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 Up Close and Personal

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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:38 pm

I was wondering if anyone had any info on the training of  British Infantry with regards to 'hand to hand fighting'. It strikes me that the Zulus trained in the same manner that the Roman gladiators trained, 'in camps with arenas.'  All I can find out about British training is bayonet practice and boxing, does anyone know if the British did anything like 'unarmed combat' or was it everyman for himself using whatever was close to hand?  I can't seem to find anything on the subject. Perhaps this type of up close and bloody warfare was not thought about because of the superior weapons that the British had.

I read somewhere that during the American Civil War both sides made a distinction between 'close quarter fighting and hand to hand combat', was it the same for the British. If anyone could point me in the right direction I would appreciate it.

Regards

Waterloo Salute
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:07 pm

There's some information here.
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:40 pm

Many Thanks littlehand,

I had a look at the link but there is very little on the subject of close in fighting, mostly a discussion about who would win with very little reference to training. 90th made a suggestion in 2009 that the topic 'had been discussed before but I'm not sure where to look. I have looked through my books and explored the web but I can't find anything so perhaps the answer is that there wasn't any hand to hand combat training. If it was the case that the British depended only on the bullet and bayonet for their defence then it shows how the British were woefully unprepared and how little they understood their enemy. The more I learn about the Zulu the more respect I give them, they were absolutely formidable.

Regards

Waterloo
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nthornton1979

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:57 pm

This doesn't answer your question, but for interest:

"War was declared against the King of the Zulu's and the services of the 24th regiment were required. They embarked at East London for Natal, and landed at Durban. They marched to Pietermaritzburg for inspection and equipment ready for active service. The Colonel in command in the interval of waiting did not let them idle their time, but gave them plenty of bayonet exercise. And a good thing for some of us for soon after, we had to make good use of our steel."

Pte. C. Wood
(Rorke's Drift defender)
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:39 pm

I would imagine there wasn't a great deal of hand to hand, more so the Bayonet. When you say hand to hand is that in the sense say using knifes or barehands.
The only account I read was relating to Evans at RD, who by all accounts quite useful with his fists and was seen giving Zulus a few right hooks!
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:49 pm

I think in terms of a one to one encounter the huge advantage must be with the soldier - the combination of rifle round and bayonet is always going to trump spear and shield.  Where the advantage swings towards the Zulu is in weight of numbers. Being prepared to sacrifice lives to come into close contact is the only way it can work. Then, it is possible that the shield will deflect a bayonet thrust sufficient for the spear to stab home. I don't think weaponless hand to hand combat came into it for either side - so no real reason to train for that. Neil Aspinshaw's post back in Oct 2011 outlines the effort put into non-lethal bayonet training.

Steve
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:40 pm

For Waterloo even today in the British Army it is only SF that get formal hand to hand/ martial arts training. It is available if you wish but not compulsory. The emphasis being on good marksmanship & bayonet drills. Boxing is a perennial of the Army of whatever era. So I suspect in 1879 it was bayonet, boxing & shooting. Hope this helps.
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:02 pm

Hello

I think bayonet exercise would be a soldiers main form of defence in a close quarter battle, its useful for keeping the enemy at a distance but what happens if the weapon is dropped or taken from the soldier. In the documentary 'Secrets of the dead', a comment is made that, 'It is easy to understand both the Zulus push to engage in hand to hand combat and the British soldiers determination to avoid it'. Some of the British remains at isandlwana suffered sharp force trauma, fractured jaws and a multitude of horrific injuries,  I don't think that any amount of bayonet exercise would have been a match for the Zulu weapons and their fighting skills, this is why I was wondering about the type of training the British had. I have read a few books on Infantry training during the Victorian period but most of the training is geared towards  battle formations, drill and general duties.' It seems to me that there was an attitude from the British that close in fighting couldn't happen and if it did good old British steel' would win the day.

