Zulu Dawn: General Lord Chelmsford: For a savage, as for a child, chastisement is sometimes a kindness. Sir Henry Bartle Frere: Let us hope, General, that this will be the final solution to the Zulu problem
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Major-General Sir William Penn Symons
( Isandula Collection)
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 With the hot weather in mind

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Posts : 7058
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Location : Down South.

PostSubject: With the hot weather in mind   Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:12 am

What kind of temperatures could the British soldier expect while serving during the Zulu War. I was on the beach today just wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and the heat was unbearable. This got me thinking about those troops having to wear those heavy woollen uniforms. I have read many complaints from soldiers regarding cold & wet weather, but not on the hot climate. Any accounts would be appreciated.
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PostSubject: With The Hot Weather In Mind   Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:08 pm

Hi Littlehand .

:lol!: :lol!: . Sorry mate but had to laugh '' The Heat Was Unbearable '' ! . I'm thinking it would only be 24 deg in the U.K !
Ive come home from work this afternoon and the missus is wearing 3 layers of clothing and has just turned on the heating and
its still 18 Deg or so outside !!!. On a serious note I can tell you that the 22nd January 1879 was a stifling hot day . Without
going to the books its well documented that the weather was somewhere around 30 - 33 Deg , with only a light Breeze
if any at all . Hamilton Browne mentions that the heat was unbearable when they were out of the camp on the 21st Jan . South
Africa along with Australia are very hot in January its the height of the Australian Summer , not sure if its the same in Sth Africa ?.
I'm sure Springbok , Ken or Brett can shed more light on that subject . The uniforms certainly were not the type you would want
to be wearing in S.Africa in January ! Suspect . Hope this helps .
Cheers 90th. Idea
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PostSubject: Re: With the hot weather in mind   Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:32 pm

I guess thats where the Zulu's had the upper hand. Loins cloth's and weapons.
Remember Hitch in Zulu, "Can I unbutton me tunic mnoe Corp" of course with the hot climate came diseases. I hate the hot weather, I wouldn't have lasted 5 mins out there back in those days. Idea
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Frank Allewell


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PostSubject: Re: With the hot weather in mind   Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:04 pm

90th is quite correct. Temps in the middle 30's are common at that time of year, with a drop by 10 to 15 degrees at night.
Dont forget though that these troops had fought their way through the eastern cape, during a summer. They were battle hardened and fully acclimatised. If you look at the various photos taken at the time its very rare you see soldiers with there tunics of or bare chested.

:lol!: Had a vision of Littlehand wondering around the beach, trousers rolled up and a knotted hankie on his head. :lol!:

As 90th said temps get pretty high in the South, we had a three week period when the temps were 38 -40 everyday. Yesterday it was down to 22. We had a fire going.

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PostSubject: Re: With the hot weather in mind   Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:23 pm

:lol!: braaivleis allround then springbok9 :lol!:

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PostSubject: Re: With the hot weather in mind   Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:51 am

would the soldiers be wearing their red coats all day? i have always envisaged them going about their bisuniess in camp in shirt sleeves. presumably, coats would have been worn when the column was on the move. correct me if i am wrong.

serving abroad, invariably in hotter climates than the unbearably hot beaches of Blighty, has never been a scout camp. as such, rules and regulations such as shaving, hair cuts and immaculate uniform are usually relaxed when forces are on active service. they certainly are today quite rightly so; would this not have been trus 132 years ago?
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PostSubject: Re: With the hot weather in mind   Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:11 am

What about on the March. It must have been hell. I think the thier uniforms were made of wool.
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Neil Aspinshaw


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PostSubject: Re: With the hot weather in mind   Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:45 pm

It is a mis-noma that the soldiers had to endure a thick wool serge tunic on campaign, The tropical foreign service (5 button) tunic was not made in the heavy pattern red serge as the home service 7 button. In reality it was a quite open weave (not dissimilar to tweed) fabric, designed for colonial use and would have afforded a the soldier a more breathable kit, not dissimilar to service Khaki cloth of WW1/2.

For nightime and evening attire, especially when the temperature drops each soldier had his greatcoat, this was a thick heavy woollen overcoat, Designed to be worn over other garments, the belt, bayonet frog and pouches were worn over the greatcoat, and has a leather tang behind the buckle to accept the male portion of the buckle to give an extra 1" of adjustmanet without resorting to altering the settings of the belt,this to allow for the greater girt of the greatcoat.

An example of an original tunic may be found at the Whittington Barracks museum of the Staffordshire regiment at Lichfield, it was worn at the battle of Ulundi, by a sergeant (who's name I cannot recall) of the 80th foot and includes blood staining from the puncture wound he encountered by a throwing spear penetrating through his pouch.

Study Whitlock Lloyds images of the men in the feild especially in their greatcoats.
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PostSubject: Re: With the hot weather in mind   Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:20 am

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