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 Which was the biggest blunder.

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impi

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PostSubject: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:25 am


Which do you think was the Biggest British Military Blunder? And why

The Battle Of Isandlwana 1879 or the Battle of the Somme in 1916

I know there were other's but i'm thinking of these two in particular.
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james-millership

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:32 am

Well id certainly put the charge of the light brigade up with the top 10.

But definatly the biggest has to be Isandlwana. We could have definatly won... if the troops had adopted the correct formation for fighting natives... (a square)

But we didnt.. Mad
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Al Amos

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:37 am

Even it those in charge had followed orders and entrenched the camp, the Zulu would've found it very hard going.

al
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:24 pm

I thing once again the British failed to gather intelligence regarding the Somme. It was the biggest bombardment in history 7 Days & 7 Nights, and all the while the German were deep down in chalk caves. On the day of the attack the British were ordered to walk towards the enemy lines carrying their rifles at port arms. The Germans simply returned to their posts and opened up with Machine Guns the casualties in the first half hour was enough to feel the old Webley stadium. So based on the number of Casualties in such a short space of time I would say the Somme was the biggest military blunder in British History. Care of Field Marshal Douglas Haig.


On the first day of the Somme, the British lost 19,240 dead, 35,494 seriously wounded, and 2,152 missing: 57,470 casualties in total.

So based on 1300 killed at Isandlwana. You would need 44 Isandlwana's to make up what the British lost in one day in the somme.

Hope that makes sence.... Idea
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:53 pm

I'm with Mr G on this one.

Quote :
You would need 44 Isandlwana's to make up what the British lost in one day in the somme.
Now that makes one think!!!!!
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:40 pm

iSandhlwana is the greatest cock-up, no question in my mind, as it seems those officers in charge at all levels, failed in their duty, were negligent and complacent and let down their men badly. The definition of "Lions lead by donkeys."
The massacre of iSandlwana could have been prevented, if those in charge had done their duty, but sadly, it was not.

Whilst the sheer scale of the slaughter of the Somme Offensive was horrifying, it was meticulously planned, checked and approved by the powers that were in charge at the time, using the tried and tested text book tactics of the day.
As far as i am aware, all the British and Allied officers carried out their orders dutifully, conscientiously and precisely, on the morning of the 1st July and the soldiers, as in common with the men at iSandhlwana, fought like lions. Unfortunately for the Allies, they were up against a well equipped, sophisticated and well matched German foe. There was no fault on the part of the British commanders and planners. The Allies did not lose the first day, the Germans won it.

Could the 1st July 1916 attack have been halted after an hour or two when it became obvious that the Allies were getting hammered? NO. Once an operation of even a fraction of that magnitude kicks off, it takes on its own momentum, a life of its own and becomes essentially unstoppable like a runaway train. Even if Haig had had today's high-tech communications at his disposal, once H hour had come, that was that. Unstoppable.
Ultimately, the Somme also damaged the German army irreparably and laid the foundations for Allied victory.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:33 pm

Somme.
Quote :
as in common with the men at iSandhlwana, fought like lions.
But they didn't they never got anywhere near the enermy lines.

Haig assumed that he had the secret of a triumphant allied attack. A heavy bombardment by the heavy guns would destroy the German barbed wire, trenches, machine gun posts and soldiers. The bombardment would cease at dawn on 1st July 1916 and the British troops would cross No Man's Land and inhabit the German trenches. Serious casualties were not expected.

The British Soldiers were assured by those in command that it would simply be a case of strolling across No Man's Land on a sunny day.

My opinion is the somme was the biggest blunder. The men at isandlwana had the chance to put up a fight which they did, taking quite a few of the enermy with them.
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old historian2

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:43 pm

The weapons were a bit more sophisticated in WWI compared to the Zulu War, That’s why the death toll was so high in the Somme.

