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 For Lack of a Screwdriver

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Wed Jul 09, 2014 11:52 am

The man most often blamed for the tail of a lack of screwdrivers, to open the ammunition boxes, has generally been Donald Morris in Washing of the Spears. However TWOTS was published in 1966 and there is an earlier work by CT Binns published in 1963 that's says: "Runners sent to the camp for fresh supplies discovered that the Regimental Sergeant Major in charge of the ammunition boxes could not find a screw driver with which to open them."
As Morris acknowledges the input of Binns can we assume that he, Binns, is the beginning of the fable rather than Morris.

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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:37 pm

I don't know anything about CT Binns. What was his background?
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:02 pm

Charles Theodore Binns..Born Manchester 1893. in my
photobucket now. dont know if it can be accessed,
its playing up!. though all can be found in 'Natalia'
issue eight..the Zulu War Issue. free on line to read
and download.



http://illiweb.com/fa/pbucket.gif?sort=2&o=1
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:22 pm

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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Wed Jul 09, 2014 11:57 pm

Richard Wyatt Vause, who had been sent to the camp for ammuntion, only to find the ammuntion Boxes hadn't been opened, says " We didn't have time to look for screwdrivers" perhaps screwdriver were there, but no one knew where. Perhaps packed in the wagons ready for the off to meet up with Lord Chelmsford?
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:40 am

The entire screwdriver thing is a red herring.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:30 am

It was Chinese whisper.
Possible conversation after the battle:
Man 1"Damn, damaged by boots kicking open those ammo boxes"
Man 2 "Why?"
Man1 "No time to look for a screwdriver"

Subsequent Conversation
Man2 "I got it from Man1 that they couldn't find a screwdriver"
Man 3 " Must have been why the were beaten, no ammo"

Later conversation
Man3 " Of course the real reason they lost the battle was no ammo"
War correspondent " Really???? Must include that in the despatch"

Or something along those lines.

Send three and fourpence we are going to a dance.

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:36 am

Well said springbok!
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:15 pm

springbok9 wrote:
Send three and fourpence we are going to a dance.

Say wha?  scratch  (But I did like the explanation -- in the U.S. we call that "playing telephone.")  Salute 
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:40 pm

English urban myth.
Around the first world war a regimental sergeant major decided to test how good his men were at passing messages. They were all lined up shoulder to shoulder in a single line and he whispered into the ear of the first man; "Send reinforcements we are going to advance." He rushed down the line and the last man turned to him and said; Sir the message is, Send three and fourpence ( old currency pre decimal) we are going to a dance.

Hope that helps.

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PostSubject: The screwdriver issue   Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:49 pm

Hi All,
This is one of the perennial questions in the study of the AZW.
However, consider this : If the absence of screwdrivers were not an issue on the Isandlwana battlefield I do not think that the WO would have made immediate design changes to the ammunition box closure.
However, none of the modern day authors started this as a rumour, as page 62 of the "Mounted Police of Natal" printed in 1913 had this to say on the subject;

"Messengers galloped back frantically for more cartridges, but they did not return , so the whole body retired. It was then learned that the ammunition lay tightly screwed up in boxes and it was impossible to get at them. The practice of screwing down the lids was abolished when the news of this incident reached England" .

The factual content of this Regimental history of the NMP from which the above extract was taken, was edited by Maj Gen John Dartnell before his decease in Folkestone and Col Clarke, both of whom were very closely involved at Isandlwana on 22/01/1879 .

regards

barry

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:35 pm

My main point about the screw drivers is that as Ive tried to illustrate it could all have been nothing more than rumour/excuse. Its beyond doubt that trying to open the boxes using the normal means would have been cumbersome, hence the reason why so many bent screws have been found on the battlefield. And having spent many a painful hour under the watchful gaze of a QSM believe me they do not mislay a thing. They would have known exactly where every item carried was stored.
I was once under the command of a Polish QSM who told me to go wash all two hundred tables in the mess hall, I reported back when the job was done and mentioned there weren't 200 but only 199. I should have expected the comment from him: "Then F.... Off back and wash one twice".
With all due respect for the Colonel and General they weren't at isandlwana and were dependant on hearsay evidence. The men that were involved in the supply chain, SD Essex Wilson do not mention any problems opening the boxes. Or indeed getting access to them, the wagons would have been clearly marked with red flags and there was at least 4 separate positions.

Cheers

Cheers
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:10 pm

springbok9 wrote:
With all due respect for the Colonel and General they weren't at isandlwana and were dependant on hearsay evidence. The men that were involved in the supply chain, SD Essex Wilson do not mention any problems opening the boxes.

 agree 


Quote :
Or indeed getting access to them, the wagons would have been clearly marked with red flags and there was at least 4 separate positions.

Question.  We have Pullen by the track/road.  We have Bloomfield on the fringe of the 2nd Battalion tent complex.  We also have the ammo supply for Durnford's column near the nek.  Is the fourth supply the one for the mounted troops -- colonials and mounted infantry?  If so, what is the name of the officer in charge of that and where do you say that was located?
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:33 pm

Ammunition waggons
1/24th
2/24th
Regiments reserves
Chelmsfords requested wagon
Durnfords
NMP
and of course Buffalo Border Guard QM McPhail
Spread right across the face of the mountain as far as the koppie

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:09 pm

I'm going to have alook at the houses of Parliment debates, to see if there is any mention on the lack of Screwdrivers. Would be interesting to see if we can find the earliest mention of screwdrivers.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:21 pm

Try blue books and regimental histories..as well
as contemporary accounts left by officers of
the period, but for pity's sake do not look to
politicians for any kind of answer!.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:27 pm

From Peter Quantrill.

