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 They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.

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24th

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PostSubject: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:36 am

How long would it have taken to reach Helpmarker? If the first decision to abandon Rorkes Drift was actioned. How much time would they have had from the moment the news of the Zulu Victory at Isandlwana had reached them to the first sighting of the Zulus that had come to attack them. The party of Natal Native Horse of which there was about one hundred rode up, under the command of Lieutenant Alfred Henderson. Surly with this amount of horsepower, they could have got away quite easy, some of the horses pulling the wagons containing sick and wounded and others riding two to a horse. "Henderson and his men got away to safety". And I’m fairly sure the Zulus would have been to exhaust to chase on foot, men on horseback. If they hadn’t wasted time fortifying the Drift they could have gotten away. When Henderson left, there chance of leaving was gone.

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:59 am

24th
We are speaking in hindsight. At the time they had no idea when or even if they would be attacked. Dont forget the road up the Biggarsberg was pretty steep and slow.
They only had just over an hour, I doubt they would have even got as far as the pass.

Regards
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90th

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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:04 am

Hi 24th.
I dont think they would have stood any chance if they tried to escape . If I remember correctly there was only 1 or 2
wagons at the drift , these wagons were'nt sleek and light but damn heavy and cumbersome . They couldnt have possibly
taken all the sick in 1 or 2 wagons . As for riding double some no doubt could / would have , others may have found it impossible .
Some horses are far more skittish than others . Also I think you will find a note was sent to the Drift telling them to hold the post .
Not only was there plenty of supplies but thousands of rounds of ammunition which they could ill afford to fall into zulu hands after
the 1,000 or so weapons they picked up at Isandlwana . They took the only course of action open to them . They would have
been run down quite easily .
cheers 90th.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:26 am

Thanks 90th & Springbok. But In reality they would not have been bumbling along like a stroll on Sunday morning. They would have been making there way to Helpmarker at speed. Springbok states
Quote :
“They only had just over an hour”
Don’t forget they would have had the members of the NNC who fled just before the Battle to help manhandle the sick and wounded. They could have sent riders ahead, to make it known that Isandlwana had been taken and the defenders were making their way. Spalding & Rainforth would have no doub't rode with reinforcements to help bring them back to Helpmarker. Then Henderson & Co would have been coming up behind them on their way back from Isandlwana. I know they were told to hold the post, but the first decision made was to make for Helpmarker, but we know Dalton said it would be better to fortify and defend. All I’m saying is, it would have been possible for them to abandon the drift. And with the man & Horsepower they would have made it. And I really don’t think the Zulus would have chased after them. They would not have known when the British had left and the Zulu King ordered them not to enter Natal.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:07 am

Abandon Rorkes Drift................why?

To stand and defend the post was, in hindsight, one of the few correct decisions made that fateful day.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:18 pm

Good Enough Reason !!!

Beckett, William. Private. 25B/135, died of wounds 23 January 1879
Desmond, Patrick. Private. 25B/568
Horrigan, William. Private. 1-24/1861, killed in action 22 January 1879
Jenkins, James. Private. 25B/841, killed in action 22 January 1879
Nicholas, Edward. Private. 25B/625, killed in action 22 January 1879
Adams, Robert. Private. 25B/987 D Company, killed in action 22 January 1879
Chick, James. Private. 25B/1335 D Company, killed in action 22 January 1879
Hayden, Garret. Private. 2-24/1769 D Company, killed in action 22 January 1879
Maxfield, Robert. Sergeant. 25B/623 G Company, killed in action 22 January 1879
Scanlon, John. Private. 25B/1051 A Company, killed in action 22 January 1879
Williams, John. Private. 25B/1395, B Company, awarded Victoria Cross, alias John Fielding
Williams, Thomas. Lance-Sergeant. 25B/1328, died of wounds 23 January 1879
A native of Mkungo's tribe, killed in action 22 January 1879
Anderson, Michael. Corporal. , killed whilst deserting 22 January 1879
Hunter, Sydney H. Trooper., killed in action 22 January 1879
Lugg, Henry. Trooper.
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joe

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:14 pm

Im not taking any sides here, but that number could have easily have been 150+ if they had decided to abandon the drift and get caught.

Joe
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:23 pm

Hear here Joe!

The British never won a single war by running away.

"How can man die better?" (Mike Snook)
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90th

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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:15 pm

Hi 24th.
Not wishing to sound picky but you cant really include Anderson ...... As he was killed while running away !.
cheers 90th. Idea .
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:17 pm

Gent’s the point I’m trying to make, is that the defenders at Rorkes Drift could have made a tactical withdrawal to Helpmarker if they had chosen to do so when they had first received the news of Isandlwana. They had the means to do that.

