Why were British troops slaughtered at Isandlwana - Page 6




 
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December 17th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeEnfield


II. Why the Bayonet Charge Was a Tactical Success


The bayonet charge by British troops in Basra achieved tactical success primarily because of psychological and cultural factors. It also shows that superior firepower does not guarantee success by either side. In this case, the value of surprise, countering enemy expectations, and strict troop discipline were three deciding characteristics of the bayonet charge.


Absolutely true! I've always thought that with bullets, you can duck behind cover, or just hope the guy's a rotten shot. With a bayonett its personnal. He is comming for you and it is you or him.
December 18th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
What many historians fail to mention regarding the battle of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift, is the ambient temperature. January in South Africa is the height of summer while temperatures in the 120-140F range is not unusual. Now imagine fighting hand to hand wearing thick heavy jackets and trousers, it must have been horrendous and strength sapping. Troops must have been drinking water by the gallon, also taking into account that heatstroke can put someone on their back in a heartbeat.
December 18th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Most of the 1st Battalion of the 24th, who fought at Isandlwhana had been in the Cape for some time and were suposedly aclimatised, but still, as you say it mus have been a strength sapping experience, especially as the firing line broke up and they started to fight hand to hand and have to run for their lives.
The only Europeans to survive the battle were on horse back.
They must have been parched from not only the heat but from the dust and the clouds of smoke from all the firing.
The uniforms were made from wool, so they would have been sweating just by standing still in them let alone trying to fight a battle in them.
Normal human body temperature is 36.9 centigrade. An increase of 2 degrees can be fatal.
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December 18th, 2011  
42RM
 

Topic: Some info on the bayonet.


The bayonet is primarily a weapon of intimidation. In modern battle, which is delivered with combatants so far apart; man has come to have a horror of man. He comes to hand-to-hand fighting only to defend his body as if forced to it. With the exception of knife fighting or actual hand-to-hand combat, there is no more direct and personal way to inflict death or die in combat than by the point of the bayonet. The threat of the bayonet causes an irrational fear of being stabbed. This fear destroys the enemy’s will to fight and by destroying the will to fight, the ability to fight is also destroyed. The intimidation factor of the bayonet is amplified when its use is directed against poorly trained or troops with low morale.

