you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
13th August 2005Progress Report - 'How Can Man Die Better'
By Mike Snook
A lot of RDVC contributors have e-mailed me privately for progress reports on 'HCMDB' and I know a good many of you have pre-ordered through Amazon and the RRW museum shop etc - so you'll be pleased to know that the postie brought me copy number 1 in the mail this very morning. So it now exists - it can only be a matter of days or perhaps a week or so before the distributor gets them away to the UK retail outlets which have placed orders.

For those in USA, Stackpole Books are publishing it on your side of the Atlantic. I know there's a consignment on the way to RSA, but sorry I have no idea how long it will take to get that far south! The ISBN is I-85367-656-X.

Enjoy - I hope you like it. Be as kind or as rude as you like. I'll re-visit to see what you said in a few months from now and hopefully address any burning queries.

In the meantime, regards to all,

13th August 2005Michael Boyle

Months? A disciplined man indeed not to give in to the temptation to at least monitor responses and then to not jump back in ! The RRW shop has it shipping in 24hrs and (US) no ship date yet. I am looking forward to it though as your hints have raised my 'curious' hopes !

By the way, have you read much of Benjamin Pogrund's works? (Just curious about the title.)

Best of Luck

13th August 2005Paul Cubbin
Mike - I do not have the 'required qualifications' and have never been to Zululand (I assume Tenerife doesn't count) so am I allowed to offer opinions? I know you won't mind, know who...may be monitoring....
13th August 2005Mike Snook

Fortunately it's still a free country my friend! So fire away - so long as we can avoid theology, politics and women, things can't get too heated - can they?

Oh - and day of the dead moon, ammunition, Durnford/Pulleine, Mehlokazulu and Trooper Barker. What could possibly go wrong?


Title comes from Lord Macaulay's poem 'Horatius' - the lays of Ancent Rome etc -

'How can man die better,
than facing fearful odds,
for the ashes of his fathers,
and the temples of his Gods.'

Regards as ever,

13th August 2005Coll

Did you mention DURNFORD !!!!!!!!!

I promise I'll be kind
Well, kind of nice
Okay, not so nice
Alright, a bit annoyed
Maybe, very annoyed
Chance I'll be angry
Perhaps furious
Possibly helluva mad
Or Mad As Hell !

One thing is for sure Mike. I'll definitely enjoy your book.

All the Best

13th August 2005Mike McCabe
The recognised main memorial to Colonel Anthony Durnford is the memorial window to him in Rochester Cathedral. This includes the folloswing inscription from a book of THe Apocrypha, 1 Maccabees IX, 10: “…God forbid that I should do this thing, and flee away from them: if our time be come, let us die manfully for our brethren, and let us not stain our honour”.
15th August 2005Coll
I heard these 'quotations' or 'phrases' from films, although I know only part of them.

1. My Name is Legion - For I Am Many.

2. Behold a Pale Rider.....

Does anyone know where they are from and the full versions ?

For some reason they caught my attention and I haven't been able to get them out of my head since.

15th August 2005John Young
1; The Bible - Mark 5 verse 9.

2; The Bible - The Revelation to John 11 verse 3 - 'Death Rides Pale Horse'.

John Y.

15th August 2005John Young

Re 2 above amend the chapter & verse to 6:8, I misconstrued my wife's notes alluded to another verse.

15th August 2005Rich
I like the title. And I wouldn't have been surprised if you had "England this year of 2005. Looking forward to your book!
15th August 2005Coll

Many thanks.

16th August 2005Paul Bryant-Quinn


As John points out, in the Apocalypse it is the horse which is pale, not its rider:

` ... idou hippos chlôros, kai ho kathêmenos epanô auto onoma autô(i) [ho] thanatos ...' (Apoc. 6.8)

*chlôros* is kind of a yucky pallid corpse-like colour in Koinê Greek.

16th August 2005Paul Bryant-Quinn

Re. the above:

For some reason the whole message didn't transfer! The Greek reads:

`... Behold, a pallid horse, and the name of the one sitting on it was Death ...'

16th August 2005Paul Bryant-Quinn

And that should have read *epanô autou* - sorry about the typo.

Back to the AZW ...

16th August 2005Coll
Paul Bryant-Quinn

In many ways that verse being introduced into a film about the AZW, reminds me of the scene with Otto Witt and Colour-Sergeant Bourne in the film 'Zulu'.

Although I am a great admirer of Col. Durnford, I can imagine a scene in a re-imagined version of 'Zulu Dawn', where he rides into the camp at Isandlwana on his pale (grey-white) horse and someone (one of his non-admirers) in camp quoting it, especially with it being associated with the Apocalypse, as later in the day, during the battle, there was the eclipse of the sun, which has been described as giving an 'apocalyptic' feel to the battlefield.

A very dramatic and ominous addition to any screenplay.

Gripping stuff.

17th August 2005Paul Cubbin
Coll - not that you have a Durnford fixation or anything! It's been done before, mate. See Clint Eastwood in 'Pale Rider'; it's also relevant in that case because it was Clint who brought death and destruction, Durnford didn't.
17th August 2005Coll

Was it not mentioned in a previous topic about the taking of (some) ideas from other films, out of 'respect' or because they were good.

