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 Feedback from the Battlefields

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 2:44 am

Some news I picked up from the Talana Museum:
Around 15 of the stolen medals have been recovered. As its an ongoing issue Pam asked that the recovery method isn't disclosd. The robbery was a cash motivated issue rather than the medals themselves. When they couldn't get to the perceived cash location ( no cash is carried by the way) the second target was the safe with the medals. The medals were taken in the belief they were Gold and Silver and could be melted down.
We were discussing the diarama of the iSandlwana battlefields a couple of weeks ago, That's tne one that was mounted at the battlefield. Its now been moved from the public works department to the museum and will be refurbished and put back on display.
Pam has been, in her own words, Extremely fortunate, in acquiring 35 letters written by the general public to Cetswayo when he was staying in London. I was fortunate to be at her presentation and saw a number. Really very good. She is hoping to have them copied and bound into a book format in the near future.

The new road at Rorkes Drift has been completed since my last visit and gives a great panorama over the ground between RD and iSandlwana.

The drought carries on, the temperatures this last week were in the mid 30's every day with no sign of rain. The Buffalo river is at the lowest level I have ever seen. I walked across at the old drift literally without getting my feet wet.

The old trail between RD and iSandlwana, rather hotly debated some time back, has been fully located, Ive got some photos of the 'paving' going around the one area. Its a route that we took with a 4 x 4 that cuts out the big loop on the present road. The debate on if or not it exists is no longer based on speculation, its fact.

More to follow.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:21 am

I stopped in at the cemetery, Gingindlovu. On the way in land and was happy to see the local council clearing up around the graves, unfortunately the only color paint available was silver so everything in sight was being 'silvered'
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:22 am

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:24 am

The saga of the 'cultural centre' drags on Im afraid. There isn't a lot of information available as yet but this is the site.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:25 am

And this is what it will look like
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:27 am

We followed the now uncovered ( thanks to the drought ) Bridal trail and what is believed to be the original traders route to iSandlwana
This crossing the Bashee river
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:28 am

Sorry just couldn't resist this, not a leaf in site but the fire tree still flowers.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:30 am

The Drought has really hit home as this shot of RD shows. This is mid stream
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:31 am

At this point the water is knee deep.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:32 am

RD Hotel from mid stream
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:46 am

Part of the traders track
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The view across to RD from the top of the track
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The grass is so dried out that Shepstones grave is clearly visible
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:46 am

Jim Rorkes Grave
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:49 am

Again an effect of the drought, the grass is so withered that the old Kraal at the end of the Rock Ridge is visible
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:56 am

Thank you for posting this update, Frank. The effects of the drought are truly shocking.
Regards
Brett
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:40 am

Hi Brett
Ive never seen it this bad. Walking down the Fugitives trail the grass was crunching underfoot like walking on pop corn.
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:48 am

This is an angle I haven't posted before, its a closer shot of the area the chest attacked.
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And believe it or not this is what that ground looks like really close up
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It lends a lot of belief to the thoughts that it was a slow motion advance with the warriors having to pick their way through the minefield of rocks. And so being easy targets for the British guns.

One of the speakers at the meeting I went to chatted about the effects of the powder smoke from the guns. Hes fully convinced that the smoke from the massed firing was so bad that a cease fire was called to allow the smoke to clear sufficiently for them to see who they were shooting at. He sites a few issues such as the comment that they were shooting to high, the smoke stopped them seeing fall of shot, Casualties were higher for the Zulus earlier, they had to sowly pick there way through the rocks and didn't have the smoke screen. Finally that the Zulu testimony that at a signal all firing stopped and they attacked, could this have been when the smoke was to thick?

