The Rorke's Drift VC
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|29th March 2005||Feature in today's Daily Mail|
By Phil Read
Just a piece of info if anyone is interested:
For anyone in the UK, or outside if you can get a copy, the Daily Mail is this week printing extracts from Max Hastings' new book 'Warriors: Extraordinary Tales From The Battlefield'. Monday told the story of Guy Gibson, Tuesday's Nancy Wake, and today (Tuesday 29th) features one John Chard.
|29th March 2005||Marcus Ellis|
Beat me to it Phil.
I would like to add though, how frustrating I find the way people, I'm referring to media and literary sources rather than those here, who seem to need to demean the action of those at Rorke's Drift, to make their point.
It strikes me that the same old jargon is bandied about, how they deliberately overdid the VC awards to deflect attention from Isandlwana, how it was an insignificant engagement, how the Zulu force that attacked was ill disciplined and not supposed to be there and much more.
Whether some, all or maybe even more statements are the case, the fact remains that those brave souls stood their ground in what must have been an incredibly testing, terrifying and exhausting, both physically and mentally, situation.
Please stop trying to undermine the tremendous bravery shown by those men, in some vain attempt at political correctness. If they want to have a go at Chelmsford fine, about the preparations at Isandlwana fine, or about who really decided to make a stand at the Drift, again fine, but please don't try to devalue what the defenders did.
Sorry to rant on, but it does annoy me (as you might have guessed).
As this is my first time posting here, may I just thank-you for a fantastic site, which to my mind helps to pay tribute to a great moment in British history, and the great men who made it so.
|29th March 2005||Robert Jones|
I have also read the article [yes, we have the Daily Mail delivered to the Netherlands as well]and it does leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth when one thinks of the utter horror these men fought under.
I have always had the greatest respect for Max Hastings but he does make simple errors in the piece so as calling the warriors "Impis" and that Sergeant Gallagher shouted "black as hell, thick as grass"when nobody is absolutely sure who uttered these words if indeed they were uttered at all.
Hope to see you all in Brecon at the end of May.
|29th March 2005||Glenn Wade|
Mr Hastings has evidently been heavily influenced by the recent Timewatch Documentary. See what damage such televised rubbish can do?
The sad fact is that many who watched that program now take it for gospel. Hopefully, in the future, an accurate television series, movie or documentary will be made and will influence people for the better.
All the best
|29th March 2005||Tony Jones|
The easiest job in the world is to be a critic,that's why these accounts of the 'true' events at Islandlwana and Rorke's Drift continue to be propogated without reference to the proven facts.The technique is always the same.The current authors 'lift' a statement made by someone conected with the battle then rehash it to suit their own particular purpose.The clever ploy is that any statement made by anyone connected with the battles is a 'viewpoint' and you can write as many accounts of the battles as there are individual viewpoints.That viewpont is then embelished and presented to suit the authors needs.This is like serving re-heated food under the guise of 'fresh food'.It might look good on the surface,but once the consumer tastes or views the served up leftovers,they know they've been had.These same old sunbaked tumbleweeds of 'true stories' have cascaded down the avenues of Anglo Zulu War accounts for too long.It's about time someone came up with something new and exciting,as most of us are sick of the taste of rubbish.
|29th March 2005||Alan Critchley|
Strangely enough, I had BBC Radio Wales asking me today to comment on this piece, on air tomorrow morning. I told them that Max Hastings was only repeating what Saul David had said a few months ago when I spoke to him on the same Radio programme.
This time I recommended 'an expert' for the job. I'll have to see what happens.
|29th March 2005||Tony Jones.|
Hello again Alan,
what time is the programme on,as i wouldn't mind listening to it.
|29th March 2005||Rich|
I did not get a chance yet to read Mr.Hasting's article. Apparently, it has struck a nerve.
At this point, I've always wonder what is it about the War that seems to make writers give a twist to the facts that apparently "undermine" and "demean" the efforts of the soldiers involved. Is this some unconscious form of reparation that is going on perhaps?
|29th March 2005||Phil Pearce|
Alan , may i enquire what time is radio Wales broadcast estimated to be ?
|29th March 2005||Tony Jones.|
the shadows cast by the Rorke's Drift/Isandlwana battles is enduring and never ending.I feel(my opinion only,which is open to debate)that one way of being associated with these battles,is by various writers 'putting there pennies worth in' by being controversial and claiming to present the truth.This presentation of 'truth' on the part of the writers is not even a fresh angle or presentation of fresh facts,but 'making their mark on an event whose coat-tails they hang onto in an attempt to keep up with the legend.To sum up,it is the fickle mistress of glamour that sucks these controversial writers in,then spits them out at her choosing.A good example of this is that you can now buy Saul David's last book at an 'introductory price of £2.99' from a well known book club that features his last attempt in their junk-mail promos that come with the ton of other stuff you get in mags and newspapers nowadays.
