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Zulu Dawn:Col. Durnford: Sergeant, you're to ride back to Natal. When you see the Bishop tell him, that is, tell his daughter, that I was obliged to remain here with my infantry. Now go. God go with you. Sgt. Maj. Kambula: I leave God Jesus with you.
 
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  Durnford's Rocket Battery

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:49 pm

You give me an excuse for putting up one of my favourite books. A 1783 copy of Samuel Johnson's famous dictionary that I rescued and re-bound. And here we have the old boy's take on Bawcock. Fine fellow indeed and I chuck very well!
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:58 pm

From which we no doubt get the familiar 'my old cock'.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:58 pm

In a previous post Julian wrote,
Quote :
Bale, William E., Letter ‘My Trip to Zululand’ dated Maritzburg January 1880, Western Times, 24th April 1880: “He [a local Zulu] then took me to the donga where the cannons were taken by the Zulus. I picked up on the spot three brass screws, which were a portion of the rocket battery, and a short distance from the spot I saw a rocket not exploded.”  An [Sic.] R.A. gun was found in a ravine on the Isandhlwana-Stony Koppie nek’s western slope.

I began to ask myself how did Bale know that these three brass screws had any connection whatsoever to the rocket battery, other than the nearby unexploded piece of ordnance?  Was Bale a military man or did he have previous military experience?  So I decided to explore who he was.  

William Ebrington Bale was born in Devon, in 1820.  He emigrated to Natal circa 1850.  He established a business partnership with John Mortimer with offices in Church Street, Pietermaritzburg, where he plied his trade as a conveyancer, acting as a house, estate and financial agent.  In later life he would enter local politics and served two terms of office as the Mayor of Pietermaritzburg.  What I could not find for him was any record of military service, either as a regular or a volunteer.

Can we then depend on his assertion that three brass screws belonged to the rocket battery?  Personally, I think not, but that’s my opinion, where is the evidence?

His lack of military knowledge is betrayed in his text, he uses the expression ‘cannons’ rather than cannon - which as we all know is both the singular and the plural form - but it is the line that follows the text Julian has cited that - again in my own opinion - Bale has no inkling about military equipment.  He writes: ‘I also found several cartridges and a soldier’s water firkin, which I brought away with me...’

Is William Ebrington Bale a reliable witness, I would contend he is not.

I maintain that given the number of personnel assigned to Brevet Major Francis Russell’s command that there were only two rocket troughs in his battery.  Russell is the battery commander, also accompanying him are two other-ranks from the Royal Artillery, Acting-Bombardier George Goff of N/5, and Gunner William George Taylor of 11/7 and eight other-ranks of the 1st/24th.  This is despite of Bellairs’ Distribution of Troops in the Field - Natal and Transvaal dated 16th January 1879 that states that No. 2 Column was in possession of ‘3 Troughs’.  The same document indicates that No. 2 Column had 35 Mules assigned to it.  Another point of interest is that it had no Carts.  Such as the two-wheeled Scotch-Cart described W. M. Laurence in Julian’s post.

The other-ranks of 1st/24th can hardly have been well-versed in their role as rocketeers, even if they had been in training since the battery was formed in December of 1878.

I have searched and failed to discover a contemporary illustration of rocket battery being carried by mules.  The closest I can discover is that of a section of two cannon of an Indian Army mountain battery equipped with 7lb’er R.M.L. mountain-guns.  The engravings appeared in The Graphic on 19th October 1878.

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The battery deployed under the command of a British officer.

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The battery on the march, note the numbers required to handle the mules.

Private Hector Grant was told off to hold the battery’s horses, he records in his testimony: ‘...we fired one rocket when we were overpowered by the enemy owing to the bad position we were in at the foot of the hill.  When the enemy fired their first volley the Native Contingent ran away and the mules with the rockets also broke away.  I had been told off to hold the horses belonging to the Rocket Battery and was holding them close to the troughs. ...’

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Could Pte. Grant have held the battery’s horses thus?  As demonstrated by the Diamond Fields Horse in the 9th Cape Frontier War.

Private W. (Although given on the Muster Roll as D.) Johnson states: ‘...We had time to fire our rocket when they came over the hill in masses, and commenced to fire on us.  As soon as they opened fire the mules carrying the rockets broke away. ...’

