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DateOriginal Topic
8th March 2005WOLFE?
By s p mann
one final question: in ZUU DAWN a group of infantrymen are shown being surprised in a donga and wiped out during Isandhlwana. Anyone know what this is supposed to depict? I have noted refererences elsewhere to Sgt Wolfe and skirmishers out ahead of the general line of fire. A criticism for me -well one adopted from Ian Knght- of ZD is ithat it must be very difficult for anyone not vaguely familiar with the acounts of the battle to really tell what is supposed to be happening. Linking sequences were apparently cut. Don't uppose these have re-surfaced on any DVD?
8th March 2005Paul Cubbin
Were these dismounted MI, part of Col Durnford's force?
8th March 2005s p mann
definitely redcoat infantry under a sergeant/CSM
8th March 2005George Hulmes
The "CSM" in question was undoubtedly the loud-mouthed Corporal who chastises Pvt. Williams on the parade ground near the beginning of the film. (Not Bob Hoskins.)
8th March 2005Robert Jones
Have a look on the "Marketplace" section on this website ---there might be something there which will interest you !
9th March 2005Julian whybra
I don't believe that this episode in the film is meant to depict anything historical. It is simply a way of closing the chapter on two characters who appear earlier in the film. It is certainly not related to Col Sergt Wolfe's death.
9th March 2005Simon Copley

At the end of the film when the Zulus steal the Colour, the one bearing it away in triumph is definitely sporting a red jacket. Just before Simon Ward shoots the flag down(surely the most amazing feat of marksmanship ever) the Zulu is suddenly jacketless.

Also, during the attack on the firing line there are several Imperial casualties lying around near the rear echelons/camp etc. How dis they get there? Victims of long range Zulu sniping or artillery no doubt!!!!

I still think it is a decent effort though...
9th March 2005George Hulmes

Zulu Dawn is absolutely RIFE with mistakes and inconsistancies, the most prominent being that most of the infantry are armed with Martini Henry carbines instead of rifles!


10th March 2005Julian whybra
There were casulaties in the firing line before the Zulus charged home. Curling says that there were. Some Zulus carried rifles - out-of-date ancient firearms but still effective nevertheless.
10th March 2005stephen mann
I wonder how widespread gun ownership in Zululand was. Perhaps helpful are:-
(a) the reference to Rorkes drfit in one of the survivor's statements that virtually all injuries there were from bullets not spears; (b) an account that Cetewayo told all warriors upon call up to sell a cow and buy a gun if they didn't have one already (again- can't remember where I read that). I imagine slightly past-it guns must have been dead cheap from the traders and pretty desirable so I would be surprised if a considerable number of the impi weren't carrying them.
10th March 2005Paul Cubbin
To a Zulu a firearm was something like the 'bling' of its day. It was fairly impractical but impressed others who didn't know any better. Perhaps that's not strictly true, but close enough for chat. The Portuguese traders at Mozambique were largely responsible for selling firearms to Ceteswayo's subjects (although not solely - Natal pioneers rather unwisely seemed fond of gifting guns to Zulus). As you can imagine, they were mostly antiquated muskets of the 'Brown Bess' type - cheap, fairly reliable, sturdy, but not really comparable to a modern rifle or even carbine. How much training or ammunition was supplied is questionable. Many Zulus owned a musket or rifle, but few experienced warriors held them in high regard, especially as a weapon that is not regularly cleaned and serviced is likely to be more a danger to its (inexperienced) user than anyone else. This is perhaps the most telling aspect of all. Natal had ts own native militia (before British rule) who were armed with 'Brown Bess' type muskets and were, by all accounts, fairly proficient (although they were never tested in the field).

As for Rorkes Drift casualties being mostly from bullets - stop and have a ponder about it why not. 4,000 Zulus.....hours of combat....relatively few killed or wounded (I don't have the figures to hand). Not many attackers actually got within hand-to-hand range, and those that did were met with a chest high wall and a steady, pointy steel wall longer than their own weapons. I am always amazed that there weren't a lot more defenders killed from gunfire. If you have ever seen a piccy of the rocky outcrops where Zulu 'snipers' fired from it seems incredible that they missed so much. Lack of range in the weapons? Lack of training? Dirty barrels? Faulty sights? Iffy ammunition? Probably all of the above.
10th March 2005Coll

With regards to the zulu running with the flag, it might not have been the same guy, I personally think that one of the other zulu extras pinched it from the one wearing the jacket.

Also, I'm sure it was Smith-Dorrien that mentioned while he was taking ammunition out to the firing line, bullets (or musket balls) were hitting the ground, actually behind the line as well as amidst it, so for all their bad markmanship, the shots were reaching the general area of the intended targets, some must have hit, even just a small percentage of the amount of shots fired.

11th March 2005Michael Boyle
I'm just now reading Ian Knight's "The Anatomy of the Zulu Army" and am serendipitly on the page dealing with Zulu firearms.(Excellent book by the way.)

"Between 1872 and 1877, 60,000 guns were legally imported into Natal, 40,000 of which were re-exported, 20,000 of them to Mozambique." Seeming to imply that many of these reached Zululand. He goes on to say "...Portuguese officials admitted that between 1875 and 1877 20,000 guns, including 500 breech-loaders, and 10,000 barrels of powder were imported to Delagoa Bay. ...the greater proportion [going to] the Zulus." (Citing Jeff Guy in JAH XII, 1971).

Further he concludes that by 1879 most Zulu warriors had access to firearms and that Cetshwayo made a determined effort to arm them all. The King even ordered selected amabutho to practice musketry at oNdini.Of course all this turned out to be too little, too late with inferior powder and projectiles.

Given the Zulu propensity for firing high it should come as no suprise that those in the rear seemed more at risk than those to the front!



11th March 2005Simon Copley
Thanks guys - for your time and knowledge. I stand corrected although ZD doesn't show the Zulus firing weapons to any great extent.
11th March 2005Simon Copley
Thanks guys - for your time and knowledge. I stand corrected although ZD doesn't show the Zulus firing weapons to any great extent.
12th March 2005Paul Cubbin
Michael - serendipitly? Really? You're a dark horse....
12th March 2005Michael Boyle
Paul - serendipitly - copyright 2005 - you owe me a quid.
12th March 2005Paul Cubbin
What? Just for saying serendipitly...oh bugger, £2. Alright, I'll write the cheque....
12th March 2005Coll

I think the fact that they didn't supply the 24th soldiers with Martini Henry rifles instead of opting for carbines in Zulu Dawn, maybe it is just as well they never armed the Zulus with firearms, or we would now be discussing the wrong choices that were made with the type of flintlocks, etc., which would have been selected for the film, considering the lack of attention to detail with other aspects.

14th March 2005mark wade

i have been a south african police member for 8 years now,and in that time period have witnessed/been in a fair number of shootings

99% of the suspects close their eyes and fire away,the majority of rounds hitting roofs and birds etc. The 1% are invariably ex military and
dont shoot badly,but they have had lots of practice.

a typical shooting involving 15 suspects all armed with ak-47s with close to 300 rounds firing point blank manage to kill 1 policeman with a head shot, wound 1 policeman in the head, and 1 policeman slightly wounded in the lower stomach

the police members using 9mmp pistols killed or wounded 9 suspects,caught 5 , and only one got away

so all in all , shooting is not that strong with the average african

(please do not take this as a racist comment ! - i have many good black friends,we shoot together etc,just some of us hit the targets more than the others)