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 Original Documents at Kew

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Original Documents at Kew   Thu May 21, 2015 9:19 pm

Just returned from a fascinating day at the National Archives at Kew looking at some original documents. This post is not about new discoveries, it is about looking at the original letters and reports that we all see referred to in the books.

The first War Office file I ordered up was titled South Africa: Zulu War : Reports, Statements and proceedings of the Court of Enquiry. It was about 150 loose sheets of manuscript including letters from Chelmsford, reports by Wood and notes by those back in London. What I found really interesting are the comments and scraps of paper attached to the letters, usually by the recipient, and not often included in the printed works. They sometimes give you an insight into what they were thinking in London. Here is an example.

This note was attached to the front of Chelmsford's letter of 20 March 1879 to the Secretary of State for War. The letter is in reaction to what Clery had said at the C of E. It is probably the first letter in which Chelmsford begins to wriggle a little at comments about him not coming to the defence of the camp. It contains the well known references to sending Milne up the hill to look through his telescope and not getting a message that anything was untoward until late in the afternoon.
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For those finding it difficult to read it says " Circulate confidentially to Cabinet - not for Gazette. Let it be so marked and also let Colonial Office be warned not to print it at present. Dated21/4/79."

I think it had begun to dawn on those in London what had happened and that the wheels were beginning to come off the wagon for Lord C. Government's first reaction - keep it quiet.

Steve
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Thu May 21, 2015 9:59 pm

It doesn't appear to say much. I take it your speculating. scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Thu May 21, 2015 10:22 pm

Hi CTSG

It doesn't need to say much, but I think it speaks volumes ! But my interpretation I grant you. Why do you think the Secretary of State wanted to keep it quiet?

I think this is Hicks-Beach who had been desperate to stop the ultimatum to Cetswayo, (cooked up by his predecessor Caernarvon and Frere), but he was too late. I think he expected this kind of mess.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Thu May 21, 2015 10:30 pm

It could be referring to just about anything. Being more of a primary source man I couldn't say what they wanted kept quite. It couldn't have been much or it would have been said verbally and not written down.
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Thu May 21, 2015 10:48 pm

CTSG

It is a primary source (about as primary as you can get) and it is attached to Chelmsford's letter so there is no doubt at all about what it refers to. It is normal for Ministers to write handling instructions on documents, particularly if they think they are sensitive - they don't do it verbally because they want to be able to point to the instruction later to cover their back (particularly if it has been ignored!). Churchill was a prime example - Action this day!. Go on, speculate why he wanted to keep this letter from Chelmsford quiet.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Thu May 21, 2015 11:11 pm

I can't see how you attach it to the COE. Or are you basing it, because it attached to a letter among a 150 loose sheets of manuscript.

You say.
Steve wrote:
"This note was attached to the front of Chelmsford's letter of 20 March 1879 to the Secretary of State for War"

What was the actual letter from LC saying that the , the minute paper was attached to ?
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Thu May 21, 2015 11:28 pm

CTSG

Because, it is attached to a letter from Chelmsford which begins " Sir, with reference to my letter of 15th inst forwarding documentary evidence in connection with the occurrences of 22nd January. I have the honour to enclose a statement made by Major Clery on the same subject and remarks by myself on it."   The Secy. of State is saying to the Cabinet - keep this confidential and warning the Colonial Office not to publish it. There really isn't any confusion about what he is referring to - its Chelmsford's letter.  

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Fri May 22, 2015 9:02 am

Interesting browsing through the archives isn't it Steve. I spend hours in the Cape Archives, ever once in a while something of interest turns up.
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90th

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PostSubject: Original Documents at Kew    Fri May 22, 2015 10:34 am

ctsg
I dont think he's implying about the dodgy meal he had the night before ! , certainly you dont need to be a Rhodes Scholar to understand to what he's referring scratch .
90th

Steve / Frank
Yes , Archives can be very interesting , as you have posted on several instances .
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Fri May 22, 2015 10:44 am

Hi Frank/Gary

I enjoy it too. They are very well set up at Kew and I can be there in 40 minutes - motorway permitting. A digital camera lets you copy stuff very easily as well - it only took me about half an hour to copy all 150 pages that I can now study at my leisure.

This was another note in the file that I thought was amusing - nothing much changes in the corridors of power!
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I don't know who Cooper was. It reads "These papers have just been returned to me by the Intelligence Branch! Yours try. H Percy Hopkin  10/1/83 - they were borrowed as you will see from Sir Ralph Thompsons room in December 1879."

