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 The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana

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PostSubject: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:52 pm

This has always been a matter of debate, did Melvill and Coghill really deserve the VC. Or was they granted because their families lobbied for them.
I have a personal opinion on the Melvill and Coghill subject that as not always gone down well. But my opinion was based on facts and the evidence available. The text below points out some of the Myths connected to the deaths of Melvill and Coghill.


This from the kwazulu Website.

"It is one of the most stirring moments in the dramatic story of the battle. As the Zulus burst through the British line, and all is about to be lost, Col. Pulleine, in command of the camp, called Lts. Melvill and Coghill of the 1/24th to him, and gave the Queen's Colour of the battalion - the symbol of regimental and national pride - into their care, ordering them to 'take it to a place of safety'. Together, Melvill and Coghill dash across country, braving the horrors of the Zulu pursuit, only to lose the Colour in the raging Mzinyathi (Buffalo) River, on the very threshold of safety. Having crossed the river, both men are tragically overtaken and killed.

This view is very much a construct of the times, created to soothe the 24th's wounded pride, and to provide the British public with an unequivocal image of selfless heroism with which to offset the horror of the defeat.

Needless to say, it didn't happen quite like that, either. None of the British survivors of the battle claimed to have seen Pulleine hand the Colour to Melvill, and in fact the story first appeared a month or so after the battle, attributed to an anonymous source. Almost certainly, the story originated among surviving officers of the 24th, keen to ensure that Melvill's actions appeared in a suitably heroic light. In fact, as Adjutant of the 1/24th, the care of the Colours fell in any case within Melvill's responsibilities.It is far more likely that he fetched the Colour in an attempt to rally the battalion - but then found that it was too late, and instead tried to carry them away. He did not leave the camp with Coghill - several witnesses saw them riding away separately - and in fact the two don't seem to have joined up until they reached the river. Melvill, of course, lost the Colour in the flooded river and was nearly swept away himself, but Coghill - who had already reached the other side safely - returned to the water and saved him.

At the time, senior officers expressed reservations about the wisdom of recognising as heroic the actions of men who - however good the reason - were in fact abandoning the field. As Chelmsford himself put it, by saving the Colours Melvill 'was given the best chance of saving his life which must have been lost had he remained in camp … The question, therefore, remains had he succeeded in saving the colours and his own life, would he have been considered to have deserved the Victoria Cross?' In fact, however, the 'dash with the Colours', as the Press hailed it, had already caught the public imagination. There was no provision for the posthumous VC in 1879, but it was noted that Melvill and Coghill would have received it, had they lived. At the turn of the century, when posthumous awards were introduced, the award was confirmed, and VCs sent to their families."


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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:18 pm

Well strike me down. This is all very interesting I was under the assumption that they left together. It just goes to show that new information comes to light everyday.

I now feel the need to look in to this. Another load of sleepless nights (Thanks Pete)




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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Fri Jan 30, 2009 2:02 pm

There is a famous painting of Cog hill and Melville lay next to each other with the colours lying across them. But I think its one of those (How they would have like to have found them if you know what I mean.

Pete I have read some of you posting’s on that other forum.
And there have been some quite in-depth conversations between yourself and others regarding these two officers. There was some good points raised on both sides.

I not really sure what your take is on it in general but I would presume that you don’t feel they should have received the VC.

That’s where I will leave it.

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:36 pm

I won't go into to much detail. But my opion is that of Sir Garnet Wolseley who was to write even more strongly on the issue,

"I am sorry that both of these officers were not killed with their men at Isandlwana instead of where they were. I don't like the idea of officers escaping on horseback when their men on foot are killed. Heroes have been made of men like Melvill and Coghill, who, taking advantage of their having horses, bolted from the scene of the action to save their lives, it is monstrous making heroes of those who saved or attempted to save their lives by bolting or of those who, shut up in buildings at Rorke's Drift, could not bolt, and fought like rats for their lives which they could not otherwise save"

However there are many who still believe that, Melvill and Coghill left the battle field together. Eye witness accounts state other wise.

