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|13th March 2004||GHOULISH TREASURES|
I am currently reading 'The Memoirs of Maj-Gen Sir Hugh McCalmont', edt by Maj-Gen Sir CE Callwell, Hutchinson, 1924.
McCalmont was an ADC of Sir Garnet Wolseley and although missed the major set piece battles, did take part in the search for the Zulu King.
Page 162 discribes McCalmont's experiences when visiting the Isandlhwana battlefield and the fact that his [civilian] groom was taking teeth from dead zulus as 'keepsakes'. This is the first time that I have come across this unpleasent practice during the Zulu War. Is this an isolated case? Or is it actually common in contempary accounts?
|13th March 2004||Peter Ewart|
Well, Field Marshall Lord Grenfell admitted (if that's the right word!) in his memoirs that almost two years after Ulundi he made a detour with Buller to revisit the battlefield while serving as DAQMG on Wood's staff in the Transvaal in 1881.
Unlike McCalmont's groom, Grenfell didn't bother to extract the teeth, simply removing the skull from the "perfectly white" skeleton of "my old friend" - a dead Zulu whom he claimed to have identified as the very same induna whom he had "seen shot in the head by Owen's machine guns" exactly 18 yards from the corner of the square, a distance he remembered pacing out immediately after the battle.
Seeing the skeleton exactly where he had expected to find it, "I felt I could not part with him, so I put his skull into my forage bag, and brought it home with me. It now adorns a case in my collection of curiosities."
Ghoulish indeed! In some ways, we've come a long way since 1879 ...
|13th March 2004||AMB|
Grenfell, page 66 - yes, I have it now: the next one on my shelf to read!
Funny how times change, hey? I wonder where the skull is now - one hopes that it has been since been returned to Zululand.