I imagine that the Intelligence Branch had purloined them to complete the Narrative (published 1881) and conveniently forgotten to return them for three years!

I also managed to copy the NA versions of the two Isandhlwana maps we have been discussing, I will post them later.

Steve
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90th

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PostSubject: Original Doc's at Kew    Fri May 22, 2015 10:58 am

Salute , excellent work that man Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
90th agree
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Fri May 22, 2015 11:48 am

Sir Ralph Thompson, from whose room the COE documents quoted above had been removed by the Intelligence Branch, was Under Secretary of State for War (the top civil servant at the time). He, like many others in positions of power, had an inclination to keep close wraps on things (he was the equivalent, at the time, to Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister).

Later, when corresponding with Wolseley in India he wrote " Although Disreali had read his (Wolseley's) memorandum he did not want to circulate it to the Cabinet and thinks it should be kept as quiet as possible." The memorandum was about abandoning Turkey and mounting an offensive against Russia in Afghanistan.

Nothing to do with our war I know, but it demonstrates just how much goes on behind the scenes and how easy it is to get a false picture from uninformed sources who are far removed from the centre.

Steve
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90th

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PostSubject: Original Doc's at Kew    Fri May 22, 2015 12:13 pm

Hi Steve
'' Yes , Minister '' one of the best tv shows of all time , can't tell you how many times I've watched that series over the years , although haven't done so for a while Very Happy Very Happy
90th Joker
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Fri May 22, 2015 8:50 pm

I'm sure that if any of those documents had any real bearing. The likes of Julian Whybra would have found them.
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Fri May 22, 2015 9:03 pm

I'm sure your right my friend. Thank you for your valuable contribution.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Sat May 23, 2015 10:38 am

Hi Chard
Not quite mate. There are so many odds and sods just waiting to be discovered, misfiled, miss labelled, buried away. They are there and its going to be the casual browser, like Steve (no insult intended Steve) that isn't following strict procedural research rules that's going to turn them up. And example of that is of Trooper Mayor of RD. His letters had laid in those archives for over a hundred years, it just took a small quirk to start on a path that found them.
In similar lines searching along a path for something totally different I came across a hand written essay on one soldiers experiences on the march and his eye witness description of one of the battles. That should be ready for publication fairly soon as soon as the editor gets his finger out.

The point is theres a hell of a lot out there still to be found, including a report Bromhead wrote the day after the battle. And no it isn't a myth, I have proof that it was written and sent to England, maybe Steve will stumble over it.

Cheers Mate
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Sat May 23, 2015 12:38 pm


Quite right Frank.

I have found several Rorke's Drift accounts that have not yet, to my knowledge ben brought to light. Although not from Kew, it show that information is still out there waiting to be found.

A Bromhead report - Now that would be one heck of a find!

Neil

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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Sat May 23, 2015 9:28 pm

"Major Francis Clery, who was garrisoned at Rorke's Drift with Bromhead after the battle wrote,

"The height of Bromhead's enjoyment seemed to be to sit all day on a stone on the ground smoking a most uninviting looking pipe.
The only thing that seemed equal to moving him in any way was an allusion to the defence of Rorke's Drift. This used to have a sort of electrical effect upon him, for he would jump up and off he would go, not a word could be got out of him. When I told him he should send me an official report on the affair it seemed to have a most distressing effect on him"
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Sat May 23, 2015 9:51 pm

Clery admitted reading a report from Bromhead, in a letter to Lady Alison, MAY 1879:-

"When I told him he should send me an official report on the affair it seemed to have a most distressing effect on him. I used to find him hiding away in corners with a friend helping him to complete this account, and the only thing that afterwards helped to lessen the compassion I felt for all this, was my own labour when perusing this composition - to understand what it was all about. So you can fancy that there was not one who knew him who envied him his distinction, for his modesty about him was, and is excessive."



Bourne also spoke of a despatch which may or may not be the 'report':-

"Bromhead wrote a despatch which he (Colour-Sergeant Bourne) had to copy. Not a man's name was mentioned in that despatch. Later, however, it was discovered that Chard was senior, and another despatch was written in which the names were mentioned."

"'The Epsom District Times, Friday, July 29th, 1932."
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Sun May 24, 2015 6:46 am

Neil Ive dropped you an e mail
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PostSubject: Re: Original Documents at Kew   Sun May 24, 2015 11:18 am

Thanks Frank.

Replied.

Neil
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