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DateOriginal Topic
10th January 2005Letter at the beginning of 'Zulu'
By Andrew Holliday
I have been looking through past discussions on this forum and I have found out that the letter read out by Richard Burton at the beginning of Zulu is incorrect.

Could anyone tell me where I can find a copy of the real letter.
10th January 2005Carl Daeche
Andrew, the text read out was the copy of Chelmsfords communication to government announcing the defeat at Isandhlwana and the subsequent defence of Rorkes Drift. It was printed in its entirety in the Times newspaper in March of 1879. Until three months ago I had the paper but sold it to a collector. I am sorry but stupidly I did not photocopy the article, which ran over 4 pages or note the date of the publication. Sorry but I can only suggest research at the Newspaper library in Colindale London. They have originals and storage for every paper covering the war.
10th January 2005Sheldon Hall
I think I do have a copy of Chelmsford's original text somewhere; I will try to dig it out. (John Young may be more reliable here.) I'm not sure what you mean by "incorrect", as the letter was deliberately rewritten (partly by Burton himself, from Prebble and Endfield's own version) for economy of expression.
10th January 2005Julian whybra
...which (Sheldon) included the inevitable glaring errors...
10th January 2005Sheldon Hall
Yes, there are a couple of odd inconsistencies. Leaving aside questions of historical veracity, the dates on the letter and on screen don't match up. These things happen...
10th January 2005Andrew Garton
I am taken this from Ian Knight's With his face to the foe.Chap.3 pg. 94

I regret to have to report a very disastrous enagement which took place on the 22nd instant between the Zulus and a portion of the No 3 Column left to guard the camp about 10 miles in front of Rorke's Drift -The former came down in overwhelming numbers and,in spite of the gallant resistance made by the 6 companies of the 24th Regiment, 2 guns,2 rocket -tubes,104 mounted men and about 800 natives ,completely overwhelmed the them.The camp,containing all the supplies,ammunition and the transport of No.3 Column,was taken,and but few of its defenders escaped.Our loss,I fear,must be set down as 30 officers and about 500 non commissioned officers,Rank & File of the Imperial troops and 21 Non Commissioned officers Rank & File of the Colonial Forces.
10th January 2005Rich
History's history but frankly I think Burton's reading in the film was edited to the utmost with powerful clarity and brevity of expression. I don't know about any of you but I've got it memorized. Hey Carl can you get me the 1879 paper?????...;-)......
10th January 2005Keith Smith
I have the full text of the telegram, in MS Word form, which Lord C. sent on 27th January 1879. It can be found in the Chelmsford Papers, National Army Museum, Chelsea.

I would be happy to send it on to anyone who would like to see it. It is really quite short, since it is, after all, a telegram.
10th January 2005Andrew Garton
I would be glad to take you up on your offer!
11th January 2005Michael Boyle
Perhaps you could copy it to 'wordpad' remove the ensuing spurious punctuations and paste it up hear?(Or perhaps just drag,right-click,copy and paste direct would do it.)

In lieu of that I too would appreciate a copy.


18th January 2005Rich
After Keith sent it, I noticed the grammar by Chelmsford..."troops enticed away....action took place about one mile and a quarter outside it". I guess he's referring to Durnford's "action" at this time?