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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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In an effort to clarify the cave issue, I have contacted Ian Knight for his latest assessment. This is his reply -

'I'm delighted to hear that people are still interested in Awful Row, and happy to have an opportunity to update my thinking regarding the cave. The photo in the Awful Row article was taken on one of my earliest visits to Isandlwana, in 1985, and the cave - which is on the northern end of the cliff-face - was pointed out to me then as one which might have been connected to the 'last survivor story'. At the time I was fairly convinced, given that it is one of only a few on the hill-side that is big enough to shelter a man standing, although I did have some reservations in that it was away from the generally accepted area of the 'last stands'. Since then, I must admit, I've got to know the battlefield a lot better, and I now think that a more likely cave in the story is the one at the foot of the rock-face on the south-eastern foot of the crag, above the Younghusband cairn. This cave is, of course, regularly pointed out nowadays by tour guides to the site. Not only does this fit rather more comfortably with the original Zulu eye-witness account of the incident - which seems to link it to Younghusband's stand on the shoulder of the hill - but it has an interesting physical feature which makes more sense of the story, namely a small, low chamber at the foot of the cave which extends a few feet back into the mountain-side. My feeling is that the anonymous soldier of the 24th, rather than standing in full view in the main entrance, may well have crouched down into this recess as far as he could go, shooting the Zulus as they poked their heads above the rocks at the cave mouth, but therefore being a difficult target in return, and requiring them to fire, as the Zulu account says, a volley together into the cave to kill him. It is this second cave which Ian Castle and I matched up with the famous R.T. Moynan painting (which was reproduced in colour for the first time on the cover of Awful Row!) in our Zulu War; Then and Now. Having said that, I do think it is worth pointing out that we do not know for sure where the incident took place - the Zulu referred to the cave only in general terms, and we know from other Zulu sources that a number of individuals on the British side, potentially civilians as well as soldiers, tried to climb up onto the mountain, perhaps even to the very top, either looking for defensive positions or to hide among the boulders and shadows. Other caves cannot therefore be ruled out entirely, and since Zulu accounts refer to men being turned out from a number of different nooks and crannies, it is possible that more than one similar incident took place'.

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