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 Popes company - Bersaglieri company.

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littlehand

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PostSubject: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:11 pm

After Col: Durnford was forced back to the donga, Col: Pulleine positions Pope's company behind them. Therefore cutting them off from the other companies, Pope's company was doomed..

This is reflected in a similar placing of a bersaglieri company in front of the main coloum by General Baratieri at Adowa in 1896; they all died as well. But again it shows the inexperience of military commanders.



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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:29 pm

An overview.

Battle of Adowa 1896
As the twentieth century approached, Africa had been carved up between the various European powers, with the exception of the tiny republic of Liberia on the west coast of the continent and the ancient, newly landlocked kingdom of Ethiopia in the strategic Horn of Africa. Italy, a relative newcomer to the colonial scramble for Africa, having been left with only two impoverished territories on the Horn, Eritrea and Somalia, sought to increase its influence by conquering Ethiopia and creating a land bridge between its two territories. Italy and Ethiopia faced off in the First Italo-Abyssinian War, with the two armies at a standoff in Tigray.

By late February 1896, supplies on both sides were running low. General Oreste Baratieri, commander of the Italian forces, knew the Ethiopian forces had been living off the land, and once the supplies of the local peasants were exhausted, Menlik's army would begin to melt away. However, his government insisted that General Baratieri act, and he met with his brigadiers Matteo Albertone, Giuseppe Arimondi, Vittorio Dabormida, and Giuseppe Ellena on the evening of 29 February. His subordinates argued forcefully for an attack, with Dabormida exclaiming, "Italy would prefer the loss of two or three thousand men to a dishonorable retreat." Baratieri delayed making a decision for a few more hours, claiming that he needed to wait for some last-minute intelligence, but in the end announced that the attack would start the next morning at 9:00. Accordingly, his troops began their march to their starting positions shortly after midnight.
The Italian army comprised four brigades totalling 17,700 troops, with fifty-six artillery pieces. One brigade under General Albertone was made up of Italian officered askari (native infantry) recruited from Eritrea. The remaining three brigades were Italian units under Brigadiers Dabormida, Ellena and Arimondi. While these included elite Bersaglieri, Alpini and Cacciatori units, a large proportion of the troops were inexperienced conscripts recently drafted from metropoliton regiments in Italy into newly formed battalions for service in Africa (G.E.H. Berkley "The Campaign of Adowa and the rise of Menelik" Constable - London 1901).

As Chris Proutky describes:
They [the Italians] had inadequate maps, old model guns, poor communication equipment and inferior footgear for the rocky ground. (The newer Remingtons were not issued because Baratieri, under constraints to be economical, wanted to use up the old cartridges.) Morale was terrible as the veterans were homesick and the newcomers too inexperienced to have any espirit de corps. There was a shortage of mules and saddles.Estimates for the Ethiopian forces under Menelik range from a low of 80,000 to a high of 150,000, outnumbering the Italians by an estimated five or six times. The forces were divided among Emperor Menelik, Empress Taytu, Ras Wale, Ras Mengesha Atikem, Ras Mengesha Yohannes and Ras Alula Engida, Ras Mikael of Wollo, Ras Makonnen, Fitawrari Gebeyyehu, and Negus Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam. In addition, the armies were followed by a similar number of traditional peasant followers who supplied the army, as had been done for centuries. Most of the army was composed of riflemen, a significant percentage of which were in Menelik's reserve; however, the army was also composed of a significant number of cavalry and firearm-less lancers. On the night of Feb 29 and the early morning of March 1, three Italian brigades advanced separately towards Adwa over narrow mountain tracks, while a fourth remained camped. David Levering Lewis states that the Italian battle plan
called for three columns to march in parallel formation to the crests of three mountains -- Dabormida commanding on the right, Albertone on the left, and Arimondi in the center -- with a reserve under Ellena following behind Arimondi. The supporting crossfire each column could give the others made the ... soldiers as deadly as razored shears. Albertone's brigade was to set the pace for the others. He was to position himself on the summit known as Kidane Meret, which would give the Italians the high ground from which to meet the Ethiopians. However, the three leading Italian brigades had become separated during their overnight march and at dawn were spread across several miles of very difficult terrain. Their sketchy maps caused General Albertone to mistake one mountain for Kidane Meret, and when a scout pointed out his mistake, Albertone advanced directly into Ras Alula's position.
Unknown to General Baratieri, Emperor Menelik knew his troops had exhausted the ability of the local peasants to support them and had planned to break camp the next day (2 March). The Emperor had risen early to begin prayers for divine guidance when spies from Ras Alula, his chief military advisor, brought him news that the Italians were advancing. The Emperor summoned the separate armies of his nobles and with the Empress Taytu beside him, ordered his forces forward. Negus Tekle Haymanot commanded the right wing, Ras Alula the left, and Rasses Makonnen and Mengesha the center, with Ras Mikael at the head of the crack Oromo cavalry; the Emperor and his consort remained with the reserve. The Ethiopian forces positioned themselves on the hills overlooking the Adowa valley, in perfect position to receive the Italians, who were exposed and vulnerable to crossfire.
Albertone's askari brigade was the first to encounter the onrush of Ethiopians at 6:00, near Kidane Meret, where the Ethiopians had managed to set up their mountain artillery. His heavily outnumbered askaris held their position for two hours until Albertone's capture, and under Ethiopian pressure the survivors sought refuge with Arimondi's brigade. Arimondi's brigade beat back the Ethiopians who repeatedly charged the Italian position for three hours with gradually fading strength until Menelik released his reserve of 25,000 Shewans and swamped the Italian defenders. Two companies of Bersaglieri who arrived at the same moment could not help and were annihilated.
General Dabormida's Italian brigade had moved to support Albertone but was unable to reach him in time. Cut off from the remainder of the Italian army, Dabormida began a fighting retreat toward Italian positions. However, Dabormida inadvertently marched his command into a narrow valley where the Oromo cavalry slaughtered his brigade shouting Ebalgume! Ebalgume! ("Reap! Reap!"). General Dabormida's remains were never found, although his brother learned from an old woman living in the area that she had given water to a mortally wounded Italian officer, "a chief, a great man with spectacles and a watch, and golden stars".
The remaining two brigades under Baratieri himself were outflanked and destroyed piecemeal on the slopes of Mount Belah. By noon, the survivors of the Italian army were in full retreat and the battle was over.