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:46 pm

If there was a chance to save you own life , would you not take it.
No one it there right mind would willingly go to theirs deaths if there was a chance to get away.

The problem is did they deserve the VC. There is a lot of evidence to suggest from eye witness accounts that the history books today are not quite right.


Two other officers, Lieutenants Teignmouth Melvill and Nevill Coghill, were killed after escaping across the Buffalo River 5 miles away back into Natal but subsequently awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses for their attempt to save the regiment's colours. Because the medal was not at that time awarded posthumously, these awards were not made until 1907. It is however unclear why Lieutenant Melvill took the colours. A story which circulated after the battle among the 24th Regiment is that when all was lost, Pulleine ordered Melvill to save the colours to prevent the disgrace of them being captured by the enemy. However, Pulleine was likely dead by the time Melvill retrieved them and so it is likely that no such order was given. Another possible reason was that he had intended to rally the remnants of the battalion using the colours, however if this was so, why did he not uncase the colours and ride towards one of the points of resistance still holding out against the Zulus? The most likely reason is that he took the colours as an excuse to abandon his men

From :lonympics

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:43 pm

Sir Garnet Wolseley was a respected and successful general of many battles at the time.Here is what he had to say afterwards about Melville and Coghill:

"I am sorry that both of theses officers were not killed with their men at Isandhwana instead of where they were.[...] I don't like the idea of officers escaping on horseback when their men on foot are killed,"

Later he added...
"Heroes have been made of men like Melville and Coghill who, taking advantage of their horses,bolted from the scene of the action to save their lives."



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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:58 am

I was told by a noted battlefield guide on the banks of the Buffalo that he felt the two may actually have committed suicide after realizing that they had run away from Islandwana.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:04 am

Why were Melville and Coghill awarded the VC yet others like Durnford were unrecognized.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:19 pm

No VCs were awarded for the Battle of Isandlwana for three reasons: (1) Isandlwana was an inconceivable military failure for which awards are not often granted; (2) VCs were not awarded posthumously at that time; and (3) any tales of heroism on the field were told by Zulu warriors in later interviews. Private Wassall was awarded his for bravery in the rout following the battle; Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill received theirs years later when posthumous awards were allowed. However, eleven VCs were won among the 100 or so defenders at Rorke's Drift (a record for a single engagement). Also, the defence of Rorke's Drift took place the same day as Isandlwana (January 22, 1879) and throughout that night into the following morning.


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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:30 pm

durnfordthescapegoat. Wrote..
"I was told by a noted battlefield guide on the banks of the Buffalo that he felt the two may actually have committed suicide after realizing that they had run away from Islandwana"

I have not heard this myself. Have a look into Lieutenant Higginson actions after leaving the location where Melvill and Coghill died tell me what you think.. (Not a chap you would want to be with, when your back's against a wall.)

Desperate measures / Desperate actions.


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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:49 pm

S.D
I have spend most of the afternoon looking up Lieutenant Higginson,and came across this. Now i'm not sure,or going to guess what your conclusion is of this. But it certainly makes you think about what might have taken place on the banks of the river.


