Why were British troops slaughtered at Isandlwana - Page 9




 
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December 23rd, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Del Boy
I actually seem to have missed the Zulu Wars, although my studies as a kid were from 1760 - up to the causes and events leading up to WW1, 1914. Political and Military.

So you will understand why this thread has intrigued me. Cheers.
My first exposure to the Zulu War came about, like with alot of others, by seeing the film "ZULU". After that, I wanted to know more.
As I saw the film in the early seventies, there was no where near the amount of information available as there is now.
All I found in my library was "The Washing of the Spears" by Donald Morris. This hefty tome charts the rise and fall of the Zulu nation from Shaka to Cetswayo with the Zulu War of 1879 in amongst it.
As it was one of the earlier histories, it does perpetuate some of the myths about the war, especially about the battle of Isandlwhana but, it is still well worth a read.
Now we are inundated with excellent books by some some top class hostorians such as Ian Knight and Saul David.
When I started my 'A' Levels, I took an extra 'AO' subject. It was called "History of the Twentieth Century" It mainly focused on the causes of WW1 and the aftermath. The rise of Fascism, the causes of WW2, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Before taking this subject, all I lwas ever taught in history was about Greece, Rome, Eygypt, the Tudors. There was never anything on the Twentieth Century.
My son, who is twelve, has done more history at school, on the two World Wars than you can believe.
Through my interest, he has developed an interest in military history too.
December 23rd, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84RFK
Officer Cadets are meant to be guided and learn during exercises, whenever we encountered one pulling rank or barking at the men in our troop, we simply let him fall through or fail miserably in different tasks, untill he got the point.
If the cadet on the other hand leveled with the men, he would be granted the oportunity to become a leader instead of a hopeless brass-to-be.
We always told Officer cadets that they were the lowest of the low, a private soldier out ranks him, he was lower then shark sh!te. The only compliment we gave them was to call them "Mister"
December 23rd, 2011  
84RFK
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
We always told Officer cadets that they were the lowest of the low, a private soldier out ranks him, he was lower then shark sh!te. The only compliment we gave them was to call them "Mister"
Our problem was that they didn't manage to forget the fact that they had been sergants or non-commisioned second-lieutenants before joining up as cadets...
In Norway officer-cadets has to serve a minimum of 2 years in the armed forces before applying to the academy, the minimum being 1 year NCO-school/course and 1 year of duty as a NCO.
For these guys it was a pretty tough set-back to demote themselves to plutoon level leaders again, especially when they were faced with us in an exercise-unit who had been training numerous chaps like that before.

If they behaved themselves, they got plenty support and help from us, but those who didn't get the point experienced soldiers just dragging their feet, equipment that simply didn't work, and numerous other failures.
And accusing the the troopers of sabotage (justified by all means) simply wouldn't help.
Those who changed attitude after that experienced a sudden transform of the slow moving mass of soldiers into an effective unit who responded swiftly to the orders they were given, and performed flawlessly in any possible way.
As we knew the area like the back of our hand, and had done this before, our cooperation became a valuable asset.
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December 23rd, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84RFK
Our problem was that they didn't manage to forget the fact that they had been sergants or non-commisioned second-lieutenants before joining up as cadets...
In Norway officer-cadets has to serve a minimum of 2 years in the armed forces before applying to the academy, the minimum being 1 year NCO-school/course and 1 year of duty as a NCO.
For these guys it was a pretty tough set-back to demote themselves to plutoon level leaders again, especially when they were faced with us in an exercise-unit who had been training numerous chaps like that before.

If they behaved themselves, they got plenty support and help from us, but those who didn't get the point experienced soldiers just dragging their feet, equipment that simply didn't work, and numerous other failures.
And accusing the the troopers of sabotage (justified by all means) simply wouldn't help.
Those who changed attitude after that experienced a sudden transform of the slow moving mass of soldiers into an effective unit who responded swiftly to the orders they were given, and performed flawlessly in any possible way.
As we knew the area like the back of our hand, and had done this before, our cooperation became a valuable asset.
As far as I am aware, someone from university can apply for officer training in the British military without any military experience whatsoever. Very few applicants are serving soldiers.
December 23rd, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Between 1868 and 1874 a series of reforms in the British Army took place known as the Cardwell Reforms, after the then Secretary of War, Edward Cardwell.
There were a large number of reforms but the one most remebered was the ending of obtaining a commision by purchase.
This meant you could buy your rank. Anything from a Lieutenant to a Colonel could be bought depending on your wealth. You could also buy your way up the promotions ladder.
The Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery did require their officers to have a certain level of education though.
The main reason for this change was due to what happened durring the Crimean War where "Officers" would leave their men and return to England to winter in the comfort of their clubs and estates while the soldiers froze, starved, and died of disease at the front.
The changes was very contraversial and Cardwell was not a popular man.
The change of system was not overnight and even by 1879, there were still many officers in the Army who had bought their commision.
The British Army always has recruited its officers from the upper classes, univerities, puplic schools and from grammar schools.
Even today, when the world has levelled out a bit, the officers in the British Armed Foces are considered to be "Upper class twits".
To be fair, some roles do require graduates, and you can understand that.
I have encountered some first class officers from all levells, and some right royal clowns too.
Some who have come up through the ranks can be hit and miss as well.
I known some to have big chips on their shoulders, as have some graduates.
I saw an officer cadet from a University OTC come close to being flattened by one of the best Sargeants I ever knew because he deicided that the word "Officer" in his title meant more than this Sargeant's 10 years of experience.
I've also seen gobby little Corporals nearly get booted across a training area for attitude problems.
I sometimes think its the attitude of the individuals rather than their rank that causes problems.
December 23rd, 2011  
84RFK
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
As far as I am aware, someone from university can apply for officer training in the British military without any military experience whatsoever. Very few applicants are serving soldiers.
Quite a difference from our standards, but I believe the British system is of nearly ancient origin, and the example is followed in other countries as well.
December 23rd, 2011  
muscogeemike
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper1854
My first exposure to the Zulu War came about, like with alot of others, by seeing the film "ZULU". After that, I wanted to know more.
As I saw the film in the early seventies, there was no where near the amount of information available as there is now.
All I found in my library was "The Washing of the Spears" by Donald Morris. This hefty tome charts the rise and fall of the Zulu nation from Shaka to Cetswayo with the Zulu War of 1879 in amongst it.
As it was one of the earlier histories, it does perpetuate some of the myths about the war, especially about the battle of Isandlwhana but, it is still well worth a read.
Now we are inundated with excellent books by some some top class hostorians such as Ian Knight and Saul David.
When I started my 'A' Levels, I took an extra 'AO' subject. It was called "History of the Twentieth Century" It mainly focused on the causes of WW1 and the aftermath. The rise of Fascism, the causes of WW2, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Before taking this subject, all I lwas ever taught in history was about Greece, Rome, Eygypt, the Tudors. There was never anything on the Twentieth Century.
My son, who is twelve, has done more history at school, on the two World Wars than you can believe.
Through my interest, he has developed an interest in military history too.