The Italians suffered about 7,000 killed and 1,500 wounded in the battle and subsequent retreat back into Eritrea, with 3,000 taken prisoner, while Ethiopian losses have been estimated around 4,000-5,000, but with 8,000 wounded.In their flight to Eritrea, the Italians left behind all of their artillery and 11,000 rifles, as well as most of their transport. As Paul B. Henze notes, "Baratieri's army had been completely annihilated while Menelik's was intact as a fighting force and gained thousands of rifles and a great deal of equipment from the fleeing Italians."The 3,000 Italian prisoners, who included General Albertone, appear to have been treated as well as could be expected under difficult circumstances, though about 200 died of their wounds in captivity. However 800 captured askaris, regarded as traitors by the Ethiopians, had their right hands and left feet amputated. There does not appear to be any foundation for reports that some Italians were castrated and these may reflect confusion with the atrocious treatment of the askari prisoners.

Baratieri was relieved of his command and later charged with preparing an "inexcusable" plan of attack and for abandoning his troops in the field. He was acquitted on these charges but was described by the court martial judges as being "entirely unfitted" for his command. The Crispi government fell, and was replaced by a new administration with a policy of avoiding further colonial adventures.
One question much asked -- both then and long afterwards -- is why did Emperor Menelik fail to follow up his victory and drive the routed Italians out of their colony? Many answers have been offered. At the moment, Menelik claimed a shortage of cavalry horses to harry the fleeing soldiers with. Chris Proutky observes that "a failure of nerve on the part of Menilek has been alleged by both Italian and Ethiopian sources."Lewis believes that it "was his farsighted certainty that total annihilation of Baratieri and a sweep into Eritrea would force the Italian people to turn a bungled colonial war into a national crusade" that stayed his hand.
As a direct result of the battle, Italy signed the Treaty of Addis Ababa, recognizing Ethiopia as an independent state. The humiliation remained with Italy for almost forty years, until 1936 when, following the Second Italo-Abyssinian War Italy commenced a short-lived occupation (1936-41) of Ethiopia.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:42 pm

littlehand wrote:
After Col: Durnford was forced back to the donga, Col: Pulleine positions Pope's company behind them. Therefore cutting them off from the other companies, Pope's company was doomed..