Mehlokazulu kaSihayo in his interview states: ‘...Something was going wrong with the battery of rocket launchers. Two of the mules had climbed onto an outcrop and were killed. Two mules were left, but the man was unable to fire. ...’

If Mehlokazulu is correct in his assessment that two mules were killed, and two mules made off.  Both Grant and Johnson state the mules carrying the rockets made off.  This is seemingly corroborated by Lieutenant Harry Davies, commanding the Edendale Troop as reported in:
Supplement to the Jersey Weekly Press and Independent 15th March 1879:
‘...We kept that on for a long time, and when we got round the first ridge, back the way we had come, we found the rocket mules, with their loaded packs...’

If this is indeed the case personally I do not believe that only four mules could possible carry three rocket troughs, as well as the requisite number of rockets.

Again, these are just my thoughts in the subject.

JY
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SRB1965



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:30 am

Hi John,

I think somewhere in the thread, it is stated that there was an un-named mule 'wrangler' (my words), with the unit.

If the path of up the slope (I'm not getting into notches/defiles etc) was so difficult that the rockets had to be man ported up by 25 men of the NNC - would it be not un-reasonable to think that, majority of the heavily laden 'ammo mules' were at the bottom of the hill, possibly with the NNIC?

I do not know if the mules with the actual troughs, carried anything else (missiles) or just the 27lb trough (a light load for a mule?)

Another question raised is - it would appear that the battery was short some horses for the 'gunners' - did these men walk with the mules (or ride one of them) - or is just a miscalculation based on lack of evidence that there were not enough horses.....until a year
or so ago - we did not know that Taylor existed....

I personally believe the Russell would have had some kind of cart (back at the camp) at least for his detachments tents/camp equipment (and if so is a ammo cart out of the question) - and this would have come in with the rest of Durnfords baggage escorted by the NNIC.

Whilst the engravings of the mountain guns are very good - were they done to show the actual reality of the numbers involved or just a stylised drawing, for the folks back home?

The guy with the horses looks like me trying to control the kids in Tescos.....

Cheers

Simon
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:43 am

Simon,

I think it was Julian who introduced the as yet unnamed muleteer.

The only reference I found - at this time - about the rockets being unloaded and carried up by hand appears in Isandlwana - The Revelation of a Disaster by Ron Lock, page 160.  I will contact Ron for a cross reference.

You will note that I also previously queried about the trough’s weight not being too much for the mules.
I have to desire to step on anyone’s toes, so for now I will politely acquiesce by my silence in not commenting further.

Somewhere I can recall seeing that the rocket battery advanced at a walking pace, I just have to find the contemporary source for that.  Which might indicate insufficient mounts for all members of the battery.  If the dismounted members of the battery did ride on the mules, I would suggest that they could only have ridden those that carried the spare rocket panniers, such as those seen by Davies.

Russell and the battery more than likely had their baggage carried on a designated wagon.  The Scotch-Cart as described by Laurence, and illustrated in Ian Bennett’s work Eyewitness in Zululand illustration no. 38.  Were used by both artillery and infantry units as ‘ready action’ supply vehicles.  Durnford’s No. 2 Column according to the document issued by the Deputy Adjutant General had no such carts.

The engravings of the mountain battery are based on photographs, so no trick or slight of hand, they portray the reality of mule borne artillery battery.  Subsequent illustrations and photographs of the slightly later ‘screw-gun’ appear to show a ratio of three men to two mules.  A ‘screw-gun’ required four mules to carry sections of the gun and its ammunition.  See Donald Featherstone’s Weapons and Equipment of the Victorian Soldier for an illustration.

As to the horse-holder the United States Cavalry of the Indian Wars period used the same technique- but I guess that was in Walmart.

Regards,

JY


Last edited by John Young on Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:15 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Amending an author’s name to the correct spelling.)
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:06 am

John
I believe the quote about the 25 men, and the condition of the path comes from Nourse.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:23 am

Frank,

I had surmised that, but knowing what you are also up to I didn’t want to rain on your parade either.

JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:31 am

Hell John, I will take rain from anywhere at the moment. Very Happy So saying we had rain last night, massive electrical storm and around 15mm fell.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:32 am

Might he not have been describing N/5's rockets?
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:34 am

Frank,

I forgot to ask is that how you held your horses when you were in the cavalry?

