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 Durnfords death

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:48 am

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This is portion of a report from Henry Fynn.
Its so wrong on many levels, but, there are a number of issues that seem to corroborate other sightings of Durnford in particular Harry Davies: ' I had seen Colonel Durnford on the spot where where the guns had been in the morning ( in a prievious paragraph he positions that point as ) ; his mounted orderly was standing before him with drawn sword, and the Zulus all round."
So the position seems correct but if Hlubi had ridden past and been there long enough to catch a horse and ride of together with the orderly wouldn't it seem logical that the news of the 'suicide' would have been passed ?
Is it a possibility that in the telling a different interpretation has been put onto an event, for instance, the claim that 'the Chief' ( always assumed to be Pulleine) had been killed in his tent by Maqeda kaNtshingwayo Mdlalose after he had been shot. Could Durnford have been that officer instead? Mehlokazulu describes finding an officers body with the dead Carbineers, big moustache and his arm in a sling, possibly Durnford but not definite.
Something to kick around.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:53 am

Morning Frank
Something that might support your alternative take on this is the use of the word "Chief". Seems to me that while Durnford might well have been known to some of the Zulu indunas (and was anyway quite striking visually), I do not think they would recognise Pulleine in the same way. Must be careful not to be unduly influenced by the title of Colenso's book "My Chief and I", but I do think Durnford was far more likely to be thought of as the "Chief" than Pulleine. Will give the rest of your proposition some more thought.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:05 am

Hi Frank
I know you enjoy kicking things around , but an officer with a big Moustache and his arm in a sling , I cant think of anyone else it would be except Durnford ! , I'm sure there are several eyewitness accounts that state categorically that Durnford's body was found to the right of the camp , surrounded by Carbineers , and imperial troops , Durnford was originally buried in the side of a Donga , hardly think that would be the case if he was killed in a tent ? , sometime later Durnford was exhumed from his Donga buriel , and then Reinterred at Fort Napier in Pietermaritzburg , let's not forget that Hamilton - Browne stated he saw Pullein's body in the 1/ 24th Camp Area ? , he got off his horse to salute him if I remember correctly ? . Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:06 am

Morning Steve
I picked up the article in Natal on the last trip, I just found it interesting. Fynn makes quite a few observations, all without being there at the time of course. But he was, in theory at least, Chelmsfords political agent and so would have had the opportunity to talk to various people. Having now put the thoughts down Im going to have a look through to see what evidence there is of Durnfords position at the end. Knowing of course that the Colonials Cemetery as it is wasn't far from their camp site.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:39 am

Symonds and Norris Newman both position Durnford with Scott and the Colonials/Carbineers so pretty incontrovertible.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:42 am

Morning Gary
Yeah Im pretty sure your right, but as you say its fun to kick the occasional ant heap. Interestingly though, if Pulleine was killed in a tent would your same comments that applied to Durnfords body still be pertinent? Brown saw Pulleines body, would not have seen it if it was in a tent, but there again the Zulus cut up the tents. So again as devils advocate, would it be feasible that Durnford died in a tent and the tent was taken afterwards ?


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PS looks like an interesting second test.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:07 pm

Hi Frank
Terrible batting we lost 6 / 11 to lose by 75 runs ! . Not to sure I follow you to be honest , he was buried down at the Colonial Last Stand as stated by several who saw his body , I don't think there's ever been a mention that the Colonialswere fighting in a tented area , from memory they were attempting to hold the road . As for Devils Advocate , if Pulleine was killed in a tent , and as the Zulu burnt or cut them up , Pulleine may well've looked as if he was killed in the open ?. Browne states Pulleine was in the camp proper if I remember correctly ? .
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:41 pm

Gary
Cant believe you lost that one, really thought it was two up.

As far as the Colonials last stand it sure was on the side of the old road, that ran down the other, Northern side, of the current grave area. but in very very close proximity was the front of the 1/24th, to the South and the Mounted force to the North. We tend to think of the camp area as being miles away, but it really wasn't.
Just more ants nests. Very Happy Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:13 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:56 pm

Interesting point though, Durnford did have a 'problem' arm, but did he carry it in a sling?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:05 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:11 pm

In looking through the various reports of Durnford's position, I came across the Mac and Shad entry for Lt MacDowel RE. It quotes Higginson as saying MacDowel was "fighting side by side with Colonel Durnford" at one point. I cannot find the Higginson reference to this - any ideas?