It was Durnford's and Bradstreet's mounted men who were in danger of being cut off as there was a large gap in the line on their left between them and the NNC company, that the uMbonambe were exploiting to break through to the front of the camp and they were also being outflanked to their right by the left horn, essentially being surrounded. The 2/24th were moved around to fill this gap to Durnford's left.
Pulleine's exploits in the battle are largely unrecorded - is there any evidence that it was he who ordered Pope's coy to move?
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:52 pm

Don't think it was Durnford, as he was Pre-occupied keeping off the Zulus his men had attacked.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:03 pm

No, I would reckon Pope spotted the weakness in the line and took the initiative and moved his coy.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:55 pm

Anstey, had a better idea.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:27 pm

No one survived to recount who gave the order for Pope's coy to up and move to the right, but the move was witnessed by an African intelligence officer survivor.
Could have been Pulleine, more likely it was Pope.


Last edited by tasker224 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:32 pm

In old Victoria hine-sight. Who ever ordered the move, made the wrong move.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:35 pm

littlehand wrote:
In old Victoria hine-sight. Who ever ordered the move, made the wrong move.

Careful LH, you could start a whole new debate:

"Was the repositioning of Pope's company the reason for the British column's defeat at iSandlwana?"
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:56 pm

Now I always thought? One these companies was pope... The other being Younghusband.. Could be wrong.

"Colonel Pulleine
Quote :
sent two companies to support Colonel Durnford
, to the hill on the left, and formed up the remaining companies in line, the guns in action on the extreme left flank of the camp, facing the hill on our left."

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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:58 pm

Littlehand

Could you please answer a questions.

Have you been to Isandlwana and been in the positions that Pope was before his advance?

Regards


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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:03 pm

No I look at the information ( Eye Witness Accounts) from those that were there on the day. Regardless of what Pope's position was, he was no doub't under orders. But I'm sure the terrain as changed some what after 133 years with all the heavy rains we so often here about.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:14 pm

littlehand wrote:
Now I always thought? One these companies was pope... The other being Younghusband.. Could be wrong.

"Colonel Pulleine
Quote :
sent two companies to support Colonel Durnford
, to the hill on the left, and formed up the remaining companies in line, the guns in action on the extreme left flank of the camp, facing the hill on our left."


Younghusband's coy was on the extreme left. Then to their right, some native cavalry and then Mostyn and Cavaye's coy.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:23 pm

Tasker, What was Pulliene's reaction when he saw Durford fighting his withdraw to the donga.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:38 pm

OK,
I ask for several reasons, merely to question your logic, without first hand knowledge of the field, and the Locals Springie, DDB and the regulars will back this up.


Popes position, on the right hand end of the rocky shelf of boulderous strata that skirts the plain of Isandlwana to the dongas on the edges spur is misleading from the flat pages of a map . In the first instance he had a grandstand view of what a predicament Durnford was in, both to Durnfords' his left and right and, apart from the HQ tent, the view elsewhere on the field is 100% obscured, apart from the knuckle, half a mile to the left which does overlook Durnfords location.

So, if he undertook took his deployment under his own initiative, or under orders from the only other position that did have a grandstand view (the HQ tent), his movement in the scheme of things was correct as the right of the line was about to be torn right open and everyone who could see it knew it.

The topography from his position has changed jot since, nothing, apart from the loss of maybe 300mm of the top strata, and the growth of Acacia trees in the Donga that Durnford was defending which have sprung up to the rear of the nodern medical centre, Pope could see absolutey Nothing beyond 200-250 yards to his left, thus the whole left of the line was out of his sight as it was elevated above him.

So I do not use conjecture, I've spent Hours...in that position, with Mike Snook, Mike McCabe, Mel Hunt and many of the authorities well beyond my own studies of the battle , and I can tell you, to a man, sitting on that position, Popes movements, in the scheme of things was absolutely correct.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:48 pm

But the question is. Who placed him there.

You say
Quote :
" Popes movements, in the scheme of things was absolutely correct"
in my eyes the fact they were all killed, stands to reason in wasn't .

And again Pope's position was only brought about because Col: Durford took it upon himself to leave the camp.

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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:14 pm

Wasnt Pope's company over half a mile (800m) away, by itself.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:56 pm

Ulundi. These from Jamie's website... You could be right he does seemed to have been along way off.

