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Film Zulu Dawn quote: “Excuse me, my Lord, there's something I must convey to you. I rode along the track down to Rorke's Drift. The sky above is red with fire. Your orders my Lord? Do we move to the drift?”
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Posts : 1096 Join date : 2009-01-13 Location : East London
Subject: Captain Nourse Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:59 am
Captain Nourse, Natal Native Contingent, states: "I was commanding the escort to the Rocket Battery, when Colonel Durnford advanced in front of the camp on the 22nd to meet the enemy. Colonel Durnford had gone on with two troops, Mounted Natives. They went too fast, and left us some two miles in the rear. On hearing heavy firing on our left, and learning that the enemy were in that direction, we changed our direction to the left. Before nearly reaching the crest of the hills on the left of the camp, we were attacked on all sides. One rocket was sent off, and the enemy-was on us; the first volley dispersed the mules and the natives, and we retired on to the camp as well as we could. Before we reached the camp it was destroyed."
Source: Court of Inquiry held to take evidence regarding the disastrous affair of Isandlwana.
Did Nourse leave the Battlefield by-way of the Fugitives trail? Or did he find another way out. He states, “We retired on to the camp but it was destroyed” I would have thought at that point of the camp being destroyed the horns would had closed in.
Posts : 1605 Join date : 2009-09-21
Subject: Re: Captain Nourse Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:06 pm
Old H. There does not seemed to much information on Capt Nourse. Only what you have already posted. I have been looking for his means of escape.
Posts : 3057 Join date : 2009-03-03 Location : Devon
Subject: Re: Captain Nourse Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:49 pm
"The rocket battery had been caught unprepared. Some of the amaNgwane NNC were still milling about, holding comrades' weapons while others began tovunload and shoulder the rockets up the ridge. Captain Nourse was dismounted, as were the eight gunners of the 1/24th. And when Russell shouted the order "Action Front," it meant nothing except to Nourse and the men of the 1/24th. Despite the confusion they reacted immediately, managing to unload one trough and prop it up in the direction of the enemy. Then, snatching rockets from the unnerved amaNgwane, the gunners loaded the trough. Whether on Russell's orders or a gunner's initiative a rocket was ignited. With a banshee shriek it took off. It was frightening but ineffective. The Zulus chasing Russell halted at 100 yards and fired a volley that was as devastating and accurate as that expected of imperial trained infantry. Three of the eight gunners were killed instantly and Russell fell mortally wounded, most of the amaNgwane fled, discarding their rockets, and the mules stampeded in every direction. It all happened in a matter of seconds. With the exception of five men, the amaNgwane flight continued past Isandhlwana camp and on in the direction of their homes amongst the distant Drakenberg mountains. They were never seen again. Nourse, whose mount had bolted with the mules - as had all but six of the artillery horses - found himself on foot with two of the five of surviving gunners - Privates Johnson and Trainer. Flight was their only hope. Taking to the labyrinth of dongas and hopefully heading toward the carbineers' outpost, they fled. Fortunately the dongas gave concealment and the warriors did not pursue. Just before the first volley, Private Grant and another of the gunners had been detailed to hold the horses and, despite the chaos, they had hung onto the terrified animals. Still holding the jumble of reins, they managed to mount and with great resolve and commendable horsemanship they galloped away, Grant leading two spare horses and the other gunner leading one. Bombadier Gough, with a spare horse, also escaped. These additional horses would be the only means of survival in the hours ahead."
Posts : 10156 Join date : 2009-04-06 Age : 64 Location : Melbourne, Australia
Subject: Capt Nourse. Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:45 pm
Hi all. This was sent to me by a well known zulu historian . "Nourse with the rocket battery when it was attacked a few of the NNC rallied to him , and they were able to cover the escape by the rest of the survivors . Nourse"s men then engaged the zulus among the boulders , These zulus were possibly only Skirmishers of the iNGOBAMAKHOSI who were content to pin Nourse down because they knew what was coming up behind , under cover of the heights , in the meanwhile Durnford came into view as he retreated , and picked up the remaining survivors all of whom , then went back to the Donga with Durnford . When Durnford stayed to fight , the Rocket Battery survivors including Nourse , pressed back to camp". Thanks to the well known historian. cheers 90th.