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:18 am

Turning through 180 degrees, this is the slope they had to conquer as well. Notice that from this angle most, if not all, of the camp itself is invisible.
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The two white dots are the first of the cairns so in that area are the first British casualties.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:47 am

Frank
The whole smoke thing emerged a few years ago when someone experimented on TV with firing a 100-year old Martini-Henry in a room - and lo and behold was surprised when the room filled with smoke!
In the open air at Isandhlwana the effect would have been negligible. No-one mentions smoke as a problem - in fact no-one mentions it at all. No-one mentions not being able to see their targets. It is known the 24th changed position twice, ostensibly to get a better view of the Zulus down in the 'hollows' - in which case its view was never obscured. As for the Zulus saying that they attacked when all firing ceased, that would comply with the occasion of the withdrawal en masse and Durnford's attempt to concentrate the men further back at the camp itself. No contemporary account states this was due to limited visibility due to smoke.
Great pictures - very clear with precise captions. Thank you.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:23 pm

Morning Julian
I thought I would just 'put it out there' as it became quite a topic of discussion. One point that could be an interesting pointer, on Friday there was an eclipse, partial, at iSandlwana. I sat through it with my camera at the ready, exposure meter finally tuned and believe it or not the difference in light was barely perceptible, it happened around lunch time by the way. So could not the sun turning dark be a reference to a thick cloud.
I made similar points to yours incidently during the discussion and it was pointed out that there were actually references from a Zulu about the camp being filled with smoke. I do recall the TV reconstruction, seem to think it also had IK bravely smashing open a pine ammo box. And since when have I taken note of contemporary accounts, tut tut. Very Happy What struck me about this whole thing was twice over last weekend I saw fires burning, one adjacent to the battlefield and one at RD when dead grass was being burned for a fire break In both cases ( windless and hot day) the smoke drifted vertically and then hovered rather than climbing. The iSandlwana occasion it was quite noticeable and drew some comment the way it refused to disperse. I was on horseback and traveling light without a camera unfortunately, If I had taken the camera I would have had to have left behind either the gin, the Tonic or the Ice. As it was I had to do without the ice!
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:20 pm

Bonjour,
I have not in mind some testimonies by survivors of British force about limited visibility due to smoke.
But some men with Chelmsford's force made remarks about smoke.
According to the narratives from Hamilton -Browne, « a lost Legionary in SA » quoted in « Zulu Rising » p.392) and Lt Banister, 2/24th (letter to his father 27/01/1879), it seems that some parts of the battlefield were obscured by smoke.
Others evoked the smoke of the « big guns » and the volleys but they didn'nt evoke a limited visibility.
(Sgt Gittins, 24th / « Imperial Cub Magazine, 1929, quoted in « Zulu ! The batle of Rorke's Drift, E. Yorke, p.75 / Inspector Mansel, NMP, quoted « Hill of the Sphinx » p. 52)

Regards.

Frédéric
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90th

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PostSubject: Feedback from the Battlefields    Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:49 pm

Hi Frank
Excellent pics , I walked across the Buffalo in May of 2015 , we were only in knee deep water for the last bit of the crossing toward the Natal Bank , from your pics it has probably got worse ! , this year ( May ) when I picked my way through the thorn bush etc to Shepstone's , I was struggling to see in front of me , hence not seeing the Kudu , or Zebras , I virtually blundered into ! . I'll hopefully be there ( Isandlwana ) in early Nov , it's all a numbers thing at this stage , we have 4 , need two more .
90th Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 2:30 pm

Hi Gary
Its without doubt the worse Ive seen, literally bank to bank in shoes and socks. As I mentioned to Brett earlier, every where you walk its like walking on egg shells, just crunch crunch. I didn't unfortunately find Macleroys headstone. It was bloody hot and I went all the way down to the ravine but missed it. When id got back to the parking lot one of the Fugitives drift guides told me there are trees grown around it so practically impossible to see, so good luck to you and ian.
The back of the mountain is bare, virtually no undergrowth at all. Hell never mind Zebra you wouldn't even blunder over a tortoise, no cover at all.
Good Luck with the November trip, about time you popped down to the Cape.
Frederic
As usuall well done, I was hunting around for some references I knew had been quoted. You got there first.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 2:31 pm

