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DateOriginal Topic
26th March 2005Original tunics
By Michael Kent
Forgive me for sounding morbid but were any of the tunics worn by those killed at Isandlwana recovered and do they reside in a museum and on view?
27th March 2005Martin Everett
Hi Michael,

Not as far as know. There are plenty from the 1979 film 'Zulu Dawn' which are in the Talana Museum in Dundee and the Rorke's Drift Museum. I have two or three sets. The only tunic to survive is one worn by Captain Alfred Godwin Austen when he was wounded in the Eastern Cape in 1878 prior to AZW. Lots of artefacts from the battle are in Brecon.
27th March 2005Bill Harris
Consider the state these tunics would have been in.

It seems to me that most of the tunics worn by those killed at Isandhlwana would have been pretty mangled by the fighting and later by the rituals carried out on the bodies by the Zulus. I also seem to recall that the Zulus actually took away some tunics from the battlefield, again for ceremonial use. Those that were left would have been on the field for some time before the British arrived at the battlefield again, and were probably in pretty rough shape given their circumstances.

Therefore I doubt that anyone was too keen to pick up a tunic and take it home to put on public display. To me, it seems likely that they were buried along with the unfortunate men who wore them.

Bill H.
27th March 2005Paul Cubbin
I'm with Bill on this one. I'd be willing to bet that the only tunics to make it out of Isandlwana (at least on their original owner) would be those on the backs of survivors - mostly blue patrol jackets.
27th March 2005Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
Martin. It could be just my copy of “Zulu Dawn” (VHS) but the red tunics worn by most of the soldiers in that film appear to be almost pink and made of light weight nylon or cotton. They also appear to be cut on the short side and are more like a shirt then a woollen tunic. Is this the case with the ones you have?
27th March 2005TREVOR
What kind of artefacts at Brecon from the battle please?
27th March 2005Glenn Wade
Have you never made a pilgrimage to Brecon? Shame on you sir!
Only kidding mate. The AZW collection at Brecon is THE best in the country. I've lost count of my number of visits since I was 4 years old but the collection is truly amazing.
I'll leave Martin to fill you in on the items on display but to get the full effect, go to Brecon and visit the museum yourself.
All the best
28th March 2005Mike Snook

No, it's not a duff copy of the film you have - it's a duff costume department in the movie. Costumes were one of its biggest failures - that and an appalling script - the biggest missed cinema opportunity of all time.
28th March 2005Coll
I have always felt that if I ever do manage to obtain a good quality replica of Col. Durnford's uniform, I would eventually donate it to the R.E. Museum. (that is if they wanted it of course)

Maybe it would be good to do the same with regards to the 24th uniforms or those of other units involved in the AZW, should the museums require more accurate uniforms from this specific campaign, again, donated by AZW re-enactors or enthusiasts.

This is just an idea.

29th March 2005Neil Aspinshaw
Isn't Stuart Smith RA's smock in the Royal artillers museum?
29th March 2005John Young

'Smock' don't you mean cape? His cape is on display - but he wasn't wearing at the time of his demise. It was rolled on the saddle of one of his horses, which one of his n.c.o.'s escaped on.

Not Isandlwana I know but don't forget the Prince Imperial's uniform, complete with spear holes on display at the Museum of the 2nd Empire.

John Y.
14th April 2005phil Peplow
It may surprise you to know that Victorian patrol jackets do not always go for a lot of money at auction. About 10 years ago I picked up my Royal Engineer's version owned by a Colonel Callister (with his card still in the pocket) complete with velvet to cuffs and red inner collar for £30 from Wallis and Wallis. No one wanted it. More recently I have seen them go for around £100-£150. Keep an eye on Bosleys catalogue W&W
15th April 2005Coll

Thanks for the information.

May I ask if you obtained it as part of your AZW collection, or are you putting together a full uniform ?

15th April 2005phil Peplow
I collect Victorian Military uniforms and Zulu/Boer War stuff in general. I have about 20 of them including the patrol jacket.
16th April 2005Coll

Thankyou for answering my question.

That is quite a collection, it must have taken a good few years to build up.