These 'here today gone later today' writers will always exist as a sub-culture in AZW matters,but the legend of the battles will live on forever.
|29th March 2005||Michael Boyle|
I was going to ask if the programme would be on the world service but I just discovered that one can listen in on the BBC web site. So my question now is which programme and what time (Zulu) ?
|30th March 2005||Graham Mason|
I think in a world where a film is about to be released showing Hitler as a " kindly Uncle-type figure " is quite capable of denegrating in a newspaper a man who died a hero, who died of a terrible affliction but WHO WAS THERE ! when it mattered. Chard was not the brightest button in the box, nor indeed was Bromhead but regardless of what we think they both won a Victoria Cross for thier actions. As a fromer Royal Engineer myself i am justly proud of my fellow RE, he was not a line soldier and circumstance raised him to be commanding officer of that little garrison and he was the RIGHT man for that " little side issue " of Jan 22/23rd 1879. I wonder if in 125 years from now the latest VC will be vilified in such a manner ?. Max Hastings MAYBE be a well respected journalist but once again here we go " hero-bashing " and i don`t care what the PRESS says Lt Chard VC should never have been called a BUFFOON and i call upon the RE Museum at Chatham to counter this article , i salute you revered Sapper and each and every soldier who was at that mission station in 1879 , including the Zulu braves who fought so valiantly against the redcoats , Graham Mason , former ( and still proud of it ) Royal Engineer.
|30th March 2005||Tony Jones|
the press has been responsible for coining many phrases which have stuck in the public consciousness:'The World's Greatest Guitarist','The Queen of The Witches',which the public accepts and absorbs without question,now they present the 'latest' facts about Rorke's Drift.These journalists and writers exist in an ivory towered world where they are unnnacountable to anyone who is critical of their works,that's why you never see them commenting on this website.I find the remarks made about Chard and Bromhead,in the Timewatch special,for example,disgusting.Whatever else Chard and Bromhead did,where ever,they did there job to their utmost ability when called upon,when it mattered,and did it well.Clever wordsmithmanship,as espoused by journalists,would not have saved the mission station defenders.To slate dead men who have no chance to defend themselves is the ultimate act of cowardice.A more worthy topic to cover,and solve,would be the once proud Zulu nation that is currently wrecked by AIDS and poverty,why not do a story about them in their current day plight.
|30th March 2005||Michael Boyle|
I tried the online edition of the Daily Mail with no luck, perhaps it lags the print edition. I did find find the following from :
"...These days he has articles published in the Daily Mail occasionally, - like today, with reference to yesterday's Victoria Cross awarding.
Last year he wrote a superb article entitled: Death of a Warrior Nation. It was about the decline of the British Armed Forces, over the last decade or so, but particularly during the present Labour Party mandate. He also wrote of the lack of reverence these days of war heros and bravery, so common in the UK upto not so long ago."
The last sentence seems particularly ironic given what seems to be the gist of Mr.Hastings' recent article.
The Daily Mail online does however have a book club section with a message board which seems a rather convenient place to set the record straight for a broader audience.(Not only for Lt.Chard but the many affronts from recent AZW works.)
|30th March 2005||Phil Pearce|
Sorrry if I sounded weird on the radio this am but i was interviewed over the telephone at 00.15 this morning ( after readind the aforementioned works ) & I do have a stinking head cold. Nice to see how many of you phoned in with your comments about the book.....Well that would be none of you according to BBC Wales.Your comments were asked for & a number given at the 7.50 am broadcast ! At least I put my money where my mouth is !
I would like to thank John Young for his well informed & interesting contribution & for pointing out that Rorkes was not the greatest number of V.C's awarded for a single action .(nice to see that claim removed from this site as well !! Remember the old home page ??) Anyway must be going ...nice to chat
|30th March 2005||Alan Critchley|
I only caught the second part of the Hastings publicity radio programme. I recorded it. You can listen again to the programme (apparantly) through the BBC website. Go to radio etc. through to this morning's slot on BBC Radio Wales at about 8.40.
|30th March 2005||Martin Everett|
I have read Max Hastings' article about Chard - it shows that he has not moved from his armchair but just read recent poorly researched books - given a higher profile than they deserve by the publishers marketing machine - about the AZW. These authors would be wise to spend more time at the National Archives doing some real research.
|30th March 2005||Tony Ashford|
Sorry fellas, but anybody who reads the Daily Mail is always going to be reading either poor journalism or pure dross - Hastings proves my point.
|30th March 2005||Chris|
Could anyone tell me where I can read the text of "Death of a Warrior Nation"?
