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 Wagons at Isandlwana

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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:38 am

JY / Frank
The problem with the oral history you're quoting is that it doesn't quite gel with what Xhosa was suggesting.
'Sliding through the grass under their shields' or 'creeping forward' doesn't quite match the notion of 'waist-high grass' through which an enemy could have merely bent double and run. 'Opening fire from a place of concealment' is not something one can do from the middle of a patch of tall grass - nothing would be visible - an enemy would have to reach the edge of the high grass where the ground becomes bare, crouch (not lie prone to fire up the sloping ground) and then he would be very visible. Muzzle-loaders would be even more visible when reloading. Essex's and others' accounts talk of bullets flying everywhere and not from just one location where Prince Shingane's ancestors were allegedly grouped together. No British or Zulu account gives credence to such a notion.
I'm sorry to pour cold water on an idea but I'm very wary of recently-surfaced, modern, oral history (as opposed to oral history recorded contemporaneously or near-contemporaneously - that is totally acceptable especially when corroborated by a second source e.g. James Stuart Archive material).
We all have family stories (in our non-traditional oral Western culture) but they never have the sort of detail or provenance that the study of history demands. Even in more orally-accustomed, tribal societies such as the Zulus once were, to accept 'preserved' oral history from 137 years ago, assume that it's not been subjected to the Chinese-whispers effect, and accept it as verbatim is stretching the limits of credibility and not worthy of inclusion in any serious academic work or factual discussion.
As a piece of modern oral history it is worthy of a footnote but with the rider that it is unattributed (which ancestor precisely?) and remains uncorroborated (who else can back this up with concrete or hearsay evidence?).
Like Captain Carey being kicked by a horse and dying or the NNC being at the 'knuckle of the line at Isandhlwana' and fleeing, fiction has a nasty of habit of turning into fact and being subsumed without argument into the accepted canon if one isn't careful.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:25 am

John Y
Thankyou I would appreciate that. My problem, if he was with the uDloko would be that he should have been on his way to RD. Potentially then he was detached to form part of a 'rifle brigade'.
I have spent considerable time at iSandlwana over a close to 45 year period at different times of the year and I have never seen grass to that height dense enough to hide a person. In trying to isolate an area that it could have occurred we would have to rule out the eastern front as the iNgobamakhosi, uVe and uNdi were all attacking over the Nkengeni ridge and were dreadfully exposed to the fire from the donga. That would rule out that area completely. On the North eastern face the ground was seemed by dongas, again not condusive to a body crawl position. The only areas left therefore would be the direct Northern approach and the Western attack. The possibility therefore would exist that a rifle troop could have taken up position there ( close to the Church area ) but I would seriously doubt they could have got close to the line.
This is the area in question, the photo was taken around February 2000
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This is the only real example of Waist High Grass I have, and this was the flood plain at Fugitives Drift.
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Looking for an explanation I would suggest that when the uNokhenke and uMcijo were driven back over the ridge on the initial charge it could be quite possible that a group had slid up to the edge of the escarpment and keeping low fired down onto the British Lines. That's just a thought.

Julian
Ive always found in African History the claims have always had a basic start point, embellishment for sure but there would always be a Kernel of fact in there. Possibly the explanation I have offered could be that Kernel.
'NNC at the Knuckle', fiction? Dear oh dear...................................

Cheers
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:56 pm

Frank
Yes, possibly.  I always find with oral history that once I 'push' for embellishment or detail, the more unlikely something becomes.  Best just to accept it as it is for what it is.  The 'kernel' may be something as simple as some of the Prince's descendants had a few rifles with them which they carried with them as they crawled forward under their shields (in fact, why would they need to do this if the tall grass were hiding them?).
As for the NNC at the 'knuckle', you know what I mean.  I was thinking of the Morris version of events.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:58 pm

Julian,

I take it your fingers are slipping again Prince Shingane kaMpande was the half-brother of King Cetshwayo, so I find it highly unlikely that his ancestors as you put it were present at Isandlwana, except in spirit.

