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 The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC

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waterloo50

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PostSubject: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:31 pm

Hi, I don't know if this has already been discussed on the forum but it should make for an interesting debate.

I hope I haven't broken any rules here, I just cut and pasted from the BBC website.

The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals after the British Army's battle with the Zulus at Rorke's Drift, while the true heroes went unrecognised, a new BBC documentary will claim this week.

In stark contrast to the film Zulu, in which Lt John Chard and Lt Gonville Bromhead, the commanding officers of the Rorke's Drift outpost, are portrayed as heroes, the BBC programme depicts them as dithering and "hopeless".

The documentary also claims that the pair sought to flee during the battle in 1879, which has become renowned as one of the Army's most inspiring actions.

It claims that the real hero of the action was James Dalton, the acting assistant commissary in the Army's supplies section. He is depicted in Zulu as a wimpish character.

The documentary, however, shows Dalton as leading the defence when the British garrison of 140 men in the South African bush comes under repeated attacks from the 3,000-strong Zulu army.

Rorke's Drift is the most famous action in the Zulu War, which began on January 11, 1879 when the Army, commanded by Lord Chelmsford, invaded the Zulu kingdom in an attempt to extend British control in South Africa.

Eleven days later, the British suffered a disastrous defeat at Isandlwana, where 1,350 soldiers died, after under-estimating the Zulus' fighting capabilities.

However, British honour was retrieved the same day by the valiant defence of Rorke's Drift, 10 miles from Isandlwana. Eleven VCs medals were awarded in recognition of the men's bravery - the most gained in a single action.

The BBC's claims that some of the medals were undeserved has prompted an angry reaction from historians and enthusiasts for the Zulu campaign. They described the BBC's conclusions as "rubbish" and insisted that the medals given to Lt Chard and Lt Bromhead were justified.

Saul David, a historian who acted as a consultant to the makers of the BBC documentary, insisted, however, that the trumpeting of the two senior officers' alleged achievements had been a deliberate ploy to mask the defeat at Isandlwana.

"Few remember that the battle of Rorke's Drift was fought on the same day that the British Army suffered its most humiliating defeat at nearby Isandlwana," he said. "It suited those responsible for the disaster to exaggerate the importance of Rorke's Drift in the hope of reducing the impact of Isandlwana. The true story of the day is one of unprovoked slaughter, heroes ignored and the guilty protected."

Dr David cites documents from the time that describe the two commanding officers in less than flattering terms. He said: "Many of their fellow officers were amazed that they were recommended for VCs.

"One senior officer wrote: 'Bromhead is a great favourite in his regiment and a capital fellow at everything except soldiering . . . He had to be reported confidentially as hopeless.' Another described Lt Chard as 'a most useless officer fit for nothing'."

Dr David said that Dalton, who was eventually awarded a VC after intensive lobbying in the press, had been overlooked initially because, as a former non-commissioned officer, he came from the "wrong background". At least two other soldiers, Commissary Walter Dunn, and Colour Sgt Frank Bourne, had also deserved the VC for their bravery, he said, but had not received the honour.

Furthermore, Dr David claims that the two scouts, Lt Teignmouth Coghill and Lt Nevill Melvill of the 24th Regiment of Foot, who were honoured with posthumous VCs after they were killed trying to save Queen Victoria's colours at Isandlwana, were not heroic, but were in the process of "bolting" from the scene.

He said: "Did they deserve the VCs? They were, after all, simply fleeing the site of the disaster. Some have even suggested that they took the colours with them as an excuse."

Dr David quotes Sir Garnet Wolseley, who succeeded Lord Chelmsford as the Army's General Officer Commanding in South Africa, as saying: "It is monstrous making heroes of those who saved or attempted to save their lives by bolting."

Brian Best, the secretary of the Victoria Cross Society, criticised the suggestion that the men should not have received their medals. "Even if there were truth in the view that by today's standards some of the VCs may not have been awarded, there is no doubt that these men were brave and deserved to be honoured," he said. 'It's stupid to say they are undeserving of the VC."

Alan Critchley, who has studied the conflict since 1969 and runs a website devoted to the history of Rorke's Drift, also described the BBC's argument as "rubbish".

He said: "It's all sour grapes. The BBC are trying to be controversial and the truth is there is some controversy surrounding the event, but the BBC have pandered to people who resented the fact that these soldiers won VCs.

"It's nonsense to say that they tried to flee or that they were not heroic. Bromhead was almost completely deaf, so many people misunderstood that for stupidity. He wasn't stupid. The facts speak for themselves. What those soldiers did was magnificent."

The BBC film reserves the most scathing criticism for Lord Chelmsford. He is depicted as lying and blaming others for his own error in under-estimating the Zulus, and as being ultimately responsible for the deaths of the 1,350 British soldiers.

At the time, Lord Chelmsford blamed the defeat at Isandlwana on Col Durnford, who died in the battle, claiming that Durnford had disobeyed orders to defend the camp.

