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 “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War

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Petty Officer Tom

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PostSubject: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyWed Aug 02, 2023 2:59 pm

"Men of Colour" who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War
by Tom Hyde

Black sailors were not an unusual sight in the Royal Navy during the 1700s and 1800s. By the time of the Zulu War they had become a common part of a ship’s crew.  The native men from Sierra Leone who were taken aboard ships as “supernumeraries,” and borne on ships’ books as “in addition” to ship’s complement, were rated as “Kroomen.”   There were other black men from the West Coast of Africa, Cape Town and the West Indies who enlisted directly into the Royal Navy and were part of the ship’s fulltime complement, as well as former "Kroomen" who chose to enlist.  Most of these men served as "Domestics" or "Stokers" with a few other ratings.  Their service records contained a notation, “Man of Colour,” in the “Personal Description” section of the record.  Each of Her Majesty’s ships that served in the Zulu War had at least one “Man of Colour” serving aboard.

The following is a list, by ship, of those “Men of Colour” who saw service in the Zulu War.

HMS Active

Abraham Jarrett – Domestic 2nd Class
Born January 1837 at Sierra Leone; first entry on his service record was on 14 October 1863 as Ward Room Cook on HMS Snipe; he next
served aboard H.M. ships Antelope, Caradoc, Growler, Foam, Pioneer, Tourmaline before being assigned to HMS Active as a Domestic 2nd Class; served aboard ship during the 9th Cape Frontier and Zulu Wars; entitled to South Africa Medal without clasp; on 24 March 1882 he was invalided from the service at Haslar Hospital.

Gay Maney – Stoker
Born in Sierra Leone; his service records shows age 22 in 1876; described as “man of colour, former trade “Krooman”, “Blue mark down center of forehead; 6 September 1867 first entered the Royal Navy as “Krooman” aboard HMS Daphne and saw service in the Absynnia War 1867-68; entitled to the Absynnia Medal without clasp; he next served aboard H.M. ships Teazer, Wolverene, Forte, Glasgow, Duke of Wellington, Asia, Jumna, Asia, Orontes and Tourmaline; 30 July 1877 appointed Stoker to HMS Active; served aboard ship during the 9th Cape Frontier and Zulu Wars; entitled to South Africa Medal without clasp; served as Stoker aboard HMS Dolphin during the Sudan Campaign 1884 – 86; entitled to Egypt Medal without clasp and the Khedive’s Star.  On 13 February 1897 he was pensioned ashore from HMS Vivid II and in July 1897 was granted free passage to Sierra Leone aboard HMS Wye.

Thomas William – Bandsman
Born 1840 in Sierra Leone, West Coast of Africa; described on his service record as “A Man of Colour”, Trade – Musician; the first entry on his service record shows he was a Barber aboard HMS Rattlesnake where his rating was soon changed to Bandsman; he then served aboard Her Majesty’s ships Flora, Rattlesnake, Active, Tourmaline and back to Active on which ship he served during the 9th Cape Frontier War and the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp;  he next served aboard Boadicea, Thalia, Flora, Boadicea, Raleigh, Flora and back to Raleigh from which ship he discharged to pension on 6 November 1889.

James C. Williams – Carpenter’s Crew
Born in the 1850s in Sierra Leone. West Coast of Africa; described on his service record as a “Coloured man” Trade – Carpenter; the first entry on is service record shows he was a Krooman serving aboard HMS Argus from 7 May 1873 to 9 June 1874 when he was discharged to shore (a notation on his service record states “Late ‘Vestal’ 11-30-68”); he next served aboard HMS Tourmaline as a “Carpenter’s Crew” from 25 Dec 1876 to 29 Jul 1877 and having joined the Royal Navy was issued Official Number 98851; he was then transferred to HMS Active on 30 Jul 1877 where he served aboard ship during the 9th Cape Frontier Wars and the Zulu Wars; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp; on 3 Sep 1879 he was discharged to shore at Sierra Leone; his South Africa Medal was sent to the Naval Agent at Sierra Leone on 25 Jul 1884.

