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 Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting

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barry

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PostSubject: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:28 am

Hi All,

I thought this account, first hand, would bring new insight into the retrieving of the missing Colours of the 1/24th Regiment and the recent Fugitives Drift discussions on this forum.

Verbatum transcription from the records of the NMP ;

Ten days after the Isandlwana battle and the day before my party was to be relieved at Rorke's Drift, we were turned out long before daylight to make a dash for Isandlwana, to seek the missing colours of the 24th Regiment. We were highly elated at the prospect of being the first party to return to the battlefield at Isandlwana , but it was not until we had left the Rorke's Drift laager, that Major Black of the 24th Regiment , who commanded the expedition, told us where we were going.

We made a quick passage and saw no Zulu's until we reached the scene of the massacre, when a few Zulus appeared on the hills around us and watched our movements.

The dead bodies of our men lying on the battlefield were not nearly so decomposed as we expected to find them, owing tho the fact, I presume, that the Zulu's had made the normal incision ( disembowling) in the stomach.
The skins on the faces had dried like parchment and the features of each man remained almost lifelike.
We were desirous of seeing our dead comrades but were called away to search among the dead bodies of the 1/24th infantry near where the guard tent had been standing, and where we expected the colours would be found.

Our efforts were not rewarded with success , but we found a good sum of money lying about , for it appears the Zulu's had no value for coin.

As the Zulu's increased in numbers on the surrounding hills , Major Black was compelled to hurry the search and retire , but we dare not return to Rorke's Drift by the same route , lest an ambush had been prepared by the Zulus for us.

Tpr Cyril Hamilton and I were left on the Isandlwana Neck ,with orders to remain there until Major Black of the 24th, fired a "retire" signal gun shot from the point of a hill in the direction of Fugitive's Drift. We watched the party under Major Black disappear around the corner and on hearing no gun shot, the sound of which could not have reached us in any event, once Black's party were around the hill, we disobeyed orders and cleared for all we were worth.

The Major told us afterwards that he dare not fire the signal shot because the Zulu's were too close to him and he was afraid that the enemy would take the shot as a sign of attack.

We followed the route taken by the fugitives on 22nd January last, and having ridden over the country with no enemy after me , I can only marvel that anyone succeeded in reaching the Buffalo River on that fateful day. We were perhaps in nearly as great a hurry to get away as the fugitives were , but so rugged and stony was the country which we travesed that a fleet-footed Zulu would have had no difficulty in keeping up with us.

We passed numerous dead bodies on the route and at one place I found a dead European NCO of the Natal Native Contingent, with an assegai piercing his chest and a dead Zulu lying by his side. That assegai was displayed for some years in the NMP Head Quarters officers canteen in Pietermaritzburg , but was later stolen from there .

The descent to the Buffalo River from the ridge along which we had ridden , was appalling and I quite expected that we would lose some of our horses on the path down . The river at this point was unfordable , even if it had not been in flood , so were were compelled to swim across it, exactly as the fugitives had.

Once across the river and in Natal we had no fear of pursuit and were able to examine the banks of the river where we were fortunate enough to find one of the missing colours . Traces of the retreat on the 22nd were to be seen everywhere, dead horses, clothing, a few dead men, assegais's , shields etc and the bodies of Melville and Coghill were found a little above the river, on the side of a hill.

A messenger having being sent on ahead to announce our success , we made our way back to Rorke's Drift, and were much astonished at the excitement there. The troops in the laager turned out and presented arms , old soldiers came up with tears in their eyes and kissed the colour , so that one was able to understand how soldiers fought for the standard, or colours, in the Napoleonic wars.


Transcription ends


Last edited by barry on Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:33 am; edited 4 times in total
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old historian2

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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:48 pm

Just about says it all. Idea

Quote :
old soldiers came up with tears in their eyes and kissed the colour , so that one was able to understand how soldiers fought for the standard, or colours, in the Napoleonic wars.
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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:09 am

Barry

As you know, I have long been an admirer of Tpr (later Chief Commissioner) Clarke as the NMP/NP's unofficial historian. This post, and your other recent diary excerpts, have greatly increased my respect for this man. Future Zulu War historians will be paying more attention to his writings.