"Barker found his still-saddled horse, his fresh horse was writhing in its death throes, and joined a couple of comrades in riding to where they thought there would be a rallying point on the Nek. Here they were met by an overwhelming force of Zulus. Turning back into the camp, Barker and a companion followed the direction that they had seen an artillery carriage go. This was the only point that the Zulus had not yet closed and led to what later became known at the Fugitive’s Trail.
Chased for six miles over extremely rugged terrain, the mounted survivors, for those on foot were soon overtaken and killed, reached the Buffalo River. This fast moving river was in full spate and many who had survived the dangers of the trail, perished beneath the swirling waters.
Barker managed to cross safely and began to climb the steep slopes on the Natal bank. Here he joined Lieutenant Charlie Raw’s Mounted Basutos, who were giving covering fire. The group then moved out of range of the Zulus on the far bank. The danger, however, was not passed, for discontented relatives of the Zulus, who lived in the vicinity, attacked the survivors as they reached the Natal bank.
Looking back, Barton saw a distant figure scrambling on foot towards them. Thinking it was a friend; Barker left his companions and rode back down the hill. The struggling figure was not his friend but Lieutenant W.C.R.Higginson, the Adjutant of 2/3rd Natal Native Contingent. He had just left Lieutenants Melvil and Coghill on the shore with a promise that he would return with horses. With the hostile natives closing, Barker insisted the officer took his exhausted horse, as it was incapable of carrying them both up the steep slope. He obtained Higginson’s promise that he would wait for him at the top of the hill. Higginson dug in his spurs and rode off to safety, while Barker struggled up the slope pursued by the same natives who had just killed Melvil and Coghill.
Meanwhile, Higginson had reached Charlie Raw and his group, who recognised Barker’s horse. Certain that Barker was now dead, Higginson told them that he had found the horse down by the river. The horse was relinquished in exchange for a spare Basuto pony and Higginson rode off to the safety of Helpmakaar, where he made his report.
Raw and his companions rode back towards the river to check for any survivors and came upon Trooper Barker still running for his life. He had been pursues for about three miles, managing to fire the occasional round to keep natives at a distance.
Within a few days the truth of Higginson’s escape and his supposedly humane gesture in searching for horses for Melvil and Coghill became well known. To avoid the shame and ignominy of his action, Higginson left Helmakaar, complete with a black eye, and quietly disappeared into obscurity."

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:42 pm

Would this be the same man ???

Harford then accompanied Lord Chelmsford on his ill-fated reconnaissance from Isandlwana which left the British unprepared and unaware of the approaching Zulu Army, and he scrupulously recorded the chaos and confusion in the hours leading to the Zulu destruction of Chelmsford’s main camp. He witnessed the aftermath of both the destruction of Isandlwana and the Zulu attack at Rorke’s Drift where, just days later, he supervised the disbandment of the Natal Native Contingent. At the same time Harford’s senior officer, Commandant Lonsdale, gave him custody of two officer deserters, Lieutenants Higginson and Stephenson; both officers had abandoned their men in action against the Zulus and the situation caused Harford some perplexing moments.

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:28 pm

sas1.


So what are your conclusions of events that might have taken place at the riverbank.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:51 pm

Higginsons account.

A Lieut. Walter Higginson, of 1/3rd Natal Native Contingent, has left an account of what followed. He had also been precipitated into the flood-waters, and states that as Melvill drifted down towards him he called out to him to catch hold of the colour-pike, which he -- Higginson -- did, but the force of the current dragged him off his feet and off the rock to which he tenuously clung, but fortunately into calmer water. To continue in his own words, "Coghill, who had got his horse over alright came riding back down the bank to help Melvill, and as he put his mount in close to us, some Zulus who were about twenty-five yards distant on the other bank commenced firing at us in the water. Almost the first shot killed Coghill's horse, and on his getting clear we started for the Natal bank and managed to get out alright, but when we had covered about a hundred yards up the steep bank we noticed two Zulus following us. When they got within thirty' yards of us, Melvill and Coghill fired at them with their revolvers and killed them both. I myself was without arms of any kind, having lost my rifle in the river and did not possess a revolver. When we had gone a few yards further, Melvill said he could go no further and Coghill said the same. When they stopped I pushed on, and on reaching the top of the hill I found four Basutos in whose company I finally escaped by holding on to a horse's tail."

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:46 pm

Can we really believe the accounts left by those who survived the Battle of Isandlwana?
Those survivors knew they would be criticized for their actions. So it would only be normal for someone in that position to make a report that would make him out to be a would-be hero.
The fact of the matter is the brave fought and died on the battlefield. The others left them to it.
There accounts of the Battle and their wonderful escapes should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Nobody on the British side knows what really happen that day. It was pure speculation and distortion of truth by those who obtained the details from the so-called fugitives.

The Zulu’s knew what took place that day, and gave good accounts of the brave men they fought at Isandlwana. its their accounts that should be recorded in the History Books where the Battle of Isandlwana is concerned.