Frank
Interesting. But which Zulu testimony was it? And in what context? Talking of the smoke from the big guns is one thing but I don't know of any reference by a Zulu to a pall of smoke from rifle-fire hanging over the field. Do you recall the name?
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 2:40 pm

Still looking Julian, my money is on Frederic getting there first though. Im pretty sure it wasn't a direct referral to the rifle fire more of a comment.
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 2:54 pm

From Bertram Mitford: "Then we got into the camp and there was a great deal of Smoke and firing." Also mentions the eclipse: "And then the sun burned bright again". But I would believe the two references are separate issues.
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:06 pm

Frank,
Interesting...
It seems to me that you know the Zulu language.
Do you think that a problem of translation Zulu-English is possible about the word "smoke"? The word "smoke" is it different in Zulu to "darkness" or "penumbra" for example?
Regards.
Frédéric
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:12 pm

Frank
There is also the phraseology - "when we got into the camp" that "there was a great deal of smoke and firing" - i.e (1) before we got into the camp, there wasn't smoke and firing and (2) more smoke once in the camp because the firing would have been in a more confined area plus the smoke from the campfires.
Still not specific enough to give rise to the general statement and of course not corroborated by anyone else.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:21 pm

Interesting take Frederic, but we can only quote from Mitford. In the statement there seems to be a separation from discussing the sun and a different sentence describing the smoke linked to the firing.
Barry is the resident language expert, mine is very basic. But smoke would be translated as usisi or but darkness as ubumnyama, totally different sounds so I don't think there would be translation error.
I dont think that the possibility of a 'smoke screen' cant be completely ruled out though. Even with Browne there is a distinction between smoke and clouds of dust. He describes it as dense. Mansell though is more focused on smoke from the guns. But really who says the 'potential' smoke screen was only about the rifles?
Julian has made the point the firing stopped so the troops could regroup, but do we deduce that or do we know it for a fact. If its not a fact then its conjecture and it could still be the 'smoke screen' that caused the stoppage.
I had hopes of firing an MH this last weekend but it didn't happen.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:31 pm

Different war and different rifles - but gives an idea of what can happen en masse.
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Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:33 pm

Humm what camera did you use Steve? Shocked Joker
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:34 pm

The hypothesis of the translation error is rejected (good).
It seems to me that there is a connection between the comment made by Mr Whybra and the narrative from Hamilton-browne.
When HB described the dense smoke, he evoqued the last stage of the battle.

I.E: Steve, Where are the "grognards" ?????

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:44 pm

Retreating behind the smoke, singing øu est l'Empereur!

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:46 pm

I realized too late that I should never have written this question !!!
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:47 pm

Quote: "When HB described the dense smoke, he evoqued the last stage of the battle."
I would agree Frederic but does that not still support the concept that a) there was a lot of smoke and b) because of the heat and stillness the smoke hung around.
Unfortunatly, that experiment of the rapid firing from the TV series has dampened the argument because it took place inside a closed room. I would argue however in mitigation it would be difficult to fully reproduce the effect without a large number of men.
Another aspect would be the volley fire. If it was individual shots I would imagine the smoke would be more scattered but with volley fire, 60 to 70 men firing together, hummm a fare amount of smoke would have to be generated.
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:48 pm

Sorru but im really laughing hard at that, Frederic you so walked into that one, bravo Steve. Hell but still giggling
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:59 pm

Not my photo, but taken at the Waterloo re-enactment last year. Unusually large number of re-enactors and I think the amount of smoke surprised the organisers. Some people complained they couldn't see a bloody thing!

