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Signalman Aynsley, RN
Petty Officer Tom


Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 9
Location: Centreville, Virginia, USA
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On the 22nd January 1879 Lord Chelmsford rode out of the camp at Isandlawana to seek out the Zulu army. He was accompanied by Lt. A. B. Milne, RN (HMS Active) who was his Naval ADC. Milne left behind his servant, Signalman 2nd class William Aynsley, who was in the camp when it was overrun. It has been reported that Aynsley was last seen with his back to a wagon fighting off the Zulus with his cutlass, until one Zulu crept under the wagon and stabbed him with an assegai. I have read this description of Aynsley's death in books and articles, but I have not seen a reference to the original source of this story. Was is related by a Zulu prisoner, or did one of the survivors tell it later? After Aynsley's death did Lt. Milne get another sailor as his servant? If so, who was he?
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Lee Stevenson


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 48
Location: England
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Extract from Lt Milne's account - "Proceedings of 21st, 22nd & 23rd & 24th Jany. 1879" [ADM1/6486: National Archives, Kew]

"Colonel Glyn and several men went into the camp next morning before we started for Rorke's Drift. They recognised Colonel Pulleine, Capt Younghusband and Lieut Hodgson...
Colonel Durnfords body was recognised by one of the men, it was stripped naked.
Aynsley's body, (my servant) was recognised by one of the Mounted Infantry. His pockets had been searched and some photographs taken from them, but they had left them beside him, and they are now in my possession..."
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Lee

Interesting account of Milne's, and even more interesting to see the variety of detail in the descriptions of bodies found after Isandlwana. For example, this one appears to throw into doubt the accounts of Durnford's body being still clothed, as it would have to be if the items (such as papers etc.) supposedly found on his body had indeed been found, as pockets would be required. I haven't looked right now, but I don't think either Luard or Shepstone claimed the body was naked.

Of course, it may be possible that the body was stripped naked but the clothes were left lying beside him, but one would expect an account to mention that. I don't think Durnford is the only one for whom the discovery of the body brought conflicting accounts - from memory, even the P/Imp & Melvill & Coghill come into this category.

Peter
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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 780
Location: Brecon
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Peter,

The Company Clerk/Storeman of Company 2/24th, Cpl James Bassage recorded his return visit to Isandlwana [return because he was there on the evening on 22/23 January with Lord Chelmsford]..............

First visit to Isandhlwana to bury remains 20th June 1879. My pocket ledger was recovered by Pte Carlton. Second visit 23rd June 1879 bodies found in heaps as if great resistance was shown Lieut. & Acting Adjutant Dyer’s body was found surrounded by about eleven men. Sixty four were found in a square. Four companies found. Lying as they fell fighting back to back. G Company 2/24th Regiment with the exception of a few men was found lying in the place where they were posted the previous night as an outlying piquet. In fact the whole sight was of a most horrible nature. the remains of mules, bullocks, horses and harness all lying in heaps.

Most every man had his interals let out and privates cut off some their hands and feet tied together. In this position they died an horrible death it must have been as could be discerned by the features as a few were still recognizable.

3rd visit 26th June 1879 one man found cut asunder in the middle Latham found with Sergt Shaw, Pte James White….976 Jones they appeared to have been stabbed with the assegai while trying to keep the Zulus off in front.

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Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
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Lee Stevenson


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 48
Location: England
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A bit more from Milne then...

"...The Trumpeter of the Mounted Police went down to where his tent was and got his shoes & stockings. He reports having seen several wheels lying about and most of them with the heads of our men put round them in a circle..."
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Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 435
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But Milne was not the source for the precise anecdote quoted, was he?
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Signalman Aynsley, RN
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