Posts : 2583 Join date : 2009-04-24
Subject: Re: Captain Nourse Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:10 pm
90th that's interesting, But did he leave the battlefield by-way of the Fugitives trail?
Posts : 10156 Join date : 2009-04-06 Age : 64 Location : Melbourne, Australia
Subject: Capt Nourse. Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:13 pm
hi ctsg. Not sure , I will try and find out. cheers 90th
Posts : 7086 Join date : 2009-04-24 Age : 52 Location : Down South.
Subject: Re: Captain Nourse Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:37 pm
90th I have been through the dispatches from the Court of Inquiry.
7th Evidence. Was given by Captain Nourse, Natal Native Contingent. This is the only mention of Nourse, be it by himself.
But none of the others that escaped by way of the fugitives trail mentioned seeing him. He was the commanding the escort to the Rocket Battery so would have been known within the ranks. Was there any other way he could have made his escape other than fugitives trail?
Posts : 3057 Join date : 2009-03-03 Location : Devon
Subject: Re: Captain Nourse Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:34 pm
I have been sent the following by some good friends and thought it would be of interest to all.
Accounts by Captain T.M.C. Nourse, commanding D Company, 1/1st Natal Native Contingent at Isandlwana;
From evidence to the Court of Inquiry, Helpmekaar, 27 January 1879;
I was commanding the escort to the rocket battery when Colonel Durnford advanced in front of the camp, on the 22nd, to meet the enemy. Colonel Durnford had gone on with two troops of mounted natives. They went too fast, and left us some two miles in the rear. On hearing heavy firing on our left, and learning that the enemy were in that direction, we changed our direction to the left. Before nearly reaching the crest of the hills on the left of the camp, we were attacked on all sides. One rocket was sent off, and the enemy was on us; the first volley dispersed the mules and the natives, and we retired on to the camp as well as we could. Before we reached the camp it was destroyed.
From The Natal Witness, 19 January 1929
We were camped near the Buffalo River on January 21, and the following morning, while some of the officers were breakfasting with the Colonel by invitation, two mounted men brought a despatch requesting the Colonel to proceed at once to Isandlwana. On the way to the camp the constant booming of the cannon in that direction convinced us that the General was heavily engaged. On our arrival in camp Colonel Pulleine, commanding the 24th, rode up to hand over command of the camp to Colonel Durnford, but the latter, in effect, told Colonel Pulleine to ‘carry on’ as he wished to be ‘a free lance.’ While the discussion was taking place the vedettes on the range of hills to our left, looking east, were circling, signalling an enemy in sight. Not long after that one of the vedettes rode up, while matters were still being discussed, and reported a body of about 800 Zulus over the brow of the hill where the General was. On being questioned he replied that they were moving south, and Colonel Durnford at once promptly came to a decision and acted promptly. He took two of his Zulu companies and rode due east with the object of intercepting the Zulus from joining forces against the General. He detailed two companies to attack the enemy in the rear and drive them on to him. I was detailed to support a rocket battery, commanded by Major Russell, which was to follow in the Colonel’s wake, but with discretionary powers. When we had proceeded about two miles a vedette rode down to us from the hill and said - I quote his words - ‘If you want any fun come to the top of the hill. They are thick up there.’ We decided to go. Just then a few Zulus appeared on the sky-line, and it was decided to send a few rockets after them. These rockets were supposed to have a death dealing and demoralising effect on the enemy. I dismounted to give some assistance, as the natives with us were paralysed with fear. We got off one rocket, which just skimmed the hill, and the next and last plumped into the hill. But we were ambushed. The Zulus were lying not a hundred paces off in the tall grass, and with that buzzing ‘Usutu’ of theirs they were on us. It electrified the donkeys, which hee-hawed down the hill with the speed of racehorses, in spite of their packs. My men disappeared as if by magic, and though a bit slow in the take-off I myself reached the foot of the hill in respectable time. Major Russell, who was mounted, was with me. As the Zulus were not pressing their success with any undue haste we halted to survey the scene and see what could be done. Just then a shot struck Major Russell in the thigh and caused him to drop from his horse. I lifted him onto his horse and he thought he could manage to get going. As the Zulus were getting unpleasantly near I proposed to increase the distance between us, but Major Russell must either have received another shot or, what was more likely, his horse had been shot, for when I looked round I could see neither him nor his mount. The ridiculous side of the