I never mentioned running away. 90th Anderson doe’s count because if they had stuck to their original decision to leave he would not have needed to desert. (Maybe Anderson saw my point of view at the time)


Quote :
The British never won a single war by running away.
"Dunkirk"
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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:20 am

Hi 24th.
Sorry to say , but I dont see how they could have left , as they didnt in my opinion have the means or time . It all boils down to the
fact that they couldnt leave even if they wanted to , and they would have been cut to pieces very quickly in the open . The
zulu's were wanting to wash their spears which was the only reason they crossed the River . The slowly retreating column would
have been more of a prize than all the supplies left at the drift . This is why we like forums , each to his own . Idea Idea .
Cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sun Feb 20, 2011 8:39 am

24th
Sorry mate Im with 90th. they didnt know how much time they had, it would have taken at least half an hour to get on the road with invalids etc. Those bullock carts couldnt cover more than 5 to 6 kilometres an hour flat out. So in half an hour before the impi arrived they would have been 2.5 to 3 k across the flats. That would put them visible from the side of Oskaberg, the impi could cover that distance in no time so they would have caught up whilst still on the flats before climbing the pass, Massacre !
Dont forget as well that Dalton had done this exact same thing ( fortify and defend) in the Eastern Cape the year before, he knew the odds. They stayed, history shows the decision was correct and Stanley Baker won a knighthood. The losses sustained were minor in comparison with the potential.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:09 pm

I don't know the geography and time scales like many people on here, but after having read the posts in this discussion, I stand by what i thought originally, the decision to stay and defend RD as opposed to attempt a tactical withdrawal, in hindsight, turned out to be one of the very few good decisions taken that day.
Of interest to me would be:

"What factors influenced Chard (and Bromhead) to decide to stay and defend RD rather than make a tactical withdrawal?"

They would not have known what you/we all know now. Yes, they had orders, but at the end of the day, the officer i/c on the ground has the discretion to command as he sees fit as the situation develops around him, and if that means to withdraw in the face of hopeless odds, then he could have done that.
The British have a well earned reputation built up over 100s of years, of holding their ground, standing and fighting to the last if necessary, not withdrawing or running away whenever there is the possibility that lives may be sacrificed, such as for example the Italian army has.

In answer to my own Question: My belief is that Chard et al were upholding this tradition. They saw no reason to withdraw, but to carry out their duty.
Brave men, every one.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:55 pm

Chard & Bromhead would have carried out the tactical withdrawal, it was Dalton who persuaded the other two to stay. Chard was still down near the river when the fortifying had commenced. 24th is going along the lines of man & horse power. When you consider that nearly 1300 men had just been killed, I don’t think the men would have been hanging around sick or not. I can see the idea of two men to a horse, the horse would have got them a fair distance allowing a better chance of escape. The British themselves could have set fire to the stores to destroy the ammunition perhaps slowing up the Zulus with the amount of exploding ammo.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:49 pm

Who's commard was the NNC under that deserted R.D
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90th

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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:59 pm

Hi ctsg.
It was Stephenson / stevenson who was in command of his detachment at the drift .
cheers 90th Idea
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:59 am

Impi
Spot on, Dalton was the catalist.
Two men per horse? I dont believe there were that many horses.
I fully agree with your comments, at least one correect decision made that day.

Regards
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:32 pm

24th. There missing the point. But yes i agreed they could have left R.D and made it to safety.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:56 am

Impi/24th
I do see your points. And again allways happy to be proved wrong.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:58 pm

so they could have fled RD, and they might have made it to safety?

at the end of the day, we will never know - but i am glad they stayed - i bet Chelmsford was gald they stayed too!
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:41 pm

I said I was happy to be proved wrong, didnt say I was.

The only way they would have reached safety would have been leaving the wounded behind, ergo the ammo could not have been destroyed therby making a gift of 20 000 rounds to the zulu. And being well mounted.

Even then think about the men, foot soldiers not cavalry, ex bricklayers etc. I wouldnt have taken to many bets of them even reaching the foot of the pass, never mind that long slog to the top.

