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 Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana

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crimea

crimea

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PostSubject: Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana   Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptySat Jul 18, 2020 10:02 pm

Much has been made of the ‘Ammunition’ supply problem at Isandlwana, also the fact that there was perhaps a significant ‘Jamming’ issue with the Martini Henry due to continuous and sustained fire.

I think it has been recently proved that the Ammo boxes were pretty easy to get into even without the regulation screwdriver, which I guess leaves the distribution from the Quarter Master wagons as the supply problem.
Are there any other possibilities re the Ammo supply issue?

Next the ‘jamming’ question.
Is there any evidence that this ‘jamming issue’ was a factor anywhere else during the period in question? There was continuous and sustained fire at Rorkes Drift, was this issue also a factor there?

Cheers guys

Crimea
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timothylrose



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PostSubject: Re: Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana   Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptySat Jul 18, 2020 10:25 pm

I suggest if you are looking for the definitive info on all this then go to Neil's book on the Martini Henry for Queen and Empire which covers all the jamming debate in depth
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SRB1965

SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana   Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptySat Jul 18, 2020 10:54 pm

As far as i have reda from general AZW books:-

One issue was not so much jamming but the Martini Henry extractor used to pull the base of the cartridge off leaving the body of the cartridge in the breach.

You read at the Battle of Little Big Horn of US cavalry troopers struggling to get the Springfield's unblocked - using knives but the Martini was equipped with a metal ram-rod/cleaning rod, which the soldier could just push down the barrel forcing out the remains of the cartridge (when I say 'just' it does not take into account a horde of angry Zulus intent on stabbing you, which would probably cloud though and make you fumble it).

There is an account of Durnford fixing a Natal Natives carbine which had become blocked/jammed (they probably used Wesley Richards carbines, can't recall).

additionally one of the Rocket Battery crew reported that the NNIC warrior didn't know how to load his rifle (which could perhaps indicate that it was jammed rather than a training issue) but refused help from the rocketeer.....(it was probably a Snider that the NNIC fella had)
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90th

90th

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PostSubject: Ammo and Weapons Queries at Isandlwana    Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptySun Jul 19, 2020 2:19 am

Hi Crimea
Jamming wasn't a significant problem at Isandlwana or RD from what I've read over the years. At Isandlwana Scotch Carts were initially laden with Ammo boxes and taken to the firing line , other non combatant troops were also used to ferry Ammo to the firing line , I do tend to believe that as the situation was unfolding , the supply decreased to what it was initially , ammo laden mules were seen taking off in different directions , these have been described careering down the fugitives trail , so to a limited degree there was perhaps not a major problem with Ammo supply , but it could've been better , I can't really imagine the ammo carriers etc deciding to make their way to the firing line which was nearly a mile away , once it was evident that the camp was in peril , not much doubt self preservation would certainly have become a factor , Ammo boxes were found on and near the firing line , which proves initially the boxes were getting through . The troops on their initial movement to the firing line were issued 70 rounds , impossible to tell what Ammo they had remaining on them when they began to retire to the camp , which was basically the beginning of the end . Hope this is of some help .
90th
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana   Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptySun Jul 19, 2020 7:51 am

Consider that the troops did get back right across the face of the mountain to the saddle they had to have a decent amount of ammo available to be able to make that retreat. I have no doubt ammo did run out but only at the very end.
As the Eastern most companies retreated parallel with the mountain they would have passed the 2/24th company wagons and also the ammunition wagon, possibly at least Younghusband would have replenished giving him the wherewithall to carry on with his fighting retreat. 'A' company like wise.
There is a very good published essay by the late Charles Akinhead about the effects of black powder smoke on the firing lines visibility that is probably more cogent than jamming as a determining factor.
Frank
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crimea

crimea

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PostSubject: Re: Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana   Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptySun Jul 19, 2020 10:32 am

Thanks guys....again, lots more to consider!
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90th

90th

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PostSubject: Ammo and Weapons Queries at Isandlwana    Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptySun Jul 19, 2020 1:35 pm

Hi Frank
I'm not so sure that Younghusband who was the eastern most Co actually retreated parallel to the mountain , he could well have seen the numbers of the chest applying pressure to the firing line , to me.... I think he may well have taken the high ground so to speak , and withdrew along the scree slope itself of Isandlwana , the 9 or so cairns that seem to mark his route along the scree slope are some testament to that , so I'm not sure he managed to replenish at all to be honest .
90th
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana   Ammo and Weapon queries at Isandlwana EmptyMon Jul 20, 2020 9:46 am

Mornng Gary
Yep I agree about the scree slope, just using shorthand to illustrate a point. As you so rightly point out all open to interpretation WIW. Very Happy Salute
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