Dr David said that this was wrong. "The truth is that no orders were ever given to Durnford to take command. The actual order was later found on the battlefield, but suppressed for a number of years," he said.

"Chelmsford used Rorke's Drift against his critics. Though undeniably heroic, the importance of the defence of Rorke's Drift was grossly exaggerated by both the generals and politicians to diminish the impact of Isandlwana."

Zulu: The True Story will be broadcast on BBC2 on Friday at 9pm.
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DrummerBoy 16



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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:59 pm

Flee from 4,500 Zulus after half the invasion force of a Column was wiped out ? And they had how many men fit to fight ? Around 120ish ?

I don't see nothing cowardly about that, its what anyone would have done if they had time to get away.
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1879-2009

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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:30 pm

Can't see this in the TV listings.
9.00 on Friday is David Attenborough...  scratch
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:20 pm

It is an old programme from several years back. Which has the late Christopher Cazenove as Lord Chelmsford.

I had a meeting with one of the production team at time, but in the end the sum total of my input was to supply one photograph.

There is a very good iSandlwana action scene, tightly shot with a touch of CGI, but it doesn't last long enough.

JY
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John

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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:58 pm

SergioD wrote:
Trying to take it seriously then see the name David Saul - and lost interest immediately.

having said that I always believe that Colour sergeant Frank Bourne deserved a VC for RD

Will watch for laughs if I have nothing better to do (unlikely)

S
As far as I'm aware, he was offered the VC but turn it down?
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:45 pm

JY. very interesting about the cgi Isandhlwana scene.
i dont recall ever watching the programme, just one
photograph. tells me all i need to know about the
quality of it. i hope you were handsomely rewarded
with bbc mega bucks.lol.

scoured the tv listings till the end of next week.nowt.
cheers xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:01 pm

all, meant to say..it begs the question why???
this was posted in the first place. Suspect 
xhosa
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:16 am

Les,

If a plate of pasta in a local Italian restaurant is mega-bucks then I'm guilty as charged.

JY
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:48 am

JY. your a bad man.on bbc expenses.
wined and dined.tsk.xhosa.
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90th

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PostSubject: The Wrong soldiers were awarded the VC BBC   Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:08 am

Must admit I was about to debunk this as being a new Doco , but the further I read , I saw many were already all over it !
Cheers 90th .

PS. John , I hope you enjoyed your bowl of Pasta ! Shocked 
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Mr M. Cooper

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PostSubject: wrong soldiers awarded v.c's   Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:09 pm

This is an old doco that was shown some years back on T.V. There is no doubt that 'The (almost fictional) Film' portrayed James Dalton in a very poor way (as it did with others, especially Hook), and it did portray Chard as being the main 'heroic Mr Brains', but this could have been Baker's way of playing the part of Chard in 'The Film' and showing himself as being 'The Hero'.

James Dalton did have a big part to play in organising the defence of RD, and fully deserved his V.C, as did ALL the others, so I cannot agree with SD saying otherwise, but I can agree with him in regard to Chelmsford putting the blame on Durnford and making him the scapegoat for the loss at iSandlwana.
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:48 pm

This issue with the RD VCs being issued to take the heat off Isandlwana. When did the accusation actually start?
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Impi. I think there was mention of this in the house of lords not long after the battle or has soon as the details had reached England. Either way if it was the case, it certainly worked. Did they or didn't they deserve the VC is a personal opinion. For me yes they did!

Chard and Bromhead wanting to leave RD, no doubt would have been the first choice of any officer in there situation.

Did Daltons input persuade them to stay, not so sure based on Bromhead has already started the defences and loopholes, prior to Chard arriving on the scene. So did the conversation bewteen the start because of Chards concerns. Or did the consultation take place just between Bromhead and Dalton.
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:28 am

Im pretty sure that Dr Davids developed his theories of Melvill and Coghill running away to coincide with the story line (sic) of Zulu Hart. He allso carries on the myth the Hook was a petty thief and is pretty insistant that Bromhead and Chard wanted to flee. Not one of these theories carries any historical weight.
Unfortunatly the good Doctor developes theories and expounds them as fact. This follows through not only in his discourse of the Anglo Zulu wars but into other areas he has 'studied' such as Afganistan.
His 'Deviations from criteria based standards' are legion, so is his attempt to be seen as a popularist historian. He has obviously put work into his research in the past to obtain his Doctorate, for that he should be lauded but at present his sole defence for his more outlandish out pourings is "then prove me wrong".

Cheers ( Pete are you going to delete this one as well Suspect  No )

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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:04 pm

Dave wrote:
Impi. I think there was mention of this in the house of lords not long after the battle or has soon as the details had reached England. Either way if it was the case, it certainly worked. Did they or didn't they deserve the VC is a personal opinion. For me yes they did!

Chard and Bromhead wanting to leave RD, no doubt would have been the first choice of any officer in there situation.

