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DateOriginal Topic
10th January 2005What of Major Russell, R.A. ?
By Coll
A few days ago I enquired about searching for Major Smith, R.A. on the Fugitives' Trail.

This time I wish to enquire about Major Russell, who was in charge of the Rocket Battery that was overrun early in the battle at Isandlwana.

Was his body found and buried on the battlefield where he fell and his grave marked, or, like Major Smith's, been lost over the years.

If the location is unknown, have there been any attempts to try and find him ?.
12th January 2005Derek C
I'll take a shot at this one. Virtually no graves are marked at Isandlawana (exept maybe Durnford & Young Husband, the latter being a cairn whitout a headstone). I would guess that Maj. Russell is buried under a cairn with his men.
The bodies lay where they fell for over 4 months, exposed to the elements, animals & vultures so identification was difficult. Under the circumstances, I don't think a Major would have received a special grave on the battlefield. Just my thoughts.
12th January 2005Coll

Major Russell was far out on the plain near to, or just beyond the conical hill with the Rocket Battery, having trailed far behind Col. Durnford and his mounted men.

The story goes, that after hearing firing to his left and being informed, I think, by a couple of Natal Carbineers that the Zulus were approaching from the plateau, he turned and headed north, towards the sound of the guns, but soon after, the Zulus appeared.

Major Russell had not enough time to get organised before he and several of his men were killed, a few managing to escape.

The N.N.C. company with him fled almost immediately, leaving only a small percentage of their number to stay and fight along with their officer.

The warriors did disperse slightly when Durnford arrived on the scene while conducting a fighting retreat from the Zulu force that had confronted him further on and were at this time pursuing them.

The bodies of Major Russell and the men who were killed alongside him were left where they lay, as you said, for several months.

However, I don't think that the later burial parties would have taken the remains of these individuals back to the area of the camp, I'm just guessing, but interred them in the area where they fell, marking the site with something like a cairn.

As I have not been aware of any information with regards of Major Russell's known grave, made me curious enough to pursue the idea of locating it, in the vicinity of his last sighting where he met his death.
18th January 2005Coll
Does anyone know if any accounts were made by the later burial parties which specifically mention the finding of Major Russell's body ?.
19th January 2005Julian Whybra
With Russell were killed 5 pvtes of the 1/24th attached to the RB. Escaped from the RB were 3 1/24th pvtes and one acting bmbdr R.A. Of the NNC Nourse and 4 of his men stood by the RB and survived. Looking at Boast's near-contemporary map of the cairns there is nothing beyond the Conical Koppie. It is likely that any bodies from the RB were brought nearer to the camp and placed under one of the 'outlying' cairns.
19th January 2005Coll

Thankyou for the information.