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 The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours

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SRB1965
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WeekendWarrior

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyFri Feb 19, 2021 3:45 am

It’s accepted across the board that three Colours belonging to the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 24th Regiment, were present at the Battle of Isandlwana. The Queen’s Colour of the 1st Battalion was rescued by Lieutenant Melvill VC. The Regimental and Queen’s Colour of the 2nd Battalion were lost.
It’s my belief that there may have been an attempt to save the Colours of the 2nd Battalion, an attempt that was ultimately unsuccessful. I will outline the evidence as follows.

In the weeks and months following Isandlwana, rumours began to circulate throughout the 2nd Battalion personnel stationed at Rorke’s Drift. During the earliest expeditions across the Buffalo, attempts were made to search for the missing Colours of the 2nd Battalion, in the hopes that they would be located as the Queen’s Colour of their sister Battalion had been.

The rumor appears to have stemmed from an unknown survivor.

“Moreover, the officers of the 2-24th Regiment were anxious to search the Fugitives’ Path, as they had been told that a very tall officer, riding a chestnut horse, and carrying a color, had been seen on the 22nd between the battlefield and the river. The description answered exactly to Lieut. Dyer, the Adjutant of the Regiment. No sign, however, of the officer or the color could be seen.”
-Another Correspondent of the Times’ account of May 15, 1879 Visit to Isandlwana, Fugitive’s Drift, D.C.F. Moodie’s History of the Battles and Adventures of the British, the Boers, and the Zulus (Capetown: Murray & St. Leger, 1888).

This rumor seems to have started circulating as early as March. William Laurence recounted in a March 14, 1879 letter that…
“The primary object of the expedition was to ascertain the truth of the report received by Mr. Fynn, to the effect that two large ‘impis’ were between Isandhlwana and the border; it was also thought that there was a last chance of recovering one of the lost colours of the 2-24th, it being reported that Lieut. Dyer, of that regiment, had made an attempt to escape with the Queen’s Colour.”
- Excerpts from Selected Writings of the late William Moorsom Laurence (Grahamstown: Richards, Slater & Co, 1882). Excerpt from Letter IV, dated Friday, March 14. Expedition to Isandlwana, Basutos at Fugitive’s Drift.

Lance Corporal J. Frowen, 2-24th Regiment, had a slightly more colourful version (pun fully intended).
“There were only two men escaped to tell the tale that night out of them all; and the last that was seen of our colours was the officer galloping away with one in each hand and the reins of his horse in his teeth, but he was drowned crossing the Buffalo river; so we have lost all our colours and the 1-24th have lost one of theirs, and would have lost the other but it was left at Helpmakaar.”
-Letter from L/Cpl. J. Frowen, 2-24th Foot, Gloucester Journal, 29 March, 1879.

So we have here a rumour that there was an attempt at saving the Colour(s) of the Second Battalion, one that involves Lieutenant Dyer, Battalion Adjutant. But how does that stand up to scrutiny?

Lieutenant Dyer was positively identified in a rally square behind the 1-24th Camp, along with Captain Wardell and another subaltern unidentified (a tenuous identification possibly being Lieutenant Griffith, also of the Second Battalion).

Lt.-Col. Black’s Report of June 28, 1879 reads…
“Lower down the hill in the same camp another clump of about sixty lay together, among them Captain Wardell, Lieutenant Dyer, and a captain and a subaltern of the 24th unrecognizable.”

This identification is confirmed by several other sources, including Corporal Bassage of the 2-24th, who annotates in his diary that he saw the remains of the unfortunate adjutant.

If Lieutenant Dyer did attempt to remove a Colour from the guard tent, he clearly did not manage to get very far mounted. While the identification of the tall officer as Dyer may be in err, it is distinctly possible that he seized the Colour to rally the Regulars falling back through the camp OR it is equally possible that he was unhorsed by the enemy, and joined in with the personnel found with Captain Wardell (H Coy, 1-24th Regiment).

An interesting comment is found in the account of Umsweanto, a Zulu boy who grew up around the events of the Anglo-Zulu War.
“We were told also that there was a soldier at Isandhlwana who carried a flag. He just waved it backwards and forwards. He fought not; he feared not (Perhaps he put his trust in other soldiers). They killed him.”
-Account of Umsweanto, George Swinny, A Zulu Boy’s Recollections of the Zulu War (1884).

In any case, it seems certainly possible, if not probable that there is some truth in that famous Charles Fripp painting, with a last grouping of redcoats defending the Colours until the end. Indeed, this seems to be hinted at by General Mainwaring, who years later recalled finding a section of a Colour Pole on Black’s Koppie, during the September 1879 burial expedition.

