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 Additional ammunition per company

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SRB1965



Posts : 68
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Age : 52
Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Additional ammunition per company   Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:42 pm

Ok, so this is with the power of hindsight and I assume that 70 rounds per man was deemed sufficient based on historical precedents.

But why did not each company have a small establishment to carry a couple of boxes of reserve ammunition, as standard.

This may have reduced the fire power by a handful of men but it would have made the company more resilient (and self sufficient) in the field.

Does anyone know if this was done post Isandlwana (or post Zulu War)?

Obviously in prepared positions/deployments – Khambula, Ulundi etc I assume additional ammunition supplies were made ready.

Cheers

Sime
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Additional ammunition per company   Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:07 am

There is very little in the Field Exercise Manual 1877 about ammunition re-supply. It says "Serving out ammunition from the regimental reserve must be carefully and frequently practised." That's it! There may be guidance elsewhere of course.

I just wonder whether two boxes per company would make a significant difference - on my calculation that's about 14 extra rounds per man?  Four men required to carry the boxes and distribute seems a high price to pay. Easier perhaps just to hand out 14 extra rounds in the first place?

Steve
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SRB1965



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PostSubject: Re: Additional ammunition per company   Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:59 pm

Hi,

I think 14 extra rounds is around 20% more 'shots' per man and I feel I would rather have potentially 1600  (or maybe 1200 - I can't remember if it was 80 x 10 or 60 x10 per box?) rounds per company, at the cost of handful of riflemen - that's assuming that it would be infantry doing the carrying rather than bandsmen etc.

I have read that 70 rounds was judged enough to carry without encumbering the soldier and that the bullets in the expense pouch tended to flirt out (if the soldier was running).

Its all academic anyway, I spose, if you think that ammo depletion only had a small part to play (if at all) with the collapse of the firing line, but readily available ammo would have made the withdrawal and 'stands' of the 24th at least more practical.

I spose the ammunition expenditure at other battles (apart from RD) was quite low

I'm just fascinated if there was an 'official' response to the ammo failure scenario, and if nothing was introduced, is this an indicator that it was considered (at the time) to be a red herring.

Cheers

Sime
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xhosa2000

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PostSubject: Re: Additional ammunition per company   Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:46 pm

The result of ammunition failure.

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PostSubject: Ammunition failure   Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:54 am

Hi SRB,
Indeed, you are right, more ammo available  in an uninterrupted supply at the firing would have changed the outcome of that ignominious battle significantly.
Now there were a number of reason for this serious  problem  not being identified . One was dealt with in  the "cover up" exposed quite copiously by l and Q in ZV, but another was the fragmented and really quite disfunctional and ineffective  ammunition supply 'system" on that day, a  factor related to the lack of  any proper battlefield command and control. Parochialism , would you believe it, also crept in, some units refusing to help the brothers in arms with ammo.
All factors which "his lordship" would have found to be most embarrassing, so this was all, expectedly, swept under the carpet .
The "ammunition failure" thread is dealt with extensively earlier on this forum gives a lot of interesting information on this subject.

regards

barry
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SRB1965



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PostSubject: Re: Additional ammunition per company   Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:23 am

barry wrote:
Indeed, you are right, more ammo available  in an uninterrupted supply at the firing would have changed the outcome of that ignominious battle significantly.

Hi Barry,

Thanks for the reply.

I am not truely convinced that the lack of ammunition would have had a significant effect on the overall out come of the battle, when taking into account with the rolling up of the right flank, the appearance of the Zulu right horn on the saddle, coupled with the fact that when the companies closed frontage (on the firing lines) they were 'isolated' and unable to fire in support of each other - I still think it would have been a 'Home Win' - there may have been more British survivors and less Zulu ones (which is very significant to the individual, I spose).

It is true that the Zulus repeatedly report that they could not get near to the 24th rallying squares until the ammo failed.

I personally do not believe the ammo failed (as such) until the companies were back in the tents/camp and that no supply infrastructure would have supplied the men with sufficient ammunition.

One book (Snook HCDB maybe?) argued that getting the ammo to the companies (in close action with the Zulus) was only part of the problem but distribution around the soldiers, would have been the crux.

Some (Knight, Snook, L&Q? can't remember who - I really must pay attention to the books I read) argued that the 24th where 'out shot' on the firing line (at close range) by the Zulus, given the amount of firearms they had and the fact that at closer ranges, the superior benefits of the MH were largely nullified (given the cover available - long grass etc)

You (or in fact I) could argue that ammunition supply to the NNMC/mounted volunteers is more important to the overall result.

One thing that I have always pondered is, when the 24th QMs turned away the NNMC troopers requesting ammo, how much carbine ammo would the QMs have? Overall in the camp there would have been thousands of rounds but possibly very few in the 24ths ammo wagons. I have read that the MH carbine could take the MH rifle bullet at a push (and a sore shoulder) but I am not even sure what carbines the mounted men carried - WR, SH, MH?

Part of my 'real life' is to investigate the 'root causes' of accidents in my work department (thankfully there are few and they are not very serious) but it is hard to do a Root Cause Analysis on something that happened two hours ago, when you can talk to the people involved.....

Thanks a lot.

Sime

ps I am not being 'argumentative' - just making conversation.....
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