One of my other friends recalled what he had been told through his family's oral history, I asked him to write it down for me which he did. I read the same words that he spoke in published book on Zulu history. Should I doubt things, yes I do, but when I see things like I did today it makes me think that there is an element truth.

I'm trying to find which I saw the reference to Shingane kaMpande commanded a number of riflemen, I thought it was Rope of Sand, but I cannot find in the time I have had available today.

John Y.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:04 pm

JY
Sorry John, wrote ancestors, meant descendants.  Apologies, brain slipping, not finger.

Re the second friend's oral history, I have to ask was this also a descendant of Shingane?  In which case, it's simply the re-telling of the same oral history as the first friend.  And I would ask what was the published book on Zulu history you mention?  Was it contemporary with 1879 or thereabouts?  If not, then my same comments apply.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:02 pm

Julian,

No he is a descendant of Prince Dabulamanzi, and the words that he wrote appear in Volume III of the James Stuart Archive, contemporary enough for me.

John Y.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:13 am

JY
Sorry to be dense but I'm finding what you've written very confusing. Apologies.
You wrote first:
"One of my other friends recalled what he had been told through his family's oral history, I asked him to write it down for me which he did. I read the same words that he spoke in published book on Zulu history."
And you wrote secondly of this friend:
"he is a descendant of Prince Dabulamanzi, and the words that he wrote appear in Volume III of the James Stuart Archive".
This sounds as though you're referring to Dabulamanzi's words in the JSA vol III, yes? Was Dabulamanzi and the uNdi Corps not at Isandhlwana long enough to have played any active role in the attack? Was he not referring perhaps to Rorke's Drift? If he wrote down the exact same words as his ancestor Dabulamanzi, might he not simply be repeating them verbatim?


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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:07 am

Julian,

What I was trying to prove to you was some credence can be given to the inherited oral history.

You are wrong to conclude that the words had any bearing on Isandlwana.

All somewhat off topic, so I'll get back other matters.

John Y.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:45 pm

JY
Absolutely, credence can in general be so given. Nothing should be dismissed out of hand. I would never do that.
But if the words had no bearing on Isandhlwana then it doesn't really matter!
Keep well!
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:34 am

James Stuart presents a similar problem in that great swarths are of recolections of history by the narrators and even more as heresay. Goes without saying though that the archives are my first port of call.
Cheers
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:05 am

...and in most cases are given via a translator.
Ich bin ein Berliner as Kennedy said!!
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:23 am

Funny you should say that I was there when he said it.
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:24 am

Still there when he was shot in 63.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:41 am

Well, well, what were you doing there?
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:58 am

He was on the grassy knoll...
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:21 am

In Berlin that is, stationed there with BAOR.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:20 pm

John Young wrote:
Frank,

The oral history was quite good as the two descendants I met with at Isandlwana explained how they slid through the grass using their shields.  Shingane was approximately 40 years of age in 1879, and according The Zulu Army and Zulu Headmen was a member of the uDloko ibutho.  That said the family offered no oral history that he fought at Rorke's Drift, only at Isandlwana.

I have been waiting from a written transcript to appear from Ulundi, as they want to do something with it to counter what they saw as propaganda being using for self-promotion by another descendant.  I can drop you an e-mail or pm as to that.

John Y.

Is there any images of Zulu's using the grass as cover, in this manner of any other ?
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:33 pm

24th,

The image of a dead Prince Imperial...

The Zulu hid in mealie stands.

John Y.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:34 pm

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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:55 pm

uDhloko at Isandhlwana??
I recall that the Zulus are often recorded as seeing RD and Isandhlwana as one continuous battle - I do wonder whether the oral history in question has become fuzzy.
Anyway, there's certainly no waist-high grass...
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:35 pm

Julian,

As you are still going on about something that I have commit in type to this forum regarding oral history. Can I ask you who was the commander of the uDloko ibutho and during the course of which battle was he wounded? When you have thought that one through please consider your question above.

