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DateOriginal Topic
25th April 2003A morbid subject
By Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
Recently a young boy was looking at my small collection of Martinis and I was filling him in on the basic story of R.D. He commented that if he had to die he would rather be shot then stabbed by an assegai. He then asked if being stabbed would have been painful and how long would it have taken for a stabbed man to die. To be honest I could not answer him. The question is would most of those defending R.D. that where killed by assegai have bled to death slowly or as the films depict die before they hit the ground? I appreciate that as with gunshots a lot depends on where one is hit but how affective was the assegai at first stopping an opponent and secondly killing him?
25th April 2003L.J.Knight
this is a most difficult question to answer, but it only needs but a little imagination to imagine the effects of a steel blade which is about eighteen inches long and six inches wide. the blade was specially designed to cause maximum trauma, how long would it take to die ?. thrown/ stabbed with force and hitting a vital organ i think death would follow pretty
quickly. but im sure some of the wounded died very slowly from truly appalling injurys.
25th April 2003Miguel
A somewhat unrelated question: didn't one of the defenders say in his account of the battle that almost all the casualties in RD were caused by firearms, and that only a few were actually assegaied to death? If so, John, could you shed some light in this issue? I probably got it all wrong, since I recall clear accounts of Brits being assegaied in the Hospital episode.

On the topic of this thread, I must say that despite what we see in action movies, it is a well known fact that the human body is not at all easy to kill, specially with cold steel weapons, so I think it is safe to conclude that a fair share of those with assegai wounds had met a painful, long agony before their death.

Canary Islands,
26th April 2003Trevor Finney
Didn't one of the VC winners who helped defend the door in the hospital survive several assegai wounds!
26th April 2003Mark Hobson
Interesting subject this. Miguel is partly right in saying that many of the fatalities at Rorke's Drift were from firearm injuries. The others - those who were stabbed or clubbed with knobkerries - nearly all recieved injuries to the upper part of the body, the head and shoulders; in other words, the parts not protected by the mealie bags. So I assume that would mean injuries to the head, throat or shoulders and chest. A heavy blow on the skull from a knobkerrie would probably kill you outright, however, a spear thrust through the front of the throat might not. Blood loss, or heart failure through blood loss, would have accounted for many deaths. For those unfortunate to be dragged over the defences or though a hospital door might actually have been the fortunate ones, for it was Zulu custom to stab a foe repeatedly - with many warriors joining in - and then to open the persons stomach up, a mercifully quick and vicious end.
Whatever the length of time for them to die, it would be nothing like the sanitized versions we see in films where they drop like a stone and are dead before they hit the ground. It was blood and nasty.
26th April 2003andrew rowland
From what I've been reading, assegais were throwing spears, not close quarters combat spears. They were long, and the blades not so wide as the CQ spears, which were called iXwas, and which were about 3ft 6 inches long with massive, razor sharp, fluted blades.

These were not designed for throwing, as I said, but were designed to cause maximum injury to the recipient.

The iXwa was "invented" by Shaka Zulu, and the name is phonetic, and allegedly is the sound made when the iXwa (click with soft palate on X) is withdrawn from the flesh of the victim.

If I have any of this wrong please let me know :O)