I will go with Isandlwana as being the biggest blunder. 20,000 Zulus got by with out being seen, No fortification, No ammunition stations, Officer in command not carrying out his own orders. Splitting of forces. And more. To many mistakes.
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:40 am

How can it be said that the Allies did not fight like lions in 1916? Those men went over the top, probably in the full knowledge that they would be killed. When the whistle blew, they went without hesitation anyway - think about that for a moment.
Many Allied soldiers did in fact reach the German front lines, and they fought like lions.
Haig and Rawlinson, whilst not in complete agreement over tactics, were in agreement that casualties on the first day were acceptable.
Haig, in his diary the next day, wrote that, "the total casualties are estimated at over 40,000 to date. This cannot be considered severe in view of the numbers engaged, and the length of front attacked."
Sadly, an omelette cannot be made without breaking eggs.
Only now, looking back with different attitudes, do we consider the Somme disastrous.
In terms of of all else, no mistakes or dereliction of duties were made by those in command.
In the end, the Somme Offensive harmed the Germans more than the Allies.


The Somme was not a "blunder". It HAD to happen.

iSandlwana WAS a blunder. It should not have happened.

The German army had to be removed from their trenches and pused back East. By 1916, the Germans were entrenched, and only had to sit and hold their ground and wait for an Armistice, then they could keep what they had.
Even today as in Helmand, the only way to remove an enemy from a stronghold is to go in on foot and it is painful and it costs lives. It cannot be done by shelling or air power alone.

The test is this:
1. If YOU had been in command at iSandlwana, could you think of something YOU could have done differently? Could you improve upon the performance of those blithering idiots in charge? (I can think of many things that I would have done, that would have averted that massacre!)
2. If you had been in charge of the Somme Offensive in 1916 instead of Haig, what would YOU have done differently? (I really don't know).

The Somme was NOT a "blunder". It HAD to happen.

iSandlwana WAS a blunder. It should NOT have happened.

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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:57 am

Don't forget Maiwand,27.7.1880 962 killed, (469 officers and men on the 66th, 351 Indian troops),guns lost, colours lost, over 450 camp followers missing or dead. Interesting, why no complaints of the survivors from jammed rifles???????? food for thought?.
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:10 pm

impi's original question was about which "BLUNDER" - "blunder" meaning a "particularly bad mistake." (Not a large number of casualties).

iSandhlwana was a series of several blunders after blunder.

Somme or iSandhlwana?

If we start on Maiwand as well, we will get drawn into Abu Klea, Gallipoli, the razing of Dresden by Bomber Command, Nimrod fuel leaks and mid air explosions, the SAS' assault on the Fortuna glacier in 1982.....how about the invasion of Iraq in 1991....?

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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:34 pm

Neil. Was the Rifle in-question the MH. Must admit not heard of this battle.
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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:31 pm

It depends what we are comparing ? Leadership (or lack of), number of casualties sustained, overall view, or something else ?


Quote :
what would YOU have done differently? (I really don't know).

I often wonder what the outcome would've been if we had prepared as maticuluosly as the Canadians did for their attack on Vimy Ridge. Every man (and not just the Officers) knew their objectives and were trained to act independently, without Officers or NCO's, if need be. The same couldn't be said for the 1st July 1916.... The barrage was not effective at cutting the German wire but no real effort was made by the top brass to find out before sending thousands to their deaths. I suppose a lot was learnt on the Somme, it's just a damn pity it cost so many lives.

It's also a pity the Zulu chief's didn't have the tactical knowledge of our superiors. If they did, then maybe they would've ordered their warriors to walk instead of run when attacking Isandlwana Rolling Eyes


Neil
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:35 am

Chard
Yes same weapons and Mk3 ammo.

19th century campaigns cannot be compared to 20th, in the abscence of field Telephones, aircraft, barbed wire, fully aautomatic machine guns and gas.

So in terms of this debate,its a bit off topic, I am out.
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:30 am

Neil. Just one question. What were the British using before the MH. And would whatever it was have had the same impact in the Zulu War than the MH.
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:26 am

Snider Rifles in .577", the Indian troops at Miawand were still issued with them, and continued to be well into the Sudan campaign C1884/5. At 3-500 yards the accuracy variance is not really an issue, rate of fire, only marginally less as the load and unload time is the only factor.

