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DateOriginal Topic
4th February 2004Weapons (Sword & Lance)
By p.f
In the movie "Zulu" Lt Bromhead sensably putes aside his sword for a rifle and bayonet. In the 1879 war were their any instances of officers/ncos using swords in personal combat? (As late as 1914 young officers would uphold the tradition of taking their swords to be sharpened before combat--- in France!!)
ALso-did any of the "Lancer" calvary units in 1879
war-did they use lances as well?
4th February 2004John Young

Swords were used in 'personal combat' on a number of occasions during the Anglo-Zulu War. Lord William Beresford's encounter of the 3rd July, 1879 is well documented. As the use of swords by the 2nd Squadron, Mounted Infantry at Gingindlovu, 2nd April, 1879. There is also the Zulu account which mentions someone wielding a sword at Isandlwana.

In 1879 the British infantry officers' primary weapon was still their sword.

As to the question regarding lances, yes the 17th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers did use the lance. This was the primary weapon of the other-ranks of that unit, who also used swords, pistols & carbines.

John Y.
4th February 2004John Young

As an afterthought, I remembered another instance - Signalman 1st Class William H. Aynsley, apparently used his cutlass at Isandlwana, before meeting his fate.

John Y.
4th February 2004P.F
4th February 2004Sheldon Hall
As a matter of interest, the production notes for ZULU (given out to journalists at the time of release) claimed that the sword used in the film was a genuine article taken from the body of an officer who fell at Isandlwana. How plausible is this, do you think? (Publicity material was much given to exaggeration, so it may be worth treating this nugget with a pinch of salt.)
4th February 2004Chris
John, I couldent help but notice in your post about a Signalman 1C and his cutlass. There were Royal Navy personel present at Isandlwana? How many? And what was their purpose?
4th February 2004John Young

Just the one, he was the batman, the officer's servant/orderly to Lieutenant A.B. Milne, of H.M.S. 'Active'. Milne was Lord Chelmsford's Royal Navy aide-de-camp.

Milne was out accompanying Lord Chelmsford during the 22nd January, 1879.

John Y.