Joker
JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:35 am

Julian,

Who?

JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:36 am

Hi Frank/John,

Yes it was Nourse's account (well one of them) that mentions 25 of his men being used as porters.

I seem to recall that the NNIC had to jog behind the rocket unit but I can not remember if it was contemporary account or a later flight of fantasy.

As I mentioned, somewhere before there is little difference in walking pace between a man & a horse (4mph) only endurance is different (in ideal circumstances I spose).

I had read about the US cavalry using that method of horse holding - and I suppose it makes sense....you are not going to get pulled over (nor shot!)

Cheers

Simon





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SRB1965



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:38 am

Ooops been a flurry of activity whilst I was typing....
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:13 am

John
I should point out that Bale, Laurence, and Woolmer's letters occur in the Taylor essay's footnote 49 and relate to collated references of rockets, tubes, and rocket-carts being found in the camp-saddle area. Some writers (without realizing that there were rockets, etc included within N/5's armoury) have suggested that these were from mules of Russell's RB which somehow made it back to camp. The point of footnote 49 was to show that these did not relate to Russell's RB - hence the importance of the cart with RIGHT DIVISION stamped on it (i.e. the right division of N/5 Battery).
Whilst I agree that Bale was not a military man, he simply reported what he saw - an unexploded rocket and brass screws (source admittedly debatable) - and the rocket was the evidence I wished to highlight and to be taken at face value
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:05 am

John
I held my horse the same way I held my booze, badly, and it always ended up with me on my back. So I can appreciate the handlers position. Very Happy Off Topic
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:46 am

Good shot of a mountain battery, slightly later date but right location.

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PostSubject: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:03 am

Excellent pic Steve , do you have a date 1881 or later ? , what do you think JY ? .
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:22 am

Steve,

An excellent photograph which I think says it all.  Just look at the numbers involved.

I would date it between the mid to late 1880’s as the other ranks are wearing puttees, as opposed to leather gaiters.  It could possibly date from 1888 campaign in Zululand.

It appears that only officers and trumpeters are mounted.  One man there in a slouch hat in the foreground although a number of others bringing up the rear.

Murray’s phototographic studio was established in 1878 in Church Street, PMB, and operated until 1898.

JY
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:58 am

Appeared in Army and Navy Illustrated 1896.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:16 pm

10th Mountain Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery were based at Fort Napier, PMB, from 1893 until the outbreak of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War in 1899.

JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:37 pm

Featherstone.

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Bennet.


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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:16 pm

I came across a rule of thumb for loading mules as being 20% of body weight. Mules weight was between 370 to 460kg. So loading would be to the order of aprox 90kg for efficient long distance traveling.
A box of 4 rockets would be aprox 17kg x 4 boxes and the trough around 12.3 kg or to fill the criteria around 80 kg. It would leave a small space for the muleteers personal goods. ipad, shaving cream, bottle of Jack Daniels etc.
Just of interest.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:17 pm

Tsk, forgot the ice maker.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:07 pm

Ahhh, that would be the American Mule, Frank...... Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:45 pm

From the pages of The Whitehall Review of 1879:

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JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:26 pm

I received this by email. I have replied informing him that I haven't contacted him at all, however he seems a nice enough chap. So I'm posting the email in this thread. Has any other member contacted him.

"Dear Sirs

I do not know why an inquiry was sent to me, but I have researched the Zulu War for my own private purpose,  It would appear that somewhere, somehow, my contact details have been recorded.

Neither do I know about General Lord Chelmsford deploying rockets. However, I do know that in the wake of the calamity that was Isandlwana, Chelmsford withdrew back to Port Natal and contacted Whitehall for reinforcements as a matter of urgency. As one of the outcomes, Chelmsford went to battle against the military might of Cetewayo at Ulundi, deploying for the first time ever, a Gatling detachment. This innovation was doubtless decisive in the outcome, which was an absolute rout that left the bodies of the Zulu impi piled deep on the plain and put the Zulu king to flight.

I am no expert in munitions, but when I saw your call for information, it seemed probable that, given the rapidity of developments in this field in the aftermath of the American Civil War, as well as possible terminological ambiguity, Chelmsford's "rockets" may well have components of the newly-developed and newly-acquired Gatling guns..

