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 Who is the cross country runner

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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:04 pm

I read a small artical about the battle of Isandlwana survivors. One escape by running, evidently he was a good cross country runner when at school. Can anyone put a name to this chap, and details of his unit and his escape. I can't find anything on the web!
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:18 pm

I doubt you will Mr G, there was just one report as far as I recall and seemed to be just in passing by one of the mounted men.
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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:59 pm

Mr. Greaves,

The answer is Lieutenant Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment, a Special-Service Officer assigned to No. 3 Column.

His escape is well-recorded.

This is based on a 1991 article I had published in Military Illustrated, and hopefully contains what you seek:

...With the ox-drawn transport harnessed and making for the road back to Rorke's Drift, Smith-Dorrien felt that his duties were absolved and he mounted his horse and joined the flight back towards Natal, whilst those who had no means of escape chose to remain and fight.

Smith-Dorrien rode through the Zulu right horn of which had swept around the reverse slope of Isandlwana and cut the line of retreat. Yet no Zulu hindered his escape, he went completely ignored, later he would put his good fortune down to the fact that he was wearing a blue patrol jacket and therefor not clearly identifiable as a “red soldier”. In his flight he witnessed the limbered cannon of ‘N’ Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Artillery come to grief in the Manzimyama ravine. He encountered and exchanged a few brief words with Lieutenant Nevill Coghill, of the 1st/24th Coghill would eventually gain the posthumous award of a Victoria Cross for his actions that day. Smith-Dorrien pressed on across the broken ground and marsh, which led to Buffalo River.

He reached a bluff above Sothondose’s Drift, the name of which would in time change to Fugitives’ Drift. From his position he saw Lieutenant Teignmouth Melvill, of the 1st/24th carrying his precious charge - the Queen’s Colour of the Regiment. Melvill like his brother officer Coghill would also receive a posthumous V.C. that day. Smith-Dorrien dismounted to assist a wounded mounted infantryman and began to apply a tourniquet to the soldier's wound. A sudden shout came from behind him, Brevet Major Stuart Smith, of ‘N’ Battery, 5th Brigade, shouted that the Zulus were upon them. Within seconds the three were surrounded by warriors baying for their blood, Smith and the mounted infantryman died in a flurry of assegais, who also stabbed Smith-Dorrien’s mount. Drawing his revolver Smith-Dorrien blazed at the encircling foe, and threw himself off of the bluff into the swollen waters of the Buffalo River.

On gaining the dubious safety of the Natal bank he came upon an exhausted locally recruited transport officer, J.N. Hamer. Seeing his plight, Smith-Dorrien caught a stray horse and put Hamer upon it, thus saving him from certain death. Smith-Dorrien was by now under a constant fire from the Zulu bank. He scramble up the heights above the drift only to be confronted by a new threat, some twenty Zulus had crossed upstream and were now intent on killing him. With cautious use of his revolver he managed to keep the warriors at bay, the fleet of foot Zulus had met their match with young lieutenant, whose athletic prowess had been the renown of his old school, Harrow. After some three miles the Zulus abandoned their chase. By sunset the exhausted young officer reached the safety of the hastily thrown-up laager at Helpmekaar, he had covered a distance of almost twenty miles on foot...



John Y.
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:01 pm

Yes, while Horace's powers of endurance undoubtedly helped him survive, he did not set out on foot until after getting across the Buffalo. He hadn't intended on doing so when he gave the horse he caught to Hamer. The civilian transport officer (Smith-Dorrien and Essex were transport officers as well,) was supposed to catch another and bring it back for him. Instead, Hamer simply fled while he had the chance taking SD's knife as well. I wonder what their next meeting was like? Hamer couldn't have expected to see him alive again under the circumstances!

Smith-Dorrien makes it clear that he was helped by one of Durnford's units hanging about to fire off their last few rounds in the direction of the pursuing Zulu. It gave him a decent interval at the start, but still a lesser athlete or older man probably wouldn't have made it.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:24 pm

A work of sheer imagination - an artist's impression of Smith-Dorrien's escape taken from The Penny Illustrated Paper of 8th March 1879:

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'Hair-breadth 'scapes of Lieut. Smith-Dorrien and Mr. Young.'
John Young Collection.

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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:49 pm

springbok9 wrote:
I doubt you will Mr G, there was just one report as far as I recall and seemed to be just in passing by one of the mounted men.

I dont have my books at hand but it seems to me that Julian Whybra had made research on this chap and had found nothing on his identity ( " england'sons")
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:20 pm

Hey JY always suspected ' you were there' .
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:27 pm

Les,

Funny you should mention that, back in 1991 on my first visit I did have a strong sense of déjà vu.

John Y.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:53 pm

From SD Forty Years Services.
"I got into Helpmakaar at sundown, having done twenty miles on foot from the river"

After leaving the river he was pursued for about 3 miles by 20 odd Zulus, which he kept at bay with his revolver!
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:32 am

littlehand wrote:
From SD Forty Years Services.
"I got into Helpmakaar at sundown, having done twenty miles on foot from the river"

After leaving the river he was pursued for about 3 miles by 20 odd Zulus, which he kept at bay with his revolver!

