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 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.

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SRB1965

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PostSubject: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Sun Nov 05, 2017 5:06 pm

Hi

A hypothetical question - What do people think, would have happened if the garrison of Rorke's Drift had say four or five hours notice of the impending Zulu attack occurring?

Would Spalding have reinforced RD with the companies from Helpmakker or would the garrison have fell back to Helpmakker and left the stores undefended?

Cheers

Sime

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90th

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PostSubject: '' What If '' RD Question    Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:12 am

Hi Sime
Hard to say , they were ordered , I think by Gardner ( Pencil Note ) to hold the position at all costs ? , even then , flight was on their mind at their earliest stage of preparedness , they did stay because they were aware they couldn't out run the zulus . But with 4 or 5 hrs notice , who knows.... they may well have ' Legged It ' ! .
90th Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:54 pm

Hi,

You have to wonder, was Gardner's order a realistic one, he had just seen the Zulus overwhelm six companies of 24th (+ supporting elements), did not know the strength of the Zulus adavancing on Rorkes Drift (true he did not know the two companies from Helpmakker had not arrived) and he had no idea that the garrison would improvise defences.

I think, if his order had any influence on the garrisons decision to hold and things had gone badly, he would have had to do some soul searching.....
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:59 pm

SRB1965 wrote:
Hi,

You have to wonder, was Gardner's order a realistic one, he had just seen the Zulus overwhelm six companies of 24th (+ supporting elements), did not know the strength of the Zulus adavancing on Rorkes Drift (true he did not know the two companies from Helpmakker had not arrived) and he had no idea that the garrison would improvise defences.

I think, if his order had any influence on the garrisons decision to hold and things had gone badly, he would have had to do some soul searching.....

Plus, if you think about it - the Officer in charge of RD (as far as Gardner was aware), was Brevet Major Spalding - I do not know much about a Staff Officer's role but could they give orders not from their commander (ie in this case Col Glyn) to an officer superior to themselves?

Hope this last bit isn't too confussing......

Sime
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:15 pm

Do we know what sort of person he was in military terms? Was he the sort to stay put and 'tough it out' or would he have been more cautious and fallen back on Helpmekaar as the best option? Did he have previous military experience that would at least give us a clue?

Given in this scenario that he had a few hours’ notice of what was on its way to him and assuming he also knew about the fate of the main column, it seems likely to me that he may have seen fit to err on the side of caution and evacuate RK as best he could. However, if he had a direct order to hold his position, then I'd like to think that he would have done so.


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90th

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PostSubject: What If RD question    Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:09 am

Hi NB Forrest
They could not have evacuated the post even if they wanted to , they had 30 or so sick people in the hospital , they didn't have long before they were attacked , an hour ? ( happy to be corrected ) they would've been cut down on the road to Helpmekaar , it's a steep climb with wagons laden with sick individuals , they would've been easy pickings for the zulu when caught on the open road .
90th
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PostSubject: What If RD question    Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:12 am

also forgot to mention , it was either Cochrane or Gardner ..who did indeed pencil a note to the commanding officer at RD , stating they were to hold their ground .
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:23 am

Hi 90th

It was a hypothetical question about what if the garrison had 4/5 hours to 'do one'. There is no wrong or right answer, I was just making small talk......

Can anyone tell me what the remit of a Staff Officer was? - Could they issue orders to superior officers (potentially B Maj Spadling) on their own behalf or did they only have the 'authority' to forward their superiors orders?

I am interested in could Gardner issue an order to the garrison to defend the place.

Cheers

Sime
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PostSubject: What If RD question    Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:23 am

Hi Sime
I was replying to the question asked by N.B. Forrest , actually not to your post Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy , to answer your question about staff officers issuing orders to superior ranked officers , I suppose they could in certain circumstances , seems they did ! lollll .
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:38 am

I will get to bottom of the Staff Officers role......and was Gardner exceeding his authority (as he shot of towards Dundee or where-ever).....if it kills me......

Ta

Sime

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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:04 am

Thanks for the reply 90th, in actual fact my question was continuing the 'What if' scenario of extra time being available before the onset of attack. Yes, I was aware of the sick in the hospital and the nature of the track back to Helpmekaar. Just wondered what sort of experience Spalding had which may (or may not) have coloured his decision to either chance an evacuation or stay put!

I will be intrigued to hear what you discover about the military validity or otherwise of the Cochrane/Gardner note.

Thanks again
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:11 am

I may put the Gardner question as a separate thread, the fact there are two questions here - a hypothetical discussion one (with no 'answer') and one that there must be an answer to (and someone on the forum will have it) is perhaps confusing.

Cheers

Simon
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:53 am

Hi all am new to the group and after reading the reply’s I would say 5 hour head start not a chance, it would have taken a good hour to get the wagons hitched up 10 to 16 oxen need to pull the wagon depending on the weight, then getting all the injured/loaded plus provisions is maybe another hour, we now have 3 hours left. I have driven that dirt road from Rorkes Drift to Helpmakaar and I think it’s about 10 km to the camp, just to get to the bottom of the Biggersberg mountain range would take them a further 2 hours if the road is in good condition. Don’t forget the Buffalo river in flood, so there must have been plenty of rain in the area. So roads could be in a bad state. Sorry guys it’s definitely 3 hours. Time up and we haven’t even started the accent of the Biggerberg range with the wagons yet, I drove up that track with a 4x4 and only just made it up on to the Top of the escarpment., this took me about 30 minutes. You than have a further plus minus 2 km to the post of Helpmakaar. I think you would have needed minimum of 8 hours so my advice stay and fight. Am actually going to the natal battlefields tomorrow’s for 5 days, attending the Talana festival in Dundee over the weekend but will be visiting Isandlawana, Rorkes Drift so I Weill drive that Helpmakaar road and pace it out. Also hoping to visit Ladysmith and Spion Kop.

Thank you so much for letting me join the group
Cheers
KJH
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:29 pm

Hi

Welcome and thanks for the insight, I picked on 4 or 5 hours just of the top of my head.

So given your times and the conditions you describe - the garrison would have to have began evacuating before the attack on the camp had began in earnest.

What about the second part of my question - could Spalding have sent for or gone for the two companies of the 24th and reinforced the camp given the advanced warning of the attack.

This is of course assuming he hadn't left RD when he did.....

Ta

Sime

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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:24 am

Sime.
The 5 hour time frame is a tad off. Try 90minutes or so. And that's no where near enough time to get a message to Helpmakaar and get troops back to RD.
Chard had no options other than to stay, and that's what Wolsleys point was.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:13 pm

Hi Frank,

Please see the opening post......

Cheers

Sime....... Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:19 pm

Sorry Sime, didn't go back that far. Salute
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PostSubject: Re: 'What if' Rorkes Drift question.   Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:40 am

Frank Allewell wrote:
Sorry Sime, didn't go back that far. Salute

No worries mate..... Wink
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