Another interesting anecdote is provided by Sergeant Ross of G Coy, 2-24th. Although he miraculously survived the annihilation of his Coy as he was out with Lord Chelmsford’s column, he witnessed the carnage in the immediate aftermath, bivouacked among the dead. In a letter to his wife, he left this statement:
“We have lost everything; all the company’s books, the colours of the regiment; poor Jack Lines was killed, it seems, trying to get them away.”
-Letter from Sergeant Ross, G Coy, 2-24th Foot to his wife. Published in The Essex Herald on April 1, 1879.
Sergeant J. Lines #2227 was a member of G Coy, 2-24th and was KIA at Isandlwana. What evidence Ross saw that made him associate his former brother NCO with the Colours is lost to history.

But is this where the story ends?
As a matter of fact, no. There is further physical evidence that suggests a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to save a 2nd Battalion Colour, an attempt that was brought to bay somewhere in vicinity of the Manzimnyama. Major Bromhead sums up the particulars adeptly, as reproduced below:

“Sir,
In compliance with your instructions I have the honour to submit the following particulars relating to the recovery of the Staff and Crown and Colour Case of the Colours of the 2nd battalion 24th Regiment, which were lost at the capture of the Camp at Isandhlwana, on the 22nd of January, 1879, and are now deposited at Windsor Castle.
The Staff was found by Lieutenant N. Sadlier, King’s Dragoon Guards, in a Kraal, some two miles from the battle-field, on the 21st May, 1879, (when covering the Cavalry reconnaissance, in force, under Major General F. Marshall, C.M.G.,) and returned by him to the regiment at Rorke’s Drift the same day. The Kraal was unfortunately burnt before being fully searched.
The Crown was found by a wood-cutting party of the 2nd battalion 24th regiment, in the month of March, 1879, in the garden of a Farm situated on the Natal bank of the Buffalo, some four miles from Rorke’s Drift, and about five miles from the battle-field.
The Crown may have been dropped there by a Zulu after the repulse at Rorke’s Drift, as the Farm lay in the route taken by the Enemy, and was burnt by them that day.
The Colour Case was found by a detachment 2nd battalion 24th Regiment on the 23rd September, 1879, in the bed of the River Amanganyanna (Black Water), three-quarters of a mile from the battlefield, and at the point crossed by the fugitives.
The river was carefully searched until it joins the Buffalo three miles lower down, but without further success.
It would appear that the Crown and Colours had been removed from the Staff by some one accustomed to do so, as the articles were found separate, and no savage would understand how to unscrew the Crown from the Staff, and that found shows no sign of violent handling. I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
(Signed) C. J. BROMHEAD,
Brevet Major, half-pay, 24th Regiment.”
-Maj. Bromhead, V.C. on the Colours of the 2/24th, Historical Records of the 24th Regiment from its Formation in 1689, edited by Col. G. Patton, Col. F. Glennie, Col. W. P. Symons & Lt,-Col. H. B. Moffat, (London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1892).

The identify of this Soldier, or the story of his desperate attempt (so identical to the one that Lieutenant Melvill received his posthumous VC for) is lost to history.


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SRB1965

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptySun Feb 21, 2021 8:35 am

For many years, I have been convinced that one of the Colours was used in the battle, as a rallying point of some kind.

Msweatno's account (albeit I believe told to his father by another warrior and passed to Msweatno) - seems to indicate that some flag waving of an uncased colour occurred.

Was it just an anecdote to show how strange or brave the British very in battle, that this fellow should 'not fight' but flap?

Another thought I had about the rescue accounts - is was it wishful thinking by members of the 2/24th - not wanting to be outdone by the 1/24th?

All as I can say is a model of the twin carrying mounted standard bearer, with reigns in his teeth (Rooster Cogburn like - though I do hesitate to name names, JY, in case I've got the wrong cowboy Shocked ) would be really something.

Cheers

Sime
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gardner1879

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptySun Feb 21, 2021 10:17 am

Very interesting article. Thank you.
Not sure if I remember reading something somewhere but wasn't there a report that one of the crowns was found on Mahlabamkhosi?
Might have to dig out some books unless someone else knows.
Kate
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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptySun Feb 21, 2021 1:47 pm

There is also this account in Hallam Parrs book:-

"Younghusband's company, which has already been spoken of as been held somewhat in reserve, was seemingly in square, and with pouches tolerably full, was retiring steadily higher up the hill, drawing to it any stragglers who could reach it, and having the bandsmen of the Regiment and the colours of the 2-24th in its centre"

Kate
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Frank Allewell

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 7:45 am

Kate
" I climbed to the top of Blacks Kopje to take a photograph. When I was a youngter i thought nothing of it, but now it was a different matter. It was on the top of this Kopje that, whilst making my survey of the battlefield, in the September following-I found a portion of the colour pole of one of our colours. The above refers only to the 2nd Battalion Colours."
Brigadier General Henry Mainwaring, March 1921
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PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 9:32 am

Thats it Frank !!
I started searching through my books but got distracted by a 14th Hussar.
Great stuff:Salute:
Kate Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 10:26 am

Careful of those Handsome Hussars Kate Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 10:29 am

One for the more erudite members, where are the Mainwaring papers kept, the reason for asking is he makes reference to photos taken in 2021. Ive long suspected that a full frontal shot was taken by him but and shots from Mahlabamkosi would be well worth seeing.
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John Young

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 1:53 pm

Frank,

Do I take it from your above remark to Kate that you kept your “Cherrypickers” overalls?