Charles Month (aka Charles D’August) – Domestic 2nd Class
Born around 1856 born in Lagos, West Coast of Africa; Unknown when he began serving aboard ship in the Royal Navy.  Under the naval system at the time a Domestic would not have signed on for Continuous Service and would only serve aboard ship for the duration of that ship’s current deployment; In 1879 He was a Domestic 3rd Class serving board HMS Active during the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp; 3 Apr 1881 census shows Chas. Month (alias Augustt) was a 25 year old (estimated date of birth would be 1856) British Subject serving as a Ward Room Cook aboard HMS Forward (Gunboat), South East Coast of South America); his place of birth was listed as Lagos, West Coast of Africa.  In the later part of 1881 HMS Forward was ordered home to Devonport; 13 Oct 1882 his South Africa Medal was sent to him aboard HMS Pioneer (Composite Paddle Vessel, Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa); 1 Dec 1885 Month entered the Royal Navy as a Domestic 2nd Class aboard HMS Algerine (Gun Vessel); issued Official Number 132830; his Royal Navy Service Record shows his name as “Charles Month” alias “Charles D. August”, Date of Birth “Unknown”, Place of Birth “Lagos, West Coast of Africa”, Height “5’ 8”, Trade or Occupation “Servant”, described as a “Man of Colour”; he was discharged to shore on 6 Jan 1886; 18 Feb 1886 He was a Domestic 2nd Class appointed to HMS Raleigh (Frigate, Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa); he was discharge to shore at Sierra Leone by his own request on 6 Mar 1887; 1 Oct 1887 He was a Domestic 1st Class stationed at Ascension Island; his service record shows him assigned to Flora (A.I.); he was discharged ashore at Sierra Leone on18 Jun 1888; 15 Jun 1890 Month began serving as a Domestic 2nd Class aboard HMS Magicienne (Cruiser, West Coast of Africa); left the ship on 29 Jan 1892; 30 Jan 1892 He was sent to HMS Philomel, Cape of Good Hope Station; 15 Mar 1892 He was transferred to HMS Mohawk until 30 Apr 1892; 1 May 1892 he was transferred to HMS Penelope (Cape of Good Hope) until 19 Aug 1892; 20 Aug 1892 he was transferred back to HMS Mohawk until 18 May 1894 when he was discharged to shore; Served as 132,830 C. Month, aka August, Domestic 2nd Class aboard HMS Forte during the Angle-Boer War (1899 – 1902); medal returned to mint.

James Newgent – Domestic 3rd Class
Born at Sierra Leone.  13 August 1879 entered the Royal Navy aboard HMS Dido on the West Coast of Africa as a Domestic 2nd Class.  Issued Official Number 108893.  25 February 1880 Newgent was discharged to shore at Simon’s Bay.

HMS Boadicea

James B. Hagan – Domestic 2nd Class
Born 1 May 1859 at Cape Coast Castle, West Coast of Africa; described as “A Man of Colour” on his service record; served aboard HMS Rattlesnake during the Ashanti War 1873-74; entitled to the Ashanti medal without clasp; he was the servant to the Commodore’s Secretary aboard HMS Active from July 1877 to March 1879; served aboard “Boadicea” in the Zulu War, entitled to South Africa Medal without clasp; served aboard HMS Philomel in the Benin Expedition 1897; entitled to East and West Africa Medal

Lucas Rose – Stoker
Born 2 December 1856 at Liverpool, Nova Scotia. 1 July 1877 he entered the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class; described on his service record as a “Man of Colour”.  April 1878 he was appointed to HMS Boadicea; was one of the small pox victims January/ February 1879; sent to HMS Flora for recovery; 16 May he returned to “Boadicea” but on 2 Aug 1879 he was listed as “Run” Simons Town; his name does not appear on the Medal Roll.

Tom Freeman – Stoker
Born at Sierra Leone, date of birth not known.  He began serving in the Royal Navy in 1865 as a “Krooman”; in May 1874 his service record shows he was a Stoker aboard HMS Asia from the Duke of Wellington where he had served as a “Krooman”; he was described on his service record as A Man of Colour”; on 18 April 1878 he was a Stoker assigned to HMS Boadicea; served aboard ship during the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp; served aboard “Boadicea” during the 1st Boer War; he was pensioned ashore in February 1886.