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:45 pm

Steve
I have copies of his two statements, from 17th Feb and the 18th Feb. The only reference I can find is of a : "Carbineer who rode passed and said Col Durnford is shot.' But nothing about Macdowell. I will check further. Havent yet figured why he made two statements, both lengthy and hand written on consecutive days, and with differences.
Still checking.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:56 pm

Hi Guys

I've always thought the arm in a sling description misleading. Durnford habitually had his hand tucked into his jacket, not in a sling. However, anyone injured early, with access to even rudimentary medical back up, could appear with a sling.
Call it a speculative punt upfield.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:04 am

24th Foot
No doubt whatsoever that Durnford was in 'the fight', but the description from Mehlokazulu could easily be applied as you have pointed out, possibly even a bewhiskered chap by the name of Bradstreet would fit the bill?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:35 pm

We are supposing that whoever gave the interpretation of Mehlokazulu kaSihayo's statement gave an accurate translation ...a dead officer with his arm in a sling...

When Durnford's body was moved two musket balls fell from his body, they are on display at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham.  Are we saying that a man with paralysed arm loaded a musket?

Steve,

On your point about a chief, I believe that refers not to Durnford but to Hlubi, the orderly's chief.

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Captain A. W. Durnford.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:57 pm

Evening John
2 x Musket balls? I wonder who would have been using a muzzle loader in that group? Where does that come from John?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:12 pm

Frank,

I have their collection references somewhere, I will take a look over the weekend and see if I can find it.

John Y.

(Personally I going for Colonel Mustard in the tent with the pistol.)
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:09 pm

I'll go with Mustard. But with a cricket bail. Or masons mallet.
Not heard of these two musket balls. ?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:44 am

There is testimony that Durnford assisted in clearing blocked rounds, tucking the rifle under his bad arm. But loading a musket? Sounds like a load of b***s. Very Happy
Have to admit Ive never read of any mention to them though. But possible if they existed they could have been spilt by a Zulu onto the body. Stranger things happened with that body. It was found surrounded by a group of carbineers, then it was re found up on the saddle by the hospital tent, buried in a water wash then covered with stones. Searched by at least two people at differing times. And still managed to hang onto his balls. Man after my own heart
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:09 am

Frank,

I was convinced it was two musket balls, but on checking the R.E. Museum online search it appears to be just one, this is the Collection description:

Object number 4901.34.2.4

A cast metal bullet, spherical in shape, with a slightly shaped end. The bullet was removed from Lt. Col. Durnford. Written on the bullet in white is: "19430"


The ball is 15mm in diameter.

John Y.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:23 am

19430? A museum accession number? Removed from Col Durnfords Body, so not found ON his body but 'removed' suggests he was shot with it?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:03 am

Frank,

I assume the white number is the former catalogue number, as to the word removed when I took part in one of the many exhibitions at R.E. Museum, the then Curator used the term fell from the body. Bearing in mind the body was virtually mummified by May 1879.

The Museum is currently closed until May 2017, when it reopens I will make further enquiries.

John Y.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords death   Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:30 am

Thanks John
Small points but little things add up to bigger things. It would be really interesting to see the provenance of the bullet. If, as some reports seem to suggest he was shot in the head then yes I can see the bullet falling free, if it was in the torso then it would be more likely to have ended up in his uniform, he still wore his patrol jacket.
Im pushing this along because there are so many oddities, where he was found, what happened to his body, was he shot earlier in the battle and carried on regardless. If the last is true it puts Durnford under the spotlight as an even more dedicated and strong willed person in that he could carry on badly wounded.
In similar vein, was his body found on the Nek as Thrupp seems to suggest, if so why are the Colonials, who fought 'around' him buried a long way of. And why would Archibald Forbes say he was found on the right of the camp? Lots of questions looking for a solution. So good place to start is 'the magic bullet' ( with all due respect to JF Kennedy)

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