|30th March 2005||Kris|
Having read my great grandfathers description of the officers at Rorke's Drift, and his high opinion of them, I think I would prefer to pay attention to his words than the drivel written by Hastings, great grandad was there, Hastings wasn't
|30th March 2005||Ian|
I to have read actual account's from men who were fighting at Rorkes Drift and prefere fact to fiction like the garbage writen by Hastings
|30th March 2005||ian|
i should have said unlike the garbage writen by hastings
|30th March 2005||Tony Jones|
anyone who misses the Max Hasting debate,this morning,on BBC Radio Wales,can listen to a re-run on the BBC Radio Wales website 'goodmorningwales' and catch up with any bits that they missed.It was a relief that Phil Pearce and John Young received a chance to present their input based on 'proven facts'(as oppossed to 'opinions'),as there is always the danger of these programmes becomimg 'lopsided' and ending up as a platform to enhance and promote the latest authors works.I encourage you all to send in yout comments to the morning programme on BBC Radio Wales [email protected] spoke to a researcher called Sam who is very interested in further comments from anyone about this programme.
|30th March 2005||Phil pearce|
Cheers Tony. My comments were split into two segments one broadcast at 7.50 & my questions to Mr.Hastings ay about 8.40.
With Kris & tony posting here nice to see the decendents of my great grand fathers comrade in arms standing at my side.
|30th March 2005||Richard|
I think the article shows what I've always thought of Max Hastings, ie he's not a very good journalist. And I'm a Daily Mail reader!
|30th March 2005||Glenn Wade|
After listening to that, I can't help but laugh. Phil and John were brilliant but these journalists and 'historians' like Max Hastings and Saul David state things so confidently and you sit there nodding your head, knowing that an amateur like yourself knows more factual information than they do.
When asked if he thought that the recent VC awarded in Iraq was worthy, Mr Hastings was only too keen to say yes. Would this be because the man is alive and able to defend himself?
Well done John and Phil, you're an asset to this forum.
All the best
|30th March 2005||Graham Mason|
Perhaps Max Hastings had better get another research team together before spilling his pearls of wisdom all over the DAILY MAIL ! , according to his lyrical pen some 20,000 impis attacked ISANDLWANA and 4000 impis attacked Rorkes drift ! , well Max if that was the case the whole battle on Jan 22 would have been over in 10 minutes or less .
Sgt Gallagher as far as i am aware was not the voice who shouted out " Here they come , thick as grass and black as thunder " unless h etook over from Fred Hitch on the post of lookout or civilian contractor Bob HALL who are the candidated for this utterance .
he had also better remember the Zulu`s at Isandlwana " butchered " ( a word he favours ) the 5 drummer lads in a terrible fashion as well as opening up the recently killed men for local custom reasons. If anything we owe him thanks , he has galvanised the Zulu war enthusiasts in a way no-one has for quite a time. Thank you , Graham .
|30th March 2005||Tony Jones.|
Dear Phil and fellow contributors.
Firstly,Phil,no problem,we 'cross bayonets' once again in the true spirit of our ancestors.The new enemy is sensationalistic media,that must be defended against at all costs;our ancestors would expect no less of us.
Secondly,Graham is spot on the money in that the descendants of defenders of Rorke's Drift,in conjunction with AZW enthusiasts are together in defence of the truth.They quote there facts not with smugness but with certainty that proven,correctly researched facts will stand the test of time.
Glenn Wade hits the nail on the head in his reference to how deftly Phil Pearce and John Young put these interlopers in their place,and skewered there opinions with absolute precision.Let's give em some stick on this one.Keep sending your e-mails to BBC Radio Wales to encourage a sequel to this debate.
|11th April 2005||Rich|
You know I'm getting the feeling after reading material on the Rorke's Drift battle that facts aside it is the "editorial" side that appears to be making the waves in modern interpretations on the battle. To whit, I see here Mr. Wibur Smith,an "acknowledged authority on 19th century Africa" remarking that 'the British had suffered an annihilation at the hands of the Zulus earlier at Isandhlwana.
That was a humiliation. Rorke's Drift boosted morale and the honours were a sop to the British people". Sop to the British people?
Whoa..what do you have to do to get respect anymore, eh? Perhaps if the Zulu came on with 350 cannon then there wouldn't be any controversy for the awarding of medals at an action where, in theory, the attacker should have won. Mr. Hastings, questioning Chard's honours, did make a remark about Chard doing no more than what was expected of him in battle. Of course, he was a soldier and that's what he was paid to do but he also won when the odds were stacked against him. I don't know about Max. Sometimes I think he misses the thin line between victory and defeat in battle. Rorkes Drift was no slam dunk. We gotta get him on the parapets. With him and his background, I'd expect to see a little more perspicacity when it comes