24th were issued M-H's (MK1 3rd {approved} pattern) in early 1875, after the general order from the army to issue was made in Oct 1874 and deliveries commenced in Nov of that year, the 24th regiment of foot were not part of the M-H field development trails C1871-73,

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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:43 am

Neil,
19th C campaigns absolutely CAN be compared to campaigns from the 20th C.
In fact, comparing and analysing the tactics of modern commanders versus Ancient commanders such as Alexander the Great , is or at least was, required study and on the syllabus at Sandhurst.
The principles of tactics and command haven't changed over the millennia; technology has.

Lord Chelmsford v Fabius Maximus?

NO CONTEST!

I know who I would back!!!
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:12 pm

Neil was the Snider Rifle superior to the M.H in combat. I’m thinking of the film Zulu Dawn, where Durnford was retreating after his first encounter with the Zulu. The NMP dismounted and pour fire into the Zulu's they just seem to be able to fire more rounds than those in the ranks of the 24th. The Snider looked to me, too much smaller and less burdensome, but more powerful. Also I never saw a Snider with a bayonet did they have a housing if a bayonet was required.
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:45 am

May I refer you back to the original question of this thread.
No idea why the discussion on the rifle started.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:20 pm

Lord Chelmsford V My rather thick dog.
Chelmsford would come a long way second, or third

Regards
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:58 pm

Hear here Springbok, hear here, love it !!!

Lord Chelmsford V Your dog V Our very thick, clumsy, over pampered lapdog of a labrador?

Now I would go for your dog first (I am imagining a hard, South African guard/yard dog - correct me if I am wrong ), Barney second and the good Lord Chelmsford, third!
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:42 am

Tasker
I try not to get involved in supposition or what ifs, i did not mean to be tearse, as I have seen other forums, not to dissimilar to this, have spectacular what ifs that led to 'erm, on-line confrontation, Whilst I can see how tantalising it can be, unless the "adversary" can be compared., in this case Modern army V Native, a la, Zulu, Fuzzy, Afghan, Native red indian or Maori, comparison of two modern equipped european powers is simply not in the same game.

I tend to lean to factul posts, so thats why I will not involve.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:49 am

Tasker nearly every topic on this forum ends up taking other routes. That why we all learn more about the Zulu War. When Neil gets involve we all listen his knowledge on the Zulu War not just weapons is superior to most of us on here. Please don’t start criticising other members posts it will get you no where.
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:57 am

Tasker. Littlehand is not having a dig. But he doe's make sence. We do not post comments like "May I refer you back to the original question of this thread.
No idea why the discussion on the rifle started"
If you read all the posts in the topic you will see its not really off topic. There is always a reason as to why members post in the various discussions.
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:31 am

Chelmie
The NMP were armed predominently with Swinburn Henry Carbines, as were the Natal Carbineers. These resemble a Martini in many ways but the internals which is not so good, in particular the extraction., calibre is the same 577/450. There was two variants, long stocked with bayonet bar, which accepted a bowie knife like bayonet, and a short stocked version. Here is an image of a Natal Issue Swinburn from my collection, Note the long cocking indicator, which also sets the gun in half cock, this is ideal as a loaded round can be left in the chamber with less chance of a missfire. The model I have is Identical, ( even to the "V" serial number) to Harry Luggs swinburn in Durban museum.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]



Durnfords men were armed with the Mk3 Snider carbine , argably a lower rate of fire, and with less <300 yard accuracy,
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:48 am

I believe when these rifles ran out of ammunition at Isandlwana there were no reserves, yet another burden to add to the blunder. MH Rounds wrong cailber.
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:50 pm

Chard. Did they not have their own supply wagon.
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:50 am

Chelmie
It was stuck in the jumble of wagons on the wagon park, and could not be found. Durnford had left if lumbering up the road in his haste to get to Isandlwana. Wagons should be marked with coloured pennants to denote thier contents, i.e Ammunition, commissariat etc, if Durnfords were general service wagons, in amongst the traffic jam to the rear, impossible to find if you do not know where it has been left.

Scenario, go into multi storey car park, forget the level you parked, find car.