One more consideration, the impi arrives at RD, nobody there save for a handful of expendable wounded men. Would they have still wanted to wash their spears? If so next stop would have been Helpmakaar.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:33 pm

Quote :
i bet Chelmsford was gald they stayed too!
Of course it was his get out clause. Idea
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90th

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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:57 pm

Hi Impi / 24th .
I get your point , but not sure you get ours . The zulu's ONLY reason ( not shouting ! ) to go to RD was as they said
in their own words ' Lets go have a fight at Jim's Place ' . ie ... kill British soldiers . There is no possible way the troops
could have escaped the zulu army . The column would be a slow moving affair and not nearly enough horseman could
have doubled up and do you think they would stay with the column ? . They would have fled leaving the vulnerable , those
in the wagons and on foot to the mercy of the zulu . They would have been lucky to have put a mile or two on the zulus , who
would have caught them very very very Quickly . Slaughtering them in even quicker time than it took to catch them !! Rolling Eyes
If I'm not mistaken its all uphill for a considerable distance from the Drift to Safety . I'm sure Springbok or Ken can correct me
If I'm wrong . Hope this makes the situation a little clearer .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:16 pm

RD is considered one of the greatest backs to the wall victories in the history of the British army. Today it still stands as a monument to the resolve of the British soldier.
The morale boosting effect went a little way to soothing the hammer blow if iSandlwana, for the the army and the British public of Vicrtorian Britain.
If the garrison of RD had fled, they would more than likely have been cut to ribbons and become another tragic footnote of that disastrous day. Is there really anyone out there who thinks it was mistake to stay and defend RD?
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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:29 pm

Hi Tasker .
24th / Impi I'm certain arent implying it was a mistake to stay and fight , they are merely saying in their words they think
the defenders could have withdrawn safely and escaped . But , that is the good thing about forums we can all have our say . I
myself think it an impossibility if the zulu's had spear washing on their minds , and lets face it as I said earlier , that is the only
reason they went to the Drift . Not Looting or Souvenir collecting but Killing .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:25 pm

Gent’s the only reason they survived, was because they listened to an old soldier of the line (Dalton) who being a professional soldier saw the situation for what it was. If wasn’t for Dalton they would have abandoned Rorke’s Drift (I’m not getting into a debate as to whether or not they would have gotten away) They stayed defended and live to tell the tale the next day. Every soldier at Rorke’s Drift played an important part of the defence. There were always going to be casualties the odds in numbers were stacked against them. I see there are some unfounded comments against the Good Lord Chelmsford (Only to be expected) but if we take into consideration that those in command at Rorkes Drift did follow orders and did defend the Drift and did comply with the Good Lord Chelmsford Standing orders (To Fortify) then I dare say The Good Lord Chelmsford played an important roll in their survival.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:09 pm

CTSG. I wouldn’t go as far as saying
Quote :
The Good Lord Chelmsford played an important roll in their survival.
He didn’t exactly do much to help when it was reported that the sky was red with fire at the Drift. And has for saying they complyed with the Good Lord Chelmsford Standing orders. Chelmsford himself didn’t follow his own standing orders at Isandlwana. He probably would have the whole lot court marshalled if they had left, for abandoning their posts in the face of the enermy.
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:41 pm

Must agree with 24th on that one CTSG.
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90th

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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:45 pm

Hi Ctsg.
Sorry mate , if the good Lord told them to fortify , tell me why it wasnt done in the days earlier when they had 100's of men
laying around the camp doing nothing !! . The Fortifying only took place when it was apparent that Isandlwana had fallen and
fleeing wasnt an option ! . Idea .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:00 am

Actually guys for once CTSG has got it right (ish). The orders when Chelmsford laft RD were to fortify. There were men on the way to do just that, Rainsforth plus a detachment of Engineers.
I do agree as well that the actual fortification was down to Dalton, Chard gives him that credit, and as I said on an earlier post Dalton had experience of doing the exact same thing in the Eastern Cape a year before.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:30 am

...and in addition, neither Chard nor Bromhead were renowned soldiers before RD, were they?
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:30 pm

None of those that defended R.D were renowned soldiers before the Battle. 132 Years on they are all renowned. And with forums like this they will be forever.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:40 pm

Just out of curiosity what do other members think of the comments made by Sir Garnet Wolseley?

"I am sorry that both of these officers were not killed with their men at Isandlwana instead of where they were. I don't like the idea of officers escaping on horseback when their men on foot are killed. Heroes have been made of men like Melvill and Coghill, who, taking advantage of their having horses, bolted from the scene of the action to save their lives, it is monstrous making heroes of those who saved or attempted to save their lives by bolting or of those who, shut up in buildings at Rorke's Drift, could not bolt, and fought like rats for their lives which they could not otherwise save"
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:57 pm

Actions speak louder than words. So easy to make negitive comments when you didn't take part. ( And when you wanted a VC so badly )
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:42 am

Put it into context.
He, Wolsley, was hailed as Britains General. He was sent out to replace the Bufoons who had caused the mess, the big hero in the white hat riding to save the day.
He arrives, gets on a ship, travels up the coast but cant get of, doubles back and then, firing of orders left right and centre tries to grab the glory.
Unfortunatly Chelmsford did the job he was appointed for.
So one really p****d of soldier makes all sorts of comments designed to denigate everything that had happened before he arrived.
Sort of understandable in a Victorian way.
For the record I think his comments stunk, along with most of what he did to the Zulu nation. History has judged him......along with the other bufoons.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:17 pm

Personally, my opinion is that Wolseley's comments about RD are quite ridiculous. One could apply that screwed up logic to any force of soldiers defending their post, from the past, present or future.