situation was apparent in my mind at the moment. There was I, a colonial, knowing that the Zulu army was trained to the hour and was disciplined to obey orders or perish, joined in an attempt to engage them with a hundred natives, totally without discipline, and who had, from want of practice, lost the art of using the assegai. However, to regret one’s folly could cut no ice, and, in spite of the disaster, I still had confidence that they would fail to take the camp. I was on the camp with four of my men, and there was a great donga between us and the camp in which the Zulus were taking cover. The rest was making the shortest time on record towards the camp. It was then that Colonel Durnford, who had been forced back, rode up to me and asked me where Major Russell and the rocket battery were. I told him of the fate of Major Russell and the rocket battery. The Colonel appeared very distressed and spoke about not surviving the disgrace. I concluded that the disgrace lay in exceeding his orders which were to defend the camp. He had made an attack, which had failed, and feared being made a scapegoat of. As a matter of fact the attempt was made, and I was called to give evidence. I suggested to Colonel Durnford that he should go to the camp and collect all the mounted men and line a donga to the south-east of the camp to delay our being completely surrounded. This he did with about 50 men of the horse guards of every mounted troop. The position of our forces at this time was one company of the 24th on the extreme left of the camp, about 1000 native contingent, all discomforted; two guns, the 24th lining a ridge of rocks about 300 yards in front of the camp; Colonel Durnford’s 50 mounted men, about one mile and a half to the right front of the camp, all facing east. From where I was it seemed the 24th were keeping their front clear, but the enemy rushed their camp from the rear and the tents went down like a pack of cards. I judged from the same distance that the 24th had received orders to retake the camp, but the moment they rose from their sheltered position the enemy, who had been massing in front of them and out of harm’s way, rose like one man and swamped the good old 24th. Colonel Durnford had during this time called for volunteers to try and break through and give the news to the General. Being alone on foot and with an empty revolver, my chances of escape appeared most remote, but just as I was thinking of making for a donga my native servant rode up, handed me my horse and shot away without my being able to question him. Hope had revived, and I had now a loaded revolver. The thought then occurred to me that if I could get into the thousands of animals that were rushing through the nek, bellowing, braying and bleating, with a cloud of dust hanging over them, I might get through. It reminded me forcefully of the Biblical description of the defeat of the Babylonians. I joined the maddened beasts and got through. But the sight that met my eyes was saddening. The guns, which I had thought had escaped, horses and men, were all dead, huddled in a donga. The last and most pathetic sight was half about half a company of the 24th, with their Colonel mounted in their midst, assegaid, just out of reach of their bayonets. My position became more difficult as a detachment of the enemy had evidently been told off to round up the stock. Managing to evade them, however, I followed the track made by some of those who had escaped and reached Fugitives’ Drift. Here I found Charles Raw, who had collected a few of those mounted, to stand by and assist stragglers through the drift. One was Smith Dorrien, then a lieutenant, and the other Wyat Vause, of Durban.
Posts : 3957 Join date : 2008-11-01 Age : 61 Location : KENT
Subject: Re: Captain Nourse Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:06 pm
Thanks for the post 1879Graves.
This is new to me. I thought Russell died on the ground and almost instantly after engading the Zulu.
"Just then a shot struck Major Russell in the thigh and caused him to drop from his horse. I lifted him onto his horse and he thought he could manage to get going."
Maybe trying to take Credit for Durnfords actions.
"I suggested to Colonel Durnford that he should go to the camp and collect all the mounted men and line a donga to the south-east of the camp to delay our being completely surrounded. This he did with about 50 men of the horse guards of every mounted troop."
Now we know which route he did take. A bit odd that, Charles Raw, Smith Dorrien, Wyat Vause., never mentioned seeing Nourse in there statements. Or did they. I might have missed it.
"I followed the track made by some of those who had escaped and reached Fugitives’ Drift. Here I found Charles Raw, who had collected a few of those mounted, to stand by and assist stragglers through the drift. One was Smith Dorrien, then a lieutenant, and the other Wyat Vause, of Durban."
Posts : 2558 Join date : 2009-04-06 Age : 58 Location : UK
Subject: Re: Captain Nourse Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:19 pm
I couldn't find anything on Nourse. Nice one 1879Graves. But not to sure about the Durnford bit (Advising him)