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Brev. Lt-Col. R.H. Buller, VC, Staff: 2/60th KRRC-Zungwini,Hlobane, Khambula, Ulundi
Killed/wounded ratio? BullerBrev.[Mac and Shad] (Isandula Collection)
Anglo-Zulu war: Walking the battlefield of Kambula
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 Killed/wounded ratio?

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Mikran



Posts : 10
Join date : 2012-08-07
Location : Sweden

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PostSubject: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 11:20 am

A while ago I discussed the comparatively low casualy figures of the Zulus, and I also touched upon the killed/wounded ratio. Now I'm wondering if there is any evidence of how many Zulus were wounded in each battle, and throughout the war? When looking at casualty figures from other historical battles, as well as AZW British casualties that should be held as well-documented, it is strikingly clear how many were wounded compared to the number killed. For instance, at Kambula the British had almost twice as many wounded as killed (including the mortally wounded), at Ulundi the ratio was 1:5 and at Gingindhlovu 1:6. If we compare that with other battles of the era like Sedan (1870), there was a killed/wounded ratio of 1:3 for the Prussians and almost 1:5 for the French. At Gettysburg the ratio for the Union army was 1:5 and 1:3 for the Confederates (presumably more wounded Confederates died due to lack of proper field hospitals).

If we take these statistics into account, could it be that total Zulu casualties were bigger than previously thought? When the British counted dead Zulus on the battlefields, did they include those wounded who were dispatched on site? Were dead Zulus carried off the battlefield by their comrades during retreats? Could it be assumed that the Zulu killed/wounded casualty rate might have been somewhere in the area of at least 1:2 or 1:3?
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tasker224

tasker224

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Age : 52
Location : North London

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 5:44 pm

Mikran, the killed/wounded ratio from any skirmish, fight, battle etc depends on many, many, factors.
In the AZW, the only way to know for sure is if records were kept, but the Zulus did not keep records.
At the Somme in 1916 on the first day, the Germans inflicted a killed:wounded ratio of 1:2 on the British and Allied troops and they were going at slow moving targets in open ground with heavy artillery and machine guns from a relatively close range.
Therefore, I do not think it is safe to assume that the Zulus suffered anywhere near a similar ratio in the battles of the AZW. Salute
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 8:49 pm

Mikran, Heres some information from Col: Mike Snook. Zulu War Author / Historian.

"A number of points to ponder:

The Zulus were magnificent and athletic light infantrymen well versed in the use of ground, cover and 'skirmishing' style tactics - they were not the suicidal lemmings so ridiculously portrayed at the end of Zulu where the whole Zulu nation appears to get wiped out in about two and a half minutes.

RD was substantially a night battle - the only light after 7.30 pm was that which came from the burning hospital [thatch]. Difficult to shoot anything in those conditions. Couple this with dreadful muzzle flash from the MH rifle which ruins the firer's night vision with every shot (and I don't just mean one's own shots). After the first couple of hours the rifles were too hot and people's shoulders too bruised to take a proper aim with all due regard to the principles of marksmanship.

In front of the north wall there was a great deal of cover - not least a five foot high stone wall - which ran pretty much the length of the defences and served as a ready made dead ground FUP [military jargon - forming up point]. Additonally there was a good deal of dead ground at either end of the north wall - beneath the rocky ledge beyond the hospital, at one end, and same effect down beyond the cattle kraal at the other. Beyond the cattle kraal, outside the perimeter, there was a second, much larger, stone-walled stock pen - again perfect cover for many hundreds of men. Key, then, is the fact that the Zulus were not making the long exposed approaches that one sees in Zulu. They got in close, early, and then they stayed there - most of them would have spent the battle on their bellies, crawling about behind walls and ditches, squatting on their haunches, waiting the order for their particular 'company' to try a rush on the defences

Attacks were short lived and furious - they bubbled out of cover at short range. In between times there was a great deal of musket and rifle fire being poured into the post - not only from Shiyane - but from the close cover as well. Another myth is that most of the Brit casualties were shot from Shiyane - in fact the majority occurred from fire being poured in at close range. There was a lot of snap-shooting going on at fleetingly exposed targets. Such targets are extremely difficult to hit, if the firer is jinking about too.

The Zulus were kept out of RD, in the main, by the voulme of British fire. And the bayonet only when it came to it...

You can fire an awful lot of rounds without hitting anything under the conditions I have described."



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John

John

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Age : 56
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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 8:57 pm

Some good points there.. Perhaps we look to the film to much for answers... agree
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 9:00 pm

Agree John, we forget most of the fighting was done in darkness. I know the burning hospital provided some light, but in most cases you can't shoot what you can't see!!!
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impi

impi

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 9:39 pm

I think Mike makes a lot of sense!! Never thought of it that way. It would have been only natural, that the Zulu's spent most of thier time on their bellies, avoiding the shots. I'm still surprised that the rifles lasted as long at the ammo?
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Ulundi

Ulundi

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 10:48 pm

Quote :
The Zulus were kept out of RD, in the main, by the voulme of British fire. And the bayonet only when it came to it...

Quote :
I'm still surprised that the rifles lasted as long at the ammo
scratch

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impi

impi

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyWed May 15, 2013 11:07 pm

Ulundi. After prolonged use the weapon system would get fouled to the point that it was almost impossible to reload. This problem was caused by the thin rolled brass cartridge and the black powder propellant. However only one defender makes reference to this " Pte Henry Hook" That's why I said
Quote :
I'm still surprised that the rifles lasted as long at the ammo
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90th

90th

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PostSubject: Killed / Wounded ratio    Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyThu May 16, 2013 6:38 am

John I wouldnt look to the film to answer any questions ! :p;: , or Zulu Dawn for that matter , I'm sure some are guilty of doing so on both films . Shocked
90th
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Mikran



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Location : Sweden

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyThu May 16, 2013 10:10 am

Interesting discussion about Rorke's Drift, fighting darkness etc, but I can't really see what the last posts have to do with the topic?
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyThu May 16, 2013 11:48 am

Mikran
I think what CTSG is saying (from Mike Snook) is that the defenders laid down a massive amount of blanket fire during the night time. They could not see into the darkness so literally volley fired into the night at any sound. Considering the amount of cover the impi had hundreds of rounds would have impacted into the stone walls, cook house etc. Therefore the kill ratio would have been minimal.
There really is no way of knowing what the wounded situation would have been. Suffice to say that Bertram Mitford mentions that on his tour there where many instances of bullet wounds. Harry Lugg also relates a story of meeting a wounded zulu after the war and exchanging stories.

Regards
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impi

impi

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PostSubject: Re: Killed/wounded ratio?   Killed/wounded ratio? EmptyThu May 16, 2013 3:39 pm

There was 400 odd, wounded Zulus killed in the melee fields, after the Battle. Possibly victims of ramdom shots
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