John Y.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:03 pm

I shant spoil this by jumping in, John I have sent you a PM.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:28 pm

JY
But John, Zibhebhu had gone off by himself, and got caught up in the fugitives en route behind the mountain and broke his finger toddling about among the rocks before he excused himself.  We're not concerned with an isolated inDuna but about the warriors who comprised the uDhloko.
I grant you that if a group of uDhloko warriors with rifles crawled to a point where they could take potshots at the fugitives then that's perfectly possible (though I would question why bother crawling at that stage) but from the reading of the oral history that's been proffered, it doesn't sound like that's the case.  It sounds more like crawling forward under sustained fire and doing their best not to get shot.  That sounds like Isandhlwana (unlikely but not to be discounted given what's known about the uDhloko's movements) or Rorke's Drift (possible and more likely given what's known about the uDhloko's movements).
I'm not being deliberately awkward: the very nature of oral history means it has be critically questioned.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:01 pm

Julian,

This is totally off of the stated topic, and if you want discuss any further then please e-mail me. But as some of the forum are aware I cannot commit to lengthy messages at the present.

John Y
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:37 pm

Hi John
All right. Not a problem. Sorry for being a pain.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:39 pm

JY/Julian
Most, if not all, frequent visitors to Zululand will have a story to tell of sitting around a camp fire listening to there host/travel guide tell of the wonders of the Zulu battles. But this sub topic isn't really about that level of tales its about father passing to his sons the stories of his father and his fathers father and of the esteem they are held in. Its pretty uncanny at times listening to these generally elders of the tribes talk with the utmost sincerity in there voices. They aren't out to impress just to pass on what they know. To listen to the elders the doctors the statesmen talk in this rhythmic and oh so descriptive way is a life experience. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had that level of involvement and to be amazed by the recall, Im ashamed to admit it but I have on occasion decided to check back and been suitably abashed when the tellers have been proved correct.
There is a parallel of course in europeon history with the 'begats'. But not as much fun as when told by someone who 'spiritually' was there.
During an exchange once upon a time with Ian Knight I told him a story of sitting on the side of Mkwene with my customary sandwiches and bottle of cold Chardonnay and being approached by an old chap, had to be a 100 or so. He sat down a few yards downhill of me and without looking at me stared to talk about the day his ancestors fought a great battle there. He had no idea I had any knowledge of the incident and just carried on talking as if he was there, he would pause and I would pass a mug of wine that would disappear very fast and then carry on waving his arms and gesticulating, the more he drank the wilder the story became. The wine and the end of the battle expired together. The old man had hit every nail on its head, he disagreed so emphatically with a couple of facets commonly accepted and to a degree colored my own perceptions. After I had explained this to Ian he ventured to tell me a similar tale, but one I cant repeat, after all its his story not mine.
You cant write of the power of memories passed through the generations, treat them with a certain scepticism sure, but take them on board.
Sorry waffled on a bit there. Must be the cold wine..........................................
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:46 pm


Great images Frank, makes you wonder what happened to
the ' waist high ' grass that we have all heard of, i thought
apartfrom the immediate camp site the grass was rampant
affording lots of cover for the attacking Zulu, you know that
place as well as anyone, any thoughts on that.. xhosa


Well the ' waist high ' grass comment ' was not intended to
spark off such a reaction..i was thinking of the ground a lot
further out, over the plain and plateau and up to the ridge and
escarpment, as most of you know i have not walked that ground
but have relied on others who i know have..from the masses of
photos i have seen the ground although very undulating is mostly
low grass and scattered with rocks and boulders, is that the same
for January at harvest time? when all growth is at its zenith.. i
have photo's of Isandhlwana where the grass appears much longer.
I'm afraid it must be a product of my own imagination..the notion
of Zulu's charging through the long grass..but hiding in long grass is
not..ie. the same day at Inyezane..Pearson's scouts blundering into
the Zulu's hiding in the long grass, the P.I. and the Tambookie, and
Bullers reconnaissance before Ulundi.. sorry for the confusion..
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:35 am