P.S
What’s another name for (fugitive) beings with D

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:41 pm

Unfortunately the accounts left by those of that era are all we have to go on.
Over the years new evidence has come to light, be it letters found in attics or in the depths of the archives in some museum.

I agree with what you say regarding the Battle of Isandlwana, the only ones that really know what happen were like you say the Zulu’s. after all many of them survived.

Take Rorkes Drift we know what happen there, because there were British survivors and we are luckily enough to have access to records that tells their stories.

But what we must bear in mind is what would we have done if we were in the same situation as those that left the battlefield. There is no easy answer to that question.

The debate regarding Melvill and Coghill receiving the VC will continue long after we have gone. Which goes to prove that even today there are many people out there, that believe they should not have been awarded the VC. I am one of them and in complete agreement with Worsley.

My view on this will remain the same unless factual evidence comes to light that’s clearly shows that Melvill was ordered to save the colours.

As for Coghill the question must be, what was he doing there, he had no reason to be there. And evidence shows that they did not leave Isandlwana together so what was his agenda.


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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:22 am

I can accept that it was a brave act for Melville to return to rescue Coghill in the river. ( I trust I have that the right way round) However I do find the reports of the survivors a bit suspicious. I have no problem with them leaving once all was lost. God knows I would probably have done the same with thousands of Zulus after me. However it is the historiography of the battle that interests me. There are authors who continue to pillory Durnford as an incompetent and foolhardy man with a chip on his shoulder yet when questioned about the validity of the Coghill and Melvill VC resort to such tired old chestnuts as dishonoring the dead or insulting the pride of the regiment. Now that I am afraid is just tommy rot. The men of the 24 th died bravely as British soldiers are expected to do. But to be happy to assasinate the memory of Col Durnford whilst vigorously defending the memory of Coghill and Melvill is unfair. There is no evidence that Pulline handed the colours to Melville and instructed him to keep them safe. Coghill's movements are really unclear.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:44 pm

From No. 1415 Thomas Thomas of Ystalyfera to his Uncle and Aunt. 1

Rorke's Drift.
19 February 1879

....I am very sorry to tell you that we see very hard times of it out here now. We are on the march all the time and we have not seen a bit of bread this last two months, only biscuits all the time and we are often on the road for two or three days at a stretch, that we don't get coffee or tea, only dry biscuit; it is an awful place for water. Another thing, we have to write with powder and water and I had to pay fourpence for this sheet of paper and envelope...
We had a very hard fight for about three hours at a place called Isandhlwana. The Zulus attacked our camp and as soon as we saw them coming, we struck the tents and formed square around the ammunition, and we kept them back for three hours. The General was not with us at the time; he was out somewhere and the colonel that was in command of us (as soon as he saw the Zulus retiring) ordered us to advance after them. We went about 300 yards and they were so many that they came in our rear and took the camp and everything that belonged to us; they came about us so thick that we could not handle our guns and then we knocked them down with the butt of the gun; the Zulus killed about 1841 of our fellows altogether but we ourselves killed some of the volunteers because they were running away and the colonel in command shot himself because he knew he had done wrong. He should not have put us to advance after them and leave the ammunition. However, we killed about 6000 that day. David Davies has been killed....

(He states they struck the "tents and formed a square around the ammunition" ) As far as i'm aware the tents stayed up-right and the troops were sent out to the firing lines)
He also states " the colonel shot himself" As we know from Zulu Accounts relating to Durnfords last stand he was killed by the Zulu's.
So is it possible that Pulleine did shoot himself. In the film Zulu Dawn he turns his revolver away to allow the Zulu to strike the fatal blow. (Could this be known as suicide by Zulu)

Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:19 am

Who actually stated that Colonel Pulleine ordered Melville to save the colours, were there any eyewitness accounts to this event-taking place.
If not how did this myth start.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:10 pm

I can’t recall reading any eye witness accounts of Pulline giving an order to Melville to save the Colours.
I could be wrong, and would like to hear from anyone who has read such information.