My posting above mentions a non-admirer of Durnford, possibly because of the incident at Bushman's Pass, or some other problem.

As you know there were many of these individuals that doubted Durnford's ability to command and recalling the event above, they were probably concerned (in their own minds) seeing him arrive, that somehow the camp was doomed.

The quoting of the mentioned verse to enhance the ill-feeling he/they had towards him, especially as the situation in the camp had become increasingly uneasy just before his arrival. An ominous feeling perhaps ?

Tell me. When Durnford was witnessed riding back towards the camp with a whole bloody regiment chasing him, wouldn't that be considered 'Hell' following him ?

Paul. You surprise me. You are usually a bit more open-minded.

Please tell me you're not having a bad day ?

Cheer up mate. I ain't put pen to paper yet !

18th August 2005Edward Bear
It's unwise to start considering events at Isandlowana as if centred upon Durnford and developing (much) in reaction to Durnford's own personal actions and decisions.
Durnford's force, with arguments to balance off over Shepstone/Raw/Roberts I agree, unwittingly got in the way of the developing Zulu attack. Durnford's direct command were swept in by the Zulu left. The notion that "a regiment was chasing Durnford" is symptomatic of an inclination to magnify Durnford's role and significance.
18th August 2005Coll

I appreciate what you are saying and agree with your comments.

However, if you 'put yourself in the shoes of' a witness in the camp (a soldier, officer, etc.) who was not familiar with the Zulu form of attack, seeing Durnford's force conducting a fighting withdrawal with a huge mass of warriors appearing at the rear of his small group of mounted men, would look like Durnford was being 'chased', rather than actually the Zulu Left Horn forming it's part of the formation.

This topic has sort of become connected to the other about screenplay ideas, therefore aspects will appear more 'questionable' than discussing the events as they really happened.

Additionally, it is trying to give the 'point of view' of individuals actually in the battle, without the hindsight we have knowing how it developed many years later.

18th August 2005Mike McCabe
Fair enough.
The intriguing curiosity is that Durnford, as the last person who could have done so in a methodical way, did not have the presence of mind to send an officer 'galloper' to warn Chelmsford at a time, when by his own actions in falling back on the camp, ing to its front, or ahe was recognising the significance and scale of the Zulu attack. Perhaps he already had disproportinately too few officers directly with him (and simply could not spare one) but the omission was interesting. Interestingly also, Pulleine never seems to have attached great importance to ensuring that Chelmsford was kept properly informed. Perhaps, though, he and Durnford both realised that Chelmsford was in any case likely to be too far away to be able to return and intervene. Chelmsford's operational and tactical planning assumed that a complete column was capable of defending itself - although with the implication that another (Wood or Durnford) might be called upon to reinforce No 3 Column. Durnford would have known or realised that a reduced column could not do so for long and that he must now radically alter his own intentions to support Pulleine, and (by implication) return to resume overall command. Yet, he did not do so and stayed forward to maintain personal tactical command of his men; possibly realising that nobody else could lead them in what they next did. A rapid succession of fast decisions then had to be made. Even by just glancing back at the visible red coats, Durnford would have realised that Pulleine's force was fundamentally maldeployed, given that Durnford had a clearer view of the deploying Zulu attack than Pulleine - because Durnford could probably see the chest and reserve, or deduce its whereabouts. . Consequently, and within minutes of taking up his holding position in the donga, Durnford would have realised that there was scant hope of pulling any kind of successful defence together. He would also, I believe, have realised the likely immediate tactical consequences of withdrawing his remaining mounted riflemen but could simply do nothing else. Even the extension of Pope's company to the right could not provide an effective counter to the encircling advance of the Zulu left. Nor could it stop Zulus advancing to its front, or adequately cover Durnford's withdrawal to its right. And, it was beyond the support of the companies to its left, and the RA guns were probably out of range or the right kind of ammunition by then - there being no real evidence that they went into action with any other ammunition than what was on the limber - Curling is suspiciously silent on that detail.
18th August 2005Mike McCabe
I was commenting on 'the Bear' and not 'Coll'.
18th August 2005Edward Bear
In some ways even more ironic, given that at least three of the acknowledged philosophical movements labelled as 'Cynics' were generally disliked by contemporary society for their unfliching idealism and varying degrees of disdain for what they perceived as the moral and spiritual lapses of humanity.
Not sure whether the above is a real 'Cynic', but might possibly be one of the four horsemen of the Akropolis instead.
But, clearly a classical scholar of some sort.
19th August 2005Peter Ewart
It seems that the epithet [Gr. "epitheton" - :)] of "Cynic" clearly now has yet another connotation - that of someone who has not the courage of his convictions sufficiently to put his name to his contribution ( the yardstick of all honest debate).

I'd suggest this is considerably more reprehensible than the accompanying sorry fault of failing to avoid as many as five grammatical or spelling shortcomings in a sentence of a mere thirteen words and therefore suggest "Coward" might have been a more suitable signature.

19th August 2005Arthur Trent
Thus restoring the tone of the debate, by degrees at least.