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Captain David Moriarity, 80th, KIA Ntombe
This photograph taken when he was in the 7th Regiment prior to his transfer to the 80th. [Mac & Shad] (Isandula Collection)
The Battle of Isandlwana: One of The Worst Defeats of The British Empire - Military History

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 One in Ten had a Rifle.

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Posts : 1606
Join date : 2009-09-21

PostSubject: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:20 am

I was Just flicking through the pages of "Narrative of the Field Operations connected with the Zulu War of 1879"
On pages 23-24 there is reference to the Battle of "Inyezane" and in the area of Majia's Hill. The NNC were send up this hill to dislodge some Zulu's that had been seen. As they were getting near top a large body of Zulu's appeared on the hill some 400 yards on the left flank opening fire on the NNC troops who could not make an effective reply, as one in ten of the company,beside the european non-commissioned officers, carried rifles; the NNC to avoid being cut off made a hasty retreat.

Now I'm probably in- correct here, but I'm sure somewhere on the forum it was established that all members of the NNC were armed with rifles. It this is not the case, is it really fair to call members of the Native Troops cowards not just relating to this Battle but in all the Battles they took part in along side the British. Is it fair to expect them to stand their ground alongside soldiers who had better means to protect themselves and who could kill the enemy from a distance.
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Mr Greaves


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PostSubject: Re: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:10 am

I would have thought, the NNC and other native units would have been far happier using the weapons they were accustomed too which would have been the same as the Zulu’s they were fighting. They probably fled because of the overwhelming number just as the British and other colonial units had.

Mr G.
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PostSubject: One in ten had a rifle   Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:28 pm

Hi Dave.
I'm assuming your thread is titled '' One in ten had a rifle '' . I can tell you that the NNC ( Natal Native Contingent ) did indeed have only one rifle between 10 and if I remember correctly the native who had the rifle was only given 5 rounds !!. Which no doubt was
squeezed off as quickly as possible !!. We have never established that all the members of the NNC were issued a rifle . We have indeed established what you have written , ie ; One rifle per 10 NNC . This is mentioned in many books on the AZW. Hope this helps.
cheers 90th. Idea
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PostSubject: Re: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:08 pm

There was a brief disussion here.

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Durnford’s Natal Native Horse had the Westley Richards carbine rifle,
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Neil Aspinshaw


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PostSubject: Re: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:31 pm

Actually a mix, of Terry carbines, .50" Westley Richards Monkey tails,.450" but predominant Snider in .577". Bullet head evidence from the battlefields does back up this mix.
It is often stated that Durnford armed his men with Swinburns chambering conventional Mk3 Martini Ammo, unlikely, as it was the S-H was cost prohibitive at the time. What snippet from Isandwana that do survive is that Durnford was clearing the jammed cartridges with a flick of his good hand, it can only be a bash of the front of an open Snider block to clear the breech.

Believe me, a jammed Martini takes more than a "flick".
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PostSubject: Re: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:20 pm

Thanks Neil. Was all the mounted native units armed with rifles. I guess an assegai and shield on horse back would have been as much good as an ash tray on a motorbike.
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Mr Greaves


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PostSubject: Re: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:57 pm

I also expect there would have been some uncertainty with regards that if they had been trained how to use the rifles and had all be issued with them, would they have stayed with the British or moved back over to the Zulu side. Too much information could have been dangerous. Just a thought.
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PostSubject: Re: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:42 pm

I do believe there were accounts of the NNC at Isandlwana removing their red bandannas in the hope of being mistaken for Zulu’s by the Zulu’s if you know what I mean.
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Drummer Boy 14


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PostSubject: Re: One in Ten had a Rifle.   Mon Sep 05, 2011 8:23 pm

The Imperial Mounted Infantry – a scratch cavalry force raised from volunteers from infantry battalions who could ride – were not ‘armed with unwieldy Martini-Henry rifles’ (p. 68) but with Swinburne-Henry carbines.

From Iann Knights reveiw of The heroism and tragady of the Zulu war 1879
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