24th Quatermasters, deny ammo to Durnfords men as they simply have not got it. (the calibre).
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:03 pm

You can't really compare these two Battles. The British and the Germans both use the modern weapons of the day.

The Battle of Isandlwana was recorded in history as the worst defeat ever inflicted on a modern army by native troops.
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:26 pm

Littlehand. You have a point there
Quote :
"The British and the Germans both use the modern weapons of the day."
I didn't think of that. Thanks for posting.
Quote :

The Battle of Isandlwana was recorded in history as the worst defeat ever inflicted on a modern army by native troops


So this doe's put Isandlwana as the greatest Blunder..
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:39 pm

So I have converted you. Idea
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:09 pm

...but you have not converted me, Littlehand!

The fact that the defeat was inflicted by a "native" army (whatever that means) and not a "modern" army, makes iSandlwana an even worse defeat than the Somme, doesn't it?

iSandlwana or Somme? It is the leadership that I am comparing, not the technology or weaponary, when I maintain that iSandlwana is still the bigger blunder in my opinion. Poor leadership, poor outcome. Boils down to the 7 Ps.

It is valid to compare leadership from conflicts from one century and another. A good general from Ancient times would have been a good general if he had been born in modern times and vice versa. If a good leader had been in command on the 21st January 1879, the disaster at iSandlwana would surely not have occurred.

Jefferson or George W Bush?

Blair or Churchill?

Haig or Alexander the Great?

Bobby Moore or John Terry?
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Saul David 1879



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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:21 pm

Tasker. Littlehand is merely pointing out, how it was recorded in the History books.

Quote :
The fact that the defeat was inflicted by a "native" army (whatever that means)
The Natives did not have a modern army. Shields & Spears were not modern weapons.

S.D
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:40 am

Many thanks for clarifying the misuse of the word "native" in the history books Saul, and clearly explaining what it was intended to mean.
I had taken it to mean as you have explained, when I made my point.
My opinion remains the same.
iSandlwana...biggest blunder of all time!
Tasker
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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:17 pm

I'd say that Gandamak was a bigger defeat than Isandlwana.
Regards, Ken
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:23 pm

Thanks Ken, never heard of this Battle until you posted it.

Dr Brydon arrives at Jellalabad, the last survivor of an
army of 16,500 soldiers and civilians

Click Here Gandamak
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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:59 pm

I often have a similar debate with Guides who end their talk at Isandlwana stating: "This was Britain's heaviest defeat in her Colonial era". Certainly the 24th Regiment probably lost marginally more men, but if one includes the Indian soldiers (versus the Colonial soldiers - including the NNC - at Isandlwana), Gandamak was the biggest. The Essex Regiment virtually ceased to exist. What is more relevant, however, is that there is still conflict in Afghanistan...!
Regards, Ken
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:48 am

Do remember that "defeat" and "blunder" are 2 entirely different beasts. Sometimes we can look at a defeat with pride and think what else could have been done? This thread is entitled, "Which was the biggest blunder."

You are correct perhaps to challenge those guides who use the term "heaviest defeat."

Gundamak was certainly a heavy defeat. The poor old 44th escort column was systematically picked off by a wily enemy that knew how to use the ground much better than they did. But the column of civilians and soldiers had to march, didn't it? There was no alternative.
iSandlwana by contrast, was a series of cockups which ended in an avoidable, mass loss of life. (Granted, once the cock ups had left the 24th in a hopeless position and on the brink of a battle they could not win, the lads fought like lions and we can all be proud of that).

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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:29 am

Good point. I'll let the debate continue for a while!
Saul David wrote a good book on this subject, of course...
Regards, Ken
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:19 pm

Britain's Most Massacred Regiments.
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Ken. Say's Gandamak
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Mastersstudent



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PostSubject: Dissertation   Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:47 am

Hello everyone, this thread has been particularly interesting to me as I am currently creating my dissertation for my Masters degree. The topic is the difference between how The Battle of Isandlwana and the Battle of the Somme are/were perceived in the UK. My personal view is that they where both disasters yet one (Isandlwana) is viewed as tremendously heroic whilst the other (Somme) is viewed as a massive tragedy when both should be viewed as heroic tragedies of equal proportion.