Hi Les
For sure the grass does get pretty high but its pretty sparse except for down by the rivers. Ive just had a look through photos up on the plateau, its more 'meadowy' up there and the same over areas of the plain towards Mangeni. But what we do know for a fact is that weather patterns, urbanisation etc have all changed the countryside so I would be the last to try and rule out anything. Inyezane is a different case, much closer to the coast and different climatic conditions, the grass down there and Gingindlovu grows pretty high and dense. When I was in Ulundi last year driving in passed Fort Nolela again the grass on the plain was pretty high.
Hope that helps.
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PostSubject: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:15 pm

Hi Frank
When I went past Ft Nolela last May Anthony Coleman said it was well and truly overgrown , but more so with vegetation , so much so you cant get to it ! . I hope it might be different this time , I'll be going that way on a day between the 5th - 10 th May . I'll be seeing a few places I haven't been to previously , where Filter was killed ( which isn't where his monument is ) Ft Newdigate , Ft Chelmsford , Ft Marshall , Where Lt Frith was KIA , Lt Pardoe's grave near Ft Marshall , which is close to Isipezi where Zulu dawn was filmed & Mbelini's Stronghold , many other places which I've been to once but will be lucky enough to have another look around them . I've enlisted the services of Paul Naish for my last 5 days I'm at the Lodge , will be doing my own thing for the first 6 days of my stay at the Lodge , he comes very highly recommended , I've got a chap from Durban running me out to the old cemetery at Stanger so I can photograph the Memorial to those who died at the Herwin Hospital during the AZW , then we proceed to Nyezane battlefield , go up Wombane , trace the left horn steps , follow the route used by Wellman & Pearson , all in all it should be very entertaining as Paul is very good company so I believe . You have a great time in the UK , looking forward to hearing what you think of Brecon ! . Please don't take anything ! , leave that to me , it's in my blood so they say !! Very Happy Very Happy Don\'t agree Don\'t agree Don\'t agree Don\'t agree Salute Salute
90th Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:20 pm

Ned Kelly rides again!   Joker
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PostSubject: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:27 pm

Hi JY
Paul is doing an excellent job cobbling all our places together , we are hoping we can get them done in the 5 and a bit days I have him at my disposal . He's going to Majuba tomorrow then on to Isandlwana & RD , not sure if I mentioned that to you ? . I've sent that many emails in the last couple of days ! . Don't know who I've told what Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked
90th

ps Such is life !
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:29 pm

Hiya Frank, yeah that certainly does help, i revisit the photo's
off you and Gary on a regular basis, i never tire of looking at
them..and as you say the features are bound to have changed
in the intervening years, but waist high grass i feel is still down
to my fevered imagination..i guess i am lucky that time has not
changed me a jot in my enthusiasm for all things AZW. thanks..

Gary i owe you an e mail to give my thoughts on what we were
discussing..if you remember, but your so close now to your trip
that i hesitate to give you my views which i have held for many
years from Ian and Norman Holme and the like, but i have been
cracking the books and studying text and your excellent photo's
and will have my thoughts ready for you on your return..i have
not spoken to anyone about this.. cheers both. xhosa

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:00 am

90th
Gary the track up to the Fort Nolela is really bad and doesn't take much to become impassable. Just before the steel gates that go into the facility at the bottom of the hill there is a grave, behind that is a bush path if you follow that up for 25minutes you will get to the fort. Paul knows all the tracks hes been doing it for years. Big omission from your bucket list is a trip to the top of Shiyane. Its well worth the hike to see the whole area from RD across to iSandlwana plus most of the Fugitives trail.
Probably the best photo opportunity of the battlefields.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:14 am

Inside Nolela looking towards Ulundi
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The path leading down to the grave
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The Grave the track is to the right
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Happy Hunting
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90th

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PostSubject: Wagons at Isandlwana   Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:58 pm

Hi Frank
Agreed , the view from Shiyane would be excellent , that's the one thing I haven't done so far , had a chance last Nov , but I could see the weather was going to turn nasty , and it did , heavy rain , thunder & Lightning , although 3 of them did go up , they were drenched when they finally got down ! , I have been up on the terraces . If I have the time I'll see if Paul wants to do it , if not , I'll do it next March on the Knight / Marais trip , which will certainly be going ahead from what we know at this stage regarding numbers , I'm just hoping Isandlwana Lodge is still around ! Suspect Suspect . I know you are a RD Hotel ' groupie ' Joker , but I don't think there is a better view in KZN , than waking up watching the sun come across the plain , and hit the Mountain , I will never tire of that view , I'll be up every morning to watch it , plus I get an early start agree agree Joker
Thanks for the heads up re Ft Nolela
Cheers Frank . Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:26 am

