Review of Hon. Gerald French's book about Lord Chelmsford from the Birmingham Daily Post 9 January 1940.
Some interesting points here written before WotS and 'that' film:-
” An Echo of the Zulu War.
Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu War. By Major the Hon. Gerald French. With a foreword General Sir Bindon Blood. (Lane, 21s.).
Everybody knows the main facts about Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu War; and history, on the whole, has endorsed the contemporary verdict against Lord Chelmsford. With that verdict Major French and Sir Bindon Blood disagree; and this book, based partly on “private, semiofficial and official papers, preserved by Lord Chelmsford” and later annotated by one of his staff, is an effort to get the verdict reversed.
It is not wholly successful. Though Major French gets an acquittal on the general charge that Lord Chelmsford underrated his enemy, he can hardly get away from the plain facts that Lord Chelmsford divided his forces into five columns of a thousand men apiece, all of which proved too small; that he undervalued the larger and the square in Zulu fighting; that he left details of his own column in unprotected camp while he went after the enemy; that the enemy “slipped” him and got at his camp; that he was slow in coming to the rescue; that somehow or other the man he had ordered to take command, Colonel Durnford, did not arrive until two hours before the Zulu attack. (There is, by the way, a mystery about this written order, which has never been discovered to this day, either in original or in the file duplicate).
What happened, at any rate, is clear. The Isandhlwana camp was cut up. One of the Chelmsford columns was besieged in Echowe. The other columns retired into Natal. Lord Wolseley was ordered out to take Chelmsford’s place; and only tho heroic defence of the lager at Rorke’s drift saved Natal from invasion. Lord Chelmsford, it is true, made a fine and brave recovery. He advanced again into Zululand, tempted the Zulus to break themselves on his square at Ulundi and so, in effect, ended the war. But the answer to that is surely that his tactics on the second invasion were the tactics he should have used on the first invasion. There seems some reason to believe that he had neglected local advice and based his plans on a memorandum from General Michel, reproduced, who was at home and based his views on his own experiences in the Kaffir War of twenty years before.
Allowing for tlhe fact that he is trying to make a case, Major French has written a good book. The Chelmsford correspondence and memoranda contain some interesting new matter and throw a quite pleasant light on the character of Lord Chelmsford, who is described by Sir Bindon Blood as "a fine specimen of the class of officer and gentleman which we find so abundantly in the British Army.” The maps and battle descriptions are well done. On the other hand, Major French never seems fully to realise the strength of the case he has to meet, and he is almost ill-tempered in his references to some of those who have condemned his hero."