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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:55 pm

On 22 January 1879 after the disaster of the Battle of Isandlwana, South Africa
Lieutenant Melvill made gallant efforts to save the Queen's Colour of his Regiment, This is why he was awarded the VC.

On 22 January 1879 after the disaster of the Battle of Isandlwana, South Africa
Lieutenant Coghill went to the rescue of his brother officer, who had lost his horse and was in struggling in the water. This is why Coghill was awarded the VC.

On 22 January 1879 after the disaster of the Battle of Isandlwana, South Africa
“Private Samuel Wassall, without concern for his own life, which was in imminent danger, rescued Private Westwood, a comrade of the 80th Regiment. Private Wassall was retreating towards the Buffalo River, when he saw Private Westwood struggling, apparently drowning, in the river. Leaving his horse on the Zulu side of the river, he rescued his comrade from the fast-flowing water. Remounting his horse, he dragged Private Westwood across the river to safety under a hail of bullets from the Zulus.”
This is why Wassall was awarded the VC.

Coghill and Wassall in effect carried out the same heroic deed. Saving a brother officer who was struggling in the water.
We could even say that they were both retreating towards the Buffalo after the disaster at Isandlwana.

But the question has to be, Why Did Private Samuel Wassall receive his VC in 1879 and Coghill had his awarded on January 15, 1907 along with Lt. Melvill.

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:20 am

The answer is because the VC could not be awarded posthemously in 1879 (think i spelt that wrongly ) and private Wassall escaped . The question for me still remains should Coghill have been at the river or should he have stayed to fight in the camp ?
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 31, 2009 10:07 pm

The precedent had already been set, In 1907, the Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously, (and most deservedly so) to the late Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill, for their gallant actions in attempting to save the Regiment's Colours, at Isandhlwana, South Africa, in 1879, during the Zulu Wars. The award was made 28 years after the event.

The decision to award posthumous VC's to Coghill and Melvill was a precedent for the making of posthumous awards not a precedent for making delayed posthumous awards. The point that Curran and others continually miss is that both Coghill and Melvill were recommended for the VC at the time of their action, The VC Statutes, however, did not permit posthumous awards at the time and the best that could be done for them was to publish their names in The London Gazette, with the notation that, had they lived, they would have been recommended to the Queen for the award of the VC. Once the precedent for posthumous awards had been set during the Boer War (1899-1902) the decision was made to award the VC's to Coghill and Melvill that they had been recommended for.

The fact that when putting forward the argument based on Coghill and Melvill's VC, those putting the argument always state that it was Coghill and Melvill who set the precedent, with the gap of 28 years between action and award. This is totally incorrect. The London Gazette of-15 January 1907, carried a total of six names of officers and men who were awarded the VC posthumously based on recommendations made at the time of actions that had cost them their lives in the years preceding 1907. These were, with the date of their gazette recommendation and the conflict involved:

* Private Edward Spence, 42nd Foot--27 May 1859 (Indian Mutiny)

* Ensign Everard Aloysius Lisle Phillips, 11th Bengal Native Infantry--21 Oct 1859 (Indian Mutiny)

* Lieutenant Nevill Josiah Aylmer Coghill, 24th Foot--2 May 1879 (Zulu War)

* Lieutenant Teignmouth Melvill, 24th Foot--2 May 1879 (Zulu War)

* Trooper Frank William Baxter, Bulawayo Field Force--7 May 1897 (Matabele Rebellion)

* Lieutenant Hector Lachlan Stewart MacLean, Indian Staff Corps--9 Nov 1897 (Matabele Rebellion
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:06 pm

Pete. Your post states

The Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously, (and most deservedly so) to the late Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill, for their gallant actions in attempting to save the Regiment's Colours, at Isandlwana, South Africa, in 1879, during the Zulu Wars.


Was Melvill not awarded the VC for his gallant action in attempting to save the queens colours.

And Coghill for saving the life of a brother officer struggling in the water.

