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By stephen mann
We have all seen depictions of Ntombe with surprised infantry being assegaied in their nightshirts. Further, we know infantry slept something like 12 in a bell-tent, like spokes of a wheel. Some questions:-
(a) did the men normally sleep in their clothes or was their some regulation against this?
(b) did the tents have groundsheets or did the men have some kind of tarp?
(c) how often did they get to bathe?
(d) were their boots kept in the tent- if so where?
(e) if they did strip to sleep, was there some arrangements for hanging their uniforms and kit?
(f) where did they put their weapons?
(g) did each officer have his own tent?
31st March 2005Glenn Wade
(a) Yes, most accounts I have read of the war describe men sleeping with their full kit on but unbuckled
(b) In the 1879 Group, some of our tents have groundsheets but I don't recall seeing any in photographs
(c) I'm not sure but I don't suppose it would be very often
(d) Soldiers slept with their boots on but unlaced, one account speaks of not having removed his boots for several months!
(e) I doubt it, the nights in Zululand could be freezing and if they had removed their clothes, they would have used them as cover, so they might as well have kept them on in the first place
(f) By their side, probably unloaded for safety reasons
(g) Some senior officers did but junior officers shared
Of course, this all depended on the hostility of the surrounding area, personal preference, supply and the attitude of the commander.
All the best
31st March 2005Michael Boyle

Not sure how closely it correlates to the 1870s but here's a list from the previous decade that includes:" Waterproof covers - blanket of vulcanized india-rubber, with 6 eyelet holes; size, 6 foot 6 inches by 3 feet. (Approved 21 Jan 1862). Weight, 2 lbs 2 ounces." as well as:" Circular tents:

2 for each Field Officer
1 for each other officer.
1 for every 15 nco's and men.
2 for staff serjeants.
4 for guards.
1 f0r orderly room.
1 for quartermaster's stores.
1 for paymaster's office.


Go to the index page of the site for many more interesting listings of life in the British Army of the time.


31st March 2005Michael Boyle
Going back over the above cited page got me to thinking.As to markings required on all items of kit, if the same regs. were in force during the AZW, it would seem possible at least to have identified who was where at Isandhlwana (at least for the Imperial troops) if any of their kit remained on the bodies.