Coghill and Melville bolting from iSandlwana? Debatable.
There is a school of thought that suggests that they might have fled the battlefield, under the guise of saving the colours isn't there? (Politically of course, and under the circumstances of that day, it was obviously better to decorate than castigate). For the sake of morale and keeping the British end up, the more VCs the better).
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:55 pm

Spalding returned to R.D but after hearing the gun fire ect, he decided to return to Helpmakaar. Doe’s anyone know how close to R.D Spalding actually got before deciding to leave.
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:25 pm

You could say, that spalding abandoned Rorke's Drift twice.
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90th

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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:35 am

Hi MrGreaves.
This was well covered somewhere on the Forum , but from memory he was close enough to see zulus in the distance and was
told on several occasions by refugees from Isandlwana that the post ( R.D. ) had fallen. So he couldnt have done anything else
but turn around and go back . Would have been a little foolish to continue on and get done in , as he would have been caught in the open and wouldnt have lasted very long one would expect . Idea

cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:43 am

Hi Mr G
Spalding got to the bottom of the pass with Rainforths troops, thats still out of sight of RD. He stopped various people fleeing and they all reported RD as being lost. He was then opposed by a Zulu force that forced him to retrace his steps and head back to Helpmakaar.
Cant really say he fled the scene twice. First time he left there was no suggestion of any trouble, second time he had an impi stopping him and intelligence that said it was a waste of time to try.

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:25 am

Hook probably has the best description.
"There was a general feeling that the only safe thing was to retire and try to join the troops at Helpmakaar. The horsemen had said the zulus would be up in two or three minutes.............................................orders were given to strike the camp and make ready to go, and we actually loaded two wagons. Then Mr Dalton came up and said that if we left the drift every man was certain to be killed."

Dalton Chard and Bromhead then conferred and decided to stay and fight.

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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:03 pm

Quote :
He stopped various people fleeing and they all reported RD as being lost
I recall reading that some survivors of the Rocket Battery (Isandlwana) ran into Spadling, who made them go back to R.D to see what was taking place..

The good Lord Chelmsford is criticised for leaving his Men. Criticised for not returning to help those at Isandlwana. Criticised for spending the night at Isandlwana while the battle raged at Rorkes Drift. (Not much said about Spalding)
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:09 pm

Quote :
The horsemen had said the zulus would be up in two or three minutes.............................................orders were given to strike the camp and make ready to go, and we actually loaded two wagons.

If they could have done that in the time specified by Hook, they could have well made into safety.
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tasker224

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:27 pm

...and the next part of Hook's quotation,

"Then Mr Dalton came up and said that if we left the drift every man was certain to be killed."

I am going with Mr Dalton!

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90th

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PostSubject: they could have abandoned R.Drift ?.   Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:07 am

Hi all.
I'm with Dalton 100 % . Seriously ....... the zulus would be up in 2 or 3 MINUTES , were they ( The Defenders ) a company of Usain Bolt's !!!.
Even he couldnt outrun the zulu army all the way to Helpmekaar .
cheers 90th. Shocked
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue May 22, 2012 3:48 pm

I realy don't see how they could have made it to safety 24th, the Zulus wanted to kill the soldiers, they could also travel
a lot faster then them, they would have given chase, especialy concidering the british would have waggons with sick and wounded in that would have slowed them down considerebly. The Natives bolted at the first sign of trouble any way.



Cheers
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue May 22, 2012 7:54 pm

Witt and the others that left, just before the Battle didn't have any problems getting to Saftey. And the remainder would have run in to Rainforths company. It's hard to say. The fact they knew the Zulus were on thier way, might have motivated them to move a bit faster.
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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue May 22, 2012 8:13 pm

Hi
Most probably the defenders would have got away from the drift without the Zulus following them up. The warriors were more interested in ransacking the place rather than the intent on killing anyone.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue May 22, 2012 8:14 pm

They had sick and wounded with them that would have to have been put in waggons.

Waggons against Zulus, absolutly no chance they would have made it to Helpmeeker.

The Zulus would have seen the British retiring and chased after them, they went to " A fight at Jims "




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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: They could have abandon Rorkes Drift.    Tue May 22, 2012 8:32 pm

What time did the first warning arrive that the Zulu had taken the camp and they was on thier way to RD.
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