HMS Forester

Zaccheus Thomas – Domestic 3rd Class
Born 1860 at Sierra Leone; described as a “Coloured Man” on his service record; 22 April 1878 he entered aboard HMS Forester as a Domestic 2rd Class and later as Domestic 3rd Class; served aboard ship during the Zulu War; entitled to South Africa Medal with “1879” clasp.  On 3 February 1880 he was discharged to shore at Sierra Leone.  On 1 February 1884 he joined HMS Alecto as a “Krooman” until 22 January 1885 when he was again discharged to shore at Sierra Leone.

Isaac Ledlum – Domestic 2nd Class
Born 15 August 1841 at Sierra Leone; described on his service record as “Coloured Man”;  14 April 1878 he entered aboard HMS Forester as Domestic 2nd Class; served aboard ship during the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal with “1879” clasp. On 3 February 1882 he was discharged to shore at Sierra Leone

HMS Shah

William Adrian – Yeoman of Stores
Born 25 October 1825 at Trinidad, West Indies; Entered the Royal Navy aboard HMS Majestic; his service record described him as a “Coloured Man”; he then served aboard HM ships Gorgon, Brisk, Gorgon, Narcissus, Seringapatam, Ariel, Royal Sovereign, Rinaldo, Crocodile, Duke of Wellington and Triumph before being assigned to HMS Shah on 4 December 1878; served aboard ship during the Zulu War; entitled to South Africa Medal without clasp; then transferred to HMS Tamar; was last appointed to Duke of Wellington from which ship he was “discharged dead” from pneumonia on 12 January 1880.

HMS Tenedos

Charles Solomon – Domestic 2nd Class
Born Simon’s Town, Cape of Good Hope; description “Man of Colour”; 12 Oct 1878 began serving aboard ship; 8 April 1879 imprisoned at Simons Town; 20 May returned aboard ship; 22 May 1879 he was discharged to shore as “objectionable”

HMS Euphrates

Samuel Simons – Cook 1st Class
Born 5 November 1837 at Bermuda, West Indies; description on his service record was a “Man of Colour”; the first entry on his service record was aboard HMS Immortalite on 2 November 1860; he next served aboard Her Majesty’s ships Terror, Duke of Wellington, Helicon, Wye, and Duke of Wellington before being assigned to HMS Euphrates; served aboard Euphrates during the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp; he next served aboard Duke of Wellington and then HMS Orwell from which ship he was pensioned on 5 June 1881.

HMS Orontes
John Douglas – Domestic 2nd Class
Born 28 March 1842 at Kingston, Jamaica; description on his service record shows he was a “Man of Colour”; first record of service was on 14 January 1870 aboard HMS Zealous as an Assistant Ward Room Cook; he next served aboard Her Majesty’s ship Hercules and Asia before being sent to HMS Orontes as Domestic 2nd Class; served aboard ship during the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp; he then served aboard Resistance, Impregnable, Warrior, Shannon, Ajax, Superb, Benbow, Cleopatra, Benbow, Duke of Wellington, Sultan, Duke of Wellington, Howe, Empress of India, Vivid II, Duke of Wellington, and Northampton from which ship he was pensioned on 18 March 1903.


HMS Tamar
Frederick Augustus Grant – Painter 1st Class
Born 16 January 1842 at Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies; description on his service record shows he was a “Man of Colour”; entered the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman aboard HMS St. George; he next served aboard Her Majesty’s ships Cambridge, Doris, Royal Adelaide, Favorite, Indus, Britannia, and Indus before transferring to HMS Tamar; served aboard ship during the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp; he last served aboard HMS Indus from which ship he was pensioned to shore on 14 May 1885.

James Morris – Petty Officer 2nd Class
Born 20 January 1839 at Barbados, West Indies; description on his service record shows he was a “Man of Colour”; his first record of service was on 5 January 1860 aboard HMS Eagle;  his next served aboard Her Majesty’s ships Blenheim, Orontes, Aurora, Ganges, Minotaur, Valiant, Royal Adelaide, Iron Duke, Royal Adelaide, Implacable and Royal Adelaide;  he then was assigned to HMS Tamar on which ship he served as a Petty Officer 2nd Class during the Zulu War; entitled to the South Africa Medal without clasp; he next served aboard HM ships Duke of Wellington, Royal Adelaide and Valiant from which ship he was discharged on 12 January 1883.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyWed Aug 02, 2023 5:58 pm

Tom,

Very interesting and informative piece.