Frank Allewell wrote:
The ambulance description is provided by Forbes" A little further on was a broken and battered ambulance waggon, with its team of mules mouldering in their harness, and around lay the corpses of soldiers. poor helpless wretches, dragged out of an intercepted vehicle, and done to death without a chance of life."
Without doubt the ambulance was below the line of the neck and its highly possible it was the one witnessed by Davies, its suprising that Davies didn't see fit to record that while taking the time to count the number of mules pulling it? 

Bonjour,
"Since that frightful day [I.E the 22 january] I have paid a visit to Isandhlwana.(...). We found the ambulance wagon, the doctor and all the sick men were killed and the 6 mules lying dead in their harness".
Letter from Walter Granger, NC, a survivor of Isandhlwana, "Lantman's Drift", May 23d, 1879
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:00 am

Frederic
Thank you for that, it does however ask a couple of more questions though, such as the doctor, by intimation, being found with the sick men and the ambulance. Shepherd was supposedly killed much further along the trail while attending to Macleroy. This I think is the second possibly the third reference to Shepherd being found closer to the saddle. That then brings into question if or not he was killed while attending to Macleroy or the possibility that Macleroy wasn't killed at that time but managed to ride further along the trail.
Its surely an area for investigation for you my friend, it would make a useful essay for the forum.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:21 pm

90th wrote:
: , but I don't think there is a better view in KZN ,  than waking up watching the sun come across the plain , and hit the Mountain , I will never tire of that view , I'll be up every morning to watch it :


maybe you could post of that.
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PostSubject: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:38 pm

Hi Free
I'm fairly certain I've had these photo's previously , as I have no clue how to post them myself , I need to rely on others to post them for me . I'll see what I can find agree
90th Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:47 pm

Here are a couple of yours Gary. Sunrise and sunset.
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Steve
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PostSubject: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:00 pm

Hi Steve
I was hoping someone who I'd sent the photo's to would post them for free54 Salute Thanks Steve , much appreciated .
90th Very Happy agree
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:23 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Frederic
Thank you for that, it does however ask a couple of more questions though, such as the doctor, by intimation, being found with the sick men and the ambulance. Shepherd was supposedly killed much further along the trail while attending to Macleroy. This I think is the second possibly the third reference to Shepherd being found closer to the saddle. That then brings into question if or not he was killed while attending to Macleroy or the possibility that Macleroy wasn't killed at that time but managed to ride further along the trail.
Its surely an area for investigation for you my friend, it would make a useful essay for the forum.

Regards
Dear Frank,
I am unable to wrote an essay on this subject. The battlefield of Isandhlwana is "your garden".Why don't you try?
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:13 pm

ymob
Out of interest what is the source of the Granger letter?
Julian
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:26 pm

Mr Whybra,
I AM not at home . Tomorrow, I'll send you à copy .
Amitié
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:34 am

Frederic could you copy me on that please.

regards
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:43 am

very nice photos. thank you gentleman for posting them.
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PostSubject: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:11 pm

Salute
90th Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:36 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Frederic could you copy me on that please.

regards
Bonsoir Franck,
Of course, my friend...just wait my return at home this night.
Amitié.
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:00 pm

Mr Whybra and Franck,
The Granger 's letter is a narrative of the battle. He quoted Scott, Durnford,the NNC, the ammunitions, the wound of Erksine, the call of a bugle...
I wonderif this letter is a ",found"?
Tihis letter it seems to me is not quoted in England's sons and in a selected bibliograp ( Raugh).
Cheers
Frédéric
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PostSubject: The Granger letter   Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:14 pm

Hi Frederic,

Do you not what is said in the Granger letter about "the ammunition"?.


regards


barry
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