horn drew in slightly towards the camp. A simultaneous forward movement was made by all the Zulus, and many of our mounted men who had ridden in for ammunition were closely followed in by them. Troops of all descriptions were now streaming through the various camps towards the Rorke's Drift nek. Simultaneously with this, the only body of soldiers yet visible rose from firing their last shot and joined me in the general flight. Panic was everywhere and no officer to guide, no shelter to fall back to."

Why would mounted men be riding in for ammuntion, if a supply line was in operation.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:48 pm

CTSG

Smith-Dorrien was breaking them open, the 24th had pioneers that could open them they had tools of all kinds,
Knight opened one with a rifle, no other report, from RD or other even before Isandlwana mentions it. The Zulus
themselves say they " Broke them open " they don't say they were imposiible to open.

24th

No-one left a desription of what was found on the firing line, it was over 6 months before that part of the
battlefield was even examined.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:02 pm

Quote :
24th had pioneers that could open them they had tools of all kinds,
I know there was certainly a lack of screwdrivers, the above is new to me. Could you post the primary source.

Quote :
Smith-Dorrien was breaking them open.

He was not breaking them open.

Quote :
CTSG
Knight opened one with a rifle, no other report, from RD or other even before Isandlwana mentions it.

Ian Knight said after.
"As to your observation that the experiment proved nothing "... apart from the poor quality of local RSA wooden box manufacture", well, I am astounded! Let me assure you the Republic of South Africa has no such industry. The replica box was more than likely made to specification and quality, under the direction of the BBC film unit, either by one of their props men, or by a local 'fundi'."

The defenders at RD had no reason to break the ammo boxes open, they were prepaired for the attack, ammo station in place, and spare ammo boxes opened and ready to go..


24th

Quote :
No-one left a desription of what was found on the firing line, it was over 6 months before that part of the battlefield was even examined.
A few posts back you said.
"The firing line was visted for nearly half a year after the battle, also the camp was completly destroyed, tents, waggons, stores, hunreds of bodies, cloths et. were strewn all over the place"
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:08 pm

LH

"He was not breaking them open."

Rolling Eyes

"I having no particular duty to perform in the camp and seeing the whole Zulu army advancing had collected such casuals, bandsman, cooks, servants in charge of spare horses and took them to the ammunition boxes which we broke open as fast as we could [i][u]."

Each battalion had a pioneer section whose place of duty was with the quatermaster.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:37 pm

Your mistaken. He was in the front, no where near the ammunition Waggon. He says so in a letter to his father' two days after the battle.

Well that's one answered.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:39 pm

LH

He must have got the ammo from somewhere, so at some point at the fight he was at the ammuntion waggons,
Essex says he sent ammo out under an officer, that would most likely have been SD.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:43 pm

Your going back to speculation.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:48 pm

LH

Find anything wrong with this ?

There may well have been an ammuntion problem were a lot of the supplies weren't getting through to
the line, but the soliders must still had a considerable ammount of ammuntion left when they were ordered to
retreat, the only groups of men found on the line was Wolfe's detchment that was most likely acting as a
rear gaurd, and around 60 or so men from Pope's Coy who were caught when Durnford left the donga, and
some men from the RA. Other then that Black makes it clear that most of the bodies were found either in the camp
or down the trail, the only way they could have got back over the distences, H Coy alone had to retreat 1,300 yards,
was by a fighting retreat, there are numours refrences from the Zulus to the soliders firing as they retreated, and several from the Britsh who comment on a slow and steady withdrawl. Once they had got back to camp they were still firing, there are again numours refrences to them doing this, for example the solider who took cover behind 2 trees and fired untill he was killed by zulu who dashed him, or the account i have posted above of them laying down heavy fire and inflicting heavy losses, then the Zulu right horn came over the Saddle from behind and the Coys became isolated, even at this point they still had ammuntion, allowing Anstey to break out and Younghusband to retreat up from the Saddle. At this point, isolated and cut off they did run out of ammuntion, but not before.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:55 pm

Where is this from!!

An observation. Why doesn't SD make any reference to Essex, loading ammuntion boxes into a mule cart.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:01 pm

I posted it using the accounts from those who were there, it was just a geuss it was SD Essex sent to the
line, could well of been White who was engaged in the re-supply.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:33 pm

Essex stated in his letter to the times that he did help in the loading and distribution of boxes of ammunition.

"In loading the latter I helped the Quartermaster of the 2nd battalion 24th to place the boxes in the cart"

The letter published in the Times was sent originally to his family and given by them to the paper for publication. If he had wanted this letter published in the media he would have sent direct to them, but he didn't. It was sent to his familey a ( Private) was this letter supposed to have remained private.


PS. In my previous posts, I have replied to your posts, but you only ever seem to answered one. Would appricated a reply to all, as I do to your posts. Salute
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:38 pm

What part haven't i replied to ?
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:52 pm

You only replied to the SD responce.


Quote:
24th had pioneers that could open them they had tools of all kinds,

I know there was certainly a lack of screwdrivers, the above is new to me. Could you post the primary source.

Quote:
Smith-Dorrien was breaking them open.


He was not breaking them open.

Quote:
CTSG
Knight opened one with a rifle, no other report, from RD or other even before Isandlwana mentions it.


Ian Knight said after.
"As to your observation that the experiment proved nothing "... apart from the poor quality of local RSA wooden box manufacture", well, I am astounded! Let me assure you the Republic of South Africa has no such industry. The replica box was more than likely made to specification and quality, under the direction of the BBC film unit, either by one of their props men, or by a local 'fundi'."

The defenders at RD had no reason to break the ammo boxes open, they were prepaired for the attack, ammo station in place, and spare ammo boxes opened and ready to go..


24th

Quote:
No-one left a desription of what was found on the firing line, it was over 6 months before that part of the battlefield was even examined.

A few posts back you said.
"The firing line was visted for nearly half a year after the battle, also the camp was completly destroyed, tents, waggons, stores, hunreds of bodies, cloths et. were strewn all over the place"
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:57 pm

LH read the posts again i replied to the first one, the last question answers itself, no description was given
of the iteams found on the line, by the time it was examined, over 6 months later all paper would have rotted.
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