I hope it helps"

Michael Kenmuir.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:05 am

Hi,

Strange e-mail.....I've not contacted him, but as y'all know a Gatling gun was first used prior to Isandlwana at iNyezane.

Now there's an idea for weapon....a Gatling Rocket....something even the Germans didn't do with their Nebelwerfers.

Cheers

Simon
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PostSubject: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:42 am

Yes the emailer is incorrect , as Simon states the Gatling Gun was first used at Nyezane . The emailer also hasn't mentioned the Gatlings at Gingindlovhu ! .
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:12 am

Hi

One thing I was thinking about regarding the potential route of Drunford's column leaving the camp or the potential point which the RB cut off from the 'track (if you believe it left camp via the track).

There were a number of abandoned/destered Kraals (3 to my limited knowledge - the 'friendly fire' one, 'Wolfe' one and 'Conical Hill') one in the area - how long had they been abandoned/deserted?

Was it on the eve of the war or some years before.

If fairly recently (or they had been occupied for many year prior) would there have been stock paths or tracks between them? The stock must have been moved in and out at to graze etc.

I am not saying these would have military grade roads but would they be an indicator that the way was clear through the 'sea of grass' (and I am not personally convinced that it was sea of grass) or that this route went in the general direction of 'x'

If wishing to take my tribe of kids (and I wish someone would) on a walk through the country - its obvious which is the best way across a filed is - follow the 'animal runs'.

Cheers

Simon
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:48 pm

Simon
There are a few very early maps, the earliest I have is March 1879 but the level of detail doesn't go as far as showing the traditional footpaths. I do however have a series of aerial photos which go back to 1945 that do show in remarkable detail the various footpaths in use at that time. I'm open to correction but I think there were around 7 kraals in the area. The troops had a habit of re cycling the kraal material so most of them were 'ruins'.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:27 pm

There were no detailed maps of Zululand available in 1879. This extract suggests the best maps available from the confidential copy of a "Precis of Information concerning the Zulu Country with a map" published by the Intelligence Branch in 1878. The IB map is based on Durnford's boundary map at quite a large scale.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:39 pm

Steve
The intelligence branch map is dated March 1879
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:42 pm

Steve dated copy e mailed to you
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:07 pm

Thanks Frank. This is from Jepp in 1877 (part of his Transvaal map). Really quite blank in the area of Isandhlwana but it does show the ground claimed by the Boers in the north which was the start of all the trouble.
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And this is Durnfords boundary map of 1878 at Kew. It too is a little vague on Isandhlwana (interesting "Sunhlwana south east of RD). Bloody good mapmaker though.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:03 pm

Wow, I didn't realise the 'disputed territory' came down as far as Rorkes Drift.....
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:05 pm

Durnford's boundary map's can be found in The Boiling Cauldron by Huw Jones.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:08 pm

Good thought. The Boiling Cauldron demonstrates just how difficult research in this area can be. Durnford's final boundary map is at Kew while his preliminary sketches are in KZN. Bartle Frere writing to Hicks Beach shows just what a pigs ear the then existing government of the Transvaal had made of the boundary line. And having now annexed the Transvaal HB was going to sort it out. Didn't he just!
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Steve Reinstadtadtler
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:37 pm

SRB
The old beaconed-off territory came down as far as RD (the area claimed by the Transvaal. The Boundary Award only awarded the area to the west of the Blood River to it.
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SRB1965



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Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Yesterday at 7:30 am

Hi,

I never appreciated that until I saw that map.

Was the area actually 'beaconed' off in some way - I notice on the map there is a 'place' called 'Two Beacons' and there appears to be un-named marks along the border?

Would there have been more white (Boer) encroachment into this area, even though the area was not awarded yet, as they hoped?

Thanks

Simon
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Yesterday at 10:12 am

There were beacons though they were from 20 years earlier if I recall correctly. There was a very limited encroachment into this area. By 1879 I'm not sure whether any Boer homesteads/stores remained at all (perhaps just one or two up near the Pongola).
I'd have to check this.
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SRB1965



Posts : 268
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Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Yesterday at 10:21 am

Thank you, Julian.
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Durnford's Rocket Battery
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