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 Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift

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Coldsteel
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Stefaan

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PostSubject: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyTue Nov 14, 2023 9:01 pm

Were there no spare weapons at Rorke's Drift?
What happened with the weapons of the soldiers in the hospital? Did their rifle stand beside their beds or would there have been
some central point in the station where the weapons were kept?
If a rifle was not working properly, could it not be changed for another weapon so that an armourer could look at it?
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyWed Nov 15, 2023 7:38 am

It's an interesting question, one that I thought about a while back.

Obviously some of the patients had access to arms because they took part in the defence - Lugg and Schiess to name two.

Did patients take their weapon with them to hospital - probably depends on the situation they were 'admitted'.

I would have said that any patients from B Coy would have had their weapons in camp.

Would the armourers operate at a Battalion level, not company but I would have thought that a company had a few spare MHs, from any previous casualties etc?

Companies at Isandlwana seems be under establishment strength for various reasons so you would think that there were spares in the armourers tent or allocated waggon space. Someone left a statement saying he searched for a rifle during the battle but couldn't find one - he was probable looking in the wrong place.

Sorry got no definitive answers

Simon

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Stefaan

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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyWed Nov 15, 2023 10:02 am

Apparently they had no spare "handguns" as they had to give Daniells a sword to defend himself.
Or perhaps he was not allowed one because he was a civilian. I read somewhere he was to small to
be able to handle a Martine Henry rifle.

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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyWed Nov 15, 2023 10:21 am

I know Yankee Dan used (Spaldings?)sword to threaten a Zulu prisoner. I can see there being no spare handguns but I'm not sure about shoulder arms.

A number of soldiers were killed during the battle (outside of hospital area) - Cole (I think) was shot in the head, Cpl Allen was shot in the shoulder (so probably couldn't have used a MH) Hitch's wound made it impossible to use a rifle, so he used Bromheads revolver (maybe giving Bromhead his MH?) - so to my mind, at least in some point in the battle, there were spare MHs. Dalton got his hands on a MH (but I dunno if this was part of his kit)

Maybe Daniels was too small for a MH....I think I the situation being a civvy wouldn't have stopped him being given a MH (if he was required to have one - which is something else I have been thinking about) and rudimentary training - "point it that way"

Cheers

Simon

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Eddie




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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyWed Nov 15, 2023 1:20 pm

Hi All 

John Lyons rifle was going spare also, him being shot also.
I do recall in a private letter one of the hospital defenders using Sergeant Maxfield's or Lance Sergeant Williams's rifle as they were sick, which would suggest there may have not been spare weapons stored there, but in the Armourers wagon with the column.
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Coldsteel




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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyThu Nov 16, 2023 8:27 am

C/Sgt Mabin (who as Spalding's clerk was only armed with a pistol) relates in his account that he had to wait for a rifle to become free. Don't have my books to hand but read this in the recent editions of Rorke's Drift BTWWThere.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyThu Nov 16, 2023 10:41 am

Hi

Was it standard for C/Sgts to be issued a revolver or would it have been a private purchase (or approved calibre)?

Thanks
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Coldsteel




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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyThu Nov 16, 2023 10:55 am

Mabin was on the General Staff Corps, clerk to the nominal C/O of Rorke's Drift - Major Henry Spalding. He was issued with a pistol as part of that corps, I believe. C/Sgts of infantry regiments were not issued with them but whether one or two might have had one in their possession I don't know. John Young is the best person to answer questions like this.
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyThu Nov 16, 2023 3:46 pm

Thanks for the answers, very interesting. I suppose at Rorke's drift there wouldn't have been spare artillery shells
or rockets?
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyThu Nov 16, 2023 4:14 pm

I have not read about any artillery ordinance being stored there.

I'm not even sure that there was any revolver ammo available because of the Smith Dorrien/Bromhead exchange.