S.D
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:10 am

Do we know for sure, who really killed Coghill and Melvill. Was it the Zulu's as deplicted in the filme Zulu Dawn, or was it another tribe of natives, who the Zulu threaten to kill if thye did not kill the two officers. Higginson must have known if they were Zulu or not.
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PostSubject: death of melville and coghill   Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:38 am

hi chard79.
Plenty of conjecture on that point , several publications state it was the people of the Natal side of the river that killed them .
As they were threatened by the zulus themselves who said they would cross the river and kill all of them if in fact they didnt
kill the two officers , As for Higginson to him a black would have been a black , he more than likely wouldnt have known any
differant .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:10 am

Very definitly Zulu, no Xhosa tribes within 100 miles. Local tradition has it that the two were killed by Sihayos people. After the attack on Sihayos kraal a number of prisoners were taken, these were released the day before the battle and are the men suspected of killing M & H.
As for the concept of suicide, wouldnt think that was in a Victorian soldiers vocabulary. In addition, they could not have died simultaneously with only one gun. Melvill had lost the chamber from his revolver and was armed only with a sword.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:56 pm

"Melvill had lost the chamber from his revolver and was armed only with a sword."

Was this confirmed because they found the revolver after the event.

I would imagine Melvill have had a revolver.

Why is there is no mention of Vereker, did he not accompany Coghill & Melvill.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:15 am

impi wrote:


Why is there is no mention of Vereker

Because he was never there.

The movie Zulu Dawn will have us believe that he went with Melvill and Coghill, but in fact his body was reported to have been found along with Durnford and the other Natal Carbineers and Natal Mounted Police where they made their last stand in the camp at Isandlwana.

An excerpt from “Heroes of modern Africa: True stories of the intrepid bravery and stirring adventures of the pioneers, explorers, and founders of modern Africa” (1911 ) by Edward Gilliat, a former Harrow master:

Two of the young officers who died on that day were known to the writer when they were boys at school. One, the Honourable Captain Vereker, was a Westminster boy, famed at school for leading his comrades to charge the London roughs on the way to Vincent Square. The writer gave him his first lessons in the use of the pistol, little thinking of the dire extremity which should so soon find him, revolver in hand, facing a mob of yelling savages, Vereker, we are told, had just caught a stray horse and was in the act of mounting when a trooper came running up : " Beg pardon, sir, but that is my horse you’ve got." " Oh ! is it? Here you are, man! jump up quick; I'll manage." So with Irish generosity and pluck the young officer gave up his only chance of safety, and stayed to meet the foe and die.

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PostSubject: death of melville and coghill   Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:46 am

Hi Impi.
I have read that was the case , Melville had lost the chamber from his pistol , but not sure which book . Suspect .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:54 pm

Greetings before I disappear into the bush. It's my turn to toss a pebble into the pond...
When I used to stay with George and Margaret Buntting at Fugitives' Drift (long before it became so famous), George was emphatic that many of the fugitives (including Lts Melvill and Coghill) had been killed by Chief Sothondozo's people who lived in Colonial Natal and who were watching the Victorian drama unfold below them in the Mzinyathi River. When they were observed by the Zulu warriors on the Zululand bank, they were told to kill the fugitives failing which they would be punished '...after we've eaten up Pietermaritzburg'.
Up until fairly recently (say the last 30 or 40 years), the crossing point was known as Sothondozo's Drift and there was even a little boat that ferried people across the river when they wanted to buy groceries etc from 'Pottie' Potgieter who owned Petruskar, where the Guest House is now at Fugitives' Drift. If I remember correctly, the ferryman lived on the Zululand side of the Mzinyathi and was within hailing distance if required to operate his boat.
About 40 years ago, the Provincial Roads Department began to construct a road down to the drift but there were many objections and construction was halted. One can still see it at the top of the hill west of the valley that ends up at the Drift (where the black rocks are so prominent). This would probably have resulted in a bridge being constructed across the Mzinyathi at the drift. George viewed this from two points of view; it would have completely destroyed the serenity of the farm but by the same token, his appalling road would have been reconstructed. It used to take just on an hour to drive from the Rorke's Drift / Elandskraal road to George and Margaret's farmhouse (which is now Mzinyathi Cottage). I once arranged a battlefield tour for the Durban Ramblers Hiking Club and shortly after we crossed the river, the mother of all storms broke resulting in the river rising by about 2 metres within an hour. We were stuck at the farmhouse for 4 days because his road became completely impassible. When asked why he didn't improve it, George used to say:"To keep visitors here - especially gorgeous ones like those you bring..."!
By the way, it was generally believed that Potgieter was the one who desecrated the graves in the late 1970s but everyone kept very quiet about it.
Regards, Ken
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:51 pm