And he only had six bullets...at the maximum. He had to BORROW those from Gunny Bromhead. Sidearms, which only officers were expected to carry, were a private matter according to the British Army at that point, and so they didn't ship any ammunition. It was catch as catch can...so my guess is that Horace would have been doing a lot of bluffing during those first three miles...
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:51 am

I was under the impression Mr G was refereeing to the story of the soldier that ran the Fugitives trail from iSandlwana to the drift rather than Horace.
Cheers
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90th

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PostSubject: Who is the cross country runner    Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:21 am

Hi Springy
I'm not sure anyone escaped on foot from Isandlwana to the drift , as I've read in all cases , no-one on foot survived the trail ? . I'm sure if it indeed did happen , it would be mentioned by those who saw it and or witnessed it ? .
Happy to be corrected  You need to study mo . Horace may well have been the only survivor who actually was on foot from the drift to make his way to Helpmakaar ? . JW or JY may have some information regarding this topic .
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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:28 am

I am not a conventional religious person ( people
spoil that for me ) but i think a higher power is
omnipresent, very interesting the cavett anecdote
provided by 6pdr..we have simply forgotten to see!
thank god SD was a good runner boy did thousands
have cause to be grateful to him in the great war.

I too know of no one, getting down that trail on foot.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:28 am

There was a comment in one of the suvivors statements that they saw one man on foot do the run from iSandlwana to the drift, haven't had chance to look for the statement but it is there.
Cheers Mate
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90th

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PostSubject: Who is the Cross Country Runner    Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:31 am

Hi Springy
Hope you come across it as I'd be interested to see it  You need to study mo . I'm afraid I dont remember reading anything like that  Shocked 
Cheers Mate , 90th  Salute 
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:10 am

Walter Stafford's statement January 1938.
....The only Imperial officer who was with us that escaped was Captain Essex of the 2nd 24th regiment AND ONE OF THE MOUNTED INFANTRY MEN WHO RAN ALL THE WAY AND KEPT UP WITH US. He was gifted with marvellus staying power.
Knew Id seen it some place.
If it was a member of the IMI then he would be one of 10 who did escape. We know Wassall and Westwood were mounted so that leaves 8 to choose from. Evans and Whelan rode on to Rorkes Drift so Im sure they could be discounted. Six left to choose from
Sgnt Naughton
Corporal McCann
Prvt Davis
Prvt Gascoigne
Prvt Power
Prvt Parry.

Cheers


Last edited by springbok9 on Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:15 am

90th
Having just walked the trail, how would run fancy running it in boots and serge uniform ? Plus of course being prodded up the backside with the odd pointed stick or so.  Very Happy Very Happy 

Cheers Mate
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90th

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PostSubject: Who is the cross country runner    Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:29 am

Hi Springy
Thanks for that info , and a big no is the answer to your question ! , and lets not forget it was well over 30 deg on the day as well ! . We were discussing what was going through the minds of those poor buggers who were fleeing for their lives on the trail , when we , were walking the trail ourselves , also discussed the same thing on top of Hlobane and when descending the Devils pass ! . It must have been frightful , either , of those two harrowing experiences , I wouldnt want to pick one ! . I'm not home so will check TWOTS as I have a copy here to see if Stafford's account is mentioned . Did you find the Stafford account in a book , or an article in a publication ? .
Cheers Mate 90th  Salute 
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:39 am

Ive got a copy of the original statement. Courtesy of Talana ( pays to have friends ) Very Happy I reckon the worse part of trying to run that would have to after crossing the manzimyama and doing that climb up the hill. Got to me just walking it. I remember stopping very often 'to take a couple of photos'.

I will scan in a page of Stafford and post it on this thread.

Cheers
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:46 am

Stafford Page 10 January 1938

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90th

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PostSubject: Who is the cross country runner    Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:00 pm

Hi Frank
I thought I had the Stafford account on my laptop and I do , I've just read it he doesnt mention very much at all about the escape down the trail , also doesn't mention the ' Runner ' , it seems he might've left two accounts ? . The account I have on my computer was sent to me , from you . He finishes it by saying he hopes the Isandlwana of 1939 isnt as hot as the one on the 22nd Jan 1879 ! , I think he's referring to the temperature , and quite possibly the reception he dealt with that day ! .
Cheers 90th
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:04 pm

Yeah thought Id sent one of them to you, there are another couple as well, the page 10 Ive posted gives the details of the runner.

Cheers Mate
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90th

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PostSubject: Who is the cross country runner    Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:12 pm

Excellent stuff Springy , as you say its not ' what you know , it's who you know ' ! .
cheers 90th
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:14 pm

agree 
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Ray63

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:15 pm

He was one of the five officers who survived the ensuing slaughter, and his epic escape included a three mile cross-country race against twenty Zulus. All in all, he was on the move for forty-two hours that included "a stretch of twenty miles on foot, much of it at a run"
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:26 pm

Hi Ray, your talking about Smith Dorriens return to Helpmakaar. The 'Runner' is supposedly a IMI man who ran from iSandlwana to Fugitives Drift keeping up with Staffords men.

Cheers
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: Who is the cross country runner   Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:06 pm

springbok9 wrote:
Hi Ray, your talking about Smith Dorriens return to Helpmakaar. The 'Runner' is supposedly a IMI man who ran from iSandlwana to Fugitives Drift keeping up with Staffords men.

Cheers

AH YES! I've been doing some research of my own and I believe I've found his name. Pvt. Forest Gump.  Joker 
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