In a similar vein were there any Lascars serving in the Zulu War?

JY
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Petty Officer Tom

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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyWed Aug 02, 2023 6:56 pm

John,

I have looked at almost every service record of navy men who served in the Zulu war and did not find any Lascars.  I believe the Lascar were used predominantly on the East Indies Station which included the east coast of Africa.

Tom
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyWed Aug 02, 2023 7:17 pm

Tom,

Thanks for that, it was just a thought that came to me given the involvement of some of the troopships that were normally on the India run.

JY
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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 1:16 am

Fabulous post, I had a question for you if you don’t mind…
I’m aware there’s a mention of one of the Active Kroosman being injured at Nyzane, what I’m curious about is in what capacity where they employed in the fighting? As I understand it they weren’t issued rifles?

If you have any insight I’d appreciate it :)
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 6:54 am

GCameron,

What brings you to the conclusion that the Kroomen did not bear arms?  The well-known photograph of the Active’s crew on 11th December 1878 at the delivery of the Ultimatum rather appears to contradict your finding. However, there is a group of nine Kroomen to the right of Midshipman L. C. Coker who appear to be wearing equipment, but the front three - at least - are not carrying any weapons.

JY
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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 9:32 am

John Young wrote:
GCameron,

What brings you to the conclusion that the Kroomen did not bear arms?  The well-known photograph of the Active’s crew on 11th December 1878 at the delivery of the Ultimatum rather appears to contradict your finding.  However, there is a group of nine Kroomen to the right of Midshipman L. C. Coker who appear to be wearing equipment, but the front three - at least - are not carrying any weapons.

JY

Hi John,

I think the term lead to believe is poignant as it’s not an area I have any certainty on. The photo of
Actives crew (I think we are viewing the same one) taken in December has them separated in a side group with no rifles and from all capable study it appears the also lack ammunition pouches too.This seems to be replicated/confirmed in the engravings too where the kroomen are stationed behind the Armstrong’s again without arms or ammunition. If you have photography showing them armed I’d love to see it.

A slight aside to the AZW but I know the slightly early period Photography of the Kroomans stationed at Simonstown always shows them without rifles when white colleagues bear them.

I’ve had a brief conversations with Ian in the past and I think on balance he’s led to believe they weren’t issued martini Henry’s and suggested they likely had a more manual role within the landing parties. Again nothing definitive so any feed-in would be appreciated.

As ever my quest for clarity is simply fuelled by ‘small soldiers’, I have a decent collection with a heavy bias on ocd and accuracy, it contains actives crew and simply put I would like to include a few Kroomen but represented correctly in a role they would have undertaken.

Any thoughts, rumour or information glady received :)
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 11:12 am

GCameron,

Due to renovation work at present I cannot access my copy of the photograph. So I am relying on a copy online. Fourteen Kroomen formed part the Active’s landing brigade I can see nine Kroomen standing to Coker’s right in a group. However, look to the left of Coker and in the ranks standing “at the ready” I can discern other African faces. As to the engraving which can lay my hands on as I used it in They Fell Like Stones. If the engraving is to be believed - and that’s a big if - the Kroomen are forming a gun crew in my opinion. If that is the case apart from their cutlass bayonets what other armaments would they carry?
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Originally published in The Graphic, although this version is taken from They Fell Like Stones.

Just my thoughts.

JY
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Eddie




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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 11:45 am

Hi John 

I have to admit they seem to be a Gun crew in that picture and pose as such. With that said, is it possible that they were only employed to lug the guns and ammunition, and mere navies, just a thought.
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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 11:53 am

Eddie,

I agree, posed like that in the engraving they appear to be “Gun Numbers” to me. Shades of The Royal Tournament’s Gun Runs.