Did Daltons input persuade them to stay, not so sure based on Bromhead has already started the defences and loopholes, prior to Chard arriving on the scene. So did the conversation bewteen the start because of Chards concerns. Or did the consultation take place just between Bromhead and Dalton.
Well put Dave, just wondering at what time did they know for sure they were going to be attacked they obviously new that something was not right else where by the latest 2pm. Is there
no mention anywhere of the discussions of the senior officers as to staying put or attempting to fall back to Helpmekaar where after all the their officer commanding had gone earlier that day.

In my opinion the saving of the post was down to the second fall back perimeter and the building of the Redoubt and of course having the columns reserve ammunition.
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:55 pm

When Chard arrived at the post, construction had allready started on the defence. Chard credits Dalton with this as do a number of accounts. Chards contribution was the biscuit box wall and over all leadership. Bromhead is mentioned in a couple of accounts, leading bayonet charges etc.
Without a doubt though the rank and file credited Dalton. Remember when B company marched through PMB and saw Dalton in the crowd? Should tell you a lot..
Clerys account of the aftermath tells the story of how bad the battle affected Bromhead and Chard, so reports of their behaviour need to be put solidly in context. The VC was pretty just as far as Im concerned.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:33 pm

It's the only reference I can find regarding Dalton Explaining why they should stay. Hook claimes they had loaded two wagons. Anyone know what with?

Extract form Henry Hooks account.

"Everything was perfectly quiet at Rorke's Drift after the column had left, and every officer and man was going about his business as usual. Not a soul suspected that only a dozen miles away the very men that we had said 'Goodbye', and 'Good luck' to were either dead or standing back-to-back in a last fierce fight with the Zulus. Our garrison consisted of B Company of the 2/24th under Lieutenant Bromhead, and details which brought the total number of us up to 139. Besides these, we had about 300 men of the Natal Native Contingent; but they didn't count, as they bolted in a body when the fight began. We were all knocking about, and I was making tea for the sick, as I was hospital cook at the time.

Suddenly there was a commotion in the camp, and we saw two men galloping towards us from the other side of the river, which was Zululand. Lieutenant Chard of the Engineers was protecting the ponts over the river and, as senior officer, was in command at the drift. The ponts were very simple affairs, one of them being supported on big barrels, and the other on boats. Lieutenant Bromhead was in the camp itself. The horsemen shouted and were brought across the river, and then we knew what had happened to our comrades. They had been butchered to a man. That was awful enough, but worse was to follow, for we were told that the Zulus were coming straight on from Isandhlwana to attack us. At the same time a note was received by Lieutenant Bromhead from the Column to say that the enemy was coming on, and that the post was to be held at all costs.

For some little time we were all stunned, then everything changed from perfect quietness to intense excitement and energy. There was a general feeling that the only safe thing was to retire and try and join the troops at Helpmakaar. The horsemen had said that the Zulus would be up in two or three minutes; but luckily for us they did not show themselves for more than an hour. Lieutenant Chard rushed up from the river, about a quarter of a mile away, and saw Lieutenant Bromhead. Orders were given to strike the camp and make ready to go, and we actually loaded up two wagons. Then Mr Dalton, of the Commissariat Department, came up and said that if we left the drift every man was certain to be killed. He had formerly been a sergeant major in a line regiment and was one of the bravest men that ever lived. Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead held a consultation, short and earnest, and orders were given that we were to get the hospital and storehouse ready for defence, and that we were never to say die or surrender."
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:54 pm

impi wrote:
This issue with the RD VCs being issued to take the heat off Isandlwana. When did the accusation actually start?
I am with you on that one, that accusation does not make any sense.
The VCs given at Rorkes drift were richly deserved by any standard and particularly well deserved by Victorian standards (when it was easier to win one, compared to the 20th C).
If the "heat" needed to be taken off the disaster at Isandhlwana for propaganda purposes and to soften the shock of the loss with the British public, then more VCs would have been awarded for Isandhlwana over and above those to Chard and Melville - which were not even awarded at the time in any case!
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:44 pm

The posts that took this discussion off topic have been put into the ring section,under " Constructive criticism or not" you can continue there if you feel the need to do so.
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:49 pm

thank you admin, i agree,sorry.
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:53 pm

Salute 
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PostSubject: Re: The wrong soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross medals BBC   Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:44 am

If the "heat" needed to be taken off the disaster at Isandhlwana for propaganda purposes and to soften the shock of the loss with the British public, then more VCs would have been awarded for Isandhlwana over and above those to Chard and Melville - which were not even awarded at the time in any case!

hiya kopie, Excuse me.what.. more vc's would have been awarded for Isandhlwana.
' over and above ' who.Wassall?. Chard and Bromhead's names were an addition by
his lordship,Mellvill,posthumous 27 years after intensive lobbying by sir Patrick
Coghill. cheers xhosa2000
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