Diary Day
ashley's Diary
Date 07 Apr 2006
Country South Africa (Zulu Battlefields)
Weather Sunny, but v cold at night.
Diary ZULU BATTLEFIELDS 4th & 5th July Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana, two names that stir the blood of every Welshman, one a famous victory, the other a crushing defeat…both these battles were fought within ten miles of each other on 22nd January 1879. I don’t know how many of you have watched the film “ZULU!” (introducing Michael Caine) but it is one of those heroic sagas of plucky British soldiers dying to keep Africa British although not quite understanding why they were there at all. 139 mostly Welshmen of the 24th foot, South Wales Borderers held a make shift defensive position at a mission station against the numerous attacks of 4000 Zulu warriors winning 11 Victoria Crosses and expending 23400 rounds of ammunition (down to their last 600 rounds at the end) whilst 1350 of their colleagues from number 3 column commanded by the “lucky” Lord Chelmsford (I say “lucky” as he survived as he was out visiting someone for tea when his men were annihilated almost to a man) were overwhelmed by an impi of 20000 Zulus who caught the plucky Brits unprepared. There are many theories as to why this disaster, the worst in Anglo-African wars (worst for the Brits at least) happened, but one of the main ones seems to be that the screen of infantry was pushed too far out opening up large gaps in the British ranks making volley fire ineffective and resupply of ammunition for the Martini-Henry .415 breech loaders problematical. Either way very few escaped to tell of the disaster. The battlefield of Isandlwana is a hauntingly beautiful spot with stone cairns dotted around where the men fell. It was one of those stupid wars that the British do make a habit of getting involved in from time to time. However, the inevitable result was the destruction of the Zulu kingdom. Zulu is out on DVD and VHS….”There’s sad, isn’t it” is my favourite line. PIC SHOWS: ISLANDWANA BATTLEFIELD
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