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DateOriginal Topic
29th June 2005Astroturf in Isandlwana
By Paul Cubbin
I don't know how widespread the story was, but the Welsh news had a charming feature concerning both Zululand and the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers.
Apparently a throwaway comment from a Swansea student regarding an old astroturf pitch (that was due for replacement) turned into a major logistical operation. The turf was removed in sections, transported to Zululand (the report said both Rorkes Drift and Isanldwana in following sentences - make of that what you will) and relaid by the above regiment (who incidentally was stationed in the John Chard VC Barracks). The report had footage of Zulu kids dancing on the turf (in miniature wargear) in celebration and thanks. The local teacher was pleased too as she commented that the addition of a footbal pitch was likely to encourage more children to turn up for school!
I find it charming - and strangely British - that former enemies appear to build such strong links in mutual respect. This is not just true in this instance but for so many other cases too (except the French, but don't get me started).
29th June 2005Peter Ewart

I think Sally(?) from Isandlwana Lodge mentioned some astroturf due to come to Isandlwana as a donation year or so back. Perhaps it'll be one of the centres for the 2010 World Cup!

The "Native Boys" College alongside St Vincent's there taught football each afternoon to around 30 Zulu, Sotho & Mashona from 1897 onwards, so they should know what they're doing!


P.S. Good to see you back - thought you'd disappeared off the face of the earth.
29th June 2005Martin Everett
Dear Paul,
I am not sure why this item appeared on BBC Wales TV News as the laying of the turf accually took place so 18 months ago. I saw the pitch at Isandhlwana (not Rorke's Drift as the report may have indicated) last November and it is in pretty poor state and not used. It is very much now an eyesore. The RMONRE soldiers found it very difficult to negotiate their way through getting the appropriate plant machinary required to seriously level the surface before the pitch was laid - such is local politics. Some local Chiefs wanted the pitch laid in Nqutu not at Isandhlwana.

Finally there has always been a heathy respect between the British and the Zulus. There is a formal alliance between the Royal Regiment of Wales and 121 South Africa Infantry Battalion (based at Mtubatuba) since 1997. I can think of another official link with a former enemy of the British Army, except for the Gurkhas who the 1/24th fought in 1816!
29th June 2005Paul Cubbin
Peter : no, still here. I just gave the internet a rest for a while after picking up a shed load of nasty suff (including a Trojan!) piggy backing onto my system. Now I have a more robust security system than the standard Norton package and its once more safe to go out into the water.

Martin: yes, I remember thinking at the time that it looked a little manky, but hey, what do I know about groundkeeping? It is a shame that so many of the problems in Africa are due to a few bullies in power taking all the pie for themselves and not caring about the rest.
As for links between Britain and former enemies, I have difficulty in remembering a nation that we haven't fought within the last couple of hundred years or so! Professional soldiers tend to recognise the difference between real evil and an opponent who is merely doing his duty; thus when 'the whistle blows' they can share experiences and emotions without enmity or bitterness.
30th June 2005Sean Sweeney
Well said all.
Come to think of it, The British seem to have picked a spat with just about everyone on this planet.
Hopefully kwaZulu, S.Africa, and the SANDF, will sort itself out,
and the rest of Africa will benefit from Tony Blair's initiative .
And don't forget the Boers military involvement with their previous foes. (or the Maori)
There are a good many Afrikaaner families mourning their lost sons from WWI and II.

Maori Pioneer Bn in WWI won 116 awards
and the legendary 28th Maori Bn even put the fear of God into The Desert Fox.
They have served with the British from the Boer War through to Korea, and Malaya.

Fortunately though, we don't have to be friends with the French, unless we really want to.

1st July 2005Coll

When I saw your topic heading, I thought it was about an irregular officer that I hadn't heard of - Lt. Astroturf ?! (just kidding)

Glad to see you back.

13th July 2005Mike McCabe
You could be on to something. Perhaps Chard was mistaken, and it was really Astroturf at Rorkes Drift rather than Adendorf?
Stranger things have happended - especially on this site!