To be most effective the bayonet charge must be delivered in an orderly manner. The men must arrive simultaneously so that the defenders do not get a chance to overwhelm the individual soldier. This implies a disciplined approach; an application of offensive spirit. There is a great deal of physical effort required to use the bayonet. The first is overcome the reluctance to kill at close range. It is one thing to fire a rifle at a distant target and see it fall. The other side is no longer a faceless target. At bayonet range, the soldier could look directly into the eyes of his opponent; he could hear the screams and perhaps be splashed with his foe’s blood. Secondly, with this reluctance to directly attack at close range, human instinct is to use other tools; such as the butt of the rifle rather than an edged weapon. The final factor to overcome is not only the reluctance to use the bayonet but to overcome the fear of being stabbed yourself. Only when that fear is subdued are you willing to come to that intimate death dealing range. The bayonet also serves as a serious psychological tool. When the bayonet is affixed to the weapon it affirms that the assault or defense is going to be a desperate affair.
December 18th, 2011  
George
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper1854
The uniforms were made from wool, so they would have been sweating just by standing still in them let alone trying to fight a battle in them.
Normal human body temperature is 36.9 centigrade. An increase of 2 degrees can be fatal.
Wool though, can get saturated & actually in the long run can have more of a cooling effect than cotton. My Dad used to talk about when he was visiting Camp Shelby (he was a pilot) in Miss in '42 watching 2 companys drilling. One had the new cotton uniforms & the other had the wool WWI uniforms. At 1st the guys in wood looked like they were having a hard time, but eventually most of the guys keeling over had the cotton uniforms. Probably upper 90s with humidity thick enough to see it!
December 19th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Wool though, can get saturated & actually in the long run can have more of a cooling effect than cotton. My Dad used to talk about when he was visiting Camp Shelby (he was a pilot) in Miss in '42 watching 2 companys drilling. One had the new cotton uniforms & the other had the wool WWI uniforms. At 1st the guys in wood looked like they were having a hard time, but eventually most of the guys keeling over had the cotton uniforms. Probably upper 90s with humidity thick enough to see it!
I don't doubt it George, but these guys were fighting for their lives.
On top of everything else, Adrenaline was surging through their systems and this is a powerful Vaso Constrictor.
It closes down the blood flow to the extremities, whereas to cool off you want to Vaso Dilate. So they would be over heating very quickly.
Today we understand about hydration and the importance of water intake. They had their hands full just shooting at the enemy with little time to stop and drink.
These poor devils were in a hostile enviroment in every sense of the word.
They also knew, towards the end that they stood little chance of survival and were just putting off the inevitable.
December 19th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
The weather in the Cape is far more agreeable (cooler) then in Natal. I climbed up to the saddle where Captain Younghusband was killed and even in November when the temperature is not as high as in January, I was pouring with sweat.
December 19th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
The British defeat/Zulu victory at Isandlwhana came about as the result of numerous factors that came together on the 22nd January 1879.
In the imediate aftermath the people in charge,and responsible, Lord Chelmsford, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, and others tried to divert the blame from themselves and onto the people who could not defend themselves because they were dead. (sounds familiar!)
They put the blame of the British collapse on Colonel Durnford, and various other individuals and made up non existant issues, such as the "Ammunition Myth" for example. Survivors' testimonies were ignored or supressed. One surviving officer was not even allowed to give evidence at the subsequent enquiry!
Bottom line, they underestimated the Zulus and got a severe shock.
They could have defeated the Zulus, and initially they had them at bay but, as the various factors came together the Zulus took advantage of every opportunity they could take and produced an outstanding victory against their enemy.
December 19th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper1854
The British defeat/Zulu victory at Isandlwhana came about as the result of numerous factors that came together on the 22nd January 1879.
In the imediate aftermath the people in charge,and responsible, Lord Chelmsford, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, and others tried to divert the blame from themselves and onto the people who could not defend themselves because they were dead. (sounds familiar!)
They put the blame of the British collapse on Colonel Durnford, and various other individuals and made up non existant issues, such as the "Ammunition Myth" for example. Survivors' testimonies were ignored or supressed. One surviving officer was not even allowed to give evidence at the subsequent enquiry!
Bottom line, they underestimated the Zulus and got a severe shock.
They could have defeated the Zulus, and initially they had them at bay but, as the various factors came together the Zulus took advantage of every opportunity they could take and produced an outstanding victory against their enemy.
There were a lot of mistakes made at Isandlwana, a laager wasn't formed when the camp was first set up, Chelmsford split his forces to go hunting for Zulu's, before the attack tents were not struck, very poor deployment of what artillery they had on hand. I firmly believe that if a square had been set up two ranks deep, each rank of 100 men with an F group in the middle to plug any gaps the Zulu could have been beaten, or at least held until Chelmsford showed up again. The Zulu tactic of outflanking with the buffalo horns would have failed.

Any yes, the British did get a hell of a shock, never underestimate your enemy.
December 19th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
There were a lot of mistakes made at Isandlwana, a laager wasn't formed when the camp was first set up, Chelmsford split his forces to go hunting for Zulu's, before the attack tents were not struck, very poor deployment of what artillery they had on hand. I firmly believe that if a square had been set up two ranks deep, each rank of 100 men with an F group in the middle to plug any gaps the Zulu could have been beaten, or at least held until Chelmsford showed up again. The Zulu tactic of outflanking with the buffalo horns would have failed.

Any yes, the British did get a hell of a shock, never underestimate your enemy.
The thing was, the European forces didn't just underestimate the Zulus once, at Isandlwhana, but at subsequent battles leading up to the final battle at Ulundi where they finaly did form a square with artillery and gattling guns. But, by then the Zulu army had lost some of its fighting spirit. They were tired of the war, and knew they couldn't win.
Ultimately its a war that should never have been fought.
 


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