Ken. Good to see you back it's been a while. On your return i would like to here more about Potgieter ( 'Pottie' Potgieter ) Sounds like an interesting chap.

Quote :
When I used to stay with George and Margaret Buntting at Fugitives' Drift.
(Is this where your interest in the Zulu War started)
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:42 pm

Quote :
Greetings before I disappear into the bush


Hi Ken. Where are you off to this time.
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PostSubject: death of melville and coghill   Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:37 pm

hi Ken / Bye Ken :) .
Good to see you back , allbeit briefly . Looking forward to what you may post on your return .
Have a good trip and stay safe Wink .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:00 am

Thanks for the messages. I'm off to Botswana for 3 weeks. There will be 5 vehicles (4x4s - low range necessary) and we're visiting the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Savuti, Chobe and the panhandle of the Okavango Swamps. Not much in the way of battlefields, but I was deployed in the nearby (to the panhandle) Caprivi on several occasions during my military service. It is absolutely beautiful and we've returned there on several occasions.
The Central Kalahari will be new to me. It is very remote but again has an amazing beauty, great birding and of course there is the challenge to keep out of the jaws of a Lion or a Leopard...
I'll be back on line after the 18th August.
Regards, Ken
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:54 am

Ken do you ever take any video footage when you out on these tours.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:57 pm

Hello Littlehand. I used to take videos but now concentrate on digital photos which I use for power-point presentations.
Ken
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:48 pm

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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:27 pm

I wonder why Melville clothes were left in tact. Especially as he was wearing a red Patrol Jacket & Coghill was wearing Blue.

Has it ever been established who the other two soldiers were.

Quote:
Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill 1/24th 
Drawing their revolvers, the two officers shot and killed a couple of Zulus...Some days later when a patrol found their bodies, they also found a ring of dead Zulus, evidence that Melvill and Coghill had sold their lives dearly...It is unlikely that they shot any of the enemy.  Certainly not Melvill as the cylinder of his revolver had long since fallen out and was lying in Lord Chelmsford’s tent back at Isandlwana where it was picked up later that day by Henry Francis Fynn, the Umsinga magistrate, who was serving on Chelmsford’s staff.  As for the bodies of Melvill and Coghill being surrounded by a ring of enemy dead, this is an inherited Victorian perception, highly romanticised, that Britain’s soldiers always died admirably as epitomised in Alphonse de Neuville's painting of the incident in which Melvill and Coghill lay in death, sword in hand, as though in peaceful slumber, with each man still grasping the pole of the Queen’s Colour. In reality, there was no ring of enemy dead.  Lieutenant Hillier, an officer of the 3rd Natal Native Contingent, who was one of the twenty volunteers who found the bodies of Melvill and Coghill, recorded the incident in a letter to his father “...crossing over the hill overlooking the Drift, we came across the bodies of poor Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill; they lay behind the bodies of two soldiers, where they had made a stand.  Coghill was quite naked except for his boots and a gold ring on his finger which Captain Parr took off.  Poor Melvill had everything on, but was much disfigured.”  There is no mention of dead Zulus.
Lieutenant Henry Harford of the 99th Foot, also serving in the 3rd. N.N.C., and also amongst the volunteers who found the bodies, likewise makes no mention of any Zulu bodies nearby those of Melvill and Coghill.

Source: Letters from Ron Lock.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:22 am

The Zulus that killed M and C probebly killed them as fast as they could and ran after
the other fugitives.

Melvile had no weapon so he was probebly killed quite quickly.

Coghill had his revolver and maybe his sword Suspect

So maybe Coghill was harder to kill and thats why he was stripped.