JY
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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 4:12 pm

John Young wrote:
GCameron,

Due to renovation work at present I cannot access my copy of the photograph.  So I am relying on a copy online.  Fourteen Kroomen formed part the Active’s landing brigade I can see nine Kroomen standing to Coker’s right in a group.  However, look to the left of Coker and in the ranks standing “at the ready” I can discern other African faces.  As to the engraving which can lay my hands on as I used it in They Fell Like Stones.  If the engraving is to be believed - and that’s a big if - the Kroomen are forming a gun crew in my opinion.  If that is the case apart from their cutlass bayonets what other armaments would they carry?
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Originally published in The Graphic, although this version is taken from They Fell Like Stones.

Just my thoughts.

JY

Thanks John,

I have the Graphic and I’m not sure I am certain I see African faces to the right, perhaps the pitfalls of illustration and letter press printing just place some figures into a middle ground?

The photo which exists which I am 99% certain is an alternative view of the same sketched scene seems to suggest the Kroomen are kept separate, close study shows the group of 9 in actually more as the back row is condensed and if you look behind the group there appears to be an additional 2 sat on a small mound. I’ve had a magnifying glass over it many a time but the limitations of resolution do leave some question marks.

Interestingly that photo moves the guns position and perhaps hints more than the Kroomen aren’t associated with the guns.

Really appreciate your thoughts, the naval brigades don’t have a huge amount of reference so the opinions are gratefully received.

Cheers
Gavin

Ps can’t upload the photos from phone but will jump on a laptop when home! :)
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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 5:15 pm

Gavin,

I was referring to the photograph rather than the engraving. However, looking at the engraving again I’m pretty certain I can see another African face, in the second kneeling rank to the left of the other officer in line with left elbow.

Hopefully Tom resolve the issue.

Without any double skinned shields!

JY
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Petty Officer Tom

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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 6:30 pm

GCameron,

Very little information is available concerning the Kroomen who served ashore with the Naval Brigade.

In the photograph of the Naval Brigade contingent from HMS Active I don’t see any of the Kroomen with a rifle.  In the photograph of the Naval Brigade contingent from HMS Tenedos, taken in January 1879, the one Krooman in the group is standing with his hands on his rifle. He is in the back row, number 8 from the left.

At Inyezane the Naval Brigade had just stacked their rifles when firing was heard coming from the front.  “A” and “B” companies grabbed their rifles and moved to the area of the knoll.  Boatswain Cotter’s rocket crews moved to the top of the knoll.  Some of the Kroomen were part of Cotter’s men.  The two Kroomen wounded at the Battle of Inyeane were Jack Lewis and Jack Ropeyarn were on the knoll with the rocket crew.

Other Kroomen were assigned to Surgeon H. F. Norbury as stretcher bearers.  Surgeon John B. B. Triggs, HMS Active, in a letter to the editor of The Lancet, April 10, 1880, noted “a regularly-organised company of Kroomen belonging to the Naval Brigade, previously trained by Fleet Surgeon Norbury, R.N., C.B., was in action with that officer at the battle of Inyezane.”  I would assume that the Kroomen left their rifles stacked nearby the ambulance waggon.  

After the battle the men of Number One column moved on to Eshowe.  Captain H. R. Knight of the “Buffs later related in his “Reminiscences of Etshowe” that: “the Kroomen, some twelve or fourteen of whom were in the Naval Brigade, afforded a good deal of amusement with their quaint names … and their merry ways.  They were immensely proud of being entrusted with rifles.”

I my opinion it is doubtful that the Royal Navy would send Kroomen into battle without providing each of them a weapon.

Tom
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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War   “Men of Colour” who served in the Royal Navy during the Zulu War EmptyTue Oct 24, 2023 7:49 pm

Tom, JY
Appreciate both your efforts and actually I probably have enough info to put some Kroomen into my HMS active collection without fear of inaccuracy!

I do agree that there’s likely a practicality vs public show issue going on with the Kroomen, perhaps at the time displaying regular black sailors on an equal standing to their white counterparts wasn’t the done thing yet in the seige or indeed battle as you rightly say why wouldn’t you maximise your guns. It can be interpreted a few ways but the Cpt Knights remarks.could be taken as a pride of an issue that would not normally occur.

I’ll stick to absolute certainty though… a few additions to the rocket battery and scratch building a couple of stretcher bearers is a lovely way to incorporate them into my numbers.

Much appreciated!
:)



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