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8th January 2005Hard to imagine...
By Chris
One of the things I have always thought about this battle is how it must have felt actually 'being there'.

So there you are. You have recieved word that the entire column of well over a thousand troops has been defeated by thousands of Zulus, and that they are on their way with the express intention of annihilating all at Rorke#s Drift. David Rattray's talk bought it home to me...most were very young men. 18 - early & mid twenties? Never heard a shot fired in anger before. Must have been terrifying. I don't know if I'd have help my nerve and composure under such stress. I suppose that's what discipline is there for.

But the story that Ian Knight tells of a hand full of men volunteering to go out of the redoubt into the night, all dark save for the flickering flames from the hospital, hearing Zulu commanders giving retrieve the water cart as the men were desperate for water...that really does stretch the mind to wonder what kind of mettle these young lads were made of.

8th January 2005Michael Boyle
I thought the water cart incident stemmed from a novelization of the battle?

For someone who,to me, seems to have captured the 'being there' feel for Isandhlwana the best I enclose the following in honor of the upcoming anniversary from a tribute site to Frank Dodsworth:

(Although there are no copyright notices on the site and the proffessed aim is to bring good poetry to the masses, I would contact the webmaster if inclined to reproduce Mr.Dodsworth poems in a publication.)


Nor came they back to lsandhlwana,
To gather up their dead,
From that torn and trampled mountainside,
Where a thousand men had bled.

And in the mist, as morning breaks,
To bring another day,
Still as a grave, the regiment lies,
As if resting from the fray.

For them no more the bugle call
Will summons them from sleep,
Their bodies dot the rolling veld,
And fill the ravines deep.

Some young, some old, how well they fought,
While still the colours flew,
Their scarlet dress, once proudly worn,
Now stained a darker hue.

But e'en in death their pride remained,
For, as the Zulu say,
No matter where they fell and died,
''They all did face one way".

How strange to think just yesterday,
They lived and laughed not knowing,
Their awful fate so close at hand,
Their foe each moment growing.

Until the hills grew black as night,
And they heard across the fields,
The thunder of the Impis then,
And the clashing of the shields.

And what if you were really young,
Just barely seventeen,
And this the only battleground,
Your eyes have ever seen.

And you know your death is coming now,
When you see your sergeant frown,
As he shakes his head in disblief,
At the black tide pouring down.

And you hear your death a singing now,
From the brow of yonder hill,
And all you know you must aim low,
And make every bullet kill.

And you see your death acoming now,
On the wings of feathered feet,
Though the cannon cut their bodies down,
Like a field of ripened wheat.

And you feel your death is on you now,
In the sharpness of the lance,
As through the smoke your eyes behold,
The savage host advance.

It's awful hard to die this young,
But die you must this day,
So load and shoot, and try not look,
As the colours ride away.

You've done your best, as you fix your steel,
With hands all sore and numb,
And in your heart there is no doubt,
That the killing time has come.

Then it's hack and thrust as your mates go down,
And the spears gleam in the sun,
Then a sudden stab, that puts an end,
To a life that's scarce begun.

And all through the rest of that dreadful day,
The Indunas on the hill,
Watch as their young men wash their spears,
Till all have had their fill.

But a soldiers' God is a gentle God,
Who's seen all this before,
And He hurries the sun to its resting place,
When He can watch no more.

And there in the night, the ghosts of the dead,
Their silent vigil keeping,
And soon will be heard in a far off land,
The sound of a mother weeping.

They perished all, not one remained,
Of that gallant little band
Who gave their lives for God and Queen,
At the Hill of the Little Hand.

I don't know poetry,but I know what I like.


9th January 2005Michael Boyle
Chris, sorry about the mis-typing of your name.
9th January 2005Trevor
Brill. What a stirring emotional poem. Really sums up the feelings of that fateful day.
Thanks for posting this mate.