Regards
Brett
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:27 am

The full account, now completed should be posted in the eye witness section.
Thanks Barry for sharing this with us a remarkable insight from someone who was there.
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barry

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PostSubject: Tpr Clarke's diary transcripts   Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:24 pm



Hi OH2, Brett Hendey and Impi,

I am pleased that you found the various transcripts interesting. I have one more of the daily transcripts to finish, ie the final part of 23/01/1879.
I will then give Tpr Clarke's account of the terrible conditions in the Rorkes Drift hospital, in which he was given up for dead.

regards,

barry
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:16 am

Barry
You mentioned that this was from 'NMP Records'. Can you supply a reference or accession number and date for the doc.? Thanks.
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90th

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PostSubject: Recovering the missing 24th Colours , NMP Records    Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:09 am

Julian
Not wanting to jump the gun , but I think you'll find what Barry posted comes directly from Trooper Clarke's Diary ? .
90th
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:27 pm

90th
That's what he normally writes but at the head of this post he wrote 'Verbatim transcription from the records of the NMP' - that's why I'm asking!
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PostSubject: Recovering the missing 24th Colours , NMP Records    Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:07 am

Julian
I see what you mean , I notice it's from 2011 , hopefully Barry sees your post , sooner than later .
90th You need to study mo
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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:14 am

90th
Hopefully!! It doesn't read like a diary extract. In fact I'm sure it's not. It reads more like later reminiscences.
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PostSubject: Recovering the missing 24th Colours , NMP Records    Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:19 am

Yes , Barry will sort it out one way or the other , I wish Barry could get the Clarke diaries published , they'd certainly make good reading . I think they'd be fairly popular as well , maybe he could get a print run of 500 or so , would be far easier to get them published in Sth Africa I'd imagine ? .
90th agree
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:10 pm

90th/xhosa
Are you aware that a version (edited but all the same quite detailed) of Clarke's reminiscences has for at least 43 years (to my knowledge) already been in the public domain?
Clarke, Trpr. W. J., N.M.P., ‘My Career in South Africa’, Campbell Collections, acc. no. 31184 MS CLA 1.092
I bought a complete photocopy of it from the then KCAL back in 1975.
Barry's occasional 'diary' extracts add greatly to this as might the piece from 'NMP records' above.

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PostSubject: Col W.J.Clarke   Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:16 pm

Hi  all,
Apologies for the late response to the members of this forum.
So, now to the diaries. The 9 volume set of Colonel Clarke's originalhand written diaries opens,in 1878, with the following stern prohibition, in his own copperplate handwriting ;

            these diaries shall not be published until 100 years after my death.

He died in May 1936!
In addition to detailing his daily involvement in many wars around the country, and beyond, in the 1000 page diaries they also detailed his normal police work. This included the mention of criminal activity in Natal in general.
The prohibition on publication was to protect the integrity of the families of some quite prominent people ( politicians etc) in colonial Natal who were found to be involved in criminal activities ( has anything changed? )
The Remininces are a summary of his life opposed to a day to day account which the diaries offer. These comprise some 115 foolscap pages only.
Colonel Clarke, in addition to being the OC, was the official regimental historian of the NMP so quite naturally had many letters, reports etc in his private papers. These are all in my possession.
He was also the founder of the NMP Police magazine called the Nongai. He was a major contributor to the writings published therein and one in particular  titled A History of the Natal Mounted Police was his and contents from his diaries
were used for the most part with additional contributions from NMP coi 's and reports from members. So, the  Recovering of the Colours which I submitted was extracted from the Nonqai article and will thus have no accession number.
The diaries were also used by Holt to write his book on The History of the NMP.
I have a note to help POT and YMob with information which they want, I ask them to bear with me  just a little longer whilst I deal with my move.

regards

barry


Last edited by barry on Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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90th

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PostSubject: Reovering the missing 24th Colours NMP Records Tpr Clarke    Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:45 am

JW
Thanks for the information re Clarke's reminiscences , and no , I wasn't aware of it being in the Public Domain . Julian , to how many pages does your copy run ?
Barry
Well , it will be a long wait ! , glad you were able to answer our questions , how have you been besides bloody busy by the sound of it ? . All the best for the refurbishment .
Gary
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Recovering the missing 24th Colours, NMP records, Tpr Clarke reporting   Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:03 am

90th
As Barry said 115 pages (the reminiscences).
Barry
I'm really grateful for your clear explanation of the various source materials for the Clarke quotations. It explains a lot of things.
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