Joker Joker Joker

JY
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WeekendWarrior

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 2:00 pm

I'd be very curious to see the Mainwaring papers too. I have a few bits and pieces from him, but I wouldn't be surprised if he has some more enlightening details on the Isandlwana burials. The O'Connell map report too.
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gardner1879

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 2:34 pm

Dashing Hussars and Cherrypicker overalls!!!
I'm going to have to go for a cold shower.
Kate Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 3:25 pm

JY I have indeed kept the ceremonial dress, its dated 1908. I will forward you a photo, tunic, cherries and busby.
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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 3:58 pm

Was that the last time you wore it Frank Joker Joker Joker Joker
K Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 7:35 pm

Ouch!
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gardner1879

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PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyThu Feb 25, 2021 9:37 pm

Oh you know I'm only joking Frank.
Looking forward to seeing a photo of you resplendent in your dashing Hussars uniform Wink
K Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyFri Feb 26, 2021 7:26 am








From the Royal Regiment of Wales website (http://www.rrw.org.uk/museums/brecon/fact_sheets/7.htm):
"the 2nd Battalion Colours were left behind in the camp and were lost on 22nd January 1879 at the Battle of Isandhlwana. All that were found was a pike, a crown and Colour case (it cannot be assumed that these pieces related to the same Colour). The pike was found in a kraal two miles from Isandhlwana on the 21st May 1879. The crown was found by a wood cutting party in a farmhouse on the Natal side of the buffalo, four miles from Rorke's Drift in March 1879 and the case was found about 1200 yards from the camp in a bed of the stream.
The surviving pike and crown were trooped at the presentation of new Colours in Gibraltar in August 1880. The relics were subsequently presented to HM Queen Victoria by Major C J Bromhead on 15th March 1881 and were later placed in the Armoury at Windsor Castle. They remained there until 25th July 1923, when HM King George V returned them to the Regiment for safe-keeping. The relics were re-dedicated on Sunday 20th April 1924 and placed in the Regimental Chapel in Brecon Cathedral."

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Kenny



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The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours   The Case for an Attempt to Save the 2-24th Colours EmptyFri Feb 26, 2021 11:09 am

This is a letter written in April 1881 by Major Charles Bromhead regarding the lost Colours:

Heatherlands, Parkstone,
Dorset, 19th April, 1881

Major-General
Sir John Cowell, K.C.B.,
Master of the Household


Sir - In compliance with your instructions I have the honour to submit the following particulars relating to the recovery of the Staff and Crown and Colour Case of the Colours of the 2nd battalion 24th Regiment, which were lost at the capture of the Camp at Isandhlwana, on the 22nd of January, 1879, and are now deposited at Windsor Castle.

The Staff was found by Lieutenant N. Sadlier, King's Dragoon Guards, in a Kraal, some two miles from the battle-field, on the 21st May, 1879, (when covering the Cavalry reconnaissance, in force, under Major (General F. Marshall, C.M.G.,) and returned by him to the regiment at Rorke's Drift the same day. The Kraal was unfortunately burnt before being fully searched.

The Crown was found by a wood-cutting party of the 2nd battalion 24th regiment, in the month of March, 1879, in the garden of a Farm situated on the Natal bank of the Buffalo, some four miles from Rorke's Drift, and about five miles from the battle-field.

The Crown may have been dropped there by a Zulu after the repulse at Rorke's Drift, as the Farm lay in the route taken by the Enemy, and was burnt by them that day.

The Colour Case was found by a detachment 2nd battalion 24th Regiment on the 23rd September, 1879, in the bed of the River Amanganyanna (Black Water), three-quarters of a mile from the battle-field, and at the point crossed by the fugitives.

This river was carefully searched until it joins the Buffalo three miles lower down, but without further success.

I would appear that the Crown and Colours had been removed from the Staff by someone accustomed to do so, as the articles were found separate, and no savage would understand how to unscrew the Crown from the Staff, and that found shews no sign of violent handling.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) C. J. BROMHEAD
Brevet Major, half-pay, 24th Regiment
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