Like you my first exposure to the Zulus was the movie (a side note I saw this movie as part of a double screening with another movie about an almost unknown part of history KARTOUM) and, like you, found not much when I tried to research the subject. The later movie Zulu Dawn rekindled my interest.

Your comments about your son brought back memories. Here in the U.S. what history our students get is limited and biased. I, as a reader since very young, used every chance I had to “lecture” my sons - they hated going anywhere in a car with me.

Both are now grown with kids of their own and have since thanked me for imparting knowledge to them our education system does not.
December 24th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
When I visited Isandlwana (as I mentioned previously) there was a strange atmosphere, heavy almost depressing. Immediately on my right when entering the battlefield there was a lone stone cairn painted white (as they all are), then a little way along there were more and more stone cairns. I looked toward the direction the Zulu had come, I saw in my minds eye the thousands of Zulu, and can only imagine what went through the minds of the British troops, especially as the Zulu broke through.

I climbed up onto the ledge where Captain Younghusband fought his last stand, it was a good defensive position, but finally overwhelmed.

There was a memorial with the name of a young Peitermaritzburg man aged 19 who was killed, I looked at my son who was the same age, a mere boy.

I then drove the 15 kilometres/9 miles along the original wagon trail to Rorkes Drift (a wagon train took took 9 days along the same route in 1879), crossed the Buffalo River and into the mission station. The atmosphere was entirely different, not happy or joyous, but more determined. I entered the church and sat there for a few minutes, it was so nice and cool compared to the summer heat outside.

The small museum in the rebuilt old hospital held a few artefacts which was quite interesting.

For those who are interested in the battle of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift, it's well worth saving up and visiting. You wont be disappointed.
December 24th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
A lot of people who have visited Isandlwhana have said it has a foreboding atmosphere.
A documentary I saw had a group of ancestors of people who fought, and died visit there, and Rorke's Drift. They actually camped out at Isandlwhana and said it was the spookiest experience when the sun went down, might have something to do with the eclipse that occured at the height of the battle.
With so many people dying in one place at one time, there must be something there.
I visited the battlefield of Colluden, and thats a very depressing place.
As for history teaching. My son has the same interest in the military that I have.
He loves visiting museums, and we are lucky to be close to Hendon, Duxford, and various other historical places. We've been across the Chanel to northern France, Belgium and Flanders. He's seen the Last Post Ceremony at the Menim Gate in Ypres. He has an interest and understanding of history beyond his age.
The school's history syllabus is better, but sometimes it leaves alot to be desired.
Then there is this issue. My son's class, at the start of the WWII part of history syllabus, were asked to write down all they knew of World War Two. One child put their hand up and asked, "Whats World War Two?"!
December 24th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper1854
A lot of people who have visited Isandlwhana have said it has a foreboding atmosphere.
A documentary I saw had a group of ancestors of people who fought, and died visit there, and Rorke's Drift. They actually camped out at Isandlwhana and said it was the spookiest experience when the sun went down, might have something to do with the eclipse that occured at the height of the battle.
With so many people dying in one place at one time, there must be something there.
I visited the battlefield of Colluden, and thats a very depressing place.
As for history teaching. My son has the same interest in the military that I have.
He loves visiting museums, and we are lucky to be close to Hendon, Duxford, and various other historical places. We've been across the Chanel to northern France, Belgium and Flanders. He's seen the Last Post Ceremony at the Menim Gate in Ypres. He has an interest and understanding of history beyond his age.
The school's history syllabus is better, but sometimes it leaves alot to be desired.
Then there is this issue. My son's class, at the start of the WWII part of history syllabus, were asked to write down all they knew of World War Two. One child put their hand up and asked, "Whats World War Two?"!
I spoke to a Zulu guide, he said that for years the local Zulu's heard the sound of battle for years afterwards. Even today none of the Zulu will enter the battlefield at night.

I was stationed at Hendon (it was a crap hole then) just before my demob when the museum was being built, I left before it was finished. I loved visiting Duxford one of the best museums in the UK.

Sadly I have never visited the Menim Gate or any of the WW1 battlefields. I kept thinking "Next year", but next year never comes.

Its unusual for a young lad to show so much interest in a subject, that many people would rather forget or have forgotten the sacrifices made. Good for him. I wish more kids his age had the same respect.
 


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