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:00 pm

Frank,
I don't say you are wrong ;
I only think, it's necessary to find other testimonies to support your hypothesis (I.E : "It could be the smoke scree that caused the stoppage »).
But, in my opinion, the hypothetis about « dense smoke » at the END of the battle seems (very) possible.
At the end of the battle, most of the survivors had already left the battlefield, so it's logic that there are no testimonies on the subject from them.
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:03 pm

Frank
"Julian has made the point the firing stopped so the troops could regroup, but do we deduce that or do we know it for a fact."
We know it for a fact:
Umhoti "Then at the sound of a bugle the firing ceased at a breath, and the whole British force retired on the tents. Like a flame the whole Zulu force sprang to its feet and darted upon them..."
Ditto Uguku, uMbonambi warrior, Mehklokazulu (RE Journal), Erskine.
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:05 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Sorru but im really laughing hard at that, Frederic you so walked into that one, bravo Steve. Hell but still giggling

I confess grudgingly: Me too!!!
Well done Steve!
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:06 pm

Smoke = dust clouds.  Ever been on a school field when the fire alarm's gone off on a hot a summer's day and it's not been raining for a while with 2,000 schoolkids all trying to move swiftly to their allotted places in a confined area.
I have.  There are clouds of dust.
Make that 25,000 adults and what do you get?
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:15 pm

A possible confusion between smoke and dust...
Possible for HB but for the Zulu warrior (Midford)? He was in the "melee".
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:16 pm

But he does qualify the two. With the dust clouds (brown and dirty) and gun smoke ( greyish to white) I would say it could be differentiated.
Sorry Julian for the sake of the debate im putting this back to you: Umhoti "Then at the sound of a bugle the firing ceased at a breath, and the whole British force retired on the tents. No doubt he is 100% correct but IF ( large IF) they had to withdraw because vision was hindered it wouldn't be an individual thing, at least I would assume not, so a bugle call to retire would be in order.
Yep the bugle happened, yep they retired, but that's where it ends really, much to all of our disgust, but we cant categorically state why there was a withdrawl. A point here would be that at that stage the Zulu were taking a terrible pounding and ready to give up. Why withdraw?
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:17 pm

Steve yes agreed, I spent a time in the army in the ceremonial troop, firing of volleys, the eyes started to sting badly.
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:29 pm

Just some thoughts. IK makes the same quote on page 397 of ZR, but also tells us that the bugles sounded "cease fire" and then "retire". I don't know where the detail of the double bugle call comes from, but if cease fire was sounded as well as retire then it accounts for the lull in firing. But why would you cease-fire if you could still see?  It also occurs to me that the mountain would act as barrier to the smoke, maybe making it thicker as they got closer. Finally, the smoke would have been viewed as normal, no big deal so far as comment is concerned.

Steve
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:31 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:
Smoke = dust clouds.  Ever been on a school field when the fire alarm's gone off on a hot a summer's day and it's not been raining for a while with 2,000 schoolkids all trying to move swiftly to their allotted places in a confined area.
I have.  There are clouds of dust.
Make that 25,000 adults and what do you get?

Mr Whybra,
The testimony from Lt Banister is not ambiguous: smoke from guns.
Regards
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:33 pm

Frank
Withdraw because Durnford said "the position taken up was too extended" and "he wished to collect all the troops together" (Gardner).
Durnford could see he was being outflanked.  He needed to concentrate his force.
Remember too that there's no mention of gunsmoke being a problem at Ulundi, Gingindhlovu, Kambula, RD. They used the same rifles.

ymob
Guns (i.e. artillery) or rifles?  And at that distance how could he differentiate?


Last edited by Julian Whybra on Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:36 pm

Steve,
Because Durnford was outflanked by the left horn and Pope aw in difficulty?
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:37 pm

Sorry, posts crossed
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:39 pm

Julian
Your point is well taken and Ive argued the same point from that side, BUT, we cannot be certain that Durnfords comments were translated into orders.
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PostSubject: Re: Feedback from the Battlefields   Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:41 pm

Yes, I understand why they retired, but it is not necessary to cease-fire while you are doing it, particularly if you want to slow down the attackers.The same as when the companies retired from the ridge - fire then was maintained.

Steve
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