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DateOriginal Topic
21st January 2005British 'improvised' weapons
By Coll
Are there any known incidents where the british, even with all the men and firepower available to them, were confronted with a situation in the Zulu War that required the use of an alternative type of weapon, not previously considered, either because of the terrain or a more effective perimeter defence (especially at night) for earlier warnings of an approaching Zulu force.

The modern equivalent, I guess, being something like booby-traps, trip-wires, incendiary devices, etc.

I'm just wondering with the evasive nature of the Zulus and the really rough terrain, including caves, etc., where you needed weapons or devices to flush out Zulu marksmen and so forth.
21st January 2005Peter Ewart

Well, the final act of the AZW brought just such a case.

A number of cornered fugitives who wouldn't surrender and couldn't be flushed out of the caves just north of Myer's Drift were blown up inside them with explosives instead. Being Mbelini's people's families, they were probably Swazis. There were also casualties among the British soldiery at this incident and they are buried, I believe (am not near my AZW material at present to check) in Luneburg cemetery, where I recall seeing their graves.

21st January 2005Coll

Thanks for your reply.

The reason I asked this question was that I had been thinking of the Vietnam War and the methods having to be used by the U.S. soldiers to flush out the viet-cong in the tunnels, where they were well protected from many of the U.S. weapons.

This involved depositing a handgrenade into the discovered openings, but this proved to be quite useless as the fighters were deeper down into the ground, other ways included pouring fuel down and igniting it, but the most frightening scenario being a soldier called a 'tunnel rat' armed with a pistol and a flashlight actually entering the tunnel and making his way through the complex eliminating any of the enemy he found.

How terrifying is that ?.
21st January 2005John Young

There was a booby-trap, of sorts, used during the siege of Eshowe. On the 11th March, 1879, Zulu warriors detonated an improvised mine left by a work party.

Wire entanglements were also used at eshowe to hinder any rush on the position.

John Y.
21st January 2005Coll

Thanks for your reply.

Do you know if the british used the idea of a mine and wire entanglements again later in the war, if they considered them to be useful devices for defence ?.