Cheers
DB14
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:56 pm

M and C certainly did not deserve the VC by TODAY'S standards - they would never have merited one today or at any time in the last century. VCs in WW1 and WW2 were hard earned.
And when I say they did not merit the VCs by todays standard - that is assuming that they DID indeed carry out the actions for which they are renowned.
However, back in Victorian times, VCs were handed out like sweets in certain cases particularly soon after its inception. If you read up about some of the acts of valour from the Crimea or Indian Mutiny for which the VC was awarded, you will find that some - particularly to well connected officers, were, shall we say "soft" to say the least. (No disrespect intended - I am just comparing these acts to some others in WW1 and 2 for which the same decoration was awarded).
The Government back in 1879 desperately needed heroes to deflect attention away from the disaster of iSandlwana, so they searched hard and found/ created some. (RD was easy; they had to search a little harder to find inspirational stories about iSandlwana).
However, M and C were awarded the VC and we have to accept that fact and laud them as we would any other VC hero. At the end of the day, the referees decision is FINAL. If the ball completely and clearly crosses the line, but the referee says "no goal" - no goal it is.
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PostSubject: death of Melvill & Coghill   Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:38 pm

Hi Tasker .
Horace Smith - Dorrien said as much after WW1 , not in regard to M & C but about how hard it was to earn the
Award during WW1 . He was talking of some acts he'd seen in WW1 that werent recognised to be V.C Worthy .
But he deemed them worthy in his eyes .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:07 pm

This thread may be of interest to Kable
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:56 pm

Having seen a vidoe of the steepness of the path that Melvile helped Coghill up, i think he deserved his VC

Coghill i am not to sure Suspect

Cheers
DB14
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:14 pm

Saw the memorial for M&C down river a few years back when i visited Isandlwana & Rorkes Drift.
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:01 am

Drummer Boy 14 wrote:
Having seen a vidoe of the steepness of the path that Melvile helped Coghill up, i think he deserved his VC

Coghill i am not to sure Suspect

Cheers
DB14

On that basis DB14, shouldn't sherpa Tenzing be awarded the same decoration for hauling Sir Edmund Hillary up to the top of Mt. Everest?
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:56 am

scratch
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:01 pm

Hi Tasker

Sorry I have no idea what you mean scratch

The climb is huge, to take Coghill up that, well i know i couldn't do it
let alone after riding 6 miles and nearly drowning.


Cheers
DB14
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PostSubject: Re: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:52 pm

Drummer Boy 14 wrote:
Hi Tasker

Sorry I have no idea what you mean scratch

The climb is huge, to take Coghill up that, well i know i couldn't do it
let alone after riding 6 miles and nearly drowning.


Cheers
DB14

Hi DB14,
read the story of Sir Edmund's conquest of Everest, but most importantly, read between the lines. VCs should not be awarded for riding a horse 6 miles or even for helping a man up a steep climb.
as i have always maintained, even if M&C really had performed the deeds as according to the stories of their heroism (which many people today question), they would still be very soft awards; the government and Chelmsford needed to find some heroes after the disaster at iSandlwana in order to bring something positive to the table of public consumption. The story of M&C was the best they could come up with.
it might also be worth you reading about the awards of the VC to men like Noel Chavasse VC and Bar - in a class of his own tbf, or Tony Deane- Drummond DSo, MC and bar (No VC!). Read also, apart from Deane-Drummond, about the courage and mind-blowing acts of bravery of some of his colleagues during Operation Market Garden, deeds for which they DIDN'T win the VC, but lesser awards such as the DSO, DCM, MC and MM).
Then compare and contrast to the award of the VC to Melville!
All the best for a lovely Xmas DB14, it has been a pleasure reading your posts on here this year. Looking forward to next year,
Tasker
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PostSubject: The Death of Lts. Melvill and Coghill at Isandlwana   Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:25 pm


good evening

It is well known that these two, took advantage of the fact that it was necessary to save the colors to get the hell out as so aptly pointed out the replacing of Chelmsford.

Cheers

Pascal













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