Regards

Waterloo
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:51 pm

Waterloo the prevailing wisdom today is if it gets to the bayonet - then we really are in trouble! Tho' in Iraq at one point it came to a bayonet charge.
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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:01 pm

"The uKhandempemvu regiment was in the think of the battle of Isandlwana, and foremost in carrying the camp, though it suffered severely in the earlier stages of the conflict from the fire of the outlying companies; and now its chief told me how stubbornly some of our soldiers had fought to the last, many of them using their pocket knives when their bayonets were wrenched from them. Some even astonished their savage enemies by a well directed 'one-two', straight from the shoulder, flooring the too exultant warriors like ninepins. The Zulus could not understand how men could use their hands as knobkerries, the native is quite a stranger to the art of fisticuffs."

Mitford on Vumandaba's recollections of the battle.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:19 pm

Waterloo50,

When pressed I sure Tommy Atkins would fought with whatever was to hand, and without any Marquess of Queensbury rules.

Rudyard Kipling in his Barrack-Room Ballads poem Belts provides details of an unusual weapon for a scrap.

Joseph Murphy's Razors in the air which was performed by Barry Maxwell was written circa 1879/80, although it relates to Tennessee, it appears to have been popular with British troops serving in Africa, and gives us another close-combat weapon favoured by Tommy.  According to a number of reports the cut-throat razor saw action during the retreat to Dunkirk.

John Y.
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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:52 pm

Dunkirk. I have a book that confirms that John. All took place behind a sanddune, witnessed by Sailor, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time! Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:05 pm

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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:48 pm

I found this article about the cut-throat razor (it's very far from being an ideal weapon for close-quarters combat. As a folding blade, a straight razor is as much of a danger to yourself as it is to your enemy or attacker. and the straight razors I've seen have rather short blades (because just how long do you need a shaving implement to be? which further limits their efficiency)

I do like the comment from nthornton that 'The Zulus could not understand how men could use their hands as knobkerries, the native is quite a stranger to the art of fisticuffs', now that made me laugh.

Martini Henry, didn't the Brits use the bayonet during the Falklands War?

Regards

Waterloo
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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:04 pm


Yes,

I can't recall his name but one officer actually snapped his bayonet when he thrust it into an Argentine soldier on Mount Tumbledown.

Neil
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:36 pm

They were used on Mt Longdon too. Nasty work it was too. Soldiers of whatever era will do what they have to, to survive. Isandlwana at the end was surely bitter & grim.
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:52 pm

This from todays  'The Telegraph'. 30/06/15

Last charge for the bayonet - a victim of modern warfare.


It defeated the Zulu Impi at Rourke's Drift, terrified the Germans in Flanders Fields and routed the Argentinians during the Falklands War.


Now the bayonet, one of the oldest weapons in the Army's arsenal, has been rendered redundant by the onset of modern technology. With the adoption of powerful new machine- guns and grenade launchers it is often impossible to use the bayonet in 21st century combat 'A Ministry of Defence spokesman insisted that its policy of bayonet use had not been altered, but conceded that the weapon was no longer suitable for some of the Army's principal weapons.

"It is true that you cannot fix a bayonet to some weapons that were used in Afghanistan by the Royal Marines," he said.

"But soldiers and marines are still taught how to use the bayonet when they are undergoing basic training and that will continue.

Waterloo'
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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:25 pm

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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:38 pm

Mr Greaves,

Many thanks for the link,

This small article is very significant and has answered a lot of questions for me.

regards

Waterloo Very Happy
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Wed Jul 01, 2015 12:03 am

agree I knew it would.. Time to turn in Good night one and all.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:44 am

Caleb Wood offers a very good description of using the bayonet at RD, if there was any situation that barrels where to hot to hold for bayonet use it would have been there. Didn't seem to trouble those men of B company to much.
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Wed Jul 01, 2015 5:31 am

I wonder are there any studies on how easily broken, bent or snapped off the bayonets were? At Culloden in 1746 it is recorded that bayonets actually bent with the weight of the impaled bodies.
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:23 am

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Up Close and Personal   Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:31 am

Nice John, I was looking for that.
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