Cheers

Simon
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90th

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PostSubject: spare weapons at Rorke's Drift    Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyThu Nov 16, 2023 11:25 pm

Hi Stefaan
Never heard of any Spare Artillery Shells or Rockets being stored at Rorke's Drift , wouldn't make sense leaving them at the Drift when they were able to have them transported with the Column with the column
90th Very Happy Salute
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyFri Nov 17, 2023 8:37 pm

One of the posts on this forum, (from 10 years ago) says that the British Army had not shipped out any revolver ammo....I have always found it strange that GB could only spare HS-D 11 rounds of revolver ammo.....

I have read that revolvers were private purchase items for officers, so long as they were an approved calibre (.450?)...but at least initially in the campaign it may seem that the officers had to supply their own ammo?

Perhaps in the thinking of the army, if revolvers had to be used by the officers - something had gone wrong.....
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyMon Nov 20, 2023 7:29 pm

Surely, any spare rifles would have been handed out, or stacked for emergency use?
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90th

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PostSubject: spare weapons at Rorke's Drift    Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyMon Nov 20, 2023 11:10 pm

Hi Kris
Yes one would think so , they were better organised at Rorke's Drift than they were at Isandlwana .
90th ( Gary ) Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyTue Nov 21, 2023 2:46 am

Krh1956

We can assume none were stacked up for emergency use at Rorkes Drift as men were using other people's weapons.
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyTue Nov 21, 2023 3:14 am

Stefan,

What happened with the weapons of the soldiers in the hospital? Did their rifle stand beside their beds or would there have been some central point in the station where the weapons were kept?

I don’t know if your question is in the general context of QRs or the specific circumstances of Rorke’s Drift. If the former:

“5. When a soldier is sent to hospital his arms and accoutrements will be left with his troop or company, except on field service, when they will be sent with him to hospital”.
(QR, 1881, Section XIV - Hospitals)

My holdings are incomplete and related to my specific area of interest. The earliest complete QR I have ready access to is 1868, but little had changed by 1881:

“476. When a soldier is sent into the hospital his arms and accoutrements are, if possible, to be left with his troop or company, and in no instance is he to take his ammunition with him”.
(QR, 1868, Section VII. Interior Economy of Troops)

Peter
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyTue Nov 21, 2023 4:26 am

Very interesting Peter,

So it really depends on the situation and I can understand ammo not being taken to hospital.

If one takes example of Sgt Maxfield (in hospital with delirium) his weapons and kit would probably be in camp at Isandlwana with his company.

However, if one looks at Cpl Schiess - in hospital due to either blisters, an injured leg (from an accident) or something obtained at the attack on Shirayos Kraal, (depending on what you read) - his weapon could have been with him.

Trooper Lugg seemed to leave an account of what he did at RD (as well as his knife, woollen hat and chair in a museum) - I wonder what weapon he used?

I think 'field service' is the key to it all and how closely did colonial units follow QRs.

Thanks a lot

Simon
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyTue Nov 21, 2023 7:42 am

Simon,

Trooper Lugg used a Swinburn-Henry, it is on display with his other items at the Warriors’ Gate, the Old Fort, D’Urban.

Schiess most certainly was not wounded at Sihayo’s stronghold, an invention by one author, slavishly followed by another.

JY
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyTue Nov 21, 2023 8:00 am

Thanks a lot.

So at least one colonial had his own weapon, I wonder about Green and Hunter?

Every time I read about Cpl Schiess there seems to be a different one of 'three reasons' for being at RD.

Cheers

Simon
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PostSubject: Re: Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift   Spare Weapons at Rorke's Drift EmptyTue Nov 21, 2023 8:29 am

Simon,

If Lugg retained his weapons, it is feasible that his N.M.P. colleagues retained their weapons. Although operating under military instructions the local civil constabulary were not governed by Queen’s Regulations.

Schiess - tick the blistered option.

As you say ‘field service’ introduced by Peter35 is the key, the patients being treated at Rorke’s Drift are quite literally on the border adjacent to hostile territory. They are on ‘field service’.

JY
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