What you have already written had been very helpful but I was wondering if there is any other way you could help, perhaps point out simliarities between the battles or perhaps differences that resulted in one of the battles being seen in popular culture differently?

Help much appreciated, thank you.

Sam
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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:55 am


The Battle of Isandlwana was recorded in history as the worst defeat ever inflicted on a modern army by native troops.
[/quote]

I was wondering where this record is kept, so I could use it in my work

thanks :)
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Ken Gillings



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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:43 am

Nope - Gamndamak was a bigger disaster for the British than Isandlwana, the blunder part being the total ignorance of the opponent facing them. I must admit, though, that Mr Greaves has a good point. Regards, Ken
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kwajimu1879

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:20 pm

Mastersstudent,

Quote :
The Battle of Isandlwana was recorded in history as the worst defeat ever inflicted on a modern army by native troops.

Personally, I would say the defeat of the Italians at Adowa (Adwa), Ethiopia on 1st March 1896 has got to rate as the worst defeat on a modern army by native forces.

The Italians lost 7,000 killed; 1,500 wounded and 3,000 taken prisoner. Of the prisoners a large number of them died in captivity, at least 200 Italians from wounds received in the battle, whilst 800 their native allies were mutilated many of them died from these mutilations.

The Defeat of Lord Elphinstone's army in 1st Afghan War included 12,000 refugees & 4,500 soldiers killed or captured of whom the majority were sepoys of East India Company of the Bengal Presidency. Only one British battalion the 44th (The East Essex) Regiment were involved.

kwaJimu1879
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:45 pm

A quick read up, the Ethiopians had 42 Russian artillery pieces. Native army? Or whatever that means?
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kwajimu1879

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:00 am

Tasker,

It has been awhile since I read Macrory's 'Signal Catastrophe: the Retreat from Kabul 1842', but didn't the Afghans also have artillery pieces and Russian advisers?

kwaJimu1879
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:52 am

you are right no doubt, kwajimu.
been a while since i have read about the first afgan war also!
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Mastersstudent



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PostSubject: disaster?   Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:30 am

So, what are the ways we could look at which one of these battles was the biggest blunder?
What was gained? What the initial intention was? What the reaction of the people in blighty was? Or perhaps even what was the expected result? I mean both ended in massive casualties but the Somme could still be called a tactical and strategic victory for the Allies whereas Isandlwana was a straight-up unexpected and humiliating defeat. The Somme has redeeming features such as the use of modern weaponry by the Germans and the ability to take shelter from the bombing whilst Isandlwana seems to be men with guns losing to man with spears, even if their where many of them. Both can be seen as tactical failures with the officers failing on many fronts.

What actual ways and catergories can we make to place the two battles as more/less of a disaster than the other?
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Mr M. Cooper

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PostSubject: biggest blunder   Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:22 am

Hi all

I should imagine the biggest blunder of the two would be Isandlwana. There were no properly organised defences there, yet
they had the best part of two days to organise these. Even after Chelmsford split his force and left in the early hours, there
was still time for Pulleine to organise some sort of defences, especially when he got reports of large bodies of Zulu's in the
area, but he failed to do this. When Col Durnford arrived and heard all the conflicting reports of Zulu's in the area, he did
at least try to establish where they were, and when it was reported that they were 'retiring', he believed that they were trying to cut off Chelmsford, so went to see where they were retiring to. No blame can be put onto Durnford for the lack of defences, he had not been there long enough before the Zulu's attacked. In my opinion the blame for Isandlwana rests with Chelmsford and Pulleine, Col Durnford became the scapegoat to get Chelmsford off the hook.

Regards

Martin.
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PostSubject: Re: Which was the biggest blunder.   Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:37 am

kwajimu, I noticed your post about Adwa (Adua?), which I had not long ago seen whilst glancing through one of my books, apparently being another battle where a force was split into three - a centre and two flanks. Beforehand, I saw a short reference to Dogali 1887, with a print showing a scene which 'according to legend, the last few italians presented arms to their fallen comrades before being killed themselves.'
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