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DateOriginal Topic
19th July 2003Tell them or tell them not?
By Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
Gentleman. I put to the forum an observation that was put to me by an acquaintance to whom I had just told the basic details about the Rorke, s Drift conflict. He said If I had been a soldier at Rorkes Drift Id rather the officers did not tell me what they knew of the slaughter at Isandhlwana. Im not sure that I would have fought harder and I may have been tempted to runaway.
I doubt very much that Bromhead and Chard could have prevented the men from finding out what had just happened at Isandhlwana but if they could, what should they have done? What would you have done? Tell them or tell them not?
19th July 2003Geoff Thursfield
Having known many survivors from the Great War and spoken to them at length in the 1950's I would say that all of them would have stayed behind at R.D to "sort the ******s out." (expletives deleted to protect sensitive readers).

I have no reason to doubt that the British soldiers who fought 35 years before WW1 would have felt any differently and it would probably be a good idea to give them the details rather than a lot of spin, as is the contemporary fashion.
19th July 2003John Sukey
The reason the British army conquered an empire was that the soldiers DID NOT run away. In any case, where were they going to run to without supplies and a map? Unlike the native contingent, they certainly could not blend into the scenery!
One also must take into account Regimental tradition, which meant you were first part of a family, and then part of the army.
19th July 2003Trevor
I think I would have told them everything!
I would have told them that the chances of out running the zulu was very slim.
That they had a better chance of survival defending the small fortified area of the Drift.
And most important of all! That the Zulu take no prisoners. So you have no choice but to obey orders, look after one another. And fight like hell.
19th July 2003Ian Essex
I put this question to an retired Major that I onced worked with. But only gave him the scenario of what had happened, no names, eg: Isandhlwana's defeat and an enemy force travelling ten odd miles towards an undefended position that he (theoretically) was to hold. I drew a small map of the Rorke's Drift camp and gave him some information on what his troops and the enemy were armed with. I also told him that he had a huge supply of sandbgs available (I didn't want to give him too much info!) and ammunition.
He drew lines connecting the hospital to the storehouse and the krall along to the front of the hospital! Telling me that was where he would make his defensive lines. He said that he would tell all his men and he would expect them all to stay. He felt that the soldiers at Rorke's Drift being professionals would have A: Wanted to have had the chance to avenge what had happened earlier in the day.
B: He felt that, even though a larger force of British troops had earlier been destroyed, that the soldiers would have felt quite confident with the weapons and defence's available.
Thus affording them a good chance at repelling the enemy force.
He interestingly had another idea, which he did admit to having to see the terrain before he would commit himself, but he said, once he knew what the battle and the weapons were exactly, that if he'd had the time, he may have moved everyone out into the open into the large flatter land away from the hospital and formed a good old defensive square around the sick and ammunition and given it a go that way!
21st July 2003John Sukey
Well, Ian, that defensive square tactic would have most likely have worked if the troops had No4's or SLR's. However, the Zulu tactics which had been used over and over again were based on getting an enemy in the open. Sheer weight of numbers would have done for them. What the Zulus were not accustomed to, was attacking fortified positions where they could not press home their charge. Not to mention King Cestwayo had expressly forbidden them to do just that.
21st July 2003Trevor
The Major never asked for Helicopter Gun-ships then. Or Heavy artilliary support?
22nd July 2003John F. Sukey
If we are talking what if, A battery of gatling guns would have won both battles . Failing that a section of Vickers-Maxims, but with drawn cases instead of rolled ones.