Theodore Binns published “The Last Zulu King” in 1963. (I am fortunate to have a signed copy.)
Binns was born in 1893 and was educated at Manchester Grammar School. He served as a minister in South Africa. His work in the Provincial Administration of Natal enabled him to carry out research into the history of the Zulu nation, which had long been his dominating interest. His acknowledgements include the following:
“To Dr. Killie Campbell without whose splendid assistance and magnificent Africana Library, the writing of this book would have been impossible.”
His book is based on the account of eye-witnesses and on original documents, much help given by the Zulus themselves. The portrait on the jacket of the book, by Carl Sohn, depicts Cetshwayo and was commissioned by Queen Victoria at the time of Cetshawoyo’s visit to England in 1882.
Best wishes,
Peter Q.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:51 pm

Admin wrote:
From Peter Quantrill.

Theodore Binns published “The Last Zulu King” in 1963. (I am fortunate to have a signed copy.)
Binns was born in 1893 and was educated at Manchester Grammar School. He served as a minister in South Africa. His work in the Provincial Administration of Natal enabled him to carry out research into the history of the Zulu nation, which had long been his dominating interest. His acknowledgements include the following:
“To Dr. Killie Campbell without whose splendid assistance and magnificent Africana Library, the writing of this book would have been impossible.”
His book is based on the account of eye-witnesses and on original documents, much help given by the Zulus themselves. The portrait on the jacket of the book, by Carl Sohn, depicts Cetshwayo and was commissioned by Queen Victoria at the time of Cetshawoyo’s visit to England in 1882.
Best wishes,
Peter Q.

Thank you Peter. I will try to get hold of a copy...though I doubt it will be signed by the author!
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:07 pm

Peter forgot to mention..'Dinizulu..the death of the house
of shaka'.and 'Warrior People', though some say his views
are a bit dated and old fashioned..
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:52 pm

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:44 am

I might add: Sons of Zulu by Aubrey Elliot and Shaka Zulu by EA Ritter and The Zulu Kings by Brian Roberts.

The list is pretty long.

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:29 pm

I appreciate the list, Springbok.  I don't have those either.  My summer reading list lengthens by the day, (although Shaka probably won't be on it.)
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:07 pm

Its like reading an anatomy book, helps you to understand why your stomach hurts  Very Happy 
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:36 pm

agree  BTW, along those lines but to a lesser degree, I have been reading Laband's ZULU WARRIORS, the title of which is misleading as some have noted here. I find the level of detail impressive...though I can't imagine how he gets all his research done without living near you.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:38 am

I read the reviews so didn't bother buying the book. Don't forget Morris researched TWOTS from Berlin, with no internet.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:58 pm

springbok9 wrote:
I read the reviews so didn't bother buying the book. Don't forget Morris researched TWOTS from Berlin, with no internet.
Cheers

Reviews where?

As for Morris, more and more people seem to be coming around to the viewpoint that he also made a lot up, or took seriously things which he should not have. If it is difficult to confirm much of what happened in the much investigated AZW, I imagine it would be far more difficult to ferret out details of the Boer-Pedi, Anglo-Pedi or Ninth Cape Frontier War(s).
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:44 pm

The Frontier War Journal of Major John Crealock 1878.
Van Riebeeck Society..Second Series No 19. Cape Town
1988 issued 1989.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:45 am

6pd
The book was reviewed on a couple of sites, the RDVC in particular. The lack of 'Zulu' content was the kiss of death for me. Considering Prof Labands pedigree I would be surprised if he didn't have all his research at hand. Top bloke that.
I don't think that there is any doubt that Morris 'filled in the gaps' and made quite a few assumptions. The unfortunate part of that is a lot of those assumptions have been passed into history as fact. But for all that TWOTS was a ground breaker.

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:36 am

But we do know, there was a lack of entrenching tools ( Spades ) why shouldn't this apply to Screwdrivers.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:10 pm

How do we know that SAS?
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:51 pm

My guess is there was no lack of entrenching tools, simply a lack of will to employ them on rock hard ground when the plan was to move in a day or so anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:32 pm

rock hard or stony ground was no deterrent post
Isandhlwana! suddenly everyone was a mining
engineer!  Very Happy  yes arrogance plus complacency
was key.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:37 pm

There were pioneers working on the river crossings and the roads, their camp was on the saddle. In addition there was a team of Engineers, plus their tools ( Chards report). No problem with hardware, just the will to do it. Digging would be difficult but building sangars with the available stone would have been more than feasible. Problem was Chelmsford couldn't decide if his column was a flying column or not.

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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:38 pm

Aint that the truth!  agree 
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:20 pm

springbok9 wrote:
How do we know that SAS?
Cheers

It's on the forum somewhere! Can't remember the chaps name, but he comments on the lack of spades, and that had there been enough, the Battle would not have been lost.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:30 pm

It was the rifles. It was the ammunition. It was the ammunition boxes. It was the lack of screwdrivers. It was the lack of pick axes. It was Durnford. It was a conspiracy. None of these one step explanations are in the least bit credible to people who take the time to understand the bigger picture.  They are excuses to explain away an unpleasant fact; nothing more.


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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:37 pm

springbok9 wrote:
In addition there was a team of Engineers, plus their tools ( Chards report).

Yup, Smith-Dorrien passed their wagon (and Chard) on the road while riding back from Rorke's Drift the morning of the battle. If there were no tools then why did they spend a week in the valley rebuilding the road for the supply wagons before moving forward to Isandlwana? The Pioneers were armed not with firearms, but tools.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:00 pm

They would only have taken enough tools to do the job inquestion. Sas1 was talking lack of spades not none.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:17 pm

Sorry 24th don't buy it.
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PostSubject: Re: For Lack of a Screwdriver   Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:53 pm

You can build sangers without shovels. Plus, the Boer did not need shovels to "entrench." They used what was at hand.
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