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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:04 am

Thanks John. Do we know where he trying to fall back to was it the camp, or in the opposite direction, which I presume would had led to RD. Or am I completely off the rails.
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PostSubject: Similarities between the zulu war of 1879 , Pope's Co - Bersaglieri Co.   Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:56 am

Littlehand .
Not to sure where your logic comes from ? . Your comment '' In My Eyes the fact they were all killed , stands to reason in wasnt '' , I assume your Familiar with King Leonidis and his 300 spartans ? . Following your logic he did the '' wrong thing ' because he elected to hold the pass at Thermopylae and therefore they were all killed as well !.
Your Comment '' Pope's position was only brought about because Col Durnford took it upon himself to leave the camp '' .
This was brought about by the ambiguous and certainly the lack of orders awaiting Durnford when he arrived at the camp .
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:16 am

If Durnford had stayed at the camp and ordered his column to deploy in an orderly fashion and in good time to hold the right hand flank, the left horn of the Zulus would have had to work harderand move further to turn the right hand side.
However, the right horn would still have swept around and up the RD road and entered the camp from the rear of the line.
Durnford's force may have delayed the inevitable by an extra hour perhaps, if they had stayed and lined up with the rest of the camp force, but that is all - the camp didn't have a chance that day, the Zulus were only ever going to win.
Convinces me more that the only tactic Pulleine could have employed with any hope of success at all, would have been for the entire camp force to form a cavalry square, perhaps at the front of the camp. But this is with hindsight of course.
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PostSubject: Popes Company   Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:42 pm

If any of you have a copy of Ian Knights 'Zulu Rising', you will see that Ian implies that it was an order from Pulleine that moved Pope to his new position. Ian then goes on to say that "the move has often been interpreted as an attempt by Pulleine to honour his commitment to support Durnford in his difficulties' - but perhaps it was not. Even in their new position, Popes men were a long way beyond the effective rifle range necessary to cover Durnford's flank". He then says "So long as he remained so far beyond Pulleine's field of fire, Durnford was on his own; in effect, the separation of their forces meant that the British had no choice but to fight two distinctly separate battles at iSandlwana".
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:29 pm

As you say Martin, Ian implies Pulleine gave the order, but obviously we will never know. Might have been Pope, might well have been Pulleine - that is if he wasn't sitting in his tent. There is a distinct lack of mentions of Pulleine or his presence on the field during the battle in the survivors' reports, so there is doubt it was Pulleine in my mind.
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PostSubject: Popes Company   Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:22 pm

Yes, you are right tasker, Pope may well have taken it upon himself to move his position, and Ian does say that even after Pope moved, he was still out of effective range to cover Durnford's flank. It also appears that when Durnford was forced to abandon the donga (low on ammo, being outflanked on both sides), he did not know about this move by Pope, which resulted in Pope being in an isolated position. Pulleine seems to have been very elusive during the battle, I think it was mentioned by a survivor that even Durnford was looking for him after his withdrawal from the donga, but does not appear to have found him. Some of Popes company did eventually rally to Durnford, and along with the rest of the men that rallied to Durnford, they held back the Zulu left horn long enough for many to escape, so all credit to them for that.

Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:48 pm

Martin. Do you really think, they rallied together just to keep the door open for those to escape. Or were they just fighting for their lives safety in numbers, not realising their actions were allowing others to escape.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:05 pm

They were fighting for their lives obviously, but let us hope they realised they were also giving some of the others a fighting chance by giving the Zulus something else to think about. Salute
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PostSubject: Popes Company   Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:08 pm

You may have a point about them fighting for their lives LH, however, some of them could have made an attempt at getting away themselves, but yet chose to stay and fight it out alongside Durnford, and by them doing this, they did indeed keep the gate open long enough for others to escape, so again I say, all credit to them.

Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:11 pm

But you said earlier, so how could they escape.
Quote :
Durnford was forced to abandon the donga (low on ammo, being outflanked on both sides

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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:34 pm

Is it possible that Pope was trying to get away. Going by Jamie's photo he seems to be along way off from the others.
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PostSubject: Popes Company   Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:57 pm

LH, don't forget that troopers Barker and Hawkins, and also a couple of others, had gone back to the camp for ammo, but Durnford was forced to retire from the donga before they got back. So Barker and the others must have dished out the ammo to the men after they had withdrawn from the donga.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:09 pm

They were fighting for their own lives and those of their colleagues.This would have been instinctive to them, and is obvious to us looking back.

Always play until the ref blows the whistle LH; you never know what might happen; the longer you stay alive, the more chance you have of survival. Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:56 pm

I think Tasker sums it up well - they were fighting because thats what they were trained/ordered to do. This was a seasoned company who would have been well trained and had a strong desire to support their mates.

In addition they had no real access to horses - so on top of being low on ammo and cut off they were probably soldier enough to realise that there only chance to survive was by sticking together and fighting until some form of support arrived.
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PostSubject: Re: Popes company - Bersaglieri company.    Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:11 pm

I will go with that.
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