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 ISANDLWANA. HOW FIVE-HUNDRED BRITISHERS WERE SLAUGHTERED? REMINISCENCES OF THRILLING INTEREST

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PostSubject: ISANDLWANA. HOW FIVE-HUNDRED BRITISHERS WERE SLAUGHTERED? REMINISCENCES OF THRILLING INTEREST   Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:17 pm

In a humble cottage on the roadside near the Birchgrove Works. Llansamlet, lives John Lloyd, a soldier who fought with the "gallant 24th" in Zululand, and who, subsequently, took part in the Burma expedition. Lloyd is now 41 years of age, and his whole person- ality bears that indelible impress which 19 years of soldiering life, chiefly spent in India and the interior of the "Dark Continent," leave upon all alike. His bone-form shows boldly beneath the tightly-drawn skin tanned by the fiery sun of India, and his physique bears traces of the hardships and privations of end- less marching and hard lighting. He was one of Lord Chelmsford's brave men who avenged the ghastly massacre of lsandlwana; who saw the mutilated bodies of 500 of his comrades mixed up with those of the Zulus who fought at Rorke's drift and helped those "pitiless showers of death'' which kept the post intact till relief arrived. Men like Lloyd cannot-help being interesting. That was why (writes a "Post" .representative) I made an appointment with him the other evening to let me hear him tell his story, or at any rate, that part of it which would interest the reading public. In spite of his 19 years' service, Lloyd is a poor man. The cottage in which he lives is in a dilapidated state, scantily furnished, and bereft of every comfort except that imparted by a -wife and three little bairns. It was not a home which an old British soldier, who has fearlessly faced the music of whizzing bullets, should occupy. As nearly as possible I give his recital in the old soldier's own words, untainted with any of those little embellishments which are necessary at other times. "I left Llansamlet and joined in 1877 at Brecon the 24th Regiment, now styled 'the South Wales Borderers, and stationed at Pembroke Dock. We left Chatham in February, 1878, to fight in the Kaffir war in South Africa, where we were in action for eight months. Our regiment had about a, thousand men, and between the other regiments we were about-five thousand altogether. We did a little bit of skirmishing in the jungle for the first few weeks, but in October we were ordered out to Zululand, where the natives were getting a bit frvskji We marched a distance of about 50 miles from Durban and camped here for about five weeks, and then we marched from there to Rorke's Drift. You have heard of Rorke's Drift, of course. Well, then. in January, 1879, the second battalion of the 24th, Regiment crossed the river. On a Sunday it was, too, and this was the first engagement we had. My company was under the command of Captain Glennie. We were kept under fire from the Zulus for about an hour. It was sharp fighting at a distance of about 600 yards. We fought in the Bashee Valley, and managed to take the brow of the hill. Seeing this the Zulus retired and we captured about 3000 head of cattle. On the 13th we advanced in three companies for the purpose of making a road to Isandhwana. We didn't meet with any opposition. After an inspection of arms we left the camp on the 22nd, under the command of Lord Chelmsford. We wore formed into five companies, and the 1st battalion of the 24th Regiment was left in the camp. We marched for about 12 milt-a, all except those left in the camp, and after being several times under sharp fire, we had the news from one of the mounted infantry men that the Zulus had taken the camp which we had just left behind us. There was excitement, if you like. Everyone of us felt burning to rush back to our chums. Lord Chelmsford formed us up with the -Cape Mounted Police, and he said, 'Men, we must take the camp back to-night by the point of the bayonet. and four guns of the artillery." We marched about nine miles till we came to a big plain from where we could see lsandiwana." "How would you describe that place?" Simply a lot of kraals in a valley between two hills. We came to within two miles of the camp when we saw to our horror that it was on fire. Lord Chelmsford put the Big guns in the centre, Cape Mounted Police on the right of the line, the 24th on the left flank, and those in the centre were given the word of command to fix bayonets. We advanced to within 2,000 yards of the camp, when the command was given "sharp firing!" We advanced on with our bayonets fixed to the brow of the hill. Major Black took the left half of the battalion to the hill and said, "Follow me, men; we'll take the hill by the point of the bayonet; we conquer or we die." It was a job to keep the men back after that. We rushed up to the centre of the square of lsandiwana, and it was awfully dark that night and raining. We had a word of command to halt and form a square. This was about one o'clock in the morning, and the Zulus made a sharp attack on us, and for about 10 minutes sharp firing was carried on when "cease firing" went. Rain now started, coming down badly, and I shall never forget that awful night. Our men fought like heroes, but it was too late to save our comrades. When the light of morning dawned we saw the place I where 500 men of the 24th battalion had been slaughtered by the Zulus. We laid on this spot all night, and we did. fight. We killed about two thousand Zulus, without losing a single man ourselves. They were nearly all shot. You never saw such a sight.. Nearly everyone of the five hundred had been disembowelled with the aeisegaas of the Zulus. I stumbled once and one of my hands sank into the open bowels of a soldier. Lieutenants Melville and Coghill escaped with the colours. In the morning about four o'clock, we left the camp with the dead bodies lying there, and marched a distance of about eight miles to Rorke's Drift. We were marching between two ranges, of hills, and every now and again, say about 200 yards, bands of Zulus came rushing down upon us. When we were about a mile and a half away we could see Rorke's Drift on fire, and the Colonel gave orders to signal down, and we had an answer in a quarter of an hour to advance At once. You must understand that there was only one house in Rorke's Drift; and we made a depot of it, and converted it into a hospital where we placed 16 of our. men who were on the sick list with the fever. During the time they were in this hospital the place was put on fire by the Zulus, and these poor chaps were burnt to death. We had an engagement and killed thousands of Zulus, and after burning our dead We formed up in the Drift. It was raining night and day. and a lot of our good men were dropping off with the fever till the volunteers came out to help us, the same time as the Prince Imperial. They brought clean clothes for us." "Ho, you saw the poor Prince Imperial, then?" "Yes." "What did you think of him?" "I don't know. I met him on the march." "Why, didn't you think a lot of him?" "He had no business out there. That's not the place for princes." 'Was he a big man?" He was a tall young fellow." But he was good to you soldiers?" ."He., didn't have much to do with